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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 13 January, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

BIMSTEC and Analysis

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), 1997

  1. Bay of Bengal (BoB) is the largest Bay in the World.
  2. It includes 7 countries = BBIN, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand.
  3. Bob is the largest bay in the World. It has 1.5 billion, 21% of the World's population and a GDP of 2.5 trillion.
  4. BIMSTEC was estbalished in 1997 in Bangkok. 1st Meet held in Bangkok in 2004. 2nd in Delhi, India in 2008. 3rd in 2014 in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. 4th Summit held in 2018 Kathmandu, Nepal. 2020 Summit was to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Kathmandu Declaration, 2018

  • It focusses on
    • Issue of Terrorism and Transnational organized crimes = great threat to international peace and security.
    • Connectivity among member nations - Trade, Economic, Digital, Export, People to People connectivity.
  • Called for identifying and holding accountable states and non-states entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and falsely extol their virtues.
  • Establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection - optimization of using energy resources in the region and promotion of efficient and secure operations of the power system.
  • This Kathmandu meet will be another milestone for India after the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit that India hosted in 2016.
  • India will host the International Buddhist Conclave in 2020.
  • For research in Art and Culture in BoB, India would set up a Center for BoB Studies at Nalanda University.

India's Interests in BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC is an alternative to the SAARC deadlock and is a vehicle to take forward India’s regional, strategic and economic interests. SAARC's deadlock limited the scope of India's growth aspirations and its role in improving regional governance.
  • Some people want to see India's interests in BIMSTEC as a strategy to isolate Pakistan and position BIMSTEC as an alternative to SAARC. But its 2 failed attempts of SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement and SAARC Satellite suggest otherwise.
  • India wants to push BIMSTEC not to bypass Pakistan but to ensure that IO region does not lag behind due to the unstable neighbourhood. India's desire to link South Asia to Southeast Asia is a part of this strategy.
  • BIMSTEC mechanism would reassure South Asia achieve common goals with India playing its due role.

Challenges for India

  • India is currently the largest contributor to BIMSTEC budget. It's annual contri was 2 crore (32% of the budget for 2017-18). BIMSTEC is increasing Human resources and hence would need more resources.
  • BIMSTEC FTA negotiated in 2004 but yet to finalise. It can boost our trade from 7% to 21%.
  • To counter the impression that BIMSTEC is an India dominated bloc. Today, most of the smaller neighbours are more willing to engage so as to benefit from India’s economic rise.
  • China's presence in BoB region through OBOR.

Way Forward

  • India will need to show sensitivity to the concerns of smaller neighbour.
  • India will have to carefully navigate the emerging regional geopolitics, as many of the elements that made SAARC hostage to political rivalry and turned it into a defunct mechanism can re-emerge in BIMSTEC.

Source: AspireIAS Notes


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