9 April 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Shared values, histories, and interests of the members enable BIMSTEC to provide a common space for peace and development; however, its role as a platform for regional integration should be seen with cautious optimism. Analyze.

(250 Words/15 Marks)

ANS

BIMSTEC is a multilateral regional organization established to accelerate shared growth and cooperation between littoral and adjacent countries in the Bay of Bengal region.

 

Acting as a link between South and South-East Asia, it provides a common space for peace and development, as:

  1. In line with Neighborhood first policy, BIMSTEC calls for deepening mutual cooperation across various fields in the region.

E.g., In the latest BIMSTEC summit (5th), Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters, diplomatic training etc.

  1. BIMSTEC promotes neighborhood integration by fostering better connectivity.

E.g., recently BIMSTEC has adopted “Master Plan for Transport Connectivity.”

  1. BIMSTEC aims for strengthening the infrastructure for disaster management.

E.g., In the Colombo summit, disaster management has been identified as part of the core seven pillars of BIMSTEC.

  1. The regional multilateral organization creates a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia.

E.g., Thailand and Myanmar are members of ASEAN which is central to India’s Act East policy.

  1. BIMSTEC provides for a well-formed security architecture in the region with counterterrorism and energy security at its core.

E.g., India has been made responsible for the security pillar of the region.

  1. Importance for India:
  2. BIMSTEC is instrumental in the development of the North East region of India. A better developed, integrated and prosperous North East is at heart of India’s Act East policy.
  3. BIMSTEC gives India an opportunity to become a developmental partner of the countries in South and South East Asia, thus limiting the presence of Chinese hegemony in the region.
  4. With the absence of Pakistan, BIMSTEC provides opportunity for India to fasten the regional development and integration.
  5. BIMSTEC can address India’s growing energy requirements.

E.g., India is exploring energy opportunities at Rakhine coast of Myanmar; BIMSTEC energy sector have been established in India.

 

Even though BIMSTEC has a seminal role to play in region’s stability and prosperity, its role in regional integration should be seen with cautious optimism as:

  1. Even though trade is a core agenda, BIMSTEC as a grouping has failed to conclude a Free Trade Agreement.
  2. Connectivity between the countries of BIMSTEC still remain an unfinished task, despite repeated attempts at boosting the same.

E.g., Slow progress on BBIN MVA; trilateral highway; Kaladan multimodal project.

  1. The rifts between the countries within BIMSTEC grouping has limited the effectiveness of the regional organization.

E.g., The Rohingya issue has created divergences between Myanmar and Bangladesh; operation of NSCN ultras from within Myanmar; illegal migration/trafficking from Bangladesh to India; Kalapani issue between India and Nepal etc.

  1. Ideological differences may also work to limit the cohesion within the members of BIMSTEC.

E.g., democratic credentials of India may not converge well with the lack of same in Myanmar.

  1. The ingress of China too may work to destabilize the region.

E.g., debt trap diplomacy.

  1. Security threats such as cyber warfare, violent extremism, narco-trafficking etc., are detrimental for the smooth functioning of BIMSTEC.

BIMSTEC offers a potential platform for regional integration. To this end, concerted steps should be taken to deepen trade linkages, boost people to people ties, create resilient HADR mechanism, bolster connectivity, and create a robust Digital Physical Infrastructure (DPI) to integrate and enable the region digitally.

 

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