While trade liberalization and transportation infrastructure should remain BIMSTEC’s key priorities, the Bay of Bengal will not re-emerge as a regional space unless there are significant investments to foster people to people exchanges.
Beyond its economic potential and strategic significance, the Bay of Bengal distinguishes itself globally by abysmal levels of integration, reflecting a deep divide between South and Southeast Asia.
The resolution of many outstanding maritime territorial disputes and the tentative steps for political and security cooperation in the region provide the basis for imagining a Bay of Bengal community that will benefit all the peoples of the region.
Two recent developments point to the new directions in which the north-western Subcontinent could evolve.
Despite its status as a key maritime hub in global terms and all its economic promise, the Bay of Bengal’s potential is hamstrung by a lack of close internal economic integration among the countries that call the region home.
Faced with growing geopolitical turbulence and more aggressive maritime maneuvering, India and France are eager to expand their strategic engagement in the Indo-Pacific.
India and other countries around the Bay of Bengal should invest greater resources in the multilateral institution BIMSTEC to promote regional connectivity and shared prosperity.
The Indo-Pacific has emerged as a critical region in global politics. The stakes for India and Japan are rapidly rising in this theater, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sits at the heart of it.
Despite repeated efforts, including at the highest political levels, Ottawa has seemed reluctant to address India’s concerns about the question of Sikh separatism in Canada.
India must recognize the reality of regional conflicts in the Middle East and limit their impact on India’s ability to secure its goals in the region.