Kolkata is strategically one of the most prominent cities of India and for promotion of East and Act East policy Kolkata should be the “prime area” and the regional head to lead the Act East policy.
Indian state minister for external affairs RajkumarRanajan said this while inaugurating a two-day meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) with
He was putting emphasis about the importance given to East in taking forward the BIMSTEC agenda.
Bangladesh is also a member of the seven countries grouping that connects South Asia with Southeast Asia. This year marks the 25th anniversary of BIMSTEC.
The state minister was delighted to see the growing importance of BIMSTEC and said: “I am very happy to see BIMSTEC’s transformation from a grouping of countries into a full-fledged regional organisation focused on a broad region around the Bay of Bengal. Today, BIMSTEC has a distinct international legal personality.”
“BIMSTEC can address issues collectively, work and collaborate in a manner that will help us attain Sustainable Development Goals targets in the region,” he said, adding that the Indian government is committed to the BIMSTEC process.
BIMSTEC Secretary General Tenzin Lekphell said the conference is taking place soon after the 19th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting, which was held earlier this month, a year after the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit held in Colombo, and later in the year we are going to conduct the 6th BIMSTEC Summit in Bangkok.
“The BIMSTEC areas of cooperation have also been reformed by rationalising 14 areas of cooperation into seven sectors and subsectors of cooperation, and each member country has been given the mandate or the responsibility to lead a sector and thereby building ownership and ensuring a better local cooperation.”
He, however, admitted that the business journey has not been without its challenges. “Nonetheless, we believe the crisis also creates opportunities, and BIMSTEC holds much promise as a platform for cooperation, our institutions, mechanisms and legal frameworks are getting more concrete and established.”
“This conference has been designed to address all the persisting issues and challenges in the BIMSTEC with a country wise representation and perspective,” Arindam Mukherjee, Director ISCS, said.
BIMSTEC, established in June 1997, was then known as BIST-EC and named after its founding member states of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The EC stood for Economic Cooperation. In December 1997, Myanmar joined the organisation thus extending the acronym to BIMSTEC. Further by February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan were extended full membership.
The headquarters of BIMSTEC was inaugurated by Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina in 2014 in Dhaka.