The BIMSTEC charter has laid the foundations for a prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable Bay of Bengal region, a goal that can be achieved by greater integration and deeper collaboration. While ensuring continuity with past efforts and strengthening economic cooperation is necessary, it must also realise its potential in newer areas such as the blue economy, which has three interlinked pillars— connectivity, prosperity, and regional stability.
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The rejuvenated BIMSTEC, with a new charter in hand, is now expanding its ambition and mission. One such area is climate change, which needs greater attention as it will have implications for the Bay of Bengal and beyond. With their unique climate conditions and action plans can together create a model for regional cooperation.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has been focused on resolving the Afghan crisis. But divergent views of members and the influence of China and Pakistan have eluded a solution. This has been further impeded by the ongoing sanctions and humanitarian issues which are beyond the organisation's scope.
Pro-Khalistan organisations have collaborated with the ISI to disseminate anti-India narratives and influence the Indian diaspora. While this has little traction within the country, there is a need for India to extend support to those expatriate Indian communities which are actively countering the misinformation spread by these organisations and Pakistan-sponsored fringe groups.
Last month, the Government of India released its Green Hydrogen Policy with the goal of boosting energy self-reliance and inspiring clean energy transitions. The time is right for the Indo-Pacific economies to finance green hydrogen projects and integrate them into supply chains.
While international organisations in Afghanistan have made a noticeable impact in the humanitarian field, they have been less successful in the political field, putting into question their overall effectiveness.
India has seen a recent influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Myanmar. This has highlighted the absence of a concrete refugee policy in India. India must formalise its approach towards refugees. The Citizen Amendment Act of 2019, is a start. India can move this forward by learning from the examples of other democracies like the U.S., Kenya and South Korea, on how to balance international law with its national security interests.
The upcoming Summit for Democracy hosted by U.S. President Biden, has high expectations from him. With trust in the U.S. having suffered badly, it remains to be seen how much confidence the democracies at the summit will have in American efforts at restoration of world leadership.
On 6 October 2021, Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, spoke to Dr. Pramod Jaiswal, Strategic Affairs Editor at Khabarhub on the role of Nepal in BIMSTEC and SAARC, in an analysis of the 17th BIMSTEC ministerial meetings. He also highlighted the role of SAARC and BIMSTEC in countering Chinese influence in the region.
This Gandhi Jayanti we talk about Gandhi’s greatest follower - Khan Saheb Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly called Badshah Khan or Frontier Gandhi. His inclusive and humanistic interpretation of Islamic Jihad is important, especially in the context of the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.