The more India enjoys cooperative relations with its neighbours, the greater its ability to exert influence in the world. Meanwhile, neighbours looking at India with a reasonable mindset may internalise that cooperating with the world’s fifth largest economy is clearly in their interest.
Despite its natural advantages, the Bay of Bengal region lags economically, in part due to insufficient connectivity between the member nations. Improving financial connectivity between them is the first step to easing movement of goods, services and people. Greater financial collaboration also can help the region mitigate the impact of ongoing geopolitical upheavals that have caused food and energy prices to rise.
On 17-18 January, 2023, Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, Gateway House participated in the 14th South Asia Conference on the theme “Think20@G20: Towards a Resilient South Asia” hosted by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. Amb. Bhatia suggests that in due course, BIMSTEC should be given the status of a permanent guest in G20.
The recently concluded BIMSTEC summit is now a regional intergovernmental organization with a formal charter, giving it a clear mission and legality and a destiny linked to South and South East Asia. It is now better equipped to accelerate economic development for the fifth of the world’s population, which contributes only 4% of global GDP.
BIMSTEC is of special importance to India as it is a crucial link between the Neighbourhood First and Act East policies. This almost 25 year old multilateral can contribute to the Indo-Pacific region by addressing challenges in strategic areas of regional connectivity, security cooperation, free trade, and geoeconomic ties with external partners.
On 25 October 2021, Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Gateway House presented his remarks at the Technical Session 1 on ‘Post-Covid Economic Recovery and Restoring Growth Momentum in BIMSTEC’ of the International Symposium on “BIMSTEC: A Vehicle for Growth and Development”.
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.
On 27 June 2021, Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Gateway House, chaired a session on Revitalizing SAARC and BIMSTEC. This was part of the Global Conclave 2021, hosted by the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE), Kathmandu. Bhatia spoke about the present state, past trajectory and future challenges and opportunities for regional and sub-regional cooperation through SAARC and BIMSTEC.
Amb. Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme, provides his analysis on Prime Minister Modi's visit to Bangladesh on the occasion of the triple celebration.
During the Bay of Bengal Economic Dialogue 2021 on, Post-COVID Challenges in the Bay of Bengal Region, Amb. Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House addresses the staggered growth of BIMSTEC, whilst also highlighting its potential as a regional grouping. He identifies the lack of political commitment, bureaucratic inertia and insufficient engagement of the Third Space and disregard for the region as a community as the chief obstacles to a successful initiative.