June 6, 2022, marks 25 years since India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand joined hands to create BIMSTEC and infuse South Asia with economic and institutional cooperation. The strategic geography of this grouping has the potential to bring new synergy between South Asia and the recently-instituted Indo Pacific Economic Framework, ASEAN and the Quad, for a prosperous, secure Bay of Bengal Community.
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.
Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India earlier this month, resulting in seven new agreements, showed the strength of the mutual relationship. But both governments need to address some rankling issues: the sharing of the Teesta waters, the Rohingya problem and repatriation of the illegal people from Assam
Bangladesh faces several major challenges in its external relations. It showed humanitarianism in receiving the fleeing Rohingyas, but its diplomatic efforts to repatriate them have not succeeded. It must also maintain a balance between relations with India and China and show proactive leadership in garnering regional cooperation
No easy solutions to this refugee problem are emerging despite the considerable international attention it has drawn. India has taken a pragmatic stand despite anxiety about deepening China-Myanmar ties
This regional grouping has to deliver on promises in collaboration with governments and corporate India so that neglected issues – from the Rohingya crisis to the scheduling of the next summit, and arriving at an agreement on the Free Trade Area – enter the national discourse
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Myanmar gave the bilateral a substantive boost, but the exodus of over half a million Rohingya refugees dominated the discourse. India’s response has shown a balancing of compulsions, both humanitarian and strategic