Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a sub-regional grouping involving seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia. The BIMSTEC states are those which are on the shore or are adjacent to the Bay of Bengal and are dependent on it. They are Thailand, Myanmar from South East Asia and Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and India from South Asia. The international organization was formed on 6th of June 1997, through the Bangkok declaration and is headquartered at Dhaka in Bangladesh.
Objectives of BIMSTEC:
Technological and economical cooperation among south Asian and south East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
BIMSTEC is a sector driven cooperative organization and covers cooperation in sectors like communication, leather, textiles, transport, fisheries, human resource development, tourism, agriculture, investment, technology and commerce etc. Currently, there are fourteen priority sectors and each member country voluntarily leads one or more sectors. Counter terrorism & transnational crime and telecommunication & transport are dealt with by India. The grouping is a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia and constitutes a reinforcement of relations between the seven countries. It is of utmost significance to India as it is a major support in implementing its Act East Policy and the development of its ambitious ‘Sagar Mala’ project.
The first meeting of National Security Chiefs of BIMSTEC:
- The first meeting of National Security Chiefs of BIMSTEC member states was hosted by India in New Delhi on the 21st of March 2017.
- The meeting was aimed at discussing the common security challenges faced by the member countries.
- The necessity of addressing traditional and non-traditional security challenges to harness human security in the region was underlined, as security cooperation among the member nations is very important in achieving the objectives of the organization.
- The Importance of maritime security was emphasized. The member states put forth their views to further strengthen the maritime security cooperation including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
- An agreement was reached to arrive at collective strategies recognizing Bay of Bengal as a common security space.
- Urgent need for measures to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization through coordination in law enforcement, security organizations and capacity building were also discussed in the meeting.