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Question #

Do you think that BIMSTEC is a parallel organisation like the SAARC ? What are the similarities and dissimilarities between the two ? How are Indian foreign policy objectives realized by forming this new organisation?

ChatGPT Answer #

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is not a parallel organization to SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) but rather a complementary one. While both organizations focus on regional cooperation among Asian countries, BIMSTEC is primarily aimed at enhancing connectivity and cooperation between countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal, whereas SAARC focuses on South Asia as a whole.

The similarities between BIMSTEC and SAARC include the shared objective of regional integration and cooperation. Both organizations aim to promote economic growth, cultural exchanges, and regional collaboration among member countries. They also work towards addressing common challenges such as poverty, terrorism, and climate change.

However, there are also significant dissimilarities between the two organizations. SAARC includes eight South Asian countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. On the other hand, BIMSTEC includes countries from both South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand). This broader regional composition enables BIMSTEC to foster collaboration beyond South Asia.

Indian foreign policy objectives are realized by forming BIMSTEC in several ways:

1. Enhancing connectivity: BIMSTEC provides India with an opportunity to improve connectivity with Southeast Asian countries through various projects such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. This promotes India's "Act East" policy, intended to deepen economic and strategic engagement with Southeast Asia.

2. Countering regional challenges: BIMSTEC allows India to address common challenges such as terrorism, illegal trafficking, and natural disasters through collaborative efforts with member countries. This aligns with India's goal of maintaining peace and security in the region.

3. Economic integration: BIMSTEC offers India a platform for expanding trade, investment, and economic integration within the Bay of Bengal region. This supports India's larger objective of strengthening economic ties with neighboring countries.

4. Diversifying strategic partnerships: BIMSTEC provides India with an avenue to diversify its strategic partnerships beyond SAARC, especially given the challenges in India-Pakistan relations that often hinder SAARC's progress. This allows India to engage with countries like Myanmar and Thailand more closely.

In summary, BIMSTEC and SAARC are not parallel organizations but serve as complementary platforms for regional cooperation in Asia. Indian foreign policy objectives are realized through BIMSTEC by enhancing connectivity, countering challenges, promoting economic integration, and diversifying strategic partnerships.

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