Date From : Mar 05, 2021To : Mar 06, 2021
Exploring connectivity in the Bay of Bengal region: Importance of India’s Northeast

The discussions will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. IST on 5 March, and from 10:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. IST on 6 March.

Please note that registration is on a first come, first served basis. If your registration is successful, you will receive a confirmation email and a link through which you can join the webinar.

We are living in an increasingly interdependent world — ‘connectivity’ has now become the buzzword for describing the nature of interdependency. In the current geopolitical scenario, engagement at several levels with neighbouring countries and connecting with East and Southeast Asia assumes utmost importance, reinforcing the need for regional integration. The Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is poised to contribute constructively to the efforts of regional connectivity.

The Bay of Bengal is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific, and its auxiliary — the Andaman Sea — is India’s geostrategic gateway into the wider waters. India has a vision for the Indo-Pacific region — a free, open, inclusive and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue, and adherence to international rules and laws. India has also launched the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) to focus on seven central pillars conceived around maritime security; maritime ecology; maritime resources; capacity building and resource sharing; disaster risk reduction and management; science, technology and academic cooperation; and trade connectivity and maritime transport. Japan’s experience in the field of connectivity will prove to be a great fillip for the connectivity initiatives in the Indo-Pacific.

The COVID-19 pandemic has started changing the global economy, affecting manufacturing, supply chains and the movement of people and goods. There is also a need to understand the dynamics of collaboration between the member countries of the Bay of Bengal in the Indo-Pacific region with special reference to other stakeholders, including trans-national agencies like the Asian Development Bank.

This two-day webinar will be explore the following three aspects.

Proximity to connectivity: Importance of India’s Northeast in BIMSTEC

Connecting and engaging with Eastern and Southeastern countries would result in a more stable and prosperous neighbourhood. Thus, strengthening physical connectivity within the region is indispensable. However, there are several connectivity issues faced by India’s Northeast.

The Indian government has taken up the initiatives to establish links with Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Thailand under the purview of the Act East Initiative. Although initiatives in strengthening infrastructure have gathered pace — physical connectivity projects have often been delayed. The key questions to be deliberated include:

i. What is the present state of infrastructure initiatives in India’s Northeast, and how can these initiatives be strengthened?

ii. To what extent has Japan’s role become crucial in building infrastructure initiatives in the northeast of India?

iii. What is the scope for collaborative efforts among BIMSTEC member countries as well as other stakeholders in accelerating connectivity of the sub-region?

Trade, development and India’s Northeast

India’s northeastern states offer ample geostrategic leverage for enhancing economic ties. However, regional supply chain constraints, trade barriers and inadequate infrastructure have hampered the growth of trade linkages. The development of the northeastern states is connected with their economic progress and development which needs further discussion.

i. To what extent will the development of trade in the Northeast be compatible with the security imperative of the region?

ii. How can the Northeast benefit from a proposed BIMSTEC FTA and/or a hypothetical BBIN FTA as a potential part of the regional commodity or service value chains?

iii. Using technological advancements across the world, how can similar processes be adapted for the benefit of the Northeast?

iv. Is India’s temporary withdrawal from RCEP a lost opportunity for the region?

Bay of Bengal as a stepping stone for the wider Indo-Pacific

The Bay of Bengal has become an arena of cooperation and competition amongst many. As India ventures to Act East, the Bay has emerged as a key region for its strategic manoeuvres. This maritime space is also geographically poised to be India’s ‘stepping stone’ into the wider waters of the Indo-Pacific. Under such circumstances, it is important to deliberate on the following:

i. In what ways can India collaborate with the littoral and non-littoral stakeholders beyond Malacca?

ii. How can India’s maritime initiatives be synchronised with other regional agencies for better collaboration in the Bay? In what ways can the members of BIMSTEC collaborate to ensure stability and security in the Bay through a rule-based order?

iii. How India’s Northeast can strengthen connectivity in the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-Pacific region?

This event is in partnership with the Consulate General of Japan in Kolkata, and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.


Day 1 — 5 March

11:00 – 11:10 a.m. | Welcome address | Nilanjan Ghosh (Chair)

11:10 –11:15 a.m. | Introduction of the theme | Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury

11:15 – 11:30 a.m. | Address by Nakamura Yutaka

11:30 – 11: 45 a.m. | Inaugural address | Riva Ganguly Das

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Special address | Tariq Karim

12:00 – 12:15 p.m. | Special address | Lt. Gen. Subrata Saha (Retd.), PVSM, UYSM, VSM

12:15 – 12:30 p.m. | Interaction

3:30 – 5:15 p.m. | Session I: Proximity to connectivity: Importance of India’s Northeast in BIMSTEC | Rupakjyoti Borah, Pinak Ranjan Chakrabarty, Mrinal Talukdar, Vijaylakshmi Brara, Pahi Saikia, and Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury (Chair)

This session will be followed by Q&A.

Day 2 — 6 March

10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | Session II: Trade and development in Northeast | Keiichi Onozawa, Nisha Taneja, Indraneel Bhowmik, Prabir De, Rakhee Bhattacharya, and Nilanjan Ghosh (Chair)

This session will be followed by Q&A.

3:30 – 5:15 p.m. | Session III: Bay of Bengal as stepping stone for the wider Indo-Pacific | Alex Waterman, Gautam Mukhopadhyay, Madhuchanda Ghosh, Indrani Bagchi, Masami Ishida, and Harsh V. Pant (Chair)

This session will be followed by Q&A.

5:15 – 5:45 p.m. | Valedictory remarks | Matsumoto Katsuo

Vote of thanks | Ambar Kumar Ghosh