Union Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh on Saturday said that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has been transformed into a distinct "international legal personality", adding that India's Millet diplomacy has the potential to solve food crisis among the member nations
He also emphasised Kolkata playing a leading role in India's 'Act East' policy.
"I am very happy to see BIMSTEC's transformations from a grouping of countries into a full-fledged regional organization focused on broad region around the Bay of Bengal. Today, BIMSTEC has a distinct international legal personality," he said while inaugurating the two-day BIMSTEC meet, which is marking its 25th anniversary at the opening session of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
"This is the Year of the Millet and our Prime Minister has given much importance to it. This is a climate-resilient crop and its nutrition value is very high. Let us hope that food deficiency by way of cultivation and popularization of millet can be addressed," he added.
"It grows in all geographic conditions and needs less water. So let us promote it and see how far it goes to solve the problem of food security," he said while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day BIMSTEC meet marking its 25th Anniversary.
Terming Kolkata as "strategically one of the most prominent cities of India" and for promotion of "East and Act East policy", he stressed that Kolkata should be the prime area and the regional head to lead the Act East policy.
"Government of India is committed to BIMSTEC'S regional organization. It is, for this reason, PM Narendra Modi has given financial resources to the BIMSTEC secretariat at Sri Lanka Summit in 2022. The BIMSTEC has now become an effective regional organization of the Bay Of Bengal," he said.
"Given the post covid economic challenges, that are being faced by all of us and also the uncertainties in the international system due to developments in Europe, requires regional action more than ever before," he said.
he said that the political leadership in the BIMSTEC region is firmly committed to taking BIMSTEC corporation to the next level.
"The main challenges before officials, policymakers, and scholars is to help governments identify activities for policies that can be collectively undertaken and help BIMSTEC deliver real developments for its people," he said.
BIMSTEC comprises of 7 member states (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) which are littoral to, or dependent upon the Bay of Bengal. During the last BIMSTEC Summit hosted by Sri Lanka, Leaders adopted and signed the BIMSTEC Charter completing its evolution into a full-fledged regional organization with a distinct international legal personality.
India is fully committed to working with BIMSTEC member states to further the BIMSTEC regional cooperation agenda and to build BIMSTEC into a vibrant regional organization for development and economic cooperation in the Bay of Bengal region.
BIMSTEC Secretary General Tenzin Lekphell, while speaking at the inaugural session, said: "BIMSTEC holds much promise as a platform for cooperation, our institutions, mechanisms and legal frameworks are getting more concrete and established. Ministerial meetings and senior official meetings are increasingly getting more interactive, engaging and more regular. Our leaders and their political will and commitment to BIMSTEC is also increasingly gaining peace."
BIMSTEC which was established in June 1997, was earlier known as BIST-EC after its founding member states of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
The EC stood for Economic Cooperation. In December 1997, Myanmar joined the organisation thus extending the acronym to BIMSTEC. Further, by February 2004, Nepal and Bhutan were extended full membership.
The headquarter of BIMSTEC was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina in 2014 in Dhaka. Further, in March 2022, at the Fifth Summit in Colombo, the BIMSTEC Charter was signed and adopted by the member states, making it a landmark occasion in the history of the organisation.
Today, BIMSTEC operates with the objective of technological and economic cooperation among the member states.
The primary focus of the initiative is "rapid development through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the sectors of trade, investment and industry, technology, human resource development, tourism, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure and transportation". (ANI)