The fifth summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping was recently held in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Host for the Fifth Summit).
Charter of BIMSTEC: The main outcome of this summit was the signing of the BIMSTEC Charter.
The members were expected to meet once every two years under this Charter.
The BIMSTEC now has an international presence as a result of the Charter. It has an emblem and a flag.
It has a formally stated purpose and principles to which it will adhere.
In keeping with the organization’s evolution into a formal structure, the leaders of the member countries have agreed to divide the group’s operations into seven segments, with India leading the security pillar.
Master Plan for Transport Connectivity: At the summit, the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity was announced, which would serve as a framework for regional and domestic connectivity.
Other Arrangements: A treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters was also signed by member countries.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility (TTF) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
India will contribute one million US dollars to the (BIMSTEC) secretariat’s operational budget.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation with seven member countries: five from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka), and two from Southeast Asia (Myanmar and Thailand).
The Bangkok Declaration established this sub-regional organisation on June 6, 1997.
With 21.7 percent of the global population and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 3.8 trillion, BIMSTEC has emerged as a powerful economic growth engine.
Dhaka is home to the BIMSTEC Secretariat.
On the basis of his Neighbourhood First policy, India’s Prime Minister invited South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including Pakistan, to his swearing-in ceremony in 2014.
In November 2014, the Prime Minister also attended the 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu.
However, following the Uri attack (on an Indian military base) in October 2016, India renewed its support for the BIMSTEC, which had existed for nearly two decades but had been largely ignored.
Along with the BRICS summit in Goa, PM hosted a BIMSTEC outreach summit.
BIMSTEC countries had backed India’s call for a boycott of the SAARC summit, which was scheduled to take place in Islamabad in November 2016.
As a result, the SAARC summit has been postponed indefinitely.
With work on several key SAARC initiatives stalled due to the breakdown of relations with Pakistan, India began focusing on other regional organisations such as BIMSTEC and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
for the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement: The member countries must finalise the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement.
As the region faces health and economic security challenges, as well as the need for solidarity and cooperation, the FTA will transform the Bay of Bengal into a bridge of connectivity, prosperity, and security.
Aside from that, there is a need for coastal shipping ecosystem interconnectivity and electricity grid interconnectivity as two of the necessary components of BIMSTEC’s evolving shape.
Gujral Doctrine: To counter the perception that BIMSTEC is an India-dominated bloc, India can employ the Gujral doctrine, which seeks to define the impact of transactional motives in bilateral relations.
The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles designed to guide India’s foreign relations with its immediate neighbours. These are the principles:
India does not seek reciprocity from its neighbours, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, but instead gives and accommodates what it can in good faith and trust.
No South Asian country should allow its territory to be used against the interests of another region’s country.
No country should meddle in another’s internal affairs.
All South Asian countries must respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of one another.
All of their disagreements should be resolved through peaceful bilateral negotiations.
India’s External Affairs Minister recently paid a visit to Sri Lanka. The visit resulted in the signing of an MoU that allowed India to establish hybrid power projects on three islands off the coast of Jaffna (Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu).
India will effectively replace the Chinese venture in this Project.
It is the third Indian energy project to be built in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
Previously, India extended a USD1 billion short-term concessional loan to Sri Lanka to assist the island nation in dealing with one of the worst economic crises in decades.
Defending Against the Chinese Threat: Following an Asia Development Bank-backed competitive bid, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet decided in January 2021 to award renewable energy projects in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu islands to Chinese company Sinosoar-Etechwin.
India was quick to express its concern to the Sri Lankan side about the Chinese project planned for Palk Bay, just 50 kilometres off the coast of Tamil Nadu.
As a result, India offered to carry out the same project with a grant rather than a loan.
Additionally, India and Sri Lanka have agreed to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), indicating increased defence sector collaboration between the neighbours.
MRCCs are part of an international network overseen by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization that monitors sea lanes with the goal of responding quickly to emergencies such as ships in distress, rescuing and evacuating people, and preventing and containing environmental disasters such as oil spills.
The agreement appears to be part of India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) initiative in the Indian Ocean, which has also seen India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives renew their 2011 Colombo Security Conclave, which now includes Mauritius.
Fisheries Harbours: India will also assist in the development of fisheries harbours in Point Pedro, Pesalai, and Gurunagar in the Northern Province, as well as Balapitiya south of Colombo.
Capacity Building: India also promised to support education by extending a grant for Sri Lanka’s Unique Digital Identity project and cooperating in diplomatic training.
Resolution of the Tamil Question: India has welcomed recent talks between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which represents war-affected Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
Fishermen Murder: The killing of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy is a lingering issue between these two countries.
In 2019 and 2020, 284 Indian fishermen were arrested, and 53 Indian boats were confiscated by Sri Lankan authorities.
China’s Influence: China’s rapidly expanding economic footprint (and, as a result, political clout) in Sri Lanka is straining India-Sri Lanka relations.
China is already the most important investor in Sri Lanka, accounting for 23.6 percent of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from 2010 to 2019, compared to 10.4 percent from India.
China is also one of the top export destinations for Sri Lankan goods, accounting for more than 10% of the country’s external debt.
The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution envisions devolution of necessary powers to provincial councils in order to address the Tamil people’s just demand for equality, justice, peace, and respect within a united Sri Lanka. India backs its implementation.
There is a subterranean trust deficit between India and Sri Lanka, but neither country can afford to have strained relations.
However, as a much larger country, India bears the burden of bringing Sri Lanka along. India must be extremely patient and avoid reacting to any pinpricks in order to engage Sri Lanka more frequently and closely, particularly at the highest levels.
There is a need to increase our people-centered development activities while avoiding any interference in Colombo’s domestic affairs.
Maintaining the Neighbourhood First policy with Sri Lanka is critical for India’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region.
At the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently launched the World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022.
The Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) has established itself as a premier international forum for key energy stakeholders.
The term “energy transition” refers to the global energy sector’s shift away from fossil-based energy production and consumption systems, such as oil, natural gas, and coal, and toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as lithium-ion batteries.
The Outlook identifies priority areas and actions that must be implemented by 2030 in order to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.
It also assesses progress across all energy uses to date, demonstrating that the current pace and scale of the renewables-based transition is insufficient.
It provides in-depth analysis of two areas that are especially important for decarbonizing end-use sectors: electrification and bioenergy.
It also investigates the socioeconomic implications of the 1.5°C pathway (as defined by the Paris Agreement) and suggests ways to accelerate progress toward universal access to clean energy (renewable energy).
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global annual renewable power additions will triple by 2030.
Simultaneously, coal power must be resolutely replaced, fossil fuel assets phased out, and infrastructure upgraded.
According to the Outlook, electrification and efficiency will be key drivers of the energy transition, which will be enabled by renewables, hydrogen, and sustainable biomass.
End-of-life decarbonisation will take centre stage, with many solutions available via electrification, green hydrogen, and direct use of renewables.
High fossil fuel prices, energy security concerns, and the urgency of climate change all highlight the critical need to accelerate the transition to a clean energy system.
Short-term interventions to address the current energy crisis must be accompanied by a firm focus on mid- and long-term energy transition goals.
Renewables will need to be massively scaled up across all sectors, from 14 percent of total energy today to around 40 percent in 2030.
By 2030, the largest energy consumers and carbon emitters will be required to implement the most ambitious plans and investments.
Countries must set more ambitious targets and implement policies to increase energy efficiency and renewables deployment.
To meet the 1.5°C Scenario, the electricity sector must be completely decarbonised by mid-century, with solar and wind leading the way.
is an acronym for the International Renewable Energy Agency.
It is an intergovernmental organisation that was officially established in January 2009 in Bonn, Germany.
It has 167 members, with India being the 77th Founding Member.
Its headquarters are located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
As of 30th November 2021, the country’s installed Renewable Energy (RE) capacity is 150.54 GW (solar: 48.55 GW, wind: 40.03 GW, Small hydro Power: 4.83, Bio-power: 10.62, Large Hydro: 46.51 GW), while its nuclear energy-based installed electricity capacity is 6.78 GW.
India has the world’s fourth-largest wind power capacity.
This brings the total installed non-fossil energy capacity to 157.32 GW, accounting for 40.1 percent of the total installed electricity capacity of 392.01 GW.
India announced at COP26 that it will achieve carbon neutrality by 2070 as part of a five-point action plan that includes reducing emissions by half by 2030.
Rank of India in the Energy Transition Index: India was ranked 87th out of 110 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Energy Transition Index (ETI) 2021.
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has stated that it will safeguard the ancient Buddha statues in Mes Aynak (Bamiyan), which also houses a copper mine.
Previously, the Taliban’s hardline Islamists wanted to demolish the Bamiyan Buddhas, which they saw as symbols of idol worship.
The Taliban’s apparent change of heart on the Mes Aynak statues appears to be motivated by economic interests, with the regime desperately in need of the income that Chinese investment in copper mines could generate.
Bamiyan Valley, located in the Hindu Kush Mountains and along the Bamiyan River, is emerging as a commercial and cultural exchange hub.
It was an important node on the early Silk Routes.
The rise of Bamiyan was inextricably linked to the spread of Buddhism across Central Asia, which was in turn linked to the political and economic currents of the time.
Early in the first century AD, the Kushans established themselves as unavoidable intermediaries between China, India, and Rome.
This semi-nomadic tribe thrived off the Silk Road’s profits.
The Bamiyan Buddhas
The Bamiyan Buddha statues are two monumental statues from the fifth century AD.
Both were constructed during the reign of the Hephthalites.
They were carved into the sides of sandstone cliffs in central Afghanistan’s Bamyan valley.
The statues, dressed in Roman drapery and holding two different mudras, were excellent examples of a synthesis of Gupta, Sassanian, and Hellenistic artistic styles.