Don't miss the BIMSTEC bus: Regional integration with South Asia-Southeast Asia bloc brings advantages for India

Among the VIPs at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in for a second term May 30 were the leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). The organization, which comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, is intended to be a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Looking beyond the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and engaging with BIMSTEC has been a cornerstone of India’s policy shift under Modi.

The two Southeast Asian countries in BIMSTEC, Myanmar and Thailand, have a crucial place in India’s ambitious connectivity plans for its northeastern region. An Asian highway linking India, Myanmar, and Thailand is the centerpiece of the government’s Act East (formerly Look East) policy. With India-Pakistan bickering persisting and affecting SAARC, BIMSTEC is poised to step in and advance India’s regional cooperation.

Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Office