PM Modi urges BIMSTEC members to 'work together' for prosperity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called upon the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) member states to work together to "achieve peace, prosperity and happiness".

Addressing the inaugural session of fourth BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu, the Prime Minister said, "We are all a group of developing nations and in our respective countries, a desire for peace, prosperity and happiness remains our utmost priority. However, in today's interconnected world, no one can achieve it individually and we need to walk together in this direction."

Emphasising on the need of connectivity in the modern world, Prime Minister Modi said that connectivity is the biggest opportunity.

"I believe the biggest opportunity for us is connectivity. Be it trade connectivity, economic connectivity, transport connectivity, digital connectivity or people to people connectivity, we have to work on all these aspects. To encourage coastal shipping and motor vehicle agreements among BIMSTEC nations, India is ready to become a host in future. To increase connect and communication between our entrepreneurs, India is ready to host BIMSTEC Start-up Conclave. We know it very well that the enthusiasm of our youth and this era of start-up's is a big strength which we can further boost," he noted.

Recollecting the key highlights of BIMSTEC leaders retreat held in Goa in 2016, he said, "India had got an opportunity to host BIMSTEC retreat together with BRICS in Goa. Our teams have taken follow-up action on the Agenda for Action (A for A) which was decided upon in Goa. The significant points of this Agenda for Action included annual BIMSTEC disaster management exercise, two National Security Advisor level meetings, discussion on the progress of BIMSTEC trade felicitation agreement and an agreement on BIMSTEC grid interconnection."

Specifying the need to counter the effects of climatic change on farming, the Prime Minister announced that India will organise an International conference on the issue of climate-smart farming.

"Most of the member nations are agrarian countries and are continuously battling with climatic change. In this context, for assisting in agriculture research, study and development, India will organize an International conference on the issue of Climate Smart Farming," he added.

The Prime Minister also announced a slew of initiatives for BIMSTEC members including scholarships, research fellowship and short-term training courses.

"In the field of Digital connectivity, India is committed to propagate the country's national knowledge network to Srilanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. We also propose to take it to Myanmar and Thailand. I hope that all BIMSTEC countries will become part of India Mobile Congress being organized in Delhi in October. BIMSTEC ministerial conclave is also a part of this Congress," he said.

"To increase connectivity with the BIMSTEC nations, India's northeast region will play a vital role. For the east region, we have an initiative called Science and Technology Interventions in the North Easte Region (STINER) and we propose to extend it to BIMSTEC member nations. Similarly, at India's North Eastern Space Application Centre, we are prepared to offer 24 scholarships to researchers, students and professors from BIMSTEC members. We will give 30 scholarships to young students from BIMSTEC countries at Nalanda University and 12 research fellowships for advanced medicine. We will also offer 100 short-term training courses on Tourism, Environment, Disaster management, Agriculture, trade, Renewable energy etc. We will also develop a Center for Bay of Bengal Studies at Nalanda University for research in the field of art, culture, ocean laws and other similar issues," he added.

The Prime Minister also extended an invitation to BIMSTEC members for being part of the International Buddhist conclave to be held next year. "Buddhism and meditation are a key part of our connection. In August 2020, India will be hosting International Buddhist conclave and I invite all BIMSTEC nations to attend it as the guest of honour," he said.

To increase connect between youth, he also proposed different youth-centric initiatives such as BIMSTEC Youth Summit, BIMSTEC Youth Water Sports among others.

Further addressing the issues of natural calamities and disaster relief, the Prime Minister asked the BIMSTEC countries to make a collaborative and coordinated effort for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"We have to face natural calamities such as flood, cyclone, earthquake etc. repeatedly. It is hence very important to make a collaborative and coordinated effort for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. India will also host a tri-service humanitarian association and disaster relief exercise of BIMSTEC countries. We are also ready to contribute to capacity building of officials working in the field of disaster management," he stressed.

He also spoke about the significance of blue economy and said, "Our geographical location makes us part of global sea trade route and there is a special part of the blue economy in our economies and in coming times, India will organize a hackathon on the blue economy with young participants from all BIMSTEC countries. We will also organize BIMSTEC multinational military field training exercise and a conclave of army chiefs."

Prime Minister Modi also proposed that a special forum for women parliamentarian from BIMSTEC countries should be formed.

The BIMSTEC is an international organisation comprising seven countries of South Asia and South East Asia, namely Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, and Nepal. The main objective of the BIMSTEC is technical and economic cooperation among South Asian and Southeast Asian countries around the Bay of Bengal.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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