Context: The Bay of Bengal is experiencing an increase in geo-economic, geopolitical, and geo-cultural activity. Therefore, at the fourth BIMSTEC summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the opening of the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies (CBS) at Nalanda University.
Rethinking the Bay:
- The setting up of a dedicated institution on the bay has once again demonstrated India’s commitment to advancing constructive agendas by forging connections and setting up platforms for all those with an interest in the Bay.
- CBS will offer collaborations in areas such as geo-economics and geopolitics, ecology, trade and connectivity, maritime security, maritime law, cultural heritage, and blue economy to generate opportunities for the Bay region.
- This will strengthen India’s overall framework for maritime engagement, which aims to advance sustainable economic growth for all by fostering closer nautical ties.
Significance of the Bay:
- About half the world’s container traffic passes through this region, and its ports handle approximately one third of world trade, thus becoming the “economic highway of the world.”
- It created a conduit between the East and the West in terms for trade and culture. An Indo-Pacific orientation and the realignment of global economic and military power towards Asia have had a considerable impact on the Bay region.
- The key sea lanes of communication in this area are lifelines for global economic security and are crucial to the energy security that powers the economies of many countries in the region.
- Non-traditional dangers including terrorism and climate change have become more prevalent.
- The Bay also provides an opportunity for greater regional cooperation in the environmentally friendly exploration of marine and energy resources.
- The Bay has a biodiverse marine environment and home to many rare and endangered marine species and mangroves, which are essential to the survival of the ecology and the fishing sector.
Disorder at the Bay:
- The region’s maritime environment has changed as a result of major powers expanding their economic and geopolitical influence.
- Political and cultural engagement, together with economic competition, have taken on new dimensions.
- Problems such as population growth, altered land use, excessive resource exploitation, salinisation, sea level rise, and climate change are exerting significant strain on the Bay’s environment.
- Operational discharge from small and medium feeder ships, shipping collisions, unintentional oil spills, industrial waste, pollution, and the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastic litter are all contributing to the deterioration of the Bay.
- A dead zone has formed as a result, and the mangrove trees that protect the shore from the fury of nature are under more threat than ever.
- For a better knowledge of challenges, and strategies to overcome them for the sustainable development of the region, more focused and interdisciplinary study is required on these issues.
- By founding the CBS, Nalanda University has already started its journey and given the nation a unique interdisciplinary research centre devoted to Bay-focused teaching, research, and capacity building. Additionally, scholars from many countries and academic streams are already participating in CBS’s first certificate programme on the Bay.
- It is essential that nautical neighbours develop a partnership and cooperate because of the maritime domain’s interrelated and interdependent nature. A few concerns that need immediate attention include expanding cooperation in maritime safety, maritime connectivity and the ease of maritime transit.
About Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR):
- The IFC has been established at the Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram, Haryana.
- IFC is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
- All countries that have signed white shipping information exchange agreements with India can now position liaison officers at the IFC. Countries like USA, UK have posted their officers in IFC-IOR.
Source: The Hindu