MEA stresses India’s Millet diplomacy can solve food crisis among BIMSTEC member nations

26 March, 2023 | Pragati Singh

india National

This is the Year of the Millet and our Prime Minister has given much importance to it.

Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, said on Saturday 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 the member nations’ food crisis.

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.

He emphasised that Kolkata should be the prime area and regional head to lead the Act East policy, referring to it as “strategically one of India’s most prominent cities” and for the promotion of “East and 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 stated that the BIMSTEC region’s political leadership is firmly committed to taking the 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 is made up of seven member countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) that are either adjacent to or dependent on the Bay of Bengal. Leaders adopted and signed the BIMSTEC Charter at the most recent BIMSTEC Summit, completing its evolution into a full-fledged regional organisation with distinct international legal personality.

India is fully committed to collaborating with BIMSTEC member countries to advance the BIMSTEC regional cooperation agenda and to transforming BIMSTEC into a vibrant regional organisation 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 was founded in June 1997 and was previously known as BIST-EC after its founding member countries of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Economic Cooperation was abbreviated as EC. Myanmar joined the organisation in December 1997, extending the acronym to BIMSTEC. Nepal and Bhutan were also granted full membership by February 2004.

The BIMSTEC headquarters in Dhaka were inaugurated in 2014 by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Furthermore, the BIMSTEC Charter was signed and adopted by the member states at the Fifth Summit in Colombo in March 2022, marking a watershed moment in the organization’s history. BIMSTEC now operates with the goal of fostering technological and economic cooperation among its member countries.

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”.