Kochi: At a time when geopolitical competitions and power rivalries are on an increasing trend in the Bay of Bengal region, experts have urged all member nations of the region to come together, pool their resources and partner with each other in building their shared future based on the principles of sustainability, inclusiveness and security for all. “Every littoral state here has a fundamental stake in the security of the region as well as in effective ocean governance”, said N Ramachandran, Former Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust. He was speaking after inaugurating the two-day international conference on the security and prosperity of the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday in Kochi organised by the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), Kochi and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) South Asia.

According to him, the region presents many multi dimensional complexities as far as security is concerned. The Bay of Bengal has been turning out to be a theater of keen economic and strategic competition, he said, adding that the conference offers an opportunity to think critically and generate  a better understanding of the concerns, the threats and opportunities that the Bay of Bengal presents. International diplomats, Government officials, academicians, experts and international media personalities from Germany, Thailand, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives are attending the conference.

The Bay of Bengal, situated in the threshold of the Indo Pacific region, acts as a nerve centre of sea lanes of communication. Mr Nitirooge Phoneprasert, Consul-General of Thailand in Chennai said that understanding what exactly could be done to help integrate and strengthen the progression of Bay of Bengal will benefit the core countries in this region.”, followed by Mr Sujeet Kumar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, India saying, “The Indo-Pacific today is the most important and strategic geographical entity in the world and the Bay of Bengal is an integral part of the Indo-Pacific.  India is the largest country adjoining the Bay of Bengal and is one of the prominent members of BIMSTEC, countries which are littoral in the Bay of Bengal. Given India’s focus in Southeast Asia through its Naval Route Policy and Act East Policy, the country is largely focused on connecting with countries in the Southeast and in Southeast Asia”, said Sujeet Kumar, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha.

During the event, the book ‘Maritime Security Complexes of the Indo Pacific Region’ a collective research publication by Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) and Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) written Dr Vijay Sakhuja and Dr (Prof) Lawrence S Prabhakar with articles from a number of eminent scholars and thought leaders in the International Relations landscape was also launched.

Dr. D Dhanuraj, Chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research said that the rising importance of the Bay of Bengal is closely linked to the rapid economic growth of these littoral nations and of the major powers involved in the Bay. “So, the conference discussions will contribute to finding solutions to various challenges and also work in tandem with the littoral states on how to achieve prosperity in the region”, he said.

Frank Hoffman, Regional Project Manager, Friedrich Naumann Foundation, South Asia  in his remarks said that the growing significance of the BoB for economic and strategic reasons made this conference very suitable and relevant both for its timing and the theme it covers.