Rediscovering the Bay of Bengal

Source: The post is based on an article Rediscovering the Bay of Bengalpublished in The Hindu on 29th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – India and its Neighborhood

News: India has also opened the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies (CBS) at Nalanda University. This shows India’s commitment towards constructive efforts by forming connections and setting up platforms for all in the Bay of Bengal.

The Bay of Bengal (the Bay) is experiencing an increase in geo-economic, geopolitical, and geo-cultural activity. It can play a key role in shaping the maritime order in Asia.

How CBS will be an advantage?

It will offer collaborations in areas such as geo-economics and geopolitics, ecology, trade and connectivity, maritime security, maritime law and blue economy. It will lead to generation of opportunities for the Bay region.

This will strengthen India’s overall framework for maritime engagement.

Further, it will also advance sustainable economic growth for all countries by promoting closer maritime ties.

What is the importance of the Bay of Bengal?

Commercial hub: The Bay has been a major commerce hub for the Indian Ocean. It created a channel between the East and the West in terms for trade and culture.

Security: It also acts as lifeline for global economic security and energy security.

Environment: The Bay also provides an opportunity for greater regional cooperation in the environmentally friendly exploration of marine and energy resources.

Biodiversity: The Bay has a biodiverse marine environment with many rare and endangered marine species and mangroves.

Geopolitical changes: The increasing interest towards Indo-Pacific and realignment of global economic and military power towards Asia has increased the significance of Bay region.

However, there have been many changes in the Bay in the recent times.

What changes or problems have come up in the Bay?

Population growth, altered land use, excessive resource exploitation, salinization, and sea level rise.

Non-traditional dangers including terrorism and climate change.

There has been species extinction due to the careless exploitation of the maritime environment which has led to problem of biodiversity.

These have led to the formation of a dead zone and the mangrove trees that protect the shore from the natural hazards are under more threat than ever.

Therefore, actions are required to preserve the Bay.

What can be the course of action?

First, a more focused and interdisciplinary study is required on these issues.

CBS has given the nation a unique interdisciplinary research center devoted to Bay-focused teaching, research, and capacity building.

Second, it is essential that maritime neighbors develop a partnership and cooperate because maritime domains are interrelated and interdependent.

A few concerns that need immediate attention are – expanding cooperation in maritime safety and security, enhancing cooperation on maritime connectivity and the ease of maritime transit, among others.

Third, there is a need for regional marine entities to balance opportunities and goals on a national, regional, and international scale.

Fourth, countries in the region will need to mobilize incentives and investments, manage oceanic affairs more effectively, and support people as they switch to alternative lifestyles.

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