The Bay of Bengal is a platform for regional cooperation and competition

The Bay of Bengal is a platform for regional cooperation and competition

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Dhaka University lecturer Tanvir Habib elaborated on the interests of major powers like India, China, Japan, France and Russia in the region. He mentioned India's special understanding and strategic approach towards the Bay of Bengal.

The director said the Bay of Bengal is a key location for Indian Navy operations, impacting both India's security and regional stability. He also highlighted China's growing interest in the Bay and the Indian Ocean and the resulting geopolitical tensions.

Marjuka Binte Afzal, lecturer at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), discussed traditional security concerns in the Bay of Bengal and highlighted Bangladesh's absence from naval exercises in the Bay. She stressed the importance of information sharing.

Raising questions on the health of the Bay of Bengal, the director pointed out that the marine area is getting polluted in many ways due to plastic pollution, acidification and excessive warming of the ocean. Rear Admiral Awal identified the ecological aspect of the Bay as a major challenge. The Bay of Bengal has a rich marine ecosystem. We need specific action, collaboration and huge investments to protect the diverse biodiversity in and around the Bay of Bengal.

The roundtable concluded with the unanimous recognition of Bangladesh as a maritime nation, an important acknowledgement of the country’s extensive coastline and significant marine resources. This recognition is not merely symbolic; it reflects the deeper realities of Bangladesh’s geography, economy and strategic imperatives. The discussions underscored the need for Bangladesh to adopt a maritime-centric approach in its policy-making and strategic planning. This approach includes prioritising maritime issues in the national agenda, investing in the maritime sector and enhancing naval capabilities to effectively protect and leverage marine resources. Enhancing maritime security was identified as a cornerstone for maintaining stability in the Bay of Bengal.

Experts emphasized that strong maritime security measures are essential to defend against a range of threats. Strengthening the Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard, improving surveillance and intelligence capabilities, and promoting international naval cooperation are important steps in this direction. In addition, promoting regional cooperation was deemed critical to achieving both security and economic aspirations. These cooperative efforts could take the form of joint naval exercises, information sharing, and coordinated responses to maritime challenges. By adopting a maritime-focused policy approach, enhancing security, and promoting regional cooperation, Bangladesh can ensure a stable and prosperous future while leveraging its maritime heritage to advance national development and regional stability.

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