Do you think that BIMSTEC is a parallel organisation like the SAARC? What are the similarities and dissimilarities between the two? How are Indian Foreign Policy objectives realised by forming this new organisation? (250 words) [2022]

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) are regional organizations with some overlapping membership.

SAARC comprises eight countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. BIMSTEC includes seven countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

While BIMSTEC is not a direct parallel to SAARC, it serves as an alternative platform for regional cooperation.


  • Regional Cooperation: Both BIMSTEC and SAARC aim to promote regional cooperation among member countries in various sectors such as trade, technology, and infrastructure.
  • Overlapping Membership: India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are members of both BIMSTEC and SAARC, highlighting their shared interests in regional cooperation.


  • Geographical Scope: BIMSTEC includes countries from South Asia and Southeast Asia, while SAARC is focused on South Asian countries only.
  • Political Dynamics: BIMSTEC is perceived as a more viable platform for regional cooperation due to the absence of political tensions that have hampered SAARC, particularly between India and Pakistan.

Indian foreign policy objectives realized through BIMSTEC include:

  • Strengthening Regional Connectivity: BIMSTEC allows India to enhance regional connectivity through infrastructure projects, such as roadways, railways, and ports, fostering economic integration.
  • Enhancing Economic Cooperation: BIMSTEC provides a platform for India to engage in trade and investment with member countries, promoting economic growth and development.
  • Addressing Security Concerns: BIMSTEC enables India to collaborate with member countries on issues such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, and disaster management.
  • Promoting Cultural Exchange: BIMSTEC facilitates cultural exchange and people-to-people contacts, fostering mutual understanding and goodwill among member countries.

In conclusion, while BIMSTEC is not a direct parallel to SAARC, it serves as an alternative platform for regional cooperation that helps India realize its foreign policy objectives. By engaging with BIMSTEC, India can strengthen regional connectivity, enhance economic cooperation, address security concerns, and promote cultural exchange among member countries.

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