Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Opening new shipping lines between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar

In the movie 'Good Will Hunting' Robin Williams tells protagonist Matt Damon that, you can tell me a lot about Michelangelo and 'Last Judgment'; but not about how I feel when I am inside Sistine Chapel and look at the ceiling!!!

This is true in foreign relations as well. India can offer a big credit line to Bangladesh and Myanmar; we can export electricity to them; we can conduct joint military exercises... Will these actions build a relationship? yes. Will it survive the bad days and turbulent times? probably no. These fragile relations need to be reinforced by strong people to people interactions. How we can reinforce those relations? I think the best option may be trading – not only through the one conducted using Panamax ships but also through medium sized ones, which can anchor at most of India’s, Bangladesh’s and Myanmar’s small ports.

I was always an advocate of better integration of India with her IOR (Indian Ocean Rim Region) neighbours; especially eastern and south-eastern ones. Current government’s decision to open new shipping routes between India-Bangladesh and India-Myanmar is indeed a positive sign in this direction.

Looking towards future

Government needs to focus more on opening small ports on India’s Western and Eastern Coast lines; along with upgrading facilities in existing major ports. I don’t believe opening more major ports will give us substantive gains. Let's open a string of medium sized ports along India's coastlines and try to move at least 10-15% of road traffic to sea lines.



1. India to launch shipping service to Myanmar, Bangladesh to boost ties - TOI

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