For the world

When His Majesty the King announced the establishment of the Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC) on December 17th, 2023, most were not fully aware of what it was and how Bhutan would benefit. Gradually, the cloud is being cleared.

While primarily meant for Bhutan’s economic growth and a place for us amongst the developed nations, GMC is “made in Bhutan,” but for the world, especially for countries which are members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). Home to 1.8 billion (B) people, the region is still plagued with poverty, unemployment and other vices. GMC can become their bridges to prosperity, platform for innovation and many more.

Despite numerous activities focused on connectivity and trade among BIMSTEC member countries, significant achievements remain limited. The primary reason for this is the lack of the necessary impetus within BIMSTEC, even after the signing of the charter. The organization still does not wield substantial power. The onus now lies with the leaders of the seven member countries, particularly India, the world’s fastest-growing economy, to drive forward the vision and objectives of BIMSTEC. Their commitment and collaborative efforts are crucial for transforming BIMSTEC into a more influential and effective regional group.

The SAIS Review of International Affairs has described India as “The Reluctant Leader.” The review asserts that “BIMSTEC, like other regional organizations such as the European Union and ASEAN, needs a leader; one who remains willing and able to take up the mantle of leadership….” While India’s leadership is indeed pivotal, it is imperative that the responsibilities and commitments of all member countries are acknowledged and upheld.

We cannot expect to leave everything solely in India’s hands. Each member state of BIMSTEC must fulfill its obligations and responsibilities to ensure the collective success of the organization. If a country has pledged to fund connectivity projects or other initiatives in another country, it should honor that commitment.

Collaboration and mutual support are the cornerstones of a successful regional organization. The effectiveness of BIMSTEC hinges on the active participation and dedication of all its members. This includes not only fulfilling financial commitments but also engaging in collaborative projects, policy alignment, and consistent communication.

As the world’s fastest-growing economy, India undoubtedly has a significant role to play. However, the onus is on every member state to contribute to the collective goals of BIMSTEC. By doing so, the organization can overcome its current limitations and achieve its full potential, benefiting all member countries and fostering greater regional integration and development.

GMC provides an opportunity for all member states to realize their full potentials.