Dialogue July- September, 2005, Volume 7  No. 1

India’s Security Concerns in the Bay of Bengal: With Special reference to A & N Islands

Dr. R.V. R. Murthy

   ‘To be secure on the land, we must be supreme at sea’   —Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.

Conceptual Framework

The geo-strategic and security environments underwent major changes in the wake of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG). Former President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan rightly pointed out that “ It is today an indisputable fact that the independence and prosperity of nations and the peace and tranquility of the world hinge on the peace and security of the seas and the oceans”.1 The former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the following statement on India’s strategic priorities in November 2003: “the strategic frontiers of today’s India, grown in international stature, have expanded well beyond confines of South Asia. Our security environment, ranging from Persian Gulf to Straits of Malacca across the Indian Ocean, includes Central Asia and Afghanistan, China, and South- East Asia. Our strategic thinking has also   to extend to thesehorizons.”2 

The above statement underscores India’s desire to attain strategic and maritime credibility and to become a determinant, at least within the confines of its geo-strategic realm. The increasing activities of sea-pirates and the smuggling of arms and ammunition from Cambodia and of heroin from Thailand caused concerns to India not only about threats to the safety of sea communications, but also about the dangers of these elements using the uninhabited islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands for their nefarious activities. The presence of Al Qaida in Aceh Province of Sumatra Island, Pakistan ISI and Iranian VEVAK, China and the presence of  ‘Sea Tigers’ highlighted the threats to India’s security, which could arise from the East and consequently need to seek the co-operation of the littoral states in dealing with such threats.3 As consequences the security of the Bay of Bengal has acquired prime importance

Admiral A.T. Mahan rightly pointed out in 1890 “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean will dominate Asia. In the 21st century, the destiny of the world would be decided on its waters”.4 The recent years have witnessed significant development in the field of intensification of trade-linked developments essentially sea-borne trade has grown due to the globalization of the world economy including energy, capital and access to the markets, which forms new order of the day. This changed perception was reflected in series of policy initiatives, which came to be known as the “look East” policy and BIMSTEC-RC.

In this process of rapidly changing world, India is developing a more holistic and focused approach in keeping with its security and strategic perspectives in relation to the littoral states of the Bay of Bengal region.

Geo-strategic significance of Bay of Bengal

Seas help rather than hinder interrelations among the peoples who surrounded them. India compounded by seas on its three sides, has always looked upon the seas for contacts with the outside world.  Indeed due to a continental mindset, the policy makers do not realize the geographical endowments and rich maritime importance of the Bay of Bengal. The Bay of Bengal is much more than the eastern segment of the Indian Ocean. The maritime region encompassing the countries around the littoral, always maintained a thriving contact through movements of trade, people, religious, cultural and political missions, which gave the region an autonomous character.5 The six littoral countries including Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have their outlet in this region. These countries have been associated with the Bay of Bengal since ages.  Given its centrality, the emerging multifaceted influences will continue to converge and will be further catalyzed by the strategic sea lines and the significance of region that remains volatile and unstable due to presence of extra-territorial countries and non- state actors in the region.

Bay of Bengal has played an important historical role because of its deep inland penetration. The vast sea is facilitating communication with them. The important islands are bigger in size as one goes south rising above the relief of a submarine reef, extending for 3200 miles from Burma up to Australia i.e. the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and above all the great islands of Indonesia: Sumatra and Java.6  Commodore C Uday Bhaskar of the New Delhi based Institute for Defence studies and Analyses said

“The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are crucially located, offering a strategic view over the shipping traffic between the gulf and the Malacca straits”.7 The islands’ location suits India’s grand ambition of becoming a regional naval power capable of extending operations beyond the range of shore-based support.

The Andaman’s natural harbors and coral reefs offer perfect locations for ships and submariners. The sea lines connecting the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden to East Asia pass through the ten-degree channel, which bisects the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, dominate the entrance to the Malacca straits. It is thus imperative for India to address and effectively participate in the maritime security of the Bay of Bengal. Indeed down south of Nicobar Islands, the political developments in Indonesias secessionist movements in Aceh Province of Sumatra Island and the rise of religious fundamentalism need for paying greater attention to likely threats to the security of the India.

The Bay of Bengal is the most important region in the south Asia, so far size is concerned, but from the cultural and economic points of view, it was the busiest sea route from ancient times with thickly populated and civilized littoral countries. Indeed the Bay of Bengal region is relatively an oasis of tranquility. India has settled its maritime boundaries with its entire neighborhood.8 Thus India’s geographical location endows s with vast maritime, economic and energy resources in terms of EEZ, sea-borne trade, living and non-living seabed resources and equally enormous deposits of oil and gas. However, at the same time, these geographical features also entail major security implications. With the growing economic and military power, India will be increasingly dependent on smaller nations in the region to maintain regional security. Indeed India’s security is directly linked with that of its small contiguous neighbours such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka who form an integral part of India’s strategic defence. Unless the Indian Government does better in providing security to its own nationals against rebels, secessionists, drug traffickers and arms runners, it will not generate much confidence in the capitals of surrounding nations of Bay of Bengal.  India’s security interests, therefore, lie in promoting close and harmonious relationships with these countries as well as in ensuring that there is no inimical foreign presence or attempts at destabilizing these countries.9 This necessitates a collective desire for security and stability in the region.

Presence of Non- State actors and Extra-territorial powers

An important challenge to India’s security has recently arisen from the presence of   Sea Tigers, pirates, smugglers, gunrunners and Muslim fundamentalist in the region. The security of the vital sea-lines passing through the Malacca Straits may also be seen in this context.  The security problems in the Andaman Sea are not new, but they have deteriorated in the past few years, in tandem with deterioration in the security situation in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan and particularly in the northeastern Indian States of Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura.  While the India Government has become rock-solid in the western frontiers, but it has become highly vulnerable in its eastern sector, where its enemy is not a national army but a multitude of secessionist, terrorist and drug-running militants operating between Southeast Asia and northeastern India through Bangladesh. The Andaman Sea is a major conduit for this traffic and far-flunged islands constitute a natural transit base. The drugs and arms travel in all directions, since the “ Sea Tigers” of the LTTE better known as the Tamil Tigers, are the ones who rule the Andaman Sea. They carry the arms and drugs for their own use and have developed a strong network within South Asia.10   

In addition LTTE activity in the Andaman Sea is well known to the local administrators. The biggest LTTE maritime disaster was reported in the Asia Week in 2001. A shipment of weapons, ammunition and explosives, believed to have been purchased from Cambodia and worth of several millions dollars, left the port of Phuket in Thailand in early February 2001 aboard the freighter Comes-Joux 3. As is LTTE standard produce, the vessel changed its name at sea to Horizon. On its journey across the Bay of Bengal the Indian Navy tracked the freighter and Orissa based spy planes of Indian Aviation Research Center, Indian Naval vessels off Sri Lanka’s east Coast intercepted it. Many foreigners from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have presently settled in the Islands using fake ration cards, while citizens of Thailand, China, Indonesia and Malaysia have migrated temporarily to plunder the natural resources and leave.11

The presence of the sea tigers in the area with guns, cash and drugs makes the situation extremely dangerous.  It is said, “ Arms smuggling is very profitable business in this region.”12 The narcotic drug trafficking passes through the Golden Crescent involving Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan and the Golden Triangle including Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. Most dealings occurr in the Bay of Bengal region. Drug trafficking leads to money laundering and funds from the sale of drugs are used to mobilize for gun running, insurgent and terrorist activities. Added to these is the trans-national security concern linked to human smuggling that has multiple effects, ranging from funding terrorism to illegal immigration causing socio-political instability in the region.

The real threat to the Andaman Islands is the steady building-up of ports and conduits that serve the Tamil Tigers and a host of less-strong militant groups. Over the past decade, the Bangladesh has steadily moved into a state of lawlessness. A number of extremist groups under the cover of Islamic movement have become active in drug trafficking, gun running and anti-Indian activates. It is widely acknowledge that the Pakistan ISI has nurtured a number of extremist Islamist groups, such as the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami, in the port city of Chittagong and put a number of secessionist rebels from India’s northeast in touch with this terrorist network.  As a result, north of Andaman Islands, Bangladesh coasts areas have become a nest of terrorists involved in the shipment of drugs and arms. A pattern of arrests and seizures indicate that arms are brought   by the LTTE from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand and Chittagong, from where they are transported northward by land to Bhutan. The route from Kalikhola in Bhutan to Cox’s Bazar passes through the northern Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya and on into Chittagong.

Considering the islands huge strategic importance, New Delhi has been coordinating the joint patrols with Indonesia in the Andaman Sea since 2002 occasional joint naval exercises with Thailand to boost cooperation in curbing arms smuggling since 2003, are steps in then right direction and naturally succeeded by creating common stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. In fact it would tend to encourage more organized anti-India outfits, such as the Pakistan   Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and outside linked Maoists, to exploit these networks and weaken India’s eastern flank. To combat narcotic terrorism in this region, India needs to patrol the Bay of Bengal. Currently non-state threats to sea-lines in the Bay of Bengal pose the principal challenges. It is imperative for India to engage Bay of Bengal and Andaman sea particularly littorals in a calibrated manner, such that its proactive role.

Another area that merits especial attention in the context of India’s security interests is the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is of strategic importance to India’s security. A substantial part of India’s external trade and energy supplies pass through this region. The security of India’s Island territories, in particular, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands remains an important priority. Drug trafficking, Sea-piracy, and other clandestine activities such as Gun running are emerging as new challenges to security management in the Bay of Bengal region.           

China Factor

As well known, the increasing Chinese presence in the Coco Islands   has become a matter of great concern for the Indian Government.  According to the defence sources the Great Coco have naval base built with Chinese help with a 50 m high antenna since 1992. It is from Coco islands   that China is reportedly picking the electronic intelligence from the missile tests in Chandipur and Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad. China’s growing military power in updating both its onventional   military and strategic nuclear weapons capabilities cast a shadow over the Southeast Asia and south Asian region. Among these installations, the most important is the maritime reconnaissance and electronic intelligence station on Great Coco Islands in the Bay of Bengal, some 20 kilometers North of Andaman.13 Along with the Coco Islands the Chinese Army is also building bases. These islands are thus located at a crucial point in traffic routes between Bay of Bengal and the Strait of Malacca.  Indeed China thinks it has important interests in the Bay of Bengal region and the priority given by it to the economic development and strategic linkages with Myanmar is apparently in pursuance of its long term objective of sustaining and strengthening its influence and role in this region.14       

Straits of Malacca

        The maritime route through the straits of Malacca catered to the trade of Indonesia and China since ages.  Apart from this, another route had developed across the Bay of Bengal linked with ports on the eastern side of bay with a flow of commodities from the mainland Southeast Asia. More than 50000 vessels per year transit through the Strait of Malacca. One-third of the world’s trade and almost East Asia’s entire Oil pass through the Strait of Malacca.  The Strait of Malacca is one of the world’s hottest and most crucial strategic choke points. It is considered by experts to be one of the most vulnerable objectives whose neutralization by Muslim fundamentalist not only will cause tremendous damage to the very existence of the economy of the west, but also very easy to accomplish.15 Controlling of the straits of Malacca is presently a key strategic objective of the China. China considers its surge into the region as part of a strategic surge of global proportions aimed at consolidating military posture in a hostile environment and in a strategic grand design that anticipates the possibility of a major military clash with United States of America in the foreseeable future. In 1993 Zhao Nangi, Director of General Staff Logistic department of the Chinese Navy issued a top-secret memorandum that explained in great deal the PLA’s strategic plans to consolidate control over the south China sea and the Indian Ocean under the new doctrine of “ high Sea Defense”. Zhao stated that “ we no longer accept the Indian Ocean as only an Ocean of the Indians”.16 

The Strait of Malacca is a narrow waterway between Malaysia and Sumatra islands of Indonesia. Indeed the entire commercial sea traffic between Europe and the Middle East passes through the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which 300 tankers and merchant ships pass daily, brining in Oil and Gas shipments for the Far East and Southeast Asia. Further more the region’s largest oil fields are virtually in the eastern mouth of the strait.  Moreover Singapore, the region’s largest commercial and communication center and key port lies at the eastern mouth of the Strait of Malacca. The Strait of Malacca dominates more than the commercial and economic lifelines into and out of the rapidly expanding economies of the East Asia. The global strategic growth and expansion of aspiring powers can be contained and regulated through the mere control over the movements of their naval forces through the Strait of Malacca.

What emerges is the high probability of sinking an oil tanker in one of the vital choke points such as in the Malacca strait or cruising a LNG carrier into a hub-port on a suicide mission. 17  London based International Institute for Strategic Studies said that, if International terrorist are poised to strike ship at the narrowest point of the straits (1.5kms) “would cripple World Trade”. The Bay of Bengal and its contiguous waters have always had a major share of global pirates attacks and armed robbery in territorial waters due to dense shipping frail maritime policing and favorable hide to vanish environs. The war against terrorism has to lead to growing United States presence and leverage in India’s neighborhood. The entry of external forces in the neighborhood where India should play a vital role in the promotion of stability and security is not in India’s national interests.

Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC)

In 2001, India government established an Integrated Services Command of Army, Navy and Air Force and Coast Guard at the headquarters Port Blair as an Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) based on the model of American theater Command.  With the new set up, India aims to control maritime trade activities in the region and counter sea-borne terrorism and piracy. There have also been media reports that some air and sea assets of India’s Nuclear Forces Command would be placed in the region. But the Veteran Indian Nuclear affairs analyst, K. Subramanyam, says: “Nobody will place their strategic assets in a remote place like the Andaman as they would become an easy target”. With so much military strategic significance it is necessary to establish viable dialogue with the neighbors. The strategic defence command has stipulated four specific tasks:

         ²   Sea based deterrence

         ²   Economic and energy security

         ²   Forward presence; and

         ²   aval Diplomacy.18

The responsibility for the security of the Bay of Bengal including Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also the waters extending to the six littoral states in the region namely Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka was vested with the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

Several Southeast Asian countries including ASEAN countries openly expressed fears about growing blue-water capability of India and its possible aspiration to project power into Southeast Asia especially in the light of expanded base facilities at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These developments in the Bay of Bengal region though were not directed at southeast Asia, it later coincided with the giving rise to unwarranted suspicion that India along with China and Japan might compete with each other to fill the so called power vacuum. Recent events have demonstrated that India and ASEAN can be useful partners for each other.

         ²   First, India as a nation without any geographic or economic stakes, but possessing significant military strength, can play an important role in the maintenance of peace and stability in Southeast Asia that is fundamental pre-requisite for continued economic progress and prosperity of the region.

         ²   Secondly, fostering of mutually beneficial defence related linkages between India and the countries of Southeast Asia play an important role in the making the Asian region an area of peace and stability.

These linkages could include an increased number of exchange of visits by naval vessels, training of military personnels, joint military exercises, provisions of repair facilities for military equipments, supply of spares, joint development of equipment and technologies required by the Armed Forces and engagement in regular political-military dialogues and closer interaction between institutes dealing with defence and strategic issues.  India’s recent offer to assist the Malacca Strait littorals in patrolling the straits is steps in the right direction.

Bay of Bengal Rim

The Bay of Bengal community as a specific area of regional co-operation deserves greater attention from the academicians and policy makers. Consequently some pertinent questions arise: Was there a Bay of Bengal Rim system at all? If so, what were the forces responsible for undermining it? How far is the concept of the Bay of Bengal Rim feasible?  What are the geographical and historical aspects, which help in understanding this regional concept? These questions are rather complicated and their answer will become more meaningful in the years to come, with additional research on this relatively neglected field.  Attempts have been made by some Indian security analysts to look into some of the related issues.

The first step in this direction was the establishment of BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, Indian. Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand Economic cooperation) in  June 1998. 19 This is the first organization of its kind in which two ASEAN members have come together with three countries in South Asia for economic cooperation. The areas identified for cooperation include communication, infrastructure, energy, trade investment tourism and fisheries. It is high time that New Delhi took the initiative and opened a dialogue with Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to form a wider Bay of Bengal Community. By forming such a regional organization, the extended neighborhood would rightly become a part of the “immediate neighborhood”.  The concept of Bay of Bengal community would become the common agenda of all littoral states. There is a mutuality of interests between India and these countries in promoting peace and stability in the region, as well as in maintaining a suitable environment for orderly all round development of these states.

India has initiated a number of new steps to promote peace in the region and to develop greater mutual understanding with these countries. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries decided to set up a US dollar 70000 tourism fund to integrate national  efforts in the sector and double arrivals to the region in the next five years.

All these developments underline the strategic importance of India’s Islands territories, more particularly the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that command the Malacca strait and the Sea Lanes that carry vast quantities of Gulf Oil to Pacific destinations. The Andaman and Nicobar islands place India in close proximity to the ten ASEAN countries. 20 The arrangement may be widened later to the Malacca and Singapore Straits, if so desired by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Threats may grow in the future, both in their reach and ferocity. If so it may require India to extends its role in the western Bay of Bengal to through joint Shipping Lines of Communications (SLOC) patrols. 21

Conclusion

The post-2001 period saw a significant change in India’s perception regarding Bay of Bengal.  Indeed the overall strategic importance of Bay of Bengal continues to grow.  The Bay of Bengal owing to its geo-strategic position will continue to enjoy importance in the global security. The security concerns of the region must be addressed at the earliest.  Regional cooperation would also be fruitful in reducing tensions between its littoral states and it would be useful for curbing the terrorist movements and drug trafficking in the region. On the one hand there is a sense of urgency to check illegal activities in the region and to fully exploit and capitalize on what   the Indian government considers a strategic window of opportunity. On the other hand, the Indian government is fully aware that it would take the littoral states of Bay of Bengal countries into confidence and build full-fledge naval capabilities to properly conduct the required military tasks as well as judicious use of straits of Malacca. Indeed the regionalism has acquired a fresh relevance in the form of security arrangements.

Footnotes

     1.   V. Suryanarayana, Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Gateway to Southeast Asia, Dialogue, April-June 2003, Volume No. 4. P. 8.

     1.   G. S. Khurana, Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean: Convergence Plus Cooperation Equals Response, Strategic Analysis, New Delhi, and July-September 2004. P.417.

     2.   B. Raman, The Bay of Bengal Community, No. 215. 26th March 2001.

     3.   A.T. Mahan. “The Influence of Sea Power upon history 1600-1783. Scrivener, New York, 1890.P.22.

     4.   The Bay of Bengal   was a linking factor between the countries bordering on it and the cultural and trade links forged by the Bay of Bengal stretched from China to the Southeast Asia. Satish Chandra, The Indian Ocean, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1987.P..38.

     5.   Ibid.P.135.

     6.   The Andaman and Nicobar Islands more than 1200 kms away from mainland India are also strategically located. Their southern most point is just 90 nautical miles from Indonesia, Sumatra and their northern most fewer than 20 kms from the Coco Islands controlled by the China. In effect they give India a foothold in Southeast Asia.

     7.   What is noteworthy about these maritime agreements is the fact that in order to maintain friendly relations, India has sacrificed its vital interests. In 1974 maritime agreement was signed with Sri Lanka with regard to Kachchativu. Similar maritime agreement was arrived with the Indonesia, Myanmar and other countries.

     8.   K.K.Hazari, Seminar Proceeding “ Perspectives on National Security” 23-26 November 1998, National Defence College, New Delhi.

     9.   The Indian Intelligence’s lackluster performance in dealing with the LTTE is startling. This formidable enemy, which gave the Indian army a black eye in the mid-1980, has been operating in northeastern India and in the Andaman Sea for a long   time. Until 1995 the LTTE maintained a base at Twante, an Island off the coast of Myanmar, west of the Andaman Islands. Subsequently, Phuket became the LTTE’s main backup base. A Sri Lankan-born Tamil with the Norwegian passport was arrested by Thai authorities in 2000 for his links with the LTTE. At the time of his arrest the suspect was allegedly involved in construction of a “submarine’ in shipyard on the island of Sirae near Phuket on the Andaman sea coast.  In 1997 the Thai navy reported the interception of a 16-meter boat after a chase off the Thai port of Rangoon, and the confiscation of two tons of weapons and ammunition. Among the weapons intercepted were two rockets-propelled-grenade launchers, 20 assault rifles, M-79 grenade launchers and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Four persons were arrested, reportedly belonging to the Manipur Revolutionary People’s Front. Six crew members were from the Arakan region of Myanmar. The boat was heading towards Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.  In 2001 according to the Indian Army officials, the security forces launched a wide-ranging operation in the 300 some inhabited islands neighboring Andaman and Nicobar and found huge catches of arms. The arms were said to belong to the LTTE and other terrorists groups. The search and destroy operation was carried out by the Indian Government after the   repeated request from Colombo in the early part of year 2000. Ramtanu Maitra, “Trouble on India’s Islands”, “http://www.atimes.com”, February 13, 2005.

   10.   An official estimate in the year 2003 reveals that 50,000 foreigners have taken shelter in the Andaman Islands; unofficial figures are much higher than this. A large number of them are Bangladeshis.  As most of them have few technical skills and the Andaman have little demand for them in any case, they turn to smuggling and other unlawful activities. Ibid.

   11.   Ibid.

   12.   Work in the Great Coco Island began in late 1992 with the construction of a 45-50 meters antenna tower, numerous radar sites and other electronic facilities. Essentially the china builds a comprehensive SIGNET collection facilities station. According to Japanese Intelligence source, the two islands in the Bay of Bengal- Great Coco and Little Coco islands have been on lease to China since 1994. China was committed to build “the world’s most powerful navy”. ”http://www.atimes.com”.

   13.   Ministry of Defence, Government of India, Annual Report, 2000-2001. Paragraph 1-21. The Coco islands are also an ideal place for monitoring the major Indian Naval and Missile launch facilities in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the south towards the strait of Malacca, movements of the Indian Navy and other navies throughout the eastern basin of the Bay of Bengal as well the overall western approaches to the strait of Malacca. The Defence sources said that Pakistan Intelligence Service (ISI) and Iran Intelligence service (VEVAK) are very much involved in the Andaman Sea and funding and providing training to the Muslim terrorists with the help of China. China has continued the process of modernization of its defence and has demonstrated its potential. It is also improving its strategic air and sealift capabilities. The defence capabilities are being restructured by China with a view to enhancing its trans-border military capability by improving mobility, firepower and ensuring better coordination in joint service operations. 

   14.   K. R. Singh, Maritime Violence and Non-State Actors, Dialogue, April-June 2003, at http://www.asthabharati.org.

   15.   Yosef Bodansky, Beijing’s Surge for the Strait of Malacca, www. Geopolitics. He is the Director of the Task Force on Terrorism and unconventional warfare of the US Congress as well the world Terrorism Analyst with the Freeman Center for the Strategic studies (Houston TX).

   16.   V. Suryanarayana., op. cit.

   17.   B. K. Singh., India’s Energy Security, The Hindu, June 9,2003.P.

   18.   G.S.Khurana., op. cit.

   19.   India is cooperating with the Myanmar in areas such as border management, control of illegal trafficking of narcotics and border trade. A security dialogue with Myanmar has been maintained. The relationships is widening into a number of developmental areas, including agriculture, power generation, transportation and science and technology.   India already has an agreement with Thailand to build a Dewei (Tavoy) Kanchanburi road link for ocean-cum overland inter modal transit from Indian ports.  There is now a new Indo-Thai agreement to link the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand with an Oil/ Gas pipeline and to link Port Blair with Phuket in Thailand in a tourist circuit.  Indeed the leaders of Vietnam are recently working towards connecting New Delhi to Hanoi   by railroad.  These initiatives could mark the beginning of the ASEAN plus three (China, Japan, South Korea) plus one (India) vision of a larger Asian community. South Asia Tribune, No.71, December 14-20, 2003. 20. G.S.Khurana., op. cit., pp.421-422.

References

     1.   Ambatkar, Sanjay., (2002) Indian and ASEAN in the 21st century, Anmol publications, New Delhi.

     2.   ASEAN Secretariat, http://www.asean.

     3.   http://”http://www.greekshares.com/global_energy.asp

     4.   Jalan, Bimal., (1997) India’s Economic Policy-preparing for 21st century, Penguin Books, New Delhi.

     5.   Krueger A.O. (1999) Regionalism and Multilateralism in International Trade, NCAER, New Delhi.

     6.   Mohan, C. Raja. (2000) After China, Fernandes warms up to Japan” , The Hindu.

     7.   Indian Foreign Policy (1996) World Focus.

     8.   Raman. B., The Bay of Bengal,  Paper No. 215. 26th March2001. “http://www.hvk.org

     9.   Roy, Mihir., (2001) The strategic importance of sea borne trade and shipping at http//idun.its.adfa.edu.au/ADSC/SlocRoy.htm.

   10.   Singh. Dr.Uday Bhanu, Dialogue, Jan-March 2004, vol.5 No.3.  http://www.asthabharti.org

 

Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

              Astha Bharati