Contiguity, Connectivity and Access
The Importance of the Bay of Bengal Region in Indian Foreign Policy

Edited by Suranjan Das | Anita Sengupta

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A significant platform of maritime connectivity the Bay of Bengal is important not just for littoral states (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) but also for the landlocked countries of Bhutan and Nepal. Since time immemorial the Bay had been a maritime highway witnessing the movements of traders and commodities facilitating economic exchange but also large scale labour migration which encouraged cultural cosmopolitanism and exchange of ways of life. With the increasing importance of the Indo-Pacific region in the contemporary connectivity matrix, the Bay of Bengal is once again acquiring greater strategic significance with its critical position as a bridge between South, Southeast and East Asia. For India the Bay of Bengal region is emerging as an area of strategic significance and a potential zone for Asian economic growth.

In this background, the volume examines themes like contemporary factors shaping the emergence of the Bay of Bengal region as a critical strategic theatre in Indian foreign policy; the inter-connectedness of the Indian and Pacific Oceans; the importance of oceans to security and commerce and India’s role within the broader region; the twenty-first century maritime Silk Road and Indian alternatives and the possibilities of reconnecting disconnected spaces through re-imagining a Bay of Bengal Community. In this connection the volume takes particular note of the emerging regional cooperative order for the promotion of peace and development in the Bay of Bengal region (BIMSTEC). The volume brings together historians, political analysts and political economists to emphasize the interconnectedness of the oceanic space through a detailed analysis of the Bay of Bengal as a space of strategic and economic significance, particularly for India, but also as a space for re-imagining a new regional community.

Edited by Suranjan Das | Anita Sengupta

Suranjan Das is currently the Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University and Honorary Director of Netaji Institute for Asian Studies, Kolkata. He had been a Professor of History at the Calcutta University, also serving that University as Vice-Chancellor from 2 May 2008 to 14 July 2015. Professor Das is an Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter. He specialises in South Asian History and Politics, especially on issues relating to nation-building and Indian Foreign Policy. He has authored six monographs, co-authored four books, co-edited seven volumes and published 30 articles in refereed journals and edited volumes, which are widely cited.

Anita Sengupta is an area studies specialist engaged with the study of the Eurasian region. Her areas of interest include issues of identity politics, migration, gender, borders, critical geopolitics and logistics. She is a regular commentator on debates on Asian affairs. She has been Director, Calcutta Research Group. She is currently Director, Asia in Global Affairs, Kolkata and Senior Fellow Indian Council for Social Science Research, New Delhi.





Section One: Imagining a Bay of Bengal Community: History, Literature and Diasporas

1. ‘Convergence’ across the Bay: Early Interactions and Exchanges between Regions of Eastern Sea-Board of India and Regions of Southeast Asia
Suchandra Ghosh

2. Forging New Friendships through Oceanic Travels: Cosmopolitan and Nationalistic Ideas in Bengali Journals (late 19th and 20th centuries)

3. Locating the Bengali Revolutionaries in Burma (1923–33): As Reflected in the History and Literature of the Wider Migratory Culture of Bay of Bengal

Section Two: The Contemporary Factors Shaping the Emergence of the Bay of Bengal Region as a Critical Strategic Theatre in Indian Foreign Policy

4. Projection of the ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative’ as a Strategic Endeavour: A Critical Survey
Shantanu Chakrabarti

5. The Bay of Bengal as a Strategic Theatre: Trends in Narratives

6. India’s Bay of Bengal Strategy: Programme and Predicaments
Subhadeep Bhattacharya

Section Three: The Importance of Oceans to Strategy

7. The Strategic Significance of Andaman and Nicobar Islands:Assessing Anti-Access Area Denial Potential in the Bay of Bengal
Vivek Mishra and RushaliSaha

8. India’s Littoral Strategy in the Indo-Pacific Region: Partnership and Beyond
Sayantani Sen Majumdar

9. Piracy and Armed Robbery in Indian Ocean Region: Assessment, Challenges and the Way Forward
Abhishek Mishra

Section Four: Globalisation, Regionalism, and Indian Alternatives

10. Globalisation, Asian Regionalism and BIMSTEC: An International Political Economy Perspective

11. The Bay of Bengal and the Politics of Strategic Geographies
PratnashreeBasu and OisheeMajumdar

12. Power Projection in the Bay of Bengal: Comparing India and China’s Naval Strategies
Urbi Das



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