On Sunday, September 16, 2018 after concluding ceremony of joint military exercise of MILEX-18 of BIMSTEC member nations, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that geography favours inclination of Nepal and Bhutan towards India.
When General Rawat was asked a question about Nepal’s absence in MILEX-18, he said, “They cannot unlink themselves from India. Countries like Nepal and Bhutan have to be naturally inclined to India because of the geography. Geography favours their inclination towards India and not towards China. As our leaders say, Neighbourhood First and Act East. BIMSTEC is part of such efforts. We are strengthening our relationships with our neighbours. We are a bigger country, if we take the initiative, others will follow.”
General Rawat said, “The best example of this is America and Pakistan relations, as it did not remain same…, therefore, we need not be bothered about all these issues and need to concentrate on how to keep the country strong”.
He added, “China is an emerging competitor. Everything is about economics. They are also looking for market and we are also looking for the same market and there is competition. So, whoever performs better will win the race”.
Witnessed the #BIMSTEC Multinational Military Field Training Exercise called #MILEX-18 at Aundh Military Station on 16.09.2018. The troops carried out joint operations and used specialised techniques for execution of a task. @SpokespersonMoD @PMOIndia @HQ_IDS_India @adgpi pic.twitter.com/nrUnpM5en2
— Dr. Subhash Bhamre (@DrSubhashMoS) September 17, 2018
About the continuation of exercise in the future, Gen Rawat said, “India has initiated this exercise, as we have been given the area of counter-terrorism to look at in the region. The frequency of the exercise in future, whether it will always be conducted in India or elsewhere, is yet to be decided”.
Troops of India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh took part in the ground joint military exercise from September 10 to September 17, 2018, whereas Nepal and Thailand sent the team of observers in the exercise.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organization of seven countries of South East Asia and South Asia that include India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
Fourth BIMSTEC summit was held in Kathmandu on August 30-31, 2018. Summit witnessed participation from all member states, where discussions on security, trade and development of region were held. BIMSTEC member states are home to 1.5 billion people, that is more than 20% of the world population and have a combined GDP of about $2.5 trillion.