The British Deputy High Commission Kolkata and independent forum Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Kolkata jointly hosted the first Young Thinkers’ Conference in Eastern India. The two-day conference with the theme of Young Thinkers’ Conference – BBIN: Challenges and Opportunities, is being held on November 8 and 9.
The Young Thinkers’ Conference, The British High Commission’s flagship foreign and security policy conference, that has established its presence in places like Delhi and Chandigarh, made its debut in the eastern region with the discussions on BBIN (Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal) sub-region.
The inaugural session on November 8 was attended by Dr Alexander Evans, the British Deputy High Commissioner to India, Bruce Bucknell, the British Deputy High Commission to Kolkata, Ashok Dhar, the director of ORF, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty of ORF New Delhi and former Indian Ambassador to Bangladesh, Rakhahari Chatterjee, advisor of the Kolkata Chapter of ORF, Sita Basnet, Nepal Consul to Kolkata, Toufique Hasan, the Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner to Kolkata and Pema Tobgay, the Vice Consul, Royal Bhutan Consulate General, Kolkata. In his address, Alexander Evans said, “The BBIN vision is to improve economic co-operation among South Asian nations. Intra-regional trade could quadruple if only the barriers were removed. The UK will help in boosting regional trade and connectivity across the region that includes physical connectivity and building infrastructure, reduce red tape in regulations and drive investment in key regional value chains.” Bruce Bucknell also expressed optimism in BBIN saying, “THE BBIN sub-region already has economic ties and the time is now right to thicken those bonds.”
The panel discussions on the BBIN sub-region, highlighted the benefits and bottlenecks of the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) between the four nations in June 2015 to allow seamless passage of goods vehicles across borders. The two-day conference aims to showcase the problem areas of the agreement, with the hope of finding a plausible solution to the same. Starting from the basic virtue of trust and respect among nations to larger constraints of political and popular dissent, lack of infrastructure and other challenges, the sessions will focus on all challenges and potentials of a region with a population of 530 million plus, making it a separate production and consumption region and thriving economic zone.