Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat on Sunday said countries like Nepal and Bhutan have to be inclined to India because of geography. He made the statement while speaking to the reporters on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation- Field Training Military Exercise (BIMSTEC-MILEX 18).
Replying to a question on Nepal’s absence in the MILEX-18 and its growing ties with China, Gen Rawat said: “They cannot delink 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 relationship with our neighbours. We are a bigger country, if we take the initiative, others will follow.”“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,” said General Rawat. “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,” he said. On illegal migration in the region, he said, “Migration of population has always happened from economically weaker areas to stronger ones. Therefore, equal growth, as our leaders stress, is important. This phenomenon is not going to end unless there is equitable distribution of growth.” Of the seven BIMSTEC nations, while troops from India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were part of the ground exercise, Nepal and Thailand sent teams of observers. “India has initiated BIMSTEC MILEX 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.”