The Challenge of Building the Bay of Bengal as an Interconnected Region
This chapter reviews historical understanding of the Bay of Bengal as an interconnected ‘region’, its economic prospects and initiatives to better connect Bay of Bengal states with each other and with the rest of the world. It discusses territories and countries in the Bay of Bengal with the names by which they were called during the relevant historical period. The conceptual division of the Bay of Bengal was cemented by the creation of the ‘Asia Pacific’ as a new economic and political ‘region’ in the 1980s which was generally understood to extend only as far as the western border of Association of South East Asian Nations. The idea of the Indo-Pacific as an interdependent region has considerable implications for mental map of the Bay of Bengal. Trading connections across the Bay were primarily maritime, including use of the region’s many rivers to reach the hinterlands. The Partition of India profoundly changed the dynamics of the region.