- A Curtain Raiser Event for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise, PANEX-21, for the member nations of BIMSTEC countries, was held at Kothari Auditorium DRDO Bhawan, New Delhi on 07 Dec 2021.
- The exercise is planned to be conducted from 20-22 Dec 21 at Pune and will witness participation from subject matter experts and delegates from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
- It is a multi national disaster relief exercise.
- PANEX-21 is being held in the backdrop of the emergence of the Omicron variant which has sparked widespread concerns across the world.
- Even as information on the variant is scanty, scientists are fearing Omicron to be more dangerous than the Delta variant, which wreaked havoc in the previous waves of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
- The exercise is to be held among the BIMSTEC countries: Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.
- The main aim of the exercise is to build regional cooperation in responding to natural disasters.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
- It is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
- This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
- BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion economy.
- Unlike many other regional groupings, BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization.
- Starting with six sectors—including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries—for sectoral cooperation in the late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors in 2008.