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Sansad TV: India Bangladesh Relations

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Background:

  • India’s links with Bangladesh are civilizational, cultural, social and economic.
  • India played the great role in emergence of independent Bangladesh and was the first country to recogniseBangladesh as separate state.
  • The historic land boundary agreement signed in 2015 opened a new era in the relations.
  • Both the countries are the common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the Commonwealth.
  • India has always stood by Bangladesh in its hour of need with aid and economic assistance to help it cope with natural disasters and floods.

Significance of relations today

  • Security and connectivity of North EastA friendly Bangladesh can ensure that its soil is not used for anti-India activities.Bangladesh’s action resulted in the arrest of many top leaders of the NE insurgent groups likeUnited Liberation Front of Assam & National Democratic Front of Bodoland.
  • Bridge to Southeast Asia: Bangladesh is a natural pillar ofAct East policy.It can act as a ‘bridge’ to economic and political linkages with South East Asia and beyond. Bangladesh is important component of BIMSTEC and BBIN initiatives.
  • Strengthening South Asia as a regional power: Bangladesh is important for strengthening of SAARC, for promoting cooperation among its member nations to economic growth and securing strategic interests.
  • Securing sea lines of communication: Bangladesh is strategically placed nearby important sea lanes. It can play significant role in containing piracy in the Indian Ocean.
  • Fighting terrorism and deradicalization: Stable, open and tolerant Bangladesh helps India in stopping extremists from flourishing there and also in cooperation in deradicalization efforts, sharing intelligence, and other counter-terrorism efforts.
  • Balancing China: A neutral Bangladesh would ensure containment of an assertive China in this region, and help in countering it’s string of pearls policy.

Bilateral Relations:

  • India and Bangladesh today enjoy one of the best periods of their relationship, with positive development in the areas of diplomatic, political, economic and security relations.
  • Bilateral trade was a little over $10 billion and Bangladeshi exports increased by 42.91%.
  • The India-Bangladesh border is one of India’s most secured.
  • By signing of the Land Boundary Agreement in 2015, the two neighbours amicably resolved a longoutstanding issue.
  • In addition to the 660 MW of power imported by Bangladesh, Indian export of electricity increased by another 500 MW.
  • Train services on the Dhaka-Kolkata and Kolkata-Khulna are doing well, while a third, on the Agartala-Akhaura route, is under construction.
  • Today, Bangladesh contributes 50% of India’s health tourism revenue.
  • Relations between the two border guarding forces are at their best right now.

 Concerns:

  • Teesta waters issueremains a big problem due to continuous protest by the Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government.
  • National Register of Citizenshas left out 1.9 million people in Assam and they are being labelled as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • But Bangladesh is firm in its stance that no migrants travelled to Assamillegally during the 1971 war of independence and NRC may risk the relations.
  • The Rohingya issueand India’s remarks in 2017 on the issue have been upsetting for Bangladesh which has been facing the challenge of providing shelter to more than a million Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution
  • Bangladesh is overwhelmingly dependent on China for military hardware. China’s economic footprint is growing.
  • Since 2010, India approved three Lines of Credit to Bangladesh of $7.362 billion to finance development projects. But, because of bureaucratic red tapism, just $442 million have been disbursed until December 2018.
  • Though Bangladesh is slow in implementation, India’s requirement of the disbursement process to be approved by Exim Bankhas not helped either.

Way Forward:

  • Deepening relationship  with  Bangladesh  has  become  a  necessity  in  the  face  of  shifting  geo-economics.
  • Bangladesh, with its  growing  economic  success,  and  with  its  8  percent  growth  rate  provides  a  vital partnership  in  the  region.
  • India-Bangladesh border is one of India’s most secured.
  • Bangladesh-India relations have reached a stage of maturity. Bilateral ties can be expected to grow stronger in the future. It is for India to take the lead to remove these irritants.
  • India’s attempts to equate Bangladesh to fundamentally theocratic Muslim nations such as Pakistan and Afghanistan is something that is unacceptable to Bangladeshis, where religious and racial harmony have always been a priority, unlike in many neighboring countries so we not need to equate it with Pakistan.
  • Bangladesh-India relations have reached a stage of maturity. Bilateral ties can be expected to grow stronger in the future. It is for India to take the lead to remove these irritants.
  • There is scope for India-Bangladesh ties to move to the next level, based on cooperation, coordination and consolidation.
  • India’s continued partnership with Bangladesh benefits both countries.
  • New Delhi must keep up the partnership that allows for economic growth and improved developmental parameters for both countries.
  • It is important to address specific issues like Teesta and to respond to Dhaka’s call for help on the Rohingya issue.
  • The two countries share 54 transboundary rivers, and water management is the key to prosperity.
  • Effective border management for ensuring a tranquil, stable and crime free border.