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UPSC EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The geopolitics in the Bangladesh election results

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance(India-Bangladesh relations, SAARC, Teesta water agreement etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bangladesh held its national elections.
    • The ruling Awami League and allies achieved a victory by getting 225 out of the 300 contested seats.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

India-Bangladesh Relations:

  • Shared culture and ethnicity with West Bengal: Bangladesh is closely linked to India through its shared culture and ethnicity with West Bengal.
  • Bridge: The language, a slightly varied dialect of Bengali, acts as a bridge between East India, North East India and Bangladesh.

 

India-Bangladesh trade:

  • Sixth largest trading partner: Bangladesh is India’s sixth largest trade partner with bilateral trade rising from $2.4 billion (two point four) in 2009 to $10.8 billion in 2020-21.
  • Industrial raw materials: Bangladesh imports critical industrial raw materials from India on which its exports are reliant.
  • World Bank working paper: Bangladesh’s exports could rise 182% under a free trade agreement.

 

Projects to boost eastern India-Bangladesh connectivity:

  • Economic growth: India’s connectivity projects with ASEAN and Bangladesh will open up the region to economic growth.
  • Joining IMT project: Bangladesh’s interest in joining the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway project.
  • Use of Bangladesh ports: India-Bangladesh bilateral waterway trade will get boosted as India can now use the Mongla and Chittagong
  • Use of Indian ports: India is rallying Bangladesh to divert its exports through Indian ports in place of Malaysian or Singaporean ports.
  • Train and bus connectivity: Three express trains and international bus services operate between India and Bangladesh.

 

Bangladesh’s rise:

  • Bangladesh has ascended as a rising economic powerhouse in South Asia with 1% annual GDP growth in 2022
    • An economy exceeding $400 billion, and a population of over 165 million.
  • Bangladesh is strategically located at the center of a geopolitical tug-of-war.

 

India and Bangladesh:

  • India harbors deep strategic interests in Bangladesh.
  • Bilateral trade is nearing $15 billion annually
  • Agreements across a range of issues such as;
    • investment
    • counterterrorism
    • energy,
  • River water sharing underscores a close bilateral relationship.
  • Bangladesh is India’s crucial partner for balancing China’s growing regional economic and diplomatic clout, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure financing.

 

China And Bangladesh:

  • China is Bangladesh’s number one trading partner with annual bilateral trade exceeding $25 billion
  • Under its BRI, China has financed over $10 billion worth of ports, bridges, highways and other critical infrastructure.

Russia And Bangladesh:

  • Russia is Financing largest infrastructure projects, the Rooppur(2,400-megawatt nuclear power plant)in Bangladesh worth over $12 billion.

Key Agreements signed:

  • Agreement on withdrawal of water river Kushiyara
  • Flood water related information
  • Agreement on training of personnel:
  • Unit 1 of Maitree power plant(1320 MW)
  • Rupsha rail bridge
  • Mujib scholarships: For 200 family members of the personnel of the Indian military.

 

Way Forward

  • The 2024 election results have evolved into a geopolitical battleground driven by Bangladesh’s increasing economic and strategic heft.
  • The readymade garment industry is a significant source of foreign exchange earnings for Bangladesh
    • Any restrictions imposed by the U.S. and European Union could pose a serious challenge as they import a significant bulk of Bangladesh’s readymade garments.
  • The surging living costs triggered protests as the government grappled with the challenges of dealing with soaring energy import prices, diminishing dollar reserves and a weakening local currency.
  • The International Monetary Fund highlighted multiple shocks to Bangladesh’s economy in its post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery, aggravated by supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures due to the Ukraine war.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Q. Project ‘Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationships with its neighbors. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss. (UPSC 2015) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)