Q) India and Bangladesh today enjoy what can be termed as one of the best periods of their relationship and deepening relationship with the country has become a necessity in the face of shifting geo-economics. Discuss.
Why this question
Important part of GS paper- II.
Key demand of the question:
Significance of bilateral relations with Bangladesh, cooperation between the two countries, irritants in their relations and way forward.
Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.
Write about the evolution of India Bangladesh relations since independence of the country.
In the first part, mention the significance of Bangladesh for India and the cooperation between the two countries.
In the next part, give a list of irritants in the relations between the two.
Conclude with a way forward.
India and Bangladesh are completing 50 years of bilateral relations in the year 2021. India was one of the first countries to recognise Bangladesh and establish diplomatic relations immediately after its independence in December 1971. The Indian army fought side by side with the Bangladeshi freedom fighters in 1971 during the liberation war.
Significance of Bangladesh for India
- Enhancing connectivity - due to its strategic geopolitical location, Bangladesh acts as a gateway to South East Asia. It is a central component to various regional connectivity projects such as the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal initiative. Bangladesh also plays a major role in the connectivity to the North eastern part of India.
- Trade partner - Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia and is an important destination for Indian exports.
- Security - India shares an extensive and porous border with Bangladesh. This has made the cool position between the two countries to shill for effective border management and tackling transnational crimes such as smuggling of arms narcotics fake Indian currencies and trafficking of women and children.
- Development of North eastern region- transit and transshipment to the North eastern region through Bangladesh helps increase the connectivity to the North eastern region and ensure peace, stability and economic development of the region. It has also helped in taming the insurgency problem in the North eastern states of India.
Irritants in India Bangladesh relations
- River water disputes- India and Bangladesh share about 54 transboundary rivers and Bangladesh lies downstream in the majority of these River streams. This has given rise to the concerns in Bangladesh over sharing of River waters interlinking of rivers on building of dams in India. For example the distal water River dispute.
- Trade imbalance- Bangladesh has often complained about the bilateral trade tilts towards India.
- China factor- in recent years The Chinese influence over Bangladesh has increased tremendously like enhancing the list of products for duty free access into its markets and providing massive loans for developmental projects.
- Issue in border management - loss of civilian lives at the border and smuggling of arms narcotics and fake currency has been a matter of concern.
- Citizenship Amendment Act 2019- the new citizenship law granting Indian citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from Bangladesh indirectly implied the poor treatment for religious minorities in Bangladesh and this brought negative publicity for Dhaka.
- Both the countries can adopt a basin wide approach in formulating a new framework for the sharing of River waters.
- Allowing work permits to resolve the migration issue in a manner that does not adversely affect the society and economy of both countries.
- India should expect the implementation of projects including India Bangladesh friendship pipeline, Maitree Super Thermal Project, etc. to highlight the highest priority India attaches to Bangladesh under India’s Neighbourhood First Policy.
- Addressing the issues of non tariff barriers and trade facilitation including port restrictions, procedural bottlenecks, etc. for reducing the trade imbalance.
- Effective implementation of the ongoing coordinated border management plan.
Bangladesh is an important component of India’s Neighbourhood First Policy, hence development of bilateral relations with the country remains a priority for India in the view of a safe and secure neighbourhood.