India-Bangladesh Relation Strengthened


Hiren Pandit: The Prime Minister’s visit to India is a diplomatic courtesy and a strategic opportunity to advance mutual interests, strengthen ties, and tackle global challenges. Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations will enhance bilateral relations.

The opportunity for the leaders to discuss a wide range of issues, including trade, defense, climate change, regional security, economic cooperation, etc., opened the way for the political and financial situation of the two countries. India is a fast-growing economy and a foreign leader’s visit through trade agreements, investment opportunities, and business cooperation. It may enhance economic relations.

Strengthening Bonds: Cultural Exchange as a Pillar of Diplomatic Relations Cultural diplomacy, a cornerstone of our relationship, has fostered mutual understanding and appreciation between our nations. This strategic partnership, particularly in defense and security cooperation areas, underscores the depth of our relationship.

During the meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Saturday, June 22, ten significant agreements were signed between Bangladesh and India. These include the Bangladesh-India Digital Partnership, India-Bangladesh Green Partnership, Maritime Cooperation and Sunil Economy, Renewal of Old MoUs on Health and Medicine, MoUs on India’s In-Space and Posts and Telecommunication Ministries, MoUs on Connectivity between the Railway Ministries of the two countries, MoUs on Maritime Research, India’s Cooperation in Disaster Management and Mitigation Renewal of an existing agreement with National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Bangladesh Relief and Disaster, Renewal of existing agreements on fisheries development, and MoU between Defense Services Staff College, Wellington-India, and Defense Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, on military education cooperation in strategic and operational sectors.

At this time, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also exchanged greetings with the senior officials of Bangladesh present there. Sheikh Hasina visited the Rashtrapati Bhavan of India around 9 o’clock in Delhi. He was given a grand reception and a guard of honor. After that, Sheikh Hasina exchanged pleasantries with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other ministers and officials of the country. At this time, Narendra Modi also exchanged words with the senior officials of Bangladesh present there.

Around 10 am, Sheikh Hasina paid her respects at Mahatma Gandhi’s mausoleum at Rajghat in Delhi and signed the visitation book. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), an organization of Indian industrialists, met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Taj Hotel in New Delhi. In this meeting, the Prime Minister called on Indian industrialists to increase investment in Bangladesh. India’s Foreign Minister met at the same hotel in the evening. S Jaishankar. The courtesy meeting lasted for an hour in the presence of Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra and the concerned officials of the two countries. They discussed the issues presented in the Hasina-Modi summit in a wide range. This crucial visit has multidimensional significance. India’s particular interest in Bangladesh is also evident in the regional context.

In the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi, Bangladesh and India they were agreed on various issues, including military and security. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to China after a couple of weeks. Analysts believe that this critical agreement with India earlier sends a significant message. Those concerned said that after discussions between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 10 MoUs were signed between the two countries, including seven new and three renewals of old ones. However, it has only been said about the Teesta River water-sharing agreement that a technical team from India will visit Bangladesh for research on the Teesta. It is unclear whether they will work on water distribution or the Teesta Master Plan. However, the two Prime Ministers are pleased with the visit. They said a new journey has started on the path of friendship and development.

Analysts said the meeting signed agreements to expand cooperation in maritime security, ocean economy, space, telecommunications, and military. Through this, New Delhi is trying to present itself as a regional and counter-power to China. The agreements were signed on Saturday during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India, the first foreign leader to visit New Delhi since Narendra Modi became the country’s prime minister for the third term two weeks ago.

The visit is timely. New governments have returned to power in both countries. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi after the meeting that India is our most important neighbor and close friend. Several essential agreements were finalized in this meeting of the leaders and representatives of the two countries. One of them is the Indo-Pacific Bilateral Cooperation Agreement. Thanking Sheikh Hasina, Modi said that the two countries will move together on the path of a blue economy through this maritime cooperation.

This bilateral agreement on the security of regional sea lanes is believed to strengthen the ties between New Delhi and Dhaka in the coming days. In a joint press conference, the two Prime Ministers said that India and Bangladesh have agreed to start negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Narendra Modi said Bangladesh is our most significant development partner in this context. India gives their interests the top priority. In addition to economic and trade cooperation, bilateral cooperation in information technology, space research, military collaboration, rail communication, and nuclear research was agreed upon during Saturday’s meeting. A favorable decision has been made regarding the partnership as well. Welcoming Bangladesh’s decision to join its Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative to expand and facilitate regional cooperation with India’s maritime neighbors, Modi said the agreements with Dhaka are part of his country’s pursuit of a neighbor-first approach.

Prime Minister Modi said India would help Bangladesh with defense production and modernization of the army. Both countries will cooperate in combating terrorism and extremism. Negotiations on the renewal of the Ganga water-sharing agreement have begun. A technical team will soon visit Bangladesh to conserve Teesta. Modi said India will quickly introduce e-medical visas for those who come to India for treatment from Bangladesh. The Assistant High Commission office will be opened in Rangpur to benefit the people of Bangladesh. Besides, the two countries will cooperate in space. Alliance satellite was also discussed in the meeting. There has been an agreement on the digital and power sectors. India will complete the inland container depot at Sirajganj.

Incidentally, Sheikh Hasina is going to visit China on July 9. Before that, with Hasina by his side, Narendra Modi said that Bangladesh had supported India’s vision of the Indian Ocean. He thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and said that Bangladesh will be recognized as a developing country in 2026. And in 2041, Smart Bangladesh will be. India will also be a developed India by 2027. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that India is Bangladesh’s largest neighbor. India helped Bangladesh in the 1971 War of Independence. Along with the freedom fighters, the Indian army also got martyred. I pay respect to them. Sheikh Hasina said Modi attended Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence. He is grateful for that. Sheikh Hasina said I came in 2022. I received India’s invitation to the G-20 meeting in 2023. I came to Modi’s swearing-in ceremony a few days ago. I thank Modi for becoming the Prime Minister for the third time. Agreements have been reached in various areas, including water distribution, fuel, and energy. The friendship between the two countries will continue to grow. Hasina invited Modi to visit Bangladesh.

Analysts said the new message was being conveyed by the Prime Minister’s agreement on security in Bangladesh’s oceans before he visited China. In this case, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has to maintain a balanced diplomacy. Because Bangladesh also enjoys good relations with China. Besides, China is Bangladesh’s leading trading partner for importing most raw materials. However, maintaining close ties with Beijing is also challenging for Bangladesh. Bangladesh has to maintain a balance of diplomatic and trade ties with China’s main rivals, India and the United States.

Bangladesh’s garment industry, which earns more than 80 percent of foreign exchange from exports, heavily depends on China for its raw materials. Earlier, Sheikh Hasina told reporters in New Delhi that the two countries have decided to increase cooperation in river water distribution and power and energy sectors. Indian industry leaders met him. At this time, Sheikh Hasina invited them to invest in Bangladesh – planning to develop significant ports, waterways, railways, and roads. India has loaned Bangladesh $8 billion over the past eight years to help expand that infrastructure.

Since Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party came to power in 2009, she has worked to address New Delhi’s concerns about Indian militant groups taking refuge in Bangladesh. Later, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the two countries’ cabinet members, senior officials, and dignitaries in the line of presentation. After the program at President Bhaban, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to Rajghat to pay her respects to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation. Rajghat Samiti welcomed her when she reached the mausoleum. The Prime Minister stood in silence after placing a wreath at the tomb of this great leader of India. At this time, he sprinkled flower petals on the tomb. Later, she signed the inspection book.

Stating that the sixth railway between India and Bangladesh has been opened through Agartala, Modi said cargo service has started in our northeastern states through Khulna-Mongla port. Indian rupee trade has begun between the two countries. The most extended river cruise between India and Bangladesh has been completed on the Ganga (Padma) river. The first cross-border alliance pipeline between India and Bangladesh has been completed. The export of electricity from Nepal to Bangladesh using the Indian grid has become an example of regional cooperation.

We have agreed to cooperate for the betterment of our people and country. As Dhaka and Delhi embarked on a new path with the formation of new governments, we have charted the future course of action to ensure the establishment of ‘Smart Bangladesh’ through ‘Vision 2041’ and follow through on ‘Bikashito Bharat-2047’. In the afternoon, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met Indian Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar at the Secretariat in New Delhi. He then met President Draupadi Murmu at President Bhaban.

India wants to train from Gede in West Bengal to Dalgaon on the Bhutan border using Bangladeshi territory. Although a proposal was made earlier, a formal discussion was held between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday. The Teesta project was also discussed. Along with this, Bangladesh and India have signed 10 Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen cooperation in various fieldsand bilateral relations. These MoUs were signed in the presence of the heads of government of the two countries after a private and bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi yesterday afternoon. In a press conference, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra gave this information.

Currently, trains run between Bangladesh and India on five routes. Three are passenger interchanges; the remaining two are freight. As per current rules, Indian trains enter Bangladesh on Bangladeshi engines after arriving at the border. A Bangladeshi locomaster (driver) drove it. The same rule is followed while going back. India wants to start freight trains from Gede in West Bengal to Dalgaon on the Bhutan border. In this case, Bangladesh Railway intends to use it to reduce time and distance. The Indian train will enter India again using the territory of Bangladesh through Darshana and pass through Ishwardi-Abdulpur-Parbatipur to Chilahati.

After the bilateral meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries and the MoU signing ceremony, the Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra explained the details in response to a question from the journalists at the press conference yesterday afternoon. He said, ‘Bangladesh wants to open a railway connection from one part of India to another using railways. There was a critical discussion between the leaders of the two countries.

Hiren Pandit is an essayist, researcher, and columnist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at hiren.bnnrc@gmail.com


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