India Bangladesh today signed a series of agreements on issues ranging from river waters to railways to space technology. A key agreement on Kushiyara river water sharing was also signed that will benefit both Assam in India and Sylhet in Bangladesh
MoUs were signed in presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of People’s Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. Bangladeshi Prime Minister, who is on a 4-day state visit to India beginning 5th September 2022 along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also inaugurated a number of development projects.
List of Important projects Inaugurated
As per PIB press release, following projects were inaugurated at the meeting
- Unveiling of Maitree power plant – A coal-fired thermal power plant at Rampal, Khulna in Bangladesh is being set up with Indian Development Assistance under Concessional Financing Scheme.
- Inauguration of Rupsha bridge – The 5.13 km Rupsha rail bridge is a key part of the 64.7 km Khulna-Mongla Port single-track broad-gauge rail project in Bangladesh.
- Supply of road construction equipment and machinery – The project consists of supply of road maintenance and construction equipment and machinery in 25 packages to Bangladesh Road and Highways Department.
- Khulna Darshana railway line link project – The project is upgradation of existing (doubling of Broad Gauge) infrastructure linking the current cross border rail link at Gede-Darshana to Khulna thereby augmenting the rail connections between the two countries, especially to Dhaka, but also in future to Mongla Port.
- Parbatipur -Kaunia railway line – The conversion of the existing Metre Gauge line to Dual Gauge line project. The project will connect to the existing cross border rail at Birol (Bangladesh)-Radhikapur (West Bengal) and will enhance bilateral rail connectivity.
Historical ties between Bangladesh and India
- Both the countries share linguistic,cultural and religious similarities.
- India had a key role in the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971.
- India was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Bangladesh by formally recognizing Bangladesh as an independent country in 1971.
- Both countries are part of many multilateral organisations like SAARC and BIMSTEC.
- In 2021, India and Bangladesh had celebrated their 50 years of diplomatic relations.
- To mark the occasion, a contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, comprising 122 members from its tri–services, participated in the Indian Republic Day parade in 2021 for the first time.
Importance of Bangladesh for India
- Bangladesh features as the most important country in the Indian Foreign Policy objectives of “Neighbourhood First Policy”.
- Bangladesh has become India’s largest trading partner in South Asia. Bilateral trade between both the countries have increased substantially in recent years.
- Bangladesh plays an important role in helping India to curb militancy in its North East. Bangladesh has taken significant steps to counter insurgents who try to target India in its North Eastern part.
- Both countries shares intelligence inputs with each other regarding the insurgent groups which are active in India’s North East region.
- Bangladesh is strategically located in the Indian Ocean region. Hence it becomes important for India to safeguard its interests in the entire Indo-Pacific.
A rising China in India’s Periphery
- China is actively seeking to establish its stronghold in the Indian Ocean and is trying to reduce India’s dominance in the South Asian region.
- The growing cooperation between Bangladesh and China in trade and Security is alarming for India. China has surpassed India to be the largest trading partner of Bangladesh.
- Bangladesh is heavily dependent on China for its conventional military equipments. India needs to boost defence cooperation with Bangladesh in order to reduce its dependence on China.
- China has developed port facilities in Bangladesh. These ports are been seen as a an attempt by China to encircle India through its ‘string of pearls’ theory.
The importance of Bangladesh for India is Manifold. From an economic and geopolitical point of view, both countries carry paramount importance for each other. Hence, India should carefully move forward with its foreign policy while dealing with its neighbours, especially Bangladesh. Bangladesh is located at the top of the Bay of Bengal triangle which makes its location important for India’s strategic interests in the region. Hence, India must maintain a healthy relation with Bangladesh since any grudges between the two countries would be detrimental for India’s interest in the region.