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Editorials/Opinions Analyses for UPSC 16 December 2021


  1. A thorn in Pakistan-Bangladesh relations
  2. A false conflation between duties and rights

A thorn in Pakistan-Bangladesh relations


December 16, “Bijoy Dibosh”, is celebrated in Bangladesh as the day marking the country’s formal victory over Pakistan after then chief of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, surrendered with 93,000 forces to joint forces led by the Bangladeshi freedom fighters, popularly known as “Mukti Bahini” and the Indian armed forces.


GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bangladesh Liberation War 1971
  2. Bangladesh–India relations

Bangladesh Liberation War 1971

  • In the 1950s the centralised Pakistani state was run undemocratically by a military-bureaucratic oligarchy dominated by West Pakistan. Under this system, Bengalis had no political say. But West Pakistan dominance was challenged in 1970 during general elections.
  • East Pakistan’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League had a clear overall majority, enough to become the prime minister. However, west Pakistan was not willing to let a leader from its eastern provincial wing rule the country.
  • The then West Pakistan (present Pakistan), under the leadership of Yahya Khan, started a brutal assault on the people of East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) who were demanding freedom because of the language and cultural differences between the two regions. After political negotiations failed, the Pakistani army under General Yahya Khan decided to start the crackdown.
  • West Pakistan kicked in operation searchlight across the whole of East Pakistan on March 26, 1971.
  • This resulted in millions of Bangladeshis fleeing to India, mainly West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.
  • West Bengal, in particular, was massively burdened by the onrush of the refugees and the state appealed to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her government for assistance for food and shelter.
  • With the subsequent bravery of the Indian Army coupled with the spirited fight put up by Mukti Bahini — the Bangladeshi guerilla resistance movement consisting of the Bangladeshi military, paramilitary and civilians — defeated the Pakistani forces.
  • On December 16, 1971, Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the Chief Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan and Commander of Pakistan Army forces located in East Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender.
  • Over 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the Indian forces and Bangladesh Liberation forces making it the largest surrender since World War II.
  • The intervention brought a conclusion to the war in 13 short days and led to the birth of a new nation.

Bangladesh–India relations

  • Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbours and Diplomatic Relations between the two countries was followed by the visit of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972 where there she had signed the Indo-Bangladesh Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Peace Relations, popularly known as the ‘Indira-Mujib Treaty of 1972, with then Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • The relations between the two countries have usually been friendly, although sometimes there are border disputes.
  • They are common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the Commonwealth.
  • The two countries share many cultural ties. In particular, Bangladesh and the east Indian state of West Bengal are Bengali-speaking.
  • In 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out between East Pakistan and West Pakistan; India intervened in December 1971 on behalf of East Pakistan and helped secure East Pakistan’s independence from Pakistan as the country of Bangladesh.

-Source: The Hindu

A false conflation between duties and rights


As Bangladesh commemorates 50 years of its historic victory, it is worth revisiting exactly why Pakistan’s leadership has remained hesitant so far to offer a formal apology to those aggrieved and what this means for the future of Bangladesh-Pakistan relations.


GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Minister of Law on rights and duties
  2. Constitutional Provisions with respect to rights and duties
  3. Problem with such an approach

Minister of Law on rights and duties

  • Recently, On Constitution Day, Minister of Law and Justice, Kiren Rijiju, emphasized that to make India great we need to create a balance between rights and duties.
  • This view is in consonance with Gandhiji’s famous quote-
  • “Real rights are a result of the performance of duty”
  • Generally speaking, most rights come with duties. For example- when Rights against discrimination are promised to citizens there is a simultaneous imposition of duty on the government to ensure equality.
  • However there is a general fear that the government wants to make rights conditional on the performance of extraneous or irrelevant duties.


Constitutional Provisions with respect to rights and duties

  • Part III of the Indian Constitution contains provisions related to fundamental rights. These fundamental rights have limitations but these rights were given sacrosanct importance in ensuring human dignity.
  • During the National Emergency of 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the recommendation of the Sawran Singh Committee added Part IV-A i.e fundamental duties.
  • Article 51A encouraged citizens to perform several duties: among others, to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India; to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so; to protect and improve the natural environment; to safeguard public property.

Problem with such an approach

  • Different people have different conceptions of duties that citizens must abide by.
  • The Constituent Assembly did not see duty as an important part of their vision.
  • Fundamental duties in Part IV are vague, ambiguous, and difficult to be understood by the common man.
  • The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting votes, paying taxes, family planning, and so on. In fact, the duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee.
  • Such an approach can infringe on the Right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Making the rights subject to certain extrinsic duties can be seen as repugnant to a republic’s vision.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024