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India-Bangladesh Relation

Context:

Recently, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina returned to power in Bangladesh for a historic fourth straight term. India was among the first countries to congratulate, illustrating the close bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Flourishing Ties Between India and Bangladesh
  2. Points of Tensions Between India and Bangladesh
  3. Way Forward

Flourishing Ties Between India and Bangladesh

Historical Foundation:

  • The relationship began during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, where India played a crucial role in supporting Bangladesh’s fight for independence.

Periods of Strain:

  • Relations faced challenges in the mid-1970s, marked by anti-India sentiment, boundary disputes, and insurgency issues.

Revival under Sheikh Hasina:

  • Since Sheikh Hasina came to power in 1996, bilateral ties improved, highlighted by a Ganga water-sharing treaty.
Areas of Cooperation:
  • Trade Growth:
    • Bilateral trade reached USD 18 billion in 2021-22, making Bangladesh India’s largest trade partner in South Asia.
  • Economic Agreements:
    • A joint feasibility study on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was concluded in 2022.
  • Lines of Credit:
    • India extended over USD 7 billion in Lines of Credit to Bangladesh since 2010.
  • Infrastructure Development:
    • Joint projects like the Akhaura-Agartala Rail Link and the BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity.
  • Energy Collaboration:
    • Bangladesh imports nearly 2,000 MW of electricity from India, and both countries collaborate on the Rooppur Nuclear power plant project.
  • Border Relations:
    • Shared borders of 4096.7 km, the longest land boundary India has with any neighbor, leading to joint exercises and cooperation.
  • Regional and Multilateral Engagement:
    • Participation in regional forums such as SAARC, BIMSTEC, and Indian Ocean Rim Association enhances regional cooperation.

Points of Tensions Between India and Bangladesh

  • River Water Sharing:
    • Despite sharing 54 common rivers, only two treaties (Ganga Waters Treaty and Kushiyara River Treaty) have been signed, leaving issues concerning major rivers like Teesta and Feni unresolved.
  • Illegal Migration:
    • The persistent issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh to India, including refugees and economic migrants, creates strain in Indian border states, impacting resources and security.
  • Rohingya Crisis:
    • Rohingya refugees entering India through Bangladesh pose a challenge, leading to concerns over resources and security in Indian border states. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India has raised apprehensions in Bangladesh.
  • Cross-Border Issues:
    • Incidents of cross-border drug smuggling, human trafficking, and poaching of animal and bird species are significant challenges.
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):
    • Bangladesh’s active participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, while India abstains, creates a potential source of tension as China’s influence in the region could affect India’s strategic standing.

Way Forward:

  • Joint Task Forces:
    • Establish joint task forces with law enforcement agencies from both countries to combat cross-border drug smuggling and human trafficking effectively.
  • Intelligence Sharing:
    • Promote shared intelligence and coordinated operations to disrupt illegal networks operating across borders.
  • Smart Border Management:
    • Implement smart border management solutions utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analytics to streamline cross-border movements, ensuring both security and efficiency.
  • Digital Connectivity Corridor:
    • Establish a digital connectivity corridor focusing on high-speed internet connectivity, digital services, and e-commerce to create new avenues for trade, collaboration, and technological exchange between India and Bangladesh.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2024
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