Liberation of Bangladesh – UPSC GS1

Critically comment on India’s role in the liberation and creation of Bangladesh in 1971 and its consequences on India’s polity then. (200 Words)

India played an important role in creation of Bangladesh through both direct and indirect interventions. Due to atrocities on East Pakistani people by Pakistani army including arson, rape and murder it was a humanitarian crisis due which India had to intervene. Also growing refugee crisis due to migration of people to escape from persecution was proving to be unmanageable, Indian government allowed Awami league leaders to form government in exile (Calcutta), Gave military training to Mukti Vahini Sena on Indian soil, provided food, shelter, clothing and medical aid to refugees in spite of tremendous strain on their resources and in December 1971 Indian armed forces directly undertook the operation for liberation of Bangladesh which led to Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. India defeated Pakistan and arrested more than 93000 Pakistani soldiers.
  1. Although India was criticized at that time for violating the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation, it was due to the need of situation and to prevent the spillover to the Indian territory that India had to intervene.
  2. Large scale migration of Bangladeshis to India, in order to flee from persecution, led to massive social, political, administrative and financial challenges for India, that continue to this day.
  3. In North East regions of Assam and Tripura, massive political unrest against Bangladeshi immigrants led to a major problem. In West Bengal, Bangladeshis have been used as vote banks and subjected to exploitation.
  4. Apart from drain of resources due to war and rehabilitation efforts various sanctions were imposed on India by nations such as USA, war strengthened the relation of India with USSR (India signed a 20-year Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with Soviet Union) and also the war established image of India has a hard power.
  5. The 1971 war demonstrated strength of Indian secularism where Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, all stood together at the moment of crisis. The war was also a great political victory for the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  6. Shimla agreement 1972‘ which paved the way for diplomatic recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan. this agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. India Pakistan agreed to solve Kashmir issue bilaterally without any intervention of third party, Pakistan agreed to respect LOC and India returned their prisoners of war and Pakistan recognized Bangladesh as a nation in August 1973.
Why was India compelled to intervene and participate in 1971 Bangladesh War? Critically examine. (200 Words)
India was compelled to intervene in the Bangladesh War of 1971 due to various strategic, domestic, economic and humanitarian factors.
Having a hostile West Pakistan and East Pakistan on both sides of its borders was a strategic concern for India. This was compounded by the strain in Sino-Indian relations which culminated in the war of 1962. Therefore, the intervention in 1971 was necessary to safeguard the long term strategic interests.
At the domestic front, the constant influx of migrants from East Pakistan was creating various problems in the Border States. The resources were limited and there was constant struggle between locals and refugees over the use of these resources. Besides there were various other ethnic and social problems due to this inflow of migrants.
On the economic front, the country was spending huge resources to absorb these refugees. Being a closed economy, India was not in a position to continue spending resources for long and hence a long term solution to the problem was needed. Beside, having a hostile East Pakistan was hindering the development of north-eastern part of the country due to limited connectivity. Attacks on north western India by west Pakistan and help asked by Mukti Vahini.
Lastly the atrocities committed on the people of East Pakistan forced India to intervene in the conflict on humanitarian ground to prevent a large scale crisis.



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