India-Bangladesh Relations

  • India played an important role in Bangladesh’s independence. India provided political, diplomatic, military and humanitarian support during Bangladesh’s Liberation War. For example, India lost 3,900 Indian soldiers and provided accommodation to an estimated 10 million Bangladeshi refugees.
  • Following Bangladesh’s Independence, India- Bangladesh bilateral relation had many high and lows. For example, during President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1st Bangladesh President) India- Bangladesh relations were in full swing.
  • However, after his assassination on August 15, 1975, the relation between India-Bangladesh hit a bottom. Between 1982-1991 a military-led government by General H.M. Ershad ruled the country.
  • But since the last decade India- Bangladesh relation has boosted up. Both countries have moved beyond historical and cultural ties. Cooperation is increasing in areas of trade, connectivity, energy, and defence.
What are the positive developments in India- Bangladesh relation?
  • Settled Land Boundary Issues via Land Boundary Agreement in 2015.
  • Removal of anti-Indian insurgency from Border areas : Government of Bangladesh was cooperative in eradicating anti-India insurgency elements from its borders. This has allowed India to make a massive redeployment of resources in other contentious borders. (LAC, LoC)
  • Trade Relations:  Bangladesh is India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia. (FY 2018-19- Export- $9.21 billion, Import- $1.04 billion). Bangladesh enjoys duty-free access to multiple Bangladeshi products.
  • Line of Credit: India has extended three lines of credit to Bangladesh in recent years ($8 billion) for the construction of roads, railways, bridges, and ports.
  • Medical Tourism: Increasing cooperation in Medical tourism. For example, Bangladesh accounts for more than 35% of India’s international medical patients and contributes more than 50% of India’s revenue from medical tourism.
  • Increased connectivity: Cooperation in connectivity has increased many folds. For example,
    • A direct bus service between Kolkata and Agartala running through Bangladesh.
    • Three passenger and freight railway services running between the two countries.
    • Maitri Setu bridge was constructed. It connects Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • Improved Connectivity to landlocked Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura states. Bangladesh allows the shipment of goods from its Mongla and Chittagong seaports carried by road, rail, and water ways to Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura.
What are the issues in India- Bangla relations?
  • Teesta issue: Water security is one of the major issue hampering India- Bangladesh relation.
  • Border killings: Increasing border killings against illegal Bangladeshi cattle traders. For example, the year 2020 saw the highest number of border shootings by the Border Security Force.
  • National Register of Citizens: The implementation of the National Register of Citizens has offended the religious sentiments of Bangladeshis. Also, many of the illegal Muslim immigrants belong to Bangladesh.
  • Chinese Influence: India’s neighbours are increasingly tilting towards China due to its attractiveness of massive trade, infrastructural and defence investments. Despite, India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ approach, India is losing its influence in the south Asian region. For example, Bhutan’s withdrawal from the BBIN (Bhutan-Bangladesh-India-Nepal) motor vehicles’ agreement.
  • Red Tapism: Poor project implementation due to Red tapism in India is hampering developmental activities in Bangladesh. For example, only 51% of the first $800 million lines of credit has been utilised. While the amount from the next two lines of credit worth $6.5 billion has not been mobilised yet.
Why Bangladesh is important for India?
  1. Geopolitical importance of Bangladesh
    • Can connect North East
    • Large Muslim population. Can be tapped by terrorist organisations
  2. Success of Act-East policy
    • Can act as a bridge to South East Asia
  3. Socio-economic development of North-East
    • Shorter routes to connect mainland with NE
    • Power sharing and transmission lines via it
  4. To reduce the influence of china
    • A “neutral” Bangladesh also ensures containment of an assertive China in this region, including along the strategic sea-lanes of the Bay of Bengal. It will also help to counter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy.
Related Questions:
  • Critically analyse the role of some of India’s eastern and north eastern states which share border with Bangladesh in improving relations between two countries.(200 Words)
  • Write a critical note on the areas of cooperation, their potential and progress made so far in them between India and Bangladesh. (200 Words)

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