India-Bangladesh Relations

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  • Abhishek Madhukar Chaudhari asked: Why is India is so selective in choosing partners in its neighborhood? E.g. Awami League of Bangladesh or Democracy in Pakistan?

    Smruti Pattanaik replies: I do not agree that India is selective in choosing its partners in neighborhood. India has always liked to see democratic and secular governments in the neighbouring countries that represent people’s aspiration. The military regimes in the neighbouring countries are antithesis of these values. In the past, India has however has done business with the military regimes. But that does not detract it from these core values.

    India was closely associated with Awami League during the liberation struggle. Awami league represents some of the core principles that India represents and values democracy, pluralism and secularism. Moreover AL’s feels cooperation with India would help Bangladesh. If one looks at the BNP and the political values it represents its hesitancy to develop good relations with India is clearly apparent. Therefore, it is just not India’s preference of one over the other it depends on the domestic constituencies of the political parties and their ideological underpinnings that define the response in the neighbourhood.

    In case of Pakistan, democratic regimes there believe that confrontation with India will strengthen the Army and would be detrimental to growth of democracy. India also feels that military regimes would not help the interest of peace. Therefore, response to India’s hand of friendship is determined by regime interest in the neighbouring countries.

    Bangladesh's Extended Continental Shelf: Navigating the Course with India and Myanmar

    The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay off the coast of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. With the exception of Bangladesh all the littoral states have reached agreements over their bilateral maritime boundaries. As signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, India and Myanmar had to file their claims by June 29, 2009 and by May 21, 2009 respectively, and Bangladesh has to file its claim by July 27, 2011 to the Commission on the limits of the continental shelf.

    September 2010

    Yoginder Rangi asked: Tell me Indo-Bangladesh relations during Indra-Mujib

    Smruti S. Pattanaik replies: India’s role in the liberation of Bangladesh, its diplomatic initiative to highlight Pakistan Army atrocities and its willingness to hold two million refugees from East Pakistan and the goodwill it generated therefrom shaped relations between the two countries. India extended all possible help to the new state which includes economic and administrative support. Bangladesh constitution which declared secularism as one of the foundational principles cemented the relations between the two countries which share liberal and pluralistic culture and societal values. Indian forces were withdrawn from Bangladesh in March 1972 and Indira Gandhi paid an official visit and the two countries signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1972.

    Mujib’s failure to deal with his opposition, address issues of corruption by his party members and his adoption of Islamic symbolism to enhance his Islamic credentials had implications for India-Bangladesh relations. To enhance his political credibility, since he was seen as a major ally of India, he started blaming India for his failures that solely arose from the misgovernance of his government. His tendency to centralize power in the form of BAKSAL also created resentment in the country. India was critical of Mujib’s assassination and the subsequent military takeover in Bangladesh. This added to an already deteriorating bilateral relations.

    Yoginder Rangi asked: What are the major irritants between India and Bangladesh and how do they really affect Indian security?

    Smruti Pattanaik Replies: There are several major irritants between India and Bangladesh. For example: demarcation of land and maritime boundary, exchange of enclaves, illegal migration, balance of trade, transit, and sanctuary to Indian insurgent groups. The issues that India considers as major irritants are not the same as that of Bangladesh. For India, shelter to Indian insurgent groups, ISI activities, transit and illegal immigration are major irritants that need to be addressed by Dhaka. For Bangladesh balance of trade, firing across the border, and demarcation of boundaries are more important.

    These irritants affect India's security in a decisive manner. Hosting of Indian insurgents by Bangladesh and illegal migration of Bangladeshis impinges on India's security. Dhaka in the past took a stand that there no insurgent groups are provided sanctuary in Bangladesh and that there is also no illegal migration. However, things have changed after the Awami League has assumed power.

    India and Bangladesh: The Road Towards Common Peace and Prosperity

    After a hiatus, relations between India and Bangladesh are back on track again. This period was ushered in with the Awami League government assuming power in Dhaka after the culmination of the much delayed ninth Jatiya Sangsad elections. The bilateral relations received a further boost with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's four-day visit to India on January 10, 2010. It was breakthrough visit for a number of reasons.

    May 2010

    Chinese Puzzle in India-Bangladesh Relations

    If the growth of Islamic extremism and terrorism in Bangladesh is a threat to Indian security, then the presence of China with which India’s interests have the potential to clash is also of security concern.

    April 19, 2010

    Bangladeshi Illegal Migration into Assam: Issues and Concerns from the Field

    The issue of Bangladeshi illegal migration has troubled the state of Assam for decades now. Assamese political and social discourses fear that this unchecked migration from across the border will subvert their way of life and change the demographic profile of the state in the near future.

    January 14, 2010

    Indo-Bangladesh Relations: An Enduring Partnership?

    Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is visiting India on January 10, 2009. Both India and Bangladesh are looking foward to resolving some of the key bilateral issues. In the light of the new political climate in Bangladesh ever since Sheikh Hasina returned to power, what are the options for India?

    January 06, 2010

    Bangladesh Cooperates on Terror: Can India translate it into Success?

    It is true that any negotiation with the outfit in the absence of Paresh Barua is going to meet only with partial success, but if the government manages to mainstream Arabinda Rajkhowa, the support base of ULFA would further erode.

    December 11, 2009

    Crackdown on Northeast Insurgents: Dhaka Prepares for Hasina’s India Visit

    New Delhi and Dhaka may have reached a tacit understanding that Northeast rebels based in Bangladesh will be simply picked up and handed over to India.

    November 18, 2009