[op-ed snap] Pivot to the Indo-Pacific

Context:

  1. Two recent visits to India by foreign dignitaries underscore the gradually evolving foreign policy priorities of Indian diplomacy
  2. The visits of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to India this week exemplify not only the country’s rising global profile but also its growing stakes in the larger Indo-Pacific

Positive trajectory:

  1. India’s role as a security provider is visible in the Delhi-Dhaka joint statement
  2. This has stressed the need for greater military-to-military training and exchanges
  3. It has complimented the armed forces for their professional conduct during joint search and rescue operations in the Bay of Bengal leading to the rescue of a large number of fishermen from both sides
  4. The defence relationship was the highlight of Ms. Hasina’s visit to Delhi this time as it included a memorandum of understanding on a defence framework, and a $500 million line of credit (LoC) for defence procurement by the Bangladesh military forces, the largest such LoC India has extended to any country so far
  5. What makes this line of credit more significant is that Bangladesh will not be bound to use it to source its supplies only from Indian companies
  6. This is India’s way to reposing confidence in the Hasina government that it will not challenge New Delhi’s vital interests

Sharing economic growth:

  1. India is also ready to demonstrate it keenness to share its economic growth with its regional partners
  2. It is extending a $4.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh, over and above the existing $2.8 billion line, to fund around 17 infrastructure projects
  3. These include port upgradation work at the Mongla, Chittagong and Payra ports
  4. Given the critical need for enhancing connectivity in South Asia, India is pushing for early implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement, aimed at facilitating seamless transport of goods over land customs stations
  5. Bus and train services between Kolkata and Khulna have been started, and there are plans to revive inland waterway channels

Cooperation among the neighbours:

  1. Modi used his political capital to push through the land boundary agreement (LBA), to swap enclaves India and Bangladesh held in each other’s territory, in 2015
  2. He is working towards mitigating differences on the critical Teesta water sharing pact
  3. Hasina has been equally responsive to Indian concerns
  4. Bangladesh is taking serious steps to deal a decisive blow to separatist Indian insurgent organisations such as ULFA and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland
  5. There is now greater convergence between India and Bangladesh on dealing with fundamentalist forces such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, the Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harkat-ul-Ansar
  6. For her commitment to strong Delhi-Dhaka ties, Ms. Hasina has faced a lot of opposition at home
  7. Given the size and scale of India, it inevitably becomes part of the domestic political milieu in its neighbouring states
  8. So it will always have to trudge cautiously in South Asia where suspicions about New Delhi’s intentions run high
  9. But the more India is seen to be reciprocating its neighbours grievances, the better chances it will have of mitigating these tensions

For a larger Indian role:

  1. The other way out for India is to enhance its engagements in the larger Indo-Pacific, thereby getting out of the straitjacket of being a “mere” South Asian power
  2. New Delhi’s success in engaging countries such as Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia in recent years is testament to the growing demand in the region for a larger Indian role and presence
  3. Turnbull’s visit to Delhi this week once again showed that India is now widely perceived to be a strong and credible regional force

Mr. Turnbull’s visit:

  1. The two countries pledged to enhance maritime cooperation as they underlined “the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea)”
  2. Defence cooperation once again is at the centre of this relationship with the decision to hold a bilateral maritime exercise named AUSINDEX in 2018
  3. A bilateral exercise of the Special Forces will be held later this year, while the first bilateral army-to-army exercise will also take place in 2018
  4. The two countries should now prioritise the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) at the earliest to give economic heft to their growing security interactions

Note4Students:

Despite the hype about the possibility of India emerging as the guarantor of the liberal economic and security order in Asia, there are now new possibilities for reimagining New Delhi’s regional and global role. Greater cooperation with like-minded countries in the region and beyond will give it greater space to emerge as a credible regional interlocutor at a time when Washington’s policies remain far from clear and Beijing is challenging the foundations of the extant order. Read the details of this op-ed for both Prelims and Mains.

[op-ed snap] Sheikh Hasina India visit: Transformative visit

Context:

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance to visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of an “early resolution” to the Teesta water dispute has firmly brought the elephant in the room to the fore
  2. Modi’s statement, made in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has been widely welcomed

What it meant:

  1. It defined both India’s commitment to the Teesta water-sharing agreement and the Central government’s commitment to working with the West Bengal government to conclude the agreement for which the framework was initiated in 2011
  2. The holdout is clearly political; hence the resolution will only come from political dialogue, and must be forged quickly
  3. Both governments would do well to understand the advice hidden in Sheikh Hasina’s message during a speech where she praised “all parties and all politicians” for coming together and clearing the land boundary agreement (LBA), to swap enclaves India and Pakistan held in each other’s territory, in 2015
  4. “Like in 1971, the entire Indian people came together for Bangladesh for it [LBA],” Ms. Hasina said, stressing the need for bipartisanship to prevail in ties
  5. Credit for the strength of the relationship should go also to the previous Manmohan Singh government
  6. Singh and Ms. Hasina expended significant political capital to transform ties, particularly on cooperation on terrorism, and the frameworks for the land swap and water-sharing arrangements

Other MoUs signed:

  1. It is to the credit of both Mr. Modi and Ms. Hasina that India and Bangladesh were able to make progress on other issues such as energy cooperation and connectivity, signing a total of 22 agreements, with another 14 in the field of private investment and MoUs
  2. The MoU on a framework for defence cooperation essentially formalised existing arrangements for defence exchanges, military training and high-level defence visits, while the agreement of cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy endorsed the existing training programmes for Bangladeshi scientists at Indian facilities

India’s investments:

  1. India’s announcement of further lines of credit of $5 billion, including $500 million for defence purchases, the largest such LoC extended to any country so far, is important
  2. In a context where connectivity is the new currency to extend one’s influence and where China is taking the lead with its Belt & Road initiative, India has chosen well to extend funds to rebuild old railway lines, and construct bridges, power plants, ports and roads in Bangladesh
  3. Plans to revive inland waterway channels are also under way, and hold the potential to increase connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan
  4. Not only will these measures strengthen the bonds with Bangladesh, with which India shares its longest international border as well as historical bonds, they will help India connect to itself, to the benefit especially of the northeastern States

Note4Students:

Indo-Bangladesh relations are of strategic importance for both the countries. The op-ed should be read and understood for an expected question on Indo-Bangladesh ties in Mains.

[op-ed snap] Stepping up to a shared potential

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to Malcolm Turnbull to make his first official visit to India

How is India gaining prominence?

  1. India is the world’s most populous democracy and will, by 2030, be the most populous country, overtaking China
  2. And it is young — there are more Indian 10-year-olds than there are Australians
  3. With more than a dozen distinct languages, scripts and religions, India is multiculturalism on the grandest scale
  4. And to sustain a vibrant modern democracy, surely India is one of the greatest political achievements of our times
  5. Once you appreciate its size, you see its potential
  6. Think of all those 10-year-olds who will one day be voting in India’s elections and who will also, one day, belong to India’s middle class, the engine of its booming economy
  7. Put all that together and it’s easy to understand why India will play a central role in Indo-Pacific region and the world

History of Indo-Australia relationship:

  1. Formal relationship began for many Australians in 1950, when Robert Menzies became the first Australian leader to visit independent India
  2. Since then, both countries have been transformed
  3. Now Australia must turn attention to transforming the relationship to one that matches India’s huge needs and its enormous potential with its people, Australia’s best assets, as well as with its resources and shared democratic traditions

Three focus areas:

  1. During the visit the focus will be on three areas of relationship: economic, knowledge and strategic partnerships
  2. India is inspiring the world with its explosive economic growth
  3. Its economic take-off is lifting millions out of poverty, transforming the country into the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with forecasted growth of 7.5% in 2017
  4. This is a stunning result for India, and a rare opportunity for Australia
  5. From Mumbai to Melbourne, from Bengaluru to Brisbane, India will be in the market to buy some of the best things Australia has to offer
  6. Two-way trade is growing, and approaching $20 billion, but that’s far too low and this will be the prime focus of the bilateral talks

Australia-India Strategic Research Fund:

  1. The Government will announce the results of the tenth round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund
  2. Worth more than $100 million, this initiative has enabled the sharpest minds to collaborate in areas such as food security and health, and advance the boundaries of human knowledge in quantum computing, nanotechnology and astronomy
  3. By combining talents of the two countries, there can be addition to the technological achievements already made in both the countries

As an education destination:

  1. For decades the citizens have been criss-crossing the Indian Ocean in search of knowledge
  2. Last year, Australia was the second-most popular study destination for Indian students — 60,000 came to Australia to learn
  3. Through the Government’s New Colombo Plan, more and more young Australians will choose India as a place to study and boost their own qualifications and experience
  4. India’s demand for minerals and resources remains high. But education is a new pathway to shared prosperity
  5. The Indian Government is aiming to train 400 million people by 2022. Australia can help them achieve this goal
  6. A great strength of education relationship is found in the higher education and research sector
  7. Collaboration between institutes on high-end research, innovation, science and technology are central to developing our knowledge partnership

The Indian link:

  1. India’s culture, its art, its food, its people — has become such a large and important part of Australian life
  2. Half a million Australians are of Indian descent. That number increases each year
  3. Whether it’s Little India in Melbourne, Diwali celebrations in Brisbane, or the long-established Sikh community on the North Coast of New South Wales, modern Australia, the most successful multicultural society in the world, could not be imagined without the contribution of Indian-Australians

Note4Students:

The security and stability of the Indo-Pacific is fundamental to both of India and Australia and this visit will provide an opportunity to discuss key regional and geostrategic issues and strengthen the engagement. As liberal democracies, the two nations should work together to encourage free trade and prosperity and to help safeguard security and the rule of law in the region. An important op-ed for Mains.

[op-ed snap] The Teesta runs through it

Context:

  1. Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, is visiting India. This is her first bilateral visit to India since 2010

Background of India-Bangladesh relations:

  1. The Framework for Development and Cooperation signed the following year during then-PM Manmohan Singh’s visit, though under the shadow of the Teesta imbroglio, laid out a charter of cooperation encompassing a large spectrum of activities
  2. The spirit of these mutually reinforcing positive approaches was maintained during PM Modi’s visit in May, 2015, which also saw closure to the long awaited Land Boundary Agreement

Rohingya issue:

  1. India is not a direct party to the issue of the Rohingyas of Myanmar, who continue to flee to Bangladesh, which now hosts over 1,00,000 in camps
  2. Despite some international assistance, the Rohingyas pose a serious economic problem for Bangladesh
  3. Perhaps more important is the alleged involvement of Saudi-linked organisations in nurturing Islamic fundamentalist groups among the uprooted refugees
  4. This provides an explosive cocktail which would be a nightmare for any nation, most so for Bangladesh, battling its own homegrown as well as IS-inspired terrorist groups
  5. The visit may provide the occasion for an exchange of views on how the issue may be handled and whether India has a role in advising the friendly government of Myanmar to ensure that the flow of refugees is stemmed
  6. Tangentially, India itself is involved as some Rohingyas have sought shelter in India

In the South- Asian region:

  1. With a great display of zeal, China has been seen to be active in India’s periphery in promoting One Belt One Road and bilateral relations
  2. They have received some setbacks in Myanmar and Sri Lanka in bilateral relations, but will surely pursue their objectives
  3. Pakistan continues to be a willing accessory to Chinese desires to curb and contain India
  4. Nepal had appeared to be moving sensibly towards positive relations with both her giant neighbours, until the ultra-nationalist K.P. Oli made it an either/or choice, which has done no good to Sino-Nepal relations as his successor’s recently concluded visit to China demonstrated
  5. China has had a stable relationship with Bangladesh and is a major provider of defence hardware
  6. A slew of agreements were signed during President Xi’s recent visit to Dhaka, including for the provision of substantial loans and grants
  7. While carefully observing the developing relations between Dhaka and Beijing, India should avoid a Pavlovian reaction

The Awami League of Bangladesh:

  1. Since assuming the reins of government in 2009, the Awami League has tried to ensure that anti-India activities are not carried out from Bangladesh’s soil
  2. This would not have been an easy task as elements within the establishment had been ingrained by previous administrations to promote such activities
  3. There were, of course, areas of congruence
  4. The Jamaat-inspired, Pakistan-supported terrorist elements had in their sights both India and the Awami League
  5. The Awami League government’s continuing effort to deal with terrorists has not deflected it from trying to bring to a close the consequences of the crimes committed in 1971
  6. In this respect, Sheikh Hasina has kept the promise she had made to the electorate. But for this, she has had to face strong western criticism

Development in the relations:

  1. Indo-Bangladesh relations presently reflect both maturity and political will
  2. Only a decade ago, the current scenario of a cooperative framework of the relationship would have seemed impossible
  3. Since then, the long-festering maritime boundary issue has been resolved
  4. The seemingly ever-lasting land boundary question is behind us
  5. Few note that the apprehensions of large-scale communal movements of peoples simply did not come true; people decided to remain with their land, albeit with a different nationality
  6. Meanwhile, communications have improved dramatically as also trade and investment
  7. The supply of electricity from India is making a difference to the lives of people in Bangladesh
  8. Above all, Bangladesh has ceased to be a sanctuary for elements inimical to the Indian state.

Teesta waters:

  1. A signal lacuna has been India’s inability to deliver on the sharing of Teesta waters
  2. It is possible that even without an agreement, Bangladesh may be receiving about the same quantity as was envisaged in the discussions
  3. The issue, however, is as much about the quantum of water as Bangladesh’s right to receive it
  4. Not least, a demonstration of India abiding by its commitments
  5. The present chief minister of Bengal may wish to recall that her distinguished predecessor, Jyoti Basu, played a signal role in the resolution of the Farakka Barrage issue two decades ago and earned encomiums from both India and Bangladesh

Note4Students:

Sheikh Hasina has been a friend of India and has addressed India’s critical security concerns with unambiguous firmness. While cognisant of her internal political compulsions, and always mindful of Bangladesh’s national interests, she has welcomed the fostering of close economic relations with India. Her state visit provides an opportunity for both sides to assess the progress made on the many agreements reached in earlier years, as also provide guidelines for the future. The op-ed is important for Mains and Prelims both. Keep track of development in this news.

[op-ed snap] Sonar Bangla, again

Context:

  1. The idea that India-Bangladesh relations can be changed, root and branch, took hold seven years ago when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to Delhi
  2. Manmohan Singh agreed with her that India can and must urgently resolve long-standing disputes, expand areas of cooperation and develop a shared vision for regional peace and prosperity
  3. This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina have an opportunity to take some big steps to advance that agenda

Previous government:

  1. The UPA government did well to open up the Indian market for goods produced in Bangladesh, extend economic assistance to developmental projects, negotiate an agreement on sharing the waters of the Teesta river and wrap up a long-pending boundary settlement
  2. Dhaka, in turn, offered substantive cooperation on counter-terrorism and embraced the opportunity to integrate the regional economies
  3. Resistance from the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, prevented Singh from signing the Teesta agreement when he went to Dhaka in September 2011
  4. While he did sign the boundary agreement, the UPA government could not get it ratified by the Indian Parliament

The present government:

  1. Modi, who took charge in 2014, discarded the BJP’s earlier opposition and pushed for an early ratification of the boundary agreement
  2. He also signed off on the award of an international tribunal on resolving the maritime boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh

Political obstacles:

  1. On the Indian side, Mamata has been reluctant to endorse the Teesta waters agreement that has become the touchstone for India’s good faith in Bangladesh
  2. Meanwhile, many in Bangladesh are nervous that Dhaka under Sheikh Hasina might be drawing too close to India
  3. They are especially concerned about the prospects for expanding defence cooperation between the two countries
  4. Some others see Delhi trying to limit or constrain the unfolding strategic partnership between China and Bangladesh

Question of size:

  1. From the Indian side, the problem has always been Delhi’s insufficient strategic appreciation of the importance of Bangladesh
  2. Dhaka, in turn, has found it hard to stop seeing itself as a small country facing a large and insensitive neighbor
  3. But Bangladesh is not a small country. With a population of nearly 170 million, Bangladesh is the eighth largest in the world
  4. Even more important, it is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and has been called the “miracle in the east”
  5. What this suggests is the urgent need for a political reframing of the relationship
  6. Delhi needs to acknowledge and address the opportunities in Bangladesh in a more sustained and purposeful manner
  7. Dhaka must demonstrate greater self-assurance in engaging India for enlightened self-interest
  8. In any event, the time is now for Delhi and Dhaka to get out of the “big-brother-small-neighbour” syndrome

Longest boundary:

  1. With a border of nearly 4,060 km — India’s longest with any country — Delhi has no reason to see itself in competition with Beijing in Bangladesh
  2. China has become a major partner for Bangladesh is in part about Beijing’s emergence as the world’s second largest economy
  3. That brings us to the larger questions about the geographic imperative between Delhi and Dhaka
  4. The partition of the subcontinent and the inward economic orientation of India and Bangladesh meant the two sides were working against the logic of geography than with it
  5. The political effort in the last few years has been to find harmony between the two sovereignties, construct a responsible approach to dealing with the consequences of the partition for the management of the shared river waters, make the boundary tranquil, and restore the lost trans-frontier economic connectivities

Bangladesh’s leadership role:

  1. Third set of issues relating to Bangladesh’s leadership role in the subcontinent and beyond
  2. It is Bangladesh that took the lead in promoting South Asian regionalism
  3. Dhaka also has the central role in shaping the future of sub-regional cooperation with Bhutan, Burma, India and Nepal
  4. It is also a land bridge to East Asia and the fulcrum of a future Bay of Bengal community
  5. Bangladesh, which now has settled land and maritime borders with India, is well positioned to play a larger regional and international role that is commensurate with its growing economic weight
  6. Expanding security cooperation with India could only enhance Dhaka’s global leverage
  7. For India, a strong partnership with Bangladesh will help boost the prospects of peace and prosperity in the eastern subcontinent
  8. Finally, growing mutual trust and political comfort between Delhi and Dhaka, backed by Kolkata, will have one long-term consequence
  9. It will restore the centrality of Bengal and its hinterlands that once decisively shaped the history of Asia and the Indian Ocean

Note4Students:

Geography has put Bangladesh at the heart of this vast region therefore, relationship with Bangladesh assumes its own significance. An important op-ed to understand the importance of India-Bangladesh relationship.

Delhi to extend $5 billion credit to Dhaka

  1. Context: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would visit Delhi next week
  2. LOC: India has offered a new line of credit for $5 billion, its biggest yet in the neighbourhood, to Bangladesh
  3. The credit would be open-ended and would follow the $1 billion offered in 2010, when Ms. Hasina previously visited Delhi, and the $2 billion in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka
  4. Other agreements on radar: The two sides are expected to announce a slew of agreements
  5. Rail line: The reconstruction of a seventh India-Bangladesh railway line between Agartala and Akhaura, a ₹1,000-crore project
  6. For this, the Railway Minister laid the foundation stone in August 2016
  7. The 15-km line from Bangladesh to Tripura is significant as it is part of India’s larger strategy of assisting Bangladesh’s infrastructure while using it to transit to the “north-eastern” States
  8. The line is expected to shorten rail routes by as much as 1,000 km once completed
  9. Ferry services: connecting Assam, Bangladesh and West Bengal and permissions for running cruise liners between the two countries, along with several road projects are also among the agreements
  10. Officials said the next part of the plan is to link Bangladesh to other neighbourhood countries
  11. While the plan under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal initiative has hit a roadblock over the Bhutanese Parliament’s refusal to ratify the network, officials are understood to be working around it, to link Bangladesh, India and Nepal
  12. Bangladesh officials rejected comparisons of the plan for India’s $5 billion LoC in infrastructure with the recent announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping of $24 billion in development aid
  13. China also announced $13 billion more in the private sector for Bangladesh, which joined China’s “Belt and Road initiative” in October 2016
  14. India is a friend and neighbour, while all other countries including China are development partners according to Bangladeshi Information Minister Hassanul Haq Inu
  15. Mashiur Rahman, one of the key interlocutors, who visited India last year, said the difference between the loans from India and China was also cultural
  16. According to him – “The main difference is, in the case of China, the project is identified first and then the money comes in. With India, you get the promise of money first, and then they identify the projects”
  17. He also said that projects under the B&RI were new projects, while those with India consisted of restoring historical links

Note4students:

A link in Indo-Bangladesh relations. Keep track of the developing relations for IR answers.

Bangladesh declares March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’

  1. Bangladesh unanimously adopted a resolution declaring March 25 as Genocide Day, in remembrance of the atrocities carried out by the Pakistani Army in the night of March 25, 1971
  2. Condemning the denial of history by Pakistan, the Bangladeshi legislators passed the motion unanimously after a marathon seven-hour discussion on Saturday night
  3. Operation Searchlight: The Pakistan Army swooped on unarmed civilians on the night of March 25, 1971, to crush the Bengali rebellion following refusal by the military leadership to accept the election results of 1970 in which the Awami League got thumping majority
  4. The operation began in the first hours of March 25 in Dhaka

Note4students:

Note the info for prelims.

[op-ed snap] Ways of sharing

Context:

  1. India’s decision to allow its border roads in Mizoram and Tripura to be used by Bangladeshi forces
  2. Bangladeshi’s construct border outposts in the inhospitable terrain of the Chittagong Hill Tracts
  3. It shows just how far the two countries have come to bridging their trust deficit

Strengthening ties:

  1. The decision came as Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar flew into Bangladesh to begin preparations for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in early April
  2. If the visit goes as planned, it will be her first bilateral trip to India since 2010, when the MoU for the Land Boundary Agreement was originally signed
  3. The terms of that agreement have now been fully implemented, and Ms. Hasina’s visit will build on the boost that relations received from the historic agreement that was signed in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka
  4. Hasina has long made it clear that she would only return the visit when there are ‘substantive outcomes’ on the table

Expected agreements:

  1. There is speculation about a
  • Defence partnership agreement
  • Movement on the Teesta water-sharing agreement
  • Ganga water barrage project
  • Other energy and connectivity projects
  1. Any of these would go a long way in cementing ties that are increasingly described as a “win-win” for both neighbours

Possible bumps:

  1. Hurdles can involve the Centre and the affected Indian States
  2. For instance, water-sharing is a highly emotive subject, and movement on Teesta water-sharing has been held up largely because of West Bengal’s reservations
  3. To address them, the Central government needs to reach out to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
  4. Similarly Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has raked up the Farakka Barrage project

Ms. Hasina’s political worries:

  1. She faces an election in 2018, and with the opposition accusing her of being soft on India, she cannot be seen to be returning home empty-handed on the water question
  2. Also, while the border issue has been resolved, border firing has not ceased, an issue Ms. Hasina’s rivals use to target her
  3. Meanwhile, she faces the task of addressing India’s mistrust over Chinese investment in Bangladesh, with $38 billion pledged in infrastructure cooperation and joint ventures during President Xi Jinping’s visit last year
  4. Hasina has sought to address this by arguing that India will also benefit from Bangladesh’s enhanced prosperity if all these projects go through
  5. Yet, Dhaka may need to be more aware of India’s anxiety as Bangladesh and other neighbours become more heavily invested in China’s One Belt One Road project, that India has opted to stay out of for now

Note4Students:

The op-ed is important for developing an understanding on India-Bangladesh issues. Keep track of further developments for a possible Mains answer.

Delhi allows Dhaka use of border roads

  1. In a rare gesture, India has decided to throw open its border roads to help Bangladesh construct border outposts in Chittagong hill tracts, known for its inhospitable terrain
  2. Some areas in Chittagong, bordering Tripura and Mizoram, have no motorable roads and India has decided to allow the Border Guard Bangladesh to construct 13 border outposts using the road connectivity available in the two States
  3. The Border Security Force, deployed along the Bangladesh border, will monitor the construction activities
  4. India has on multiple occasions handed over details of insurgent camps operating from the Bangladesh soil, particularly in the dense Chittagong Hill Tract area
  5. Following the leads, the neighbouring country has acted against these camps and demolished them

Note4students:

See which states share a boundary with Bangladesh in an atlas. See all boundary states and which countries they share a border with.

Delhi, Dhaka push Ganga basin project

  1. Bangladesh and India have held talks on the Ganga basin development project after dialogue on the Teesta water sharing agreement slowed down
  2. The project is expected to feature prominently on the agenda of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s next visit to India which is yet to be finalised
  3. Navigation and irrigation: Ganga basin development project will help agriculture and river navigation and revive the river economy
  4. Joint dredging and development activities in the basin area are also part of the project
  5. Former Bangladeshi ambassador Mohammed Zamir who is a specialist on the issue said Bangladesh needs India’s support to build a new Ganga barrage on its territory to operationalise the scheme
  6. For joint development: The main component of the Ganga basin development is the issue of joint development and management
  7. Utility: That apart, Bangladesh needs a new Ganga barrage to hold water released from the Farakka barrage
  8. The proposed barrage would provide a solution to aridity in the Bangladeshi territory that Dhaka blames on the Farakka barrage in India
  9. Once completed, the Ganga barrage can hold water for the lower riparian system in the lean season
  10. A Ganga basin development project can become a major achievement for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina before the next election of Bangladeshm due in two years.
  11. Background: The Ganga basin development project was first conceived during the UPA rule and came up for discussion during Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s Dhaka visit in 2011

Note4students:

The project and its impacts on Indian and Bangladesh and utility are important for prelims as well as mains. It is a sign of growing relations between India and Bangladesh. Note how India’s federal setup can impact relations with other countries. Both, the Indian and Bangladeshi, govts want to collaborate on water issues, however, water is a state subject in India. Hence political differences between the central and state govt are delaying any cooperation.

Recently there have been proposals to make water a concurrent subject. Although it is unlikely to happen, it could help in such situations.

Modi-Mamata spat may cast a shadow on Hasina visit

  1. Event: Upcoming visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India
  2. Context: WB CM Mamata Banerjee’s political fight against PM Narendra Modi’s demonetisation drive
  3. The visit was unlikely to witness any progress on the Teesta water-sharing issue because of these political differences
  4. The focus of the visit was likely to be on greater defence and maritime cooperation, and not on river-water sharing
  5. At the Budapest Water Summit 2016, PM Hasina said Bangladesh remained vulnerable as 92% of its surface water originated from outside its borders
  6. According to her, water challenges today are not the scarcity of water in absolute term; rather its equitable distribution
  7. Effective management of trans-boundary river water would serve a lasting and viable solution

Back2basics:

  1. Teesta deal has become more of a symbol than having a strong substance in it.
  2. The Teesta deal was set to be signed during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September, 2011 but was postponed
  3. The Teesta river is said to be the lifeline of Sikkim, flowing for almost the entire length of the state.
  4. The river then forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh.

What is Budapest Water Summit 2016?

  1. The Summit is organised by the Government of Hungary in cooperation with the World Water Council.
  2. The World Water Council is an international and independent organization which fight for better water management across the world.
  3. It’s just a think tank!

Note4students:

This news demonstrates the impact that the federal nature of our polity can have on our international relations. Although external affairs is under the Centre, the views of a state CM are impacting our relations with another country. This article is important for polity and international affairs.

Parrikar in Dhaka to boost defence ties

  1. Event: The first ever bilateral visit by an Indian Defence Minister to Bangladesh
  2. The visit was a way to revitalise India’s defence partnership with its immediate neighbours, especially Bangladesh and Myanmar, which share long land boundaries
  3. At present the defence relationship is limited, except some training and military-to-military cooperation
  4. This is also an attempt by India to offset growing engagement by China and Pakistan with Bangladesh on the defence front
  5. India is open to selling them platforms and is keen to extend cooperation in the naval area
  6. India is also keen on concluding a white shipping agreement to exchange information on commercial traffic
  7. The armies of India and Bangladesh have last week concluded the sixth edition of joint military exercise “Sampriti-2016”
  8. It focussed on counter-terrorism operations

Back2basics:


What is white shipping and how does it help in India’s maritime security?

  1. White shipping information refers to exchange of relevant advance information on the identity and movement of commercial non-military merchant vessels
  2. Being aware of the identity of these vessels is imperative to preventing any potential threat from the sea from impinging on the coastal and offshore security of the country.
  3. The 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack is a case in point.
  4. Indian Navy has thus been working towards achieving complete Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) along with all other concerned agencies like the coast guard, customs, ports, fisheries, etc.
  5. India has signed white shipping agreements with several countries including United States and Singapore and is seeking similar agreement with more countries as part of its ongoing effort at developing an effective regional MDA.

Note4students:

There are some important terms here, such as white shipping and Sampriti. These can come in prelims. India has signed many white shipping agreements this year. These will provide valuable information so that India can better monitor the Indian Ocean. This news also demonstrates the closer relations between India and Bangladesh and how we are reacting to China’s inroads.

Dhaka seeks balance of strategic ties

  1. Issue: China’s government-to-government and private deals worth $38.05 billion have upgraded the Bangladesh-China relationship to a strategic partnership
  2. There is a debate in Bangladesh on a possible tilt in balance vis-a- vis Dhaka’s relations with New Delhi
  3. At present relations are at an all-time high under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
  4. Many experts, including key government leaders, see the growing Dhaka-Beijing relations as purely commercial and economic
  5. Others feel the need for a crucial balance under the new reality
  6. Dhaka has categorically said that Mr. Xi’s visit would not have any negative impact on its relations with other countries, including India.

Reviving Radio Bangla

  1. Context: Radio Bangla was discontinued in 2010 but with DRM, Radio Bangla will be active again
  2. AIR is using both FM transmitters and DRMs to reach out to India’s neighbours
  3. History: This radio transmission had played an important role in the liberation of Bangladesh
  4. India: Hoping to have specific programmes to interest listeners, like discussions on rising fundamentalism in Bangladesh, which poses a danger to India

What is simulcast transmission?

  1. What? It is the simultaneous transmission of an amplitude modulated (AM) and DRM in the same or a neighbouring channel
  2. Advantage: Both DRM and AM radios can receive a signal they can discriminate and demodulate
  3. Disadvantage: It can decrease DRM range
  4. Also, there can be local oscillator interference in the AM receiver, known as noise

What is DRM?

  1. DRM is the universal, openly standardised digital broadcasting system for all broadcasting frequencies
  2. Digitisation: DRM ensures the efficient and complete digitisation of those countries committing to the digital radio roll-out
  3. Advantages: DRM has the twin capabilities of anologue and digital transmission, which makes it perfect for simulcast modes
  4. It also has longer range than FM transmitters
  5. Disadvantages: DRM receivers cost around Rs. 15,000 and people may not buy such expensive receivers
  6. It would have been better to install more FM transmitters if the objective is to reach listeners

Govt goes digital for cross-border outreach

  1. Context: President Mukherjee will inaugurate a transmitter at Chinsurah later in 2016
  2. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM): It is the cross-border broadcasting initiative & will kick start after inauguration of the transmitter
  3. It will provide cross border radio service to Bangladesh

India exports power to Bangladesh, gets Internet bandwidth

  1. Context: India trades 100 MW of power from Tripura for 10gbps of Internet bandwidth from Bangladesh
  2. Power: India currently supplies 500MW of power to Bangladesh through West Bengal
  3. Bandwidth: Import of bandwidth will help India strengthen telecom services and connectivity in the north-eastern region
  4. An international gateway for broadband connectivity will be set up at Agartala through which connectivity will be provided via Bangladesh

India’s major power deal in B’desh to beat China

  1. Context: BHEL would seal a contract to build a $1.6 billion power plant in Bangladesh beating Chinese competitors
  2. Plant: a 1,320-megawatt (MW) thermal power station in Khulna in southern Bangladesh
  3. Relief: for India, who has long fretted over Beijing’s encroachment in its own back yard
  4. String of Pearls: India believes Bangladesh is a part of China’s String of Pearls

Let’s know more about Border Haats?

  1. Border Haats will be established on a pilot basis at selected areas, including on the Meghalaya border,
  2. To allow trade in specified products and in accordance with the regulations agreed and notified by both Governments.
  3. Presently there are 4 Border Haats which are operational.
  4. In addition, both the Governments have agreed to further establish two Border Haats in Tripura and 4 Border Haats in Meghalaya on the Bangladesh border.

MoU between India and Bangladesh for Border Haats

  1. MoU between India and Bangladesh for Mode of Operation of Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border.
  2. These are common marketplaces which aim at promoting the wellbeing of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders of two countries.
  3. By establishing traditional system of marketing the local produce through local markets in local currency and/or barter basis.
  4. Though not significant as a percentage of bilateral trade, these measures help to improve economic well-being of marginalised sections of society.
PIB

What is a Border Haat?

  1. Border haat allows small time traders and consumers of both the countries to engage in trading activities within the stipulated boundary and set period.
  2. People residing within a distance of 5 km from the border are entitled to engage in tax-free selling and buying.
  3. They allow trade in limited commodities with participation of buyers and sellers from both countries.
  4. In 2011, India & B.Desh countries opened their first border haat, reviving the traditional border trade after nearly 40 years

Tripura, Meghalaya to get six more border markets

  1. Union govt. has sanctioned a proposal to open 6 more border haats (markets) in its northeast frontier with Bangladesh.
  2. Currently, there 4 such facilities are presently functional in Tripura and Meghalaya.
  3. These 4 locations are Srinagar and Kamalasagar in Tripura, Kaliachar and Balat in Meghalaya.
  4. The people residing in far-flung border locations are getting benefit of trade transaction at border haats.

Let’s know more about SEBI?

  1. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India.
  2. It was established in the year 1988 and given statutory powers on 12 April 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992.

SEBI vested with the following powers –

  • Approve by-laws of stock exchanges.
  • Require the stock exchange to amend their by−laws.
  • Inspect the books of accounts and call for periodical returns from recognized stock exchanges.
  • Compel certain companies to list their shares in one or more stock exchanges.

Sebi, Bangla regulator sign pact over co-operation

  1. The Sebi has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) on co-operation and technical assistance.
  2. The MoU is aimed at promoting economic links, enhancing investor protection, and development of capital markets.
  3. It also aims at enhancing investor protection and creating conditions for an effective development of securities markets in the two countries.

India, Bangladesh agree to share militant information

  1. India and Bangladesh agreed to share information on militants, while reviewing internal security and other cross-border issues.
  2. It is possible to eliminate terrorism and insurgency through bilateral understanding and intelligence sharing.
  3. There was a need to educate people on both sides, so that they do not cross the borders and abide by all international regulations.
  4. Bangladesh sought Indian cooperation in cross-border drug smuggling.

Indo:Bangla – Freedom after many midnights

  1. The resolution of maritime dispute with Bangladesh in 2014 and land accord recently, are one of the important diplomatic achievements of India’s foreign policy.
  2. The settlement of inter-country dispute involving territorial issues are always remarkable achievements.
  3. The enclave issue, which had its roots in partition led to denial of right to freedom and justice to many.
  4. Now, the ball is in govt.’s court to step up infrastructure and development initiatives to mitigate the trauma of citizens.

90% of enclave dwellers give choice of nation

India and Bangladesh will complete a survey asking each of the 51,000 people living in 162 enclaves on the border to give their choice of citizenship of either nation.

Now, China seeks maritime deal with Dhaka

  1. China has approached Bangladesh to sign a deal on blue economy and maritime cooperation in the Bay of Bengal.
  2. Do note that India had just signed a deal for joint research on oceanography of the Bay of Bengal.
  3. The Indo-B.Desh deal was signed between Univ. of Dhaka and India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

[op-ed snap] A next step called Teesta

  1. No breakthrough on the proposed Teesta water-sharing agreement.
  2. Bangladesh has delivered on its pledge towards zero tolerance for terrorism by extremely proactive in last few years.
  3. But, Indian side yet to deliver on its commitment of zero deaths on the India-Bangladesh border.
  4. There is a need to work together to discover practical and humane solutions to labour mobility, human trafficking and the movement of illegal goods across the border.

Indo-Bangladesh: On rivers and dams

Atal Bihari Vajpayee to get ‘Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War Award’

Bangladesh Cabinet approves 3 pacts to be signed with India

Modi’s Bangladesh visit: IT Centers & Border haat

[op-ed snap] Breakthrough in India-Bangladesh ties

Cabinet delinks Assam from new border pact

  1. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the long-pending – and controversial – Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.
  2. However, it has de-linked Assam from the agreement for now. Why? Because of major protests etc.
  3. For now, we are settling the West Bengal and Meghalaya segments of the Indo-Bangladesh border.
  4. A Constitution amendment bill required for ratifying the boundary agreement is expected to be tabled in Parliament when the budget session reconvenes next week.

Rice sent via Bangladesh to reach Tripura

  1. The 8 NE states, including Sikkim, are largely dependent on Punjab, Haryana for food grains and essential commodities.
  2. The rice is being ferried via Bangladesh to avoid the long and mountainous surface road up to Tripura via Assam and Meghalaya.
  3. Following diplomatic parleys, the Bangladesh government in the first phase agreed to transport 10K tonnes of foodgrains for Tripura across its territory without charging any duty under a special transit facility.

Bangladesh wins Women in Parliaments Award

  1. Bangladesh is only country in the world where the PM, Parliament speaker, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Leader of the house, and a major opposition leader are all women.
  2. In the World Economic Forum report it has been placed among the top 10 countries in the world in reducing gender gap
  3. WIP Award is based on the rankings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.
  4. The report assesses 135 countries that represent more than 93 % of the world’s population.


:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.







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