Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

India-Bangladesh Relations: The Golden Chapter


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India-Bangladesh Relations, Significance for India and New avenues of cooperation.


Central Idea

  • In recent years, Bangladesh-India relations have entered the Golden Chapter in their relations. Setting the seal on this bilateral bonhomie, The Prime Minister of Bangladesh has been invited by the Indian Prime Minister to attend the G20 Summit as a special guest. Bangladesh is the only South Asian country to be on India’s guest list. India’s invitation to Bangladesh as its guest speaks volumes of the high priority the country accords its immediate eastern neighbor and ‘best friend’ in the neighborhood’.

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India-Bangladesh ties: An organic transformation

  • India’s links with Bangladesh are civilization, cultural, social and economic.
  • There is much that unites the two countries – a shared history and common heritage, linguistic and cultural ties, and passion for music, literature and the arts.
  • It is also worth recalling that India shares its longest border of 4,096.7 kilometres with Bangladesh, which is also the fifth-longest border in the contemporary world.
  • With the onset of economic liberalization in South Asia, they forged greater bilateral engagement and trade.


In Depth: Why Bangladesh is cardinally important to India?

  1. India’s largest trading partner in South Asia
  • Bangladesh emerged as India’s largest trading partner: In 2021-22, Bangladesh emerged as India’s largest trading partner in South Asia and India is Bangladesh’s second-largest trading partner and its largest export market in Asia. Despite the pandemic, bilateral trade has grown at an unprecedented rate of 14 per cent
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement: The two countries are also preparing to sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, for substantial enhancement of trade and commercial partnerships between the two countries.
  1. Gateway for India’s Northeast
  • Strategic location: Efforts have been made in recent years by both Bangladesh and India to improve connectivity between Bangladesh and India’s Northeast, which is geographically located between West Bengal and landlocked Northeastern states.
  • Initiatives to Improve Connectivity: Initiatives such as inviting India to use Chattogram and Mongla ports, adding new ports and protocol routes to the shared inland waterway network, constructing the Maitri and Padma Setu bridges, and the upcoming Akhaura-Agartala rail line, aim to provide better trade and transport connectivity. The Mitali Express has also been operationalized for bi-weekly journeys between New Jalpaiguri and Dhaka.
  • Important for stability and security issues: Bangladesh has been an outstanding partner of India on security issues, especially with its zero-tolerance attitude towards terrorism. On several occasions, Bangladesh has arrested and handed over insurgents from the separatist militant groups in the Northeast (United Liberation Front of Asom) to India.
  • A central pillar in India’s Neighbourhood First and Act East Policies
  • Bay of Bengal’s Increasing Strategic Significance: The increasing strategic significance of the Bay of Bengal, heightened by China’s rising and assertive presence in this maritime space has led India to bolster relations with the Bay littorals to ensure its pre-eminence in the Bay, which it considers to be a primary area of interest.
  • Important  for India’s Eastern Neighborhood Policy: Furthermore, as its western front remains troubled, India is increasingly trying to build stronger relations with its eastern neighbourhood to realise its Indo-Pacific aspirations.
  • As china trying to make inroads, India Reviving and Cultivating Cooperation: As China also tries to make inroads into Bangladesh to gain a stronger foothold in the Bay region, India has felt an added impetus to nurture its relationship with the country, reviving age-old bonds and cultivating new avenues for cooperation.
  • India’s Vaccine Maitri Initiative For example: In the pandemic, India prioritised Bangladesh and supplied 10.3 crore vaccine doses to the country, making it the largest recipient of its Vaccine Maitri initiative. The gesture was generously reciprocated, by providing of


Key Areas of Cooperation on India’s G20 Agenda

  1. Climate change and disaster management
  • Green Development, Climate Finance and LiFE’: As the name suggests, the segment is devoted to developing environmental consciousness and understanding the impact of climate change with a particular focus towards not only climate finance and technology, but also ensuring just energy transitions for developing nations across the world.
  • For instance: Both countries agreed to cooperate on climate change with particular attention to the Sundarban area which is facing challenges due to climate-induced sea level rise.
  • Disaster risk reduction: Both India and Bangladesh experience frequent disasters such as cyclones originating from the turbulent Bay of Bengal. Consequently, the two countries signed an MoU on Disaster Management in 2021, to mitigate this transnational threat.
  1. Transition to renewable energy
  • Energy transition and cooperation: As energy transitions are an important issue in India’s G20 mandate, recently, Bangladesh announced its target of generating 40 percent of power from clean energy by 2041. India-Bangladesh have increased cooperation in the energy sector.
  • Projects for instance: With projects such as the Friendship Pipeline and Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, and agreed to enhance cooperation in energy efficiency and clean energy, including biofuels.
  • Cyber security
  • Cyber security cooperation: Cyber security is an intrinsic aspect of Digital Public Infrastructures (DPI’s) and also happens to be one of the areas in which India-Bangladesh have agreed to cooperate.
  • Joining hands to enhance AI and cyber security: In June 2022, both countries decided to expand their strategic partnership to enhance Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber security.

Way ahead: Forging better multilateralism

  • Within G20, a priority for India is to promote reformed multilateralism which cultivates accountable, inclusive, just, equitable and representative multipolar international systems, fit for addressing contemporary challenges.
  • As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Bangladesh will become even more important for India in future.
  • In many of the multilateral platforms in India’s neighbourhood (an area India seeks to influence), Bangladesh is also a member, for e.g., SAARC, BIMSTEC, and IORA.
  • The country’s support is, therefore, necessary, if India’s G20 aspiration is to find a reflection in regional multilateral platforms.



  • As India tries to shape the global agenda through G20 it needs Bangladesh’s support to translate many of these ideas into action in its neighbourhood. This will lend further credibility to its presidency and in the long run, some of these nascent areas of cooperation may add pages to the “Golden Chapter” in India-Bangladesh relations.

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