- India’s links with Bangladesh are civilisational, cultural, social and economic. There is much that unites the two countries – a shared history and common heritage, linguistic and cultural ties, passion for music, literature and the arts. With Bangladesh, India shares not only a common history of struggle for freedom and liberation but also enduring feelings of both fraternal as well as familial ties.
- This commonality is reflected in multi-dimensional relations with Bangladesh at several levels of interaction. High-level exchanges, visits and meetings take place regularly alongside the wide ranging people to people interaction.
- India’s Missions in Bangladesh issue about half a million visas every year and thousands of Bangladeshi students study in India on self-financing basis and are recipients of over one hundred annual GOI scholarships.
- Given Bangladesh’s GDP and economic growth, the Indian industry is taking a serious interest in investing in the country. The recent regime of Bangladesh has helmed an economic upswing in the country which the industry hopes will continue.
Why Bangladesh is important:
- Bangladesh has been India’s most important allies for numerous of reasons. The strategic position of Bangladesh will help in connecting India’s mainland with far and the crucial north east, which is part of India’s Look East Policy.
- India and Bangladesh have signed several pacts, so India can actually send goods and passengers over land across Bangladesh, connecting Bengal to Tripura. Chittagong port, too, is now open to Indian vessels and will ease supply of goods, meaning India is much more connected to the northeast than before.
- For the security concern also, the position of Bangladesh is important. The security of North-East depends on ensuring the security of the Bangladesh which should not become the shelter home or breeding grounds of insurgents.
- India’s relationship with Bangladesh is also linked to its relationship with China. India does not want Bangladesh to become a pearl in China’s “String of Pearls” strategy to hem in India by using its neighbours.
Effects of Economic Transformation of Bangladesh:
- It has begun to change the economic hierarchy in the region, by displacing Pakistan in the second spot.
- The per capita income and aggregate GDP of Bangladesh are $1800 and $275 bn respectively, is now larger than that of Pakistan’s at about $1600 and $310 bn.
- Thus, there is urging in Islamabad to adopt the “Bangladesh model” — where the focus is on economic development rather than political adventurism and promoting religious moderation instead of extremism.
Shift in centre of gravity:
- It alters the balance within South Asia by tilting the region’s economic centre of gravity towards the east.
- The economic advancement of Bangladesh helps lift up the whole of the eastern Subcontinent, including India’s Northeast as well as Bhutan and Nepal.
- It had chosen the path of regional cooperation, i.e. helped found the SAARC in the mid-1980s, re-vitalisation of the BIMSTEC forum.
- Bangladesh is also critical for the success of Beijing’s plans to integrate its Yunnan province with Myanmar, Bangladesh and eastern India.
Peaceful resolution of territorial issues:
- Bangladesh have peacefully resolved its maritime territorial issues with India and Burma through arbitration.
- That opens up significant room for maritime economic and security cooperation within the Bay of Bengal. That in turn will deepen the integration between eastern Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Maintaining Balance in the Foreign Policy:
- In the field of foreign affairs, the government has based its approach to the outside world on pragmatism, thus successfully preserving a balance in Bangladesh’s relations with India, China and Russia.
- The government has also found appreciation from the international communityin its treatment of the Rohingya refugees nearly 1 million refugees have found shelter in Bangladesh following their expulsion from Myanmar.
- It has gone out of its way to ensure the safety of the refugees even as it tries, rather fitfully, to strike a deal with Myanmar on the return of the Rohingya.
- For China, the most desirable long-term outcome would be to manage its relations with Dhaka in such a manner that Indian anxieties are assuaged and a regional win-win framework linking China-Bangladesh-India is a possibility.
- Bangladesh has emerged as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Its per capita income has doubled over the last decade. It is all set to leave the category of “least developed countries”.
- The present government’s ambition is to accelerate the annual economic growth rate from the current 7 per cent to nearly 10 per cent by the time Bangladesh celebrates its 50th birthday in 2021. In this situation, active engagement with Bangladesh will prove vital for India in long term as well as in achieving short term goals.