Bangladesh foreign affairs policy towards India

Introduction

Bangladesh has enjoyed long standing co-operation with India. As south Asia neighbors, Bangladeshi has had periods of strained diplomatic relations with India. Border dispute coupled with illegal immigration has been at the center of foreign discussions between the two countries. Bangladesh has its history dating back to 1971 separation from Pakistan. The intervention of India in its favor sent signals of brotherhood that has since cemented their international relations. However, the economic gap between the two countries put Bangladesh far much behind India. Bangladesh population has therefore been crossing through the porous borders into India with significant economic implications. Besides, tension has been experienced in various occasions in regard to international boundaries, water sharing, and shooting of Bangladeshi immigrants. Bangladeshi seeks to form strategic economic alliance with India. In exchange for their concession on river Ganges, Bangladeshi seeks to boost its trade balance with India through Electric power sharing. Owing to the rising terrorist outfits in the region, Bangladesh has a working formula with India to counter them. A critical analysis of Bangladeshi history with India explores the series of bilateral trade deals and other co-operations on security and political fronts.

Contentious issues that Bangladesh foreign policy to India depends on.

Bangladesh has emphasized on peaceful co-existence with India through initiation of resolution to the following issues.

  • Construction of Farakka Barrage to boost the water volume for river Hoogly has seen Bangladesh decry unfair share of river Ganges. In fact, according to the…report, Bangladeshi has suffered floods from the same river during Monsoon and inadequate water supply in dry seasons. Bangladesh has made frantic efforts to reach out to India and settle the issue for mutual gain.
  • The Teen Bigha corridor transfer has also dominated Bangladeshi foreign mission to India. After long standing lease term controversy between the two countries, in 2011, Bangladesh government negotiated a resolution on the corridor that connects India to its West Bengal state that is surrounded by the former (The Economist,2011).
  • Bangladesh has brokered anti-terrorism policy to rid their nations and borders of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Banga Sena, and other outfits.
  • The narrow corridor that India uses to reach its landlocked Northern state has elicited mixed reactions from Bangladesh. In that respect, Bangladesh prospects of improved economic and social status has necessitated it to reconcile with India.

 

  • Bangladesh seeks to settle the issue of immigration with India to ease cross border trade and documented immigration. The porous Indian border riddled with corrupt officials, exchange of fake currency, illicit drugs, and proliferation of terrorists has compelled Bangladesh to work on a joint security program and restore legitimate trade and labor mobility for prosperity.The consistent Bangladeshi denial of its population illegally living in India has been a cause of political backlash and constitute important aspect of their diplomatic settlements.
  • As reports from….indicate an estimated over 1000 Bangladeshi immigrants shot while crossing into India. Bangladesh has embraced a negotiation with India to curb Border security forces’ shootings and enhance respect to human life.
  • A joint claim over Bay of Bengal also justified Bangladeshi settlement with India in the spirit of sustainable and peaceful international co-operation for economic growth and regional political stability.

 

Recent foreign visits of Bangladesh to India and major agreements

  • According to International migration report (2015), Bangladesh agreed to end the Tin Bigha corridor dispute in 2011. The tension that the corridor had brewed for over four decades disadvantaged Bangladesh and the concession to work with India towards a mutual resolution came at the wake of a renewed stronger diplomatic co-operation (Neelam and Karan 2015). In fact, the corridor dispute led to consensual exchange of enclaves and permission of Bangladeshi people to freely access the corridor.
  • Bangladeshi entered a joint military exercise with Indian forces to boost its defense against external aggression. In fact in 2011 october, it is reported that the two countries’ army took 14 days at Sylhet training jointly in a show of international co-operation.
  • Bangladesh has welcomed India in its efforts to expand economically with the prospect of its own growth. In a bid to reaffirm its commitment to collective economic development, in 2012 Bangladesh permitted Indian Oil and natural gas firm to move heavy machinery and other cargo to Palatana Power project through its Ashuganj territory.
  • Bangladesh retreated from its earlier position on unfair allocation of water resources from river Ganges that is shared with India in 2013. In return, Bangladesh has signed an agreement with India to import over 500 megawatts of electric power on a daily basis.As noted in Sanjay (2017), Bangladesh projected that the additional power injection into its national grid would boost its productivity. In fact, the Electricity imports agreement a joint venture that was overseen by the prime ministers of the two countries. The Rampal power plant is also a joint venture that emphasize stronger bilateral trade with India.
  • Bangladesh welcomed the idea of joint march-past ceremony that run regularly between their borders starting 2013. Such kind of international moves are set to boost Bangladesh diplomatic relations with India in spheres of political stability and economic development.
  • After a warm welcoming of Indian foreigh minister, Sushma Swaraj, in Bangladesh in 2014, Indian parliament responded with a unanimous passing of Land boundary agreement which has since its inception in 2015 broaden the bilateral trade signings between the two countries.
  • Bangladesh entered serious international agreements with India in 2014 that include; Visa regime ease, proposed special economic Zone, Agreement to handover fugitives accused of murder to India, and supply extra Electric power of about 100 megawatts from Tripura.
  • Bangladeshi also gave India access to its northern state, to transport grains through Bangladeshi roads in a sign of friendly co-operation.
  • Bangladesh have signed several bilateral trade arrangements with India and initiated talks to have India invest within its borders. In fact, government records indicates a US$2 billion in support that Bangladeshi received from India besides further request for foreign direct investments from the latter. The 2015 visits of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, saw Bangladesh accept a proposal to jointly work in maritime safety and traffickers (Rajiv 2011). The same year, the citizenship status of people India living in Bangladesh were documented and so did India.

Future issues

  • Bangladesh has enlisted the support of India in setting up a military hardware manufacturing to boost its strategic security. Besides, there was a promise by India to undertake joint military training exercises.
  • Bangladesh signed an MOU to share in healthcare resources and training. The future of this is in favor of Bangladesh as its human capital on healthcare sector will greatly improve.
  • Bangladesh work in collaboration with India through scholarship programs that help medical students learn in India. The extension of the program is a signal to positive international relations between the two countries.
  • Bangladesh government signed an agreement that allow the two countries to share water and land infrastructure in free ferrying of goods to and from Bangladesh. The trade volume is projected at over $10 b by 2018.

Recommended policies for sustainable foreign co-operation with India

  • The Bangladesh-India border need to be secured jointly to protect the lives of immigrants, eliminate illicit trade, and counter-terrorism
  • Water resources are sensitive and need to be revised to avoid possible future clashes
  • Bangladesh is working on strengthening its military to boost its readiness for attack from such volatile neighbors like Pakistan.
  • Bangladesh needs to reduce the trade deficit of about $5b out of its overall trade volume of $7 with India.

 

 

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