Image: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh by PTI.
The state principles of both the countries Bangladesh and India are almost identical. Because of the cultural similarity, geography and economic importance there should not be any room for doubt and distrust between them. The countries share 4156 kilometers border, 161 enclaves, vital maritime demarcation knots and 54 rivers. it would be very resourceful for both Bangladesh and India to develop an amicable relation and benefit from it through trade, commerce, investment, technical , defense, scientific and educational cooperation. They should not be obsessed with the geopolitical stereotype of a regional Cold War.
There are a disgraceful political trend throughout the region to play anti-India card. Anti-Indianism in the region is largely, the creation of partisan politicians . Over the years, this attitude has harmed the economic growth of the region and harmed the economic prospect of its inhabitants.
India provided food and shelter for millions of Bangladeshi refugees during 1971 and played the key role in favor of Bangladesh to acquire her sovereignty . However after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman the relationship between the two counties lost it’s course. The two countries started engaging in harmful activities against each other. Bangladesh became a safe heaven for Indian insurgence and India started supporting “Shanti Bahini” insurgents of the Chittagong hill tracts. This single issue has harmed the relationship between two countries more than any other issues. In the recent past Arms drop in West Bengal and “Ten truck arms scandal” was a prime example of Bangladesh’s disgraceful role in Indian insurgent movement. India on the other hand, never took strict actions against the horrible killings and crimes committed by BSF. They have failed to address the issue of exporting drugs and illegal arms to Bangladesh. The construction of Tipaimukh dam and failure to reach a water management agreement by India has certainly influenced mistrust between two countries.
The supreme significance of Bangladesh and India relationship is economic aspects for the future of the two nations. There is no denying the fact that Bangladesh’s geographical location in this region of Asia is a reality, she connects south Asia with south east Asia through Myanmar by her border on the south east and, accordingly, she has become a bridge between south Asia and south east Asia and it is one of the most important markets in the world for manufactured products. On the other hand India provides connectivity for the countries of the region too, especially for Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and China. It could open up a new horizon in business communication for the entire region.
India is one of the four countries (BRIC) in the world that could lead the world in the foreseeable future and the key to security of India relies upon Bangladeshi initiatives. India knows it very well that their national security could break as it reaches out to become world’s economic power. This could even break India into pieces. This gives Bangladeshi businesses and government an upper hand. They must capitalize their geographical advantage. Even Bangladesh could make huge revenue just from transit fees. The use of Bangladeshi ports is one of key economic priority for countries like Nepal, Bhutan, China and India. It also could generate a big sum for vulnerable Bangladeshi economy. In addition Bangladesh government could also bargain to ensure a piece of Indian market for the export oriented Bangladeshi businesses.
To insure the economic freedom of the people the disgraceful nationalist and religious card player politicians of the two nations must stop engaging themselves in such cheap political stunt. They must participate in active engagement and connectivity of the two countries to transform relations from the present state of mutual suspicious to one of mutual benefit and mutual trust. The two neighbor shares democratic values and should be best friends and practice practical ways and means to resolve the problems, old or new, for the benefits of the both.