India And Bangladesh: Siblings, Love And Rivalry

Posted on October 8, 2011 in Specials

By Harinie Thiagarajan:

India and Bangladesh are the two closely related nations of the Indian sub-continent. These two nations have had a long proverbial cultural, economic, civilizational and political history. Be it the cultural heritage and linguistic ties or the passion for music, literature and arts, India and Bangladesh are, to most outsiders, indistinguishable.

In 1947, when Bangladesh got separated from India and became a part of Pakistan, a not-so-friendly relation wrapped these two nations. The blood-spattered Liberation War which broke open in 1971 helped Bangladesh to gain its independence and break out as a separate nation. East Pakistan became Bangladesh. This Liberation War helped not only the formation of a new nation but also paved way for establishing better relations with India.

For the past 40 years, the relationship between India and Bangladesh has passed through cycles of hiccups, fluctuating between the two extremes, friends and foes. Several reasons contribute to this flaky rapport. For centuries, natural resources have been a rationale of continual conflict between the nations. India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. Ganges that flows through both these countries has left the liaison to strain. Bangladesh condemned that the people suffer from lack of water supply during the drier seasons and flooding from excessive water during the monsoons. Things were made worse because of the mutual blame. Thanks to the Ganges Water Treaty, a common agreement was arrived at. But a solid solution has not been attained yet. Repeated meetings between the high authorities of both the nations are aiming at bringing a solution as soon as possible.

The next big thing that has influenced the bond between these two neighboring nations is bilateral trade. Bangladesh has always been an important trading partner for India. The main reason for this is the geographical proximity between them. But of late, there has been pressing concerns in Bangladesh on bilateral trade deficits with India. It has been blamed that, in order to avoid the Bangladeshi import duties, large volumes of goods were imported informally from other countries to India. This caused the Bangladesh’s bilateral trade with India to strain. The non-trade barriers playing a major role in this relationship fall-out are the packaging requirements, derisory facilities with respect to warehousing, shipping and packing and inadequate road construction.

The above mentioned reasons kindled the anger of Bangladesh. But the main reason why India is livid towards Bangladesh is cross-border insurgency. Rebels from India have been given refuge in Bangladesh. This has been a major annoyance over the years, from India’s point of view. Apart from this, the issue of illegal movement of people from Bangladesh has created a lot of tribulations. There is a perception in India that large numbers of illegal immigrants are residing in the North Eastern part of India, West Bengal and in far-off places like Mumbai and Delhi. Border problems and smuggling have added fuel to fire, making things far from worse. To top this all, there have been rumors that the Indian goods are sent to Bangladesh in exchange for their people.

While Bangladeshi people feel that they are being ignored and neglected from the foreign policies of India, wherein no much priority is being given to them, people in India own up a degree of fury over the fact that the real spirit of Bangladesh is being ignored. Due to this reason, even the summits, where the high level talks help to regain the lost rapport, are not fruitful.

As Andy Stalin rightly said, “Stop looking for solutions to problems and start looking for the right path”, its high time the issues are tackled, one-by-one. There is never a problem without a solution. Making up the lost cooperation between India and Bangladesh will not only prove fruitful in terms of trade and commerce but also in terms of regaining the lost glory of the culture and civilization that these two countries have had together.