The relations between India and Bangladesh finally step into their 50th year since its inception in 1971, following the victory in the Liberation War of Bangladesh. Prime Minister Modi also makes his state visit to the country after a year’s gap following the disastrous COVID-19 Pandemic. Also, in terms of the internal situation of India, this visit comes to be held at a point of time when the states of West Bengal and Assam are bound for Assembly Polls. So, at this time this visit is also being witnessed with great importance, as it can have an impact upon the polls of these two states, especially West Bengal.
Prime Minister Modi in his state visit to Bangladesh, this time had planned to make visits to 2 of the major Hindu religious sites like the Jeshoreshwari Kali Bari which is one of the 51 Shaktipeethas in this sub-continent, located at Satkhira District of Bangladesh and Orakandi in Gopalganj, the birthplace of Shri Harichand Thakur, the founder of the Matua sect of Hinduism.
His visits to these two places can be seen as quite important and a source of confidence-building measure for the Hindu community in Bangladesh as well as the people of West Bengal. His visit to the shrine of Harichand Thakur at Orakandi, the Matua Namashudra Community in the Indian State of West Bengal showed a strong sense of positivity and pride in their feelings. In West Bengal’s total population, 30 million people are found to be followers of this sect and 15 million of these people are voters.
So the impact of the Matua voters can be found in around 50 electoral seats in West Bengal. Prime Minister Modi assured me of granting financial aid for the construction of Joint Multi-Purpose Community halls and many other infrastructural works in these sites, along with 2 primary and medium level schools for girls at Orakandi. This can be understood in a way, by which India is trying to make inroads into the cultural and infrastructural development sector of Bangladesh, which might act as a counterweight against China’s efforts to leave its footprint if it is carried out devotedly.
Also, in these 50 years, the 2 countries witnessed a lot of upheavals and developments that can be either positively or negatively viewed with success and failures on the same hand.
There remain a contention and issues over sharing of some of the river’s waters, but some speculations are being voiced by Dhaka regarding India’s stand on its citizenship clauses. Still, Bangladesh is a recipient of Chinese Military equipment, as it has inducted a new batch of K-8 Karakorum Trainer Aircrafts, MBT-2000 and VT-5 Tanks, and 2 attack submarines. But recently with the visit of Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Bangladesh showed interest in purchasing the Indian-made LCA Tejas aircraft.
In this recent two-day visit of Prime Minister Modi, 5 MoUs have been signed on 27th March, 2021 that have covered a range of bilateral areas of cooperation to enhance the ties between the two nations. The delegations of India and Bangladesh also held talks over the progress that has been achieved in areas of trade, connectivity and energy with and signed MoUs on sports, connectivity, information technology, and commerce.
Also, the most attractive part of this visit was the Humanitarian gesture shown by the Indian delegation towards the people of Bangladesh, where a key for 109 Ambulances have been handed over to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a dose of 1.2 million COVID vaccines have been handed over to the Government of Bangladesh.
In terms of active engagement between the governments, there are means like governmental and political leadership that would seek towards laying the foundation of new progress, and with space and industrial sector which would focus on nurturing the ground level stakeholders. But, keeping view of this age, the new generation on both sides needs to take up the cause and extend the drive of friendship and tranquillity with reinforcing better relations; making a site for restoration of the memories and legacy of the Liberation War, that would unite both the nations on the same thought and believe.
Also, facilitation of changes between the people through expanding people-to-people contact, as both nations have a bright future, thereby extending tourism, cultural or entertainment exchanges that have a rich cultural and natural potential.
Bangladesh being a gateway of India’s Neighborhood First Policy, the city-to-city connections cannot be ignored between Delhi, Kolkata, Khulna, Jessore, Dhaka, and Agartala. The recent inauguration of the ‘Maitri Setu’ between the Indian states of Tripura to Bangladesh’s Ramgarh Upazila has resolved some of the vexed issues that had appeared as a distraction in the last few.
Dhaka goes on to hold more importance for India’s engagement in the Bay of Bengal in being the Headquarters of BIMSTEC. Still, despite being a part of China’s Belt-Road Initiative, it has also at the same time stressed doing business with India which is a more important economic program that can work on balancing China’s hegemonic steps in the Indian Ocean region.
However, still, there are many unresolved issues between both India and Bangladesh, but it’s the voice of the people of these 2 nations that are taking the relationship ahead, the people of both nations share the same history of struggles, culture, and brotherhood. Issues like the sharing of Teesta Rivers’ Waters which is a hindrance from the end of the current West Bengal Government, need to be solved.