India-Bangladesh

Context :

  • Recently Bangladesh Prime Minister visited India.

Background

  • India was the first country to recognize Bangladesh as a separate and independent state and established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971.
  • The relationship between India and Bangladesh is anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities between the two countries.
  • It is based on sovereignty, equality, trust, understanding and win-win partnership that goes far beyond a strategic partnership. In the last couple of years, the relationship has been further strengthened including through cooperation in new and high-technology areas.
  • There have been regular high-level visits and exchanges between the two countries. There have also been frequent visits at Ministerial level as well as between senior officials on a regular basis.

Co-operations in various sectors

  • Bilateral Institutional Mechanism : There are more than 50 bilateral institutional mechanisms between India and Bangladesh in the areas of security, trade & commerce, power & energy, transport & connectivity, science and technology, defence,rivers & maritime affairs etc. A Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) led by the Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs coordinates and oversees implementation of initiatives taken between the two countries as well as explores newer avenues for cooperation
  • Border Security Management : India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km. of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours. The India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) came into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification in June 2015. On July 31, 2015 the enclaves of India and Bangladesh in each other’s countries were exchanged and strip maps were signed. Residents of these erstwhile enclaves, who opted to retain their Indian citizenship made a final movement to India by November 30, 2015.
  • River Water Sharing : India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. A bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) is working since June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems. Besides the meetings of the JRC (37 meetings held so far), JRC Technical level meetings are also held regularly
  • Bilateral Trade : Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has grown steadily over the last decade. In the five years, total trade between the two countries has grown by more than 17%
  • Economic Assistance : India has extended Lines of Credits to Bangladesh. Bangladesh i amongst the largest recipient of LOC funds from India
  • Power and Energy Sector Cooperation : Cooperation in power sector has become one of the hallmarks of India Bangladesh relations. Bangladesh is currently importing power from India. In 2016, the two Prime Ministers inaugurated the export of power from Tripura to Bangladesh as well as export of Internet bandwidth to Tripura from Bangladesh
  • Defence Cooperation: India and Bangladesh share the historical legacy of cooperation and support during the Liberation War of 1971.Various Joint exercises of Army (Exercise Sampriti) take place between the two countries.

Importance of Bangladesh

  • Security : Security of the northeastern states, of eastern India, and of India more widely is affected by what Bangladesh does or does not do. If Bangladesh does not cooperate with India, it is hard to see how India can rein in various insurgent groups that might find refuge in Bangladesh. India will also have great difficulty in stopping Islamic extremists from flourishing there and from targeting our cities and towns.
  • Connectivity : If India cannot get access to the northeast through Bangladesh — even if this only means economic access — it is hard to see how we can integrate those states with the heartland.
  • River Water Sharing : India and Bangladesh share over 40 rivers, and these rivers are vital for the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in both countries. If we fail to be sensible and fair over river-water sharing with Bangladesh and Bangladesh does not get enough water (or if it gets too much when the rivers are full), it will face catastrophe. Catastrophe in Bangladesh means instability in India`s northeast, West Bengal, and states further away.
  • Climate Change : India and Bangladesh are amongst the 12 countries that will be most severely affected by climate change. Bangladesh could lose up to 20% of its land as sea levels rise due to climate change. The ensuing turmoil in Bangladesh will inevitably be felt in neighbouring and distant parts of India. The two countries must therefore think about how to cooperate on conservation, alternative energy, and many other related aspects of environmental defence.

Summary of Recent visit

  • According to the major agreements on river water issues, Bangladesh has agreed to allow India to withdraw 1.82 cusecs water from the Feni river for a drinking water supply project in Tripura.
  • Procedural data for the use of two Bangladeshi ports for goods from India was also exchanges as the two sides committed to greater connectivity between the two countries.
  • However, India and Bangladesh failed to conclude a framework agreement to optimise the use of waters from six rivers including the Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar, which has been discussed for several months.
  • According to a joint statement issued after the bilateral meeting, Mr. Modi and Ms. Hasina have directed officials to complete the six-river agreement as well as a feasibility study for the Ganga-Padma barrage project as part of an upgraded version of the 1996 Ganga Water Sharing treaty. No progress was reported on the long pending Teesta water sharing agreement either.
  • The two Prime Ministers agreed on the need to expedite safe, speedy and sustainable repatriation of the displaced persons to their homes in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. They agreed on the need for greater efforts to be made to facilitate their return, including by improving security situation and socio-economic conditions in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
  • MoUs Signed
    • MoU for providing a Coastal Surveillance System.
    • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for Movement of goods to and from India.
    • MoU on withdrawal of 1.82 cusec of water from Feni River by India for drinking water supply scheme for Sabroom town, Tripura, India
    • Agreement concerning Implementation of the Lines of Credit (LoCs) committed by India to Bangladesh.
    • MoU between University of Hyderabad and University of Dhaka
    • Renewal of Cultural Exchange Programme
    • MoU on Co-operation in Youth Affairs