Visit by Bangladeshi Parliamentary Delegation
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On 25 Nov 2014, a ten-member Parliamentary delegation from Bangladesh held wide ranging interaction with the VIF faculty on ‘India-Bangladesh relations and the way forward’. The interaction kicked off on a positive note, with former Ambassador Satish Chandra highlighting the upward spiral in India-Bangladesh relations in recent years. He complimented Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for taking the momentum forward, appreciating, in particular, the extremely supportive stance adopted by her government in tackling terrorism. His introductory remarks also underscored the important role played by VIF in improving the bilateral relationship through Bangladesh’s High Commission in India, especially during the previous Prime Minister’s visit to Bangladesh in September 2011. Satish Chandra, however, stressed the need for further improvement in bilateral relationship.

Lt. Col. Faruk Khan, who led the delegation, highlighted Bangladesh’s achievements, especially in terms of human development indicators, democracy, secularism, contribution to UN peacekeeping etc. He also spoke of the rising trends of terrorism in Bangladesh. Khan significantly remarked that Bangladesh would have been another Afghanistan, but for Sheikh Hasina’s tough stand against terrorism. In so far as Bangladesh-India cooperation is concerned, the two countries have shown tremendous maturity in resolving their maritime dispute in the Bay of Bengal, an example for other countries in Asia. India’s no objection to an international arbitration favouring Bangladesh saw overcoming a 40-year old maritime dispute between the two countries. Khan also thanked India for extending support to Bangladesh in getting leadership of two international parliamentary forums - Commonwealth Parliament Association (CPA) and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), another testimony to the level of improved bilateral cooperation between India and Bangladesh.

The visiting delegates from Bangladesh however pointed out that India needs to prioritise its relationship with Bangladesh. While underscoring Bangladesh’s centrality in India’s ‘Look East Policy’, the Indian analysts said Modi’s invitation to SAARC leaders for his swearing in as the Prime Minister was a clear pointer to the direction of India’s foreign policy. The interaction, however, took note of the role of media in shaping people’s perception of national security issues and foreign policies in both the countries.

While the interaction took note of the upward trajectory in India-Bangladesh relations, issues of concern such as illegal migration, land boundary, river water sharing etc were also comprehensively discussed. With land boundary agreement and the Teesta water sharing treaty between the two countries still awaiting final resolution, problems and obstacles in the relationship were identified and discussed in a frank and candid atmosphere. Illegal migration from Bangladesh was identified as an issue with huge security implications for both the countries. However, it was generally agreed that minor hiccups in the relationship can be overcome with both sides showing pragmatism and the will to move forward.

India-Bangladesh cooperation in the regional context was another significant aspect of the two-hour long interaction, highlighted both in terms of evolving a joint approach to China’s dam construction activities over Brahmaputra in Tibet and Dhaka taking a lead for improving connectivity among BIMSTEC countries. Other major take-away from the interaction included suggestions for evolving policies towards joint management of water bodies, introduction of work-permits for illegal migrants and the creation of joint forums for the parliamentarians and academicians to think of ways and means for furthering the relationship. Amb Veena Sikri, Amb Sanjay Singh, Lt. Gen (Retd) Ata Hasnain, Rana Banerjee and Amitabh Mathur were among others who interacted with the Bangladeshi delegation.

Event Date 
November 25, 2014
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