VIF Delegation Dhaka Visit 29 March-2nd April 2022
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A Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) delegation led by Director, Dr Arvind Gupta, comprising Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney, Dr Sreeradha Datta and Mr EB Rajesh, CII visited Dhaka during 29 March-2nd April 2022 at the invitation of Bangladesh Foundation for Regional Studies, led by Maj (Retd)ASM Shamsul Arefin. Major Arefin arranged an intensive schedule of interaction and engagement with a variety of domain experts, officials, political leaders, activists and scholar. The delegation started out with a private meeting with Indian High Commissioner and also had the occasion to meet several civil society members, intellectuals and political leaders at the India House evening reception.

Amongst the many engagements the delegation also met several dignitaries from Bangladesh including Mr. Mohammed Shariar Alam, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Dipumoni, Minister for Education Bangladesh, , Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Deputy Minister of Education , Ms Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Speaker of Bangladesh National Assembly, Muhammad Faruk Khan, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, and other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament, Dr. Shammi Ahmed, Secretary of International Affairs. Apart from interaction with civil society members, intellectuals, political leaders, VIF delegation engaged with the Chairman and the scholars of Bangladesh Institute for International Studies as well as scholars and members of the Centre for Research and Information.

Several kinds of interactions were held at formal and informal settings. Dinner and lunch meetings were equally engaging and the conversations about India and Bangladesh were intense and included exchange of ideas about how to take the bilateral relationship forward. While some of the conversation with unstructured the Bangladeshi political leaders discussed frankly their expectations from India and how they wish to see the collaboration growing.

The VIF edited book launch of “India Bangladesh Bonhomie at 50- 1971 and the Present” was organized by the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry at the Bangladesh Institute for International Studies. A seminar preceded the book launch which ensued a robust discussion that included Bangladeshis voicing its concern over several Indian writings referring to the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh as Indo-Pakistani war. There were several points of view raised over convergence of ideas and ideology as well as convergence of interests. Issues of water sharing, border violence, perception of the people were raised too. The development partnership was growing well was acknowledged by all and that the blood ties are irreplaceable were warmly noted by both sides.

The Speaker of the Parliament, Ms Shirin Choudhury gave a very warm reception to the VIF delegation and there was extensive exchange of information about the rural development that was taking place in Bangladesh and India and exchange of ideas to ensure the rural areas do not remain isolated from the mainland developments that are underway. Meeting with the Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs along with many of its members threw light on its functioning and the issues it has to deal with on a daily basis.

In many of the other engagements the education sector was discussed in some depth including the newly evolving curriculum and its impact on the society. Issues of radicalisation as well as its spread through online means were raised and how the society and state undertook measures to address many of the problems were also frankly discussed with the members of the Centre of Research Initiatives. They also mentioned various advocacy programmes that were undertaken at several levels to develop secularism amongst the youths of Bangladesh, including amardeshamar gram (my nation my village) programme. The minority issue also came up during some of the interactions that the delegations had with a wider cross section of people. Trade with India and several outstanding issues often cropped up in the conversation at both formal and informal levels. India and Bangladesh now enjoy over US$11 billion trade with a potential of touching US$15 billion by the financial year end.

India is considered a time-tested friend was widely acknowledged and while there were reservations about unresolved bilateral issues, most subscribed to the view that India was a welcome development partner. The visit closed with a trip over Padma rover to see the multipurpose bridge that is near completion and one which has huge potentials to impact positively the trade and commerce of the nation as well as the neighbourhood.

Event Date 
March 29, 2022

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