South Asia and Beyond

‘India And Bangladesh Have Never Been Closer But Ties Need Careful Handling’

NEW DELHI: India and Bangladesh are basking in a relationship that has never perhaps been better. That’s the word from Prof. Abdul Mannan, a former vice-chancellor of Chittagong University, and Pijush Bandyopadhyay, a stage, film and television actor, both from Bangladesh with a common interest in seeing the two countries come closer. A similar view also from Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, India’s former high commissioner to Dhaka. They were talking to StratNews Global Editor Surya Gangadharan on the occasion of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bangladesh to mark 50 years of the war of liberation and the 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But there are also caveats. There are unresolved issues, promises which India has made and failed to live up to. Teesta waters for instance; a trade deficit which continues to widen to Dhaka’s disadvantage; Delhi’s stand on the Rohingya issue is another irritant. There are also issues internal to Bangladesh that arouse disquiet in India. Growing religiosity for instance, where some people tend to emphasise their faith over all else; as Bandyopadhyay asks, why do so many young people from Bangladesh who go to India to study return with anti-India feelings? There are constant undercurrents that suggest political relations are uneasy. As Ambassador Chakravarty notes, these could be people around Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina or Islamic groups that appear to be gaining in strength. Nevertheless, there is political consensus in India that Bangladesh deserves special attention and treatment although this may not be the thinking in Dhaka.

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