“Bangladesh-India Relations: A Critical Analysis”

“Bangladesh-India Relations: A Critical Analysis”

1.0 Introduction

India and Bangladesh share a common border of 4096 km running through five Indian states, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. India’s relations with Bangladesh are traditionally, cultural, social and economic. There is a much that brings them together-a shared history and common heritage, linguistic and cultural ties, passion for music, literature and the arts. India shares not only a common history of struggle for freedom and liberation    but also enduring feeling of both fraternal as well as familial ties.  This commonality is reflected in the multi-dimensional relations with Bangladesh at several levels of interaction. While India played a critical role in 1971 in the birth of Bangladesh, this does not however result in close bilateral ties.

2.0 Issues Influencing Relations


2.1 Water Debate

India and Bangladesh share 54 trans-limit streams, of all shapes and sizes. In 1996, the sharing of the Ganga waters was effectively settled upon between the two countries. In any case, the real zone of debate has been India’s development and operation of the Farakka Flood. The point of development of the Farakka Flood was to expand the lean time frame stream of the Bhagirathi-Hooghly branch of Ganga to build the water profundity at the Kolkota port which was undermined by siltation. As water system withdrawals expanded in Bangladesh, question emerged amongst India and Bangladesh over the sharing of the lean season stream at Farakka. The insufficiency of water amid the lean season to meet the evaluated requests in the two nations is the underlying driver of the contention[1].

The Bangladesh government feels that the decrease in stream made harm agribusiness, industry and nature in the bowl in Bangladesh. Due to the powerlessness of the concerned governments to go to any enduring assention in the course of the most recent couple of decades on sharing the stream water, this issue has developed and now it is additionally seen as an instance of upstream-downstream debate. The other explanation behind water debate is Teesta Stream – which has its source in Sikkim – moves through the northern piece of West Bengal in India before entering Bangladesh, where subsequent to intersection through around 45km of irrigable land, converges with the Brahmaputra Waterway (or Jamuna when it enters Bangladesh). In 1983, a specially appointed water sharing assention was come to amongst India and Bangladesh, whereby the two nations were distributed 39% and 36% of the water stream separately. The new respective arrangement develops this understanding by proposing an equivalent designation of the Teesta Stream. Be that as it may, the arrangement fell through when the then recently chose Boss Clergyman of West Bengal, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, declined to affirm the arrangement, expecting that the loss of higher volume of water to the lower riparian would cause issues in the northern area of state, particularly amid drier months. Development of the Tipaimukh Dam is another petulant issue amongst India and Bangladesh. Tipaimukh Dam is a hydel control venture proposed on the waterway Barak in Manipur. Bangladesh’s protest    is that it would have unfriendly natural impacts in its eastern Sylhet region. Notwithstanding India’s emphasis that no dam would be built disregarding Bangladesh’s protests, the contention is a long way from being done.

The famous contentions in Bangladesh against the Tipaimukh venture are: (an) India ought not to choose what is useful for individuals of Bangladesh without taking them into certainty. (b) No think about has been attempted in Bangladesh to evaluate the effect of the environments that exist and rely upon the characteristic stream of the water in Surma Kusiyara-Meghna and their tributaries. India and Bangladesh have concurred on a joint report gathering to look at the focuses raised by Bangladesh.


2.2 Insurgence

India’s north-eastern states, as announced in the press, are tormented by rebellion. It is accepted there are around 175 radical gatherings working in the states encompassing Bangladesh. Bangladesh itself has been battling a revolt throughout the previous couple of decades in its south-eastern part called Chittagong Slope Tracts, despite the fact that it has been enormously contained as far back as the marking of the peace accord with the extremists in 1997.

It is likely that there could be an overflow impact of radicals taking sanctuary in each other’s nation or utilizing cross-outskirt courses for the transportation of snuck arms. One Indian source asserts “another arms bazaar in the dead zone close to the Bangladesh-Myanmar border town of Naikhangchari, which has turned out to be home to Indian radical outfits, for example, the Unified Freedom Front of Assam and the National Majority rule Front of Bodoland. The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al- Islami, a fear based oppressor furnish in Bangladesh, is known to grant preparing to these outfits”.

In a current meeting, the head of the fringe security powers traded arrangements of the “culprits” (Bangladesh and India indicating 1,227 and 77 “offenders” individually) covering up in their separate nations. Actually, cross-outskirt fear based oppression, in various structures and indications, is a reality in the entire of South Asia. Revolt in north- east India had ended up being an Achilles’ foot rear area for even    the English Raj, which neglected to set up its suzerainty over these insurrection inclined regions. Cross-outskirt psychological warfare or insurrections convey possibilities for fire.


2.3 Transit Issue

Keeping in mind the end goal to handle the revolt all the more viably and exhaustively, India, for clear geopolitical reasons, needs an immediate course through Bangladesh that would facilitate the In any case, another school of thought opines that Bangladesh would receive awesome budgetary rewards from the travel and along these lines diminish the exchange hole that exists between the two nations. There is a likelihood that India, consequently, would be additionally expected in settling different issues like water sharing, arrive and oceanic fringe outlines, and the lifting the non-levy hindrances that India forces on the merchandise imported from Bangladesh. This is induced in light of the fact that so far there has not been any generous advance in settling the greater part of the major exceptional issues. This creator feels that such improvements would help make a compensation situation. Be that as it may, given the sensitivities and doubts included, it might be hard to achieve this coveted state within a reasonable time-frame[2].


2.4 Maritime Boundary Demarcation

Another combative issue amongst India and Bangladesh that has as of late gone under the spotlight is the sea fringe division, an issue that additionally includes Myanmar. The Sound of Bengal, found south of Bangladesh, could be the nation’s new outskirts for assets. Bangladesh guarantees an enormous mainland rack, since the ocean isn’t impressively profound as observed from its benchmark. Bangladesh is stressed that it may get ocean or zone-bolted by the two India and Myanmar if the two forces demand settling the issue in light of the rule of equidistance rather than value. There are dubious issues, for example, the acknowledgment of a Bangladeshi gauge, and the obsession of control focuses with its neighboring countries from where both of these neighbors would draw the sea limit. Connected to it is the argument about the responsibility for island in the Stream Hariabhanga, in the south-western piece of Bangladesh, flanking India, and bordering the Straight of Bengal. Settling the issue of South Talpatty/New Moore (the names, separately, that the island is given by Bangladesh and India) has “more to do with the degree of the sea zone to be conceivably obtained in the oil rich delta of the Cove of Bengal than the island itself. Accordingly the island holds the possibility to wind up plainly the center combative issue between the two countries.” The Hindu    of India reports that India-Bangladesh sea limit talks stay uncertain. The question were basically finished the Talpatty/New Moore Island and the claim on selective monetary zones in the Narrows of Bengal.

Thus the issue may must be alluded to the Indeed Bangladesh has as of late disagreed with the Assembled Countries for assertion. Keeping the issue uncertain would keep on vitiating the relations with spiraling questions. There is, be that as it may, a case of the Worldwide Court giving a model decision for value rule, considering the area of the two neighboring nations and form of the shoreline[3].

3.0 Recent Trends in India Bangladesh Relations

As Sheik Hasina took on the position of Executive in 2009, the two- sided connection amongst Dhaka and New Delhi was changed. Once chose again with a more grounded order, she rapidly start changing the Bangladesh-India relationship in what has been named an “India- Positive” approach. Executive of Bangladesh Ms. Sheik Hasina joined by a 123-part appointment including a business landmass paid a state visit to India. At this summit, the two sides consented to construct an “irreversible” agreeable connection between the two neighbors. On her visit, PM Sheik Hasina was given the esteemed Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Demilitarization and Advancement for 2009.

Amid Hasina’s visit to India, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee marked a $1 billion advance manage the Hasina government, the biggest credit extension got by Bangladesh under a solitary assention. India’s Exim Bank consented to the arrangement with Bangladesh’s financial relations division and the advance was be utilized to create railroads and interchanges foundation in Bangladesh. The arrangement conveyed a 1.75 percent yearly loan fee and would be repayable in 20 years, including a five-year effortlessness period. India and Bangladesh marked 3 agreements on a) common legitimate help with criminal issues, b) fighting universal fear based oppression, sorted out wrongdoing and illegal medication trafficking; and c) exchange of condemned individual amid the Hasina’s visit. It was likewise concurred that Bangladesh will permit utilization of Mongla and Chittagong Ocean ports for development of merchandise to and from India through street and rail. Bangladesh additionally passed on its aim to give Nepal and Bhutan access to these ports. This was trailed by the two nations marking a 35-year power transmission bargain under which India will send out up to 500 megawatts of energy to Bangladesh. Dhaka likewise marked a $1.7 billion agreement with the National Warm Power Enterprise for the development of two coal-let go plants in southern Bangladesh. Bangladesh consented to give travel office to India to access its landlocked 7 north-Eastern States through Bangladesh. Enhanced rail connections would profit both Bangladesh and India’s eastern locale. Not just trucks from Nepal would approach the Bagla bandha arrive port in Bangladesh; Bangladeshi trucks would likewise approach Nepal through India. Dhaka had given its assent for laying the cross-limit rail tracks. In spite of these activities, India neglected to expand on the force furnished by Hasina’s visit with its inability to execute two noteworthy two-sided understandings: a conclusion of land limit boundary and the sharing of the waters of the Teesta Stream.

Political issues between the two states have secured all fields of arrangement, from monetary and exchange, outskirt security and limit lines, sharing of normal and trans-limit waters, correspondence and travel, lastly, local and national security against extremist systems. Advance on a considerable lot of these issues was slowed down from 1975 until 2009; be that as it may, changes in the reciprocal relations have as of late prompted impressive development on all issues of conflict. Amid the previous couple of years, Sheik Hasina’s Administration has enough tended to India’s security related worries; there has been a recognition in Bangladesh that Bangladesh has not been remunerated satisfactorily consequently. From November 2013, A Wagah Fringe like service is being sorted out at Petrapole (in West Bengal, India) – Benapole (Bangladesh) outskirt checkpoint. The service which incorporates parades, walk past and bringing down of the national banner of both the nations is currently an everyday schedule, at twilight, on the eastern outskirt. The relations between the nations are unquestionably moving positive way. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj went to Bangladesh in her first authority abroad excursion in June, 2014. On 7 May 2015 the Indian Parliament, within the sight of Bangladeshi representatives, consistently passed the Land Limit Understanding (LBA) as its 100th Protected revision, in this way settling every one of the 68-year old fringe question since the finish of the English Raj. The bill was pending sanction since the 1974 Mujib-Indira concurs. In June 2014, amid her first authority abroad visit, Sushma Swaraj closed different understandings to support ties. They include:

  • Easing of Visa administration to give 5 year numerous passage visas to minors beneath 13 and elderly over 65.
  • Proposal of an exceptional monetary zone in Bangladesh.
  • Agreement to send back a criminal blamed for kill in India.
  • Provide an extra 100 MW control from Tripura.
  • Increase the recurrence of Maitree Express and begin transports amongst Dhaka and Guwahati and Shillong.
  • Bangladesh enabled India to ship sustenance and grains to   the landlocked Upper east India are utilizing its domain and foundation.

In any case, course has changed after the difference in government in India, which advocates a solid ‘neighborhood first’ outside approach. It is against this short scenery that our Prime Minister Modi embraced an official visit to Bangladesh (June 6-7, 2015). The significance of Bangladesh as an accomplice for India’s development was clear when Modi picked Bangladesh as the goal of his Clergyman of outside Issues’ first remote visit. Amid Sheik Hasina’s four-day visit to New Delhi in April 2017, Bangladesh and India consented to two barrier arrangements, the principal such assertions amongst India and any of its neighbors. Under the understandings, the militaries of the two nations will direct joint activities and preparing. India will enable Bangladesh to set up assembling and administration places for protection stages that the two nations have with the point of accomplishing independence in safeguard fabricating in Bangladesh, and will likewise furnish the Bangladesh military with master preparing, and specialized and calculated help. India likewise broadened its first since forever safeguard related credit extension to a neighboring nation, by furnishing Bangladesh with $500 million to buy guard hardware. Bangladesh marked a 4.5 billion dollar credit manage India in 4 October 2017 for building up its foundation, wellbeing and instruction. The understanding was marked in Dhaka within the sight of Indian Back Clergyman Mr. Arun Jaitley and his Bangladesh partner A.M.A Muhith. Bangladesh will utilize the assets for 17 need framework ventures, which incorporate power, railroads, streets, sending and ports.


3.1 Notun Projonmo-Nayi Disha (New Beginning-New Direction)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fruitful two-day visit to Dhaka (June 6-7 2015) saw the marking of a huge number of 22 understandings covering the whole extent of political, monetary and social relations. Among these assention, five issues that are a piece of the 60-point Notice of Comprehension (MOU) emerge and guarantee a period of more prominent helpful relationship, best reflected in the title of the joint revelation – Notun Projonmo-Nayi Disha (Fresh start New Bearing). These understandings are identified with network – a need region for the Narendra Modi Government – and incorporate lattice interconnection and age of energy, enhancing the adjust of exchange, better coordination among the fringe guarding powers and individuals to-individuals contact. While the initial two issues are to be progressed inside a sub-local system, different issues are solely reciprocal in nature. Be that as it may, in a noteworthy advance towards ties, India and Bangladesh traded the instruments of approval of the Land Limit Assention, Promising a conclusion to the “stateless presence” of more than 50,000 individuals in 162 enclaves on the two sides of the outskirt.


3.2 Recently Settled Issues and Its impacts

Land enclaves and border demarcations were the long outstanding issues since 1941. India got possession of 111 enclaves and East Pakistan (presently Bangladesh) got 51 enclaves. “The enclave’s issues were areas that belong to Bangladesh but were inhibited by Indian citizens and areas belong to India but inhibited by Bangladeshi citizens”[4]. As such, the general people in and around these enclaves of both the countries have been suffering. Bangladesh and India signed the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) on May 16, 1974 gave guidelines for an amicable solution of these problems. However, its implementation was not carried out because India had been foot dragging on the ratification of the agreement. However, during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in June 2015, Bangladesh and India signed the historic 44 years old land border agreement by exchanging 152 enclaves. Under this agreement, “50,000 deprived citizens of the two countries will reside in their own countries”[5]. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood described the agreement as a ‘historic milestone in the relationships’ between the two neighboring countries while Modi termed the significant of LBA with the ‘fall of the Berlin Wall’. In addition, Bangladesh has also settled its long outstanding maritime boundary disputes during this period with its neighbors India and Myanmar. “Bangladesh got 19,467 square kilometers out of 25,602 square kilometers disputed areas in the Bay of Bengal”[6]. With the peaceful settlement of these long outstanding issues, Modi government could earn the Dhaka’s trust and support. Most of the Bangladeshi has changed their negative attitude and mind set up towards India. They started considering India as a friendly neighbour. This understanding and good faith will enable and establish the future positive ties between the two neighbours which is a strategic achievement for Bangladesh and India.


4.0 Challenges and Opportunities for Bangladesh and India

Strategic achievement by fixing land enclaves, maritime boundaries and border demarcations issues indicate the future positive relations for both Bangladesh and India. To maintain pleasant and friendly relations in future, both the countries have also certain challenges and opportunities to resolve the other major issues. Bangladesh has challenges like balancing trade deficit and resolving water sharing discords of Farakka and Teesta Barrages while India has challenges like transit to North Easter Region (NER) through Bangladesh from Indian main land, establishing security at those regions and controlling China’s close ties with Bangladesh and other regional countries. “Access to Bangladesh seaports is of great economic and strategic advantages to India”[7]. Transporting goods to its northeast states through Bangladesh, India will significantly reduce time and cost. This will also benefit the Indian Armed Forces solving security issues in those regions. More so, Modi government will face a greater strategic challenge as Chinese influence has rapidly increased in Bangladesh. Mutually beneficial relationship with Bangladesh is critical if India is to better economically integrate its north-eastern states with the mainland. “Such a relationship could also help India realizing its decades-old ‘Look East’ policy towards Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)”[8].

On the other hand, Bangladesh can attract Indian people and export more items to India. Moreover, resolving the water issues will allow Bangladesh to avoid floods during monsoon seasons and droughts during dry seasons. The future Bangladesh-India relations will depend on the friendly and congenial attitude of India to resolve the major unsettled issues whatever the political position may be, their attitude must be. Political leaders of the two countries have to exploit the available opportunities through the positive momentum for resolving the critical outstanding issues.


5.0 Trade Imbalance and Ways to Resolve

Trade deficit is a long outstanding challenge for India and Bangladesh to fix it. Bangladesh with more than 150 million populations and 4096 km long boundary with India is a vast market for Indian goods[9]. Indian markets have also demand for many Bangladeshi products. “Both India and Bangladesh have realized that trade imbalance was not in the interest of either partner”[10]. Since 1972, both governments have made a number of trade agreements to lower the trade imbalance. Basing on the “Treaty of friendship, co-operation and peace”, both countries signed their first one year trade agreement on 28 March 1972. By March 1973, “India’s exports to Bangladesh were $18.5 million and imports from Bangladesh were $14 million”[11]. For making trade an effective one, India and Bangladesh signed the Balance Trade and Payment Agreement (BTPA) on 05 July 1973 for a period of three years. “This agreement also could not reach the desired level of trade and showed US$ 8.18 million imbalance at the end of the first year”[12]. Then, with the change of government in 1975; both countries were no longer viewed as a close friend to each other. They started maintaining distance relations to each other. With a view to resolve the issue of trade imbalance, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established but SAARC failed because India-Pakistan could not fix their continued security issues. More so, Bangladesh government maintained good military and economic ties with China and Pakistan. Thus, trade relations between Bangladesh and India suffered significantly.

Despite high trade deficit, the Indian Government imposed a lot of restrictions in terms of tariffs and other barriers on Bangladesh goods entering into its market. “An average tariffs duty for consumer goods in Bangladesh was 23% while the same was 30-55% in India”[13]. Thus, Bangladeshi goods exported to India faced difficulty in competing with local goods. It is estimated that “Bangladesh’s exports to India were worth $ 512.5 million and India’s exports to Bangladesh were worth $ 4586.8 million in FY 2010-2011”[14]. “Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh stood at $ 6.6 billion in 2013-14 with India’s exports at $6.1 billion and imports from Bangladesh at $ 462 million, representing more than double the value of $ 2.7 billion five years ago[15]. Considering the situation, India financed $ 1.0 billion line of credit to Bangladesh primarily to upgrade its road and rail connectivity to India. The then Indian President Pranab Mukherjee declared that 200 million out of 1.0 billion would be converted into grants[16]. It is argued that shipment between Chittagong and Kolkata with the smaller vessels is cost effective for Bangladeshi traders. Trading through ocean is more profitable than that of the land customs checkpoints[17]. The trade imbalance can be reduced if trade volume along the ocean is increased significantly. As such, maritime cooperation connectivity project like Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has recently been established. This maritime connectivity will facilitate India and Bangladesh exploiting seaports of Myanmar and Thailand to the east and Sri Lanka to the west for their economic development. More so, it does not create same types of the political problems that are created by land base trade because maritime trade is not visible to the general public. Therefore, it is less subject to political criticism. For reducing the trade gap, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 during his visit to Bangladesh declared zero duty access of 46 Bangladeshi textile items in India[18]. Bangladesh businessmen saw it as an encouraging development to narrow the trade gap. “Trading by Bangladesh directly with the NER may reduce the considerable trade imbalance between the two countries”[19]. Bangladesh must explore Indian markets growing awareness about its products and counter its internal political instability to attract more investors. “The two countries recently amended their trade agreement that will allow Bangladesh to conduct trade with the third countries like Nepal and Bhutan by using India’s land, water and rail route and vice versa”[20]. This may also reduce the trade imbalance with India. Recent friendly and cooperative political relations between the two countries indicate that India-Bangladesh will have better relations in future.


6.0 Water Sharing Disputes and Its Ways to Resolve

Attention for resolving the water disputes for Farakka and Teesta Barrages like the trade imbalance is expected. Bangladesh shares 54 common rivers with India particularly the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Teesta (GBT). Changes of the GBT flow from the upper riparian India have significantly impacted on the lower riparian Bangladesh. India has been diverting water from the Ganges since 1975 by constructing a barrage at Farakka. It has also been diverting water from the Teesta by constructing a barrage at Gazoldoba in India. Since then, it has been adversely affecting Bangladesh by depriving its water which has caused a dispute on water issues between the two countries.


6.1 Farakka Issues

Water dispute along the Farakka was realized by Bangladesh when India started its operations in 1975. Bangladesh and India established a Joint River Commission (JRC) in 1972 for sharing of Ganges water in the field of flood control, river basin development and irrigation. “An initial agreement was signed for diverting 11,000 to 16,000 cusecs of water for a period of 41 days from April 21 to May 31”[21]. Violating the agreement, India continued withdrawing water even after May 31. It is also argued that the Farakka Barrage was commissioned for operation without arriving at a mutual solution and thus, become a major bone of contentions between the two countries. The relations between Bangladesh and India continued to deteriorate as the bilateral talks showed no progress and assassination of Sheikh Mujib created shockwaves in Delhi. Despite sincere effort of Bangladesh, India continued to divert water from the Ganges. In August 1988, floods devastated Bangladesh submerging almost two thirds of the country. “The relations between the two countries were swept away with accusations and counter accusations on the causes of floods”[22]. Meanwhile, major political changes took place both in India and Bangladesh (Awami League came to power in Bangladesh while the United Front Government took office in India). It created a new momentum in bilateral relations and the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty was signed on December 12, 1996. According to the agreement, Bangladesh would get 35,000 cusecs and the rest would go to India if flow is 75,000 cusecs or more while each country would receive 35,000 cusecs in alternate 10-day periods between March 11 and May 10[23]. However, India did not maintain it as per agreement. It is argued that flow of water during critical period has put India in a favorable position. India should solve the issue with due consideration sharing equal amount of water as per the requirement by both the countries.


6.2 Teesta Barrage Disputes

Constructing a barrage across the river at Gazoldoba, India started withdrawing water from Teesta and the “water flow in the dry season (November to May) has declined to 2000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs. On February 28, 2005 Bangladesh received only 1,400 cusecs of water[24]. As such, the Teesta Barrage irrigation project of Bangladesh suffered significantly. The issue has been raised by Bangladesh in many JRC meetings in the past but it did not work well. Bangladeshi experts proposed for keeping 20 to 30 percent of Teesta water reserved in the lean period to keep the river healthy and sharing the rest equally. But India proposed for keeping 10 to 12 percent reserved and sharing the rest as per the size of the river’s catchment area[25]. In 2013, both countries agreed to come to an agreement to facilitate Bangladesh with the Teesta Water. Prime Minister of both countries also met at Dhaka but Mamata Benarjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal did not agree to it. It is speculated that she was angry because central government of India did not consult her regarding the Teesta water issue before it was agreed with Bangladesh. She even did not accompany the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh. As such, the agreement could not be materialized.

However, with the change of Indian Government in 2015, the Prime Ministers of both countries again met in Dhaka and agreed to settle the issue. This time, Mamata agreed to Central Government of India to share rational water sharing agreement accompanying the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh. This has washed away the mistrust of Bangladeshi towards India.


7.0 Transit and Transhipment Issue

Transit and transhipment issue is a crucial necessity for India sustaining socio- economic and socio-political reason for its North Eastern Region (NER). Since 1947, “NER made its business with the main land of India or outside world through East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)”[26]. Pakistan suspended this route for India after the Indo-Pak War in 1965 and thus, NER was isolated from the mainland India. Presently, NER make their trades with the Indian mainland through only hilly and rugged narrow ‘Siliguri Land Corridor[27]. The Indian government has sought transit through Bangladesh for improved economic growth “exchanging Indian products to NER and mineral recourses and industrial raw materials to Indian industries”[28]. For Bangladesh, it has diverse implications like security, political and economic dimensions. Many argued that it should not be agreed unless some core bilateral issues like trade deficit, water sharing discords of Farakka and Teesta Barrages are resolved. Some viewed the transit as an economic issue and it should not be politicized. Distance from Agartola to Kolkata Sea Port is more than 1400 km whereas it is only 100 km to Chittagong Seaport in Bangladesh[29]. Thus, transport costs from NER for trading to any part of Indian mainland are very expensive. “The shipment of Assam tea to Europe is required to travel 1400 km to reach Kolkata Port through the ‘Chicken neck’[30]. India needs the transit through Bangladesh for its transportation of goods not only for the cost also for the security reason.

Transit issue must be viewed and treated as an integrated one with other bilateral issues with India. While analyzing cost-benefits, many experts opined that Bangladesh should go ahead but initially the connectivity should be through railway network. Business community argued that transit poses serious involvement to economic, political and sub- regional development strategies and these need to be dealt holistically. On negotiation point of view, it was opined that tariff issue needs meticulous thought and consensus. General perception was that transit and transshipment should not be confined to India rather should extend the initiative up to China, Myanmar and must connect the sub-region. The security issue plays an important role while discussing transit and connectivity issue. Keeping in view the benefits, it seems the above mentioned risks are small from economic perspective. The NER have high potentialities of mineral reserve, natural resources and raw materials. Transit would provide easy, quick and relatively cheaper opportunity for further exploration and use of these resources.

Both Bangladesh and India will have economic benefits through the bilateral agreement of transit and transhipment. India will have the access to use Chittagong Port to export its tea and other products from NER to outside country. It will also exchange its goods from mainland India to NER and mineral resource to Indian mainland from NER. In short, NER will be the prime beneficiary of this whole process. More number of investors will be encouraged to invest in NER after re-opening its route through Bangladesh. Thereby, India can increase its overall economic growth rate and control political instability in those regions[31]. ADB Country Director Hua Du suggests that Bangladesh can benefit through opening up transit and great opportunities for crossing from east to west. “The estimated transit fees will range from $ 64.2 million to $ 598.2 million”[32]. Transit will also connect Chinese province of Yunan with Seven Sisters (NER) of India, Myanmar, Thailand and Bangladesh. These countries have the world’s largest potential for hydropower. Bangladesh can be a major buyer of electricity that could mitigate perennial shortage.


8.0 Bangladesh and India Positions on Unresolved Issues

Cooperation between the two countries is a continuous process. The relationships of mistrust and hostility between India and Bangladesh cost both countries billions of dollars in missed opportunities. Transit and transhipment facilities would save for India potentially billions of dollars in transportation costs while it would generate substantial revenues and employment for Bangladesh every year. It is argued that greater cross-border investments could produce significant benefits for both countries. The economic growth and development of both Bangladesh and Indian North East can benefit immensely through the development and expansion of trade and economic cooperation between the two geographically contiguous parts of the sub-continent. Thus, the issue of developing economic cooperation between Bangladesh and Indian North East has become an important issue in determining the future of Bangladesh-India relations. Bangladesh can provide a whole range of consumer products to the North East at competitive prices taking advantage of its geographical proximity and can also serve as a good market for products from the North East. Modi inherited a solid base of strong Bangladesh-India partnership from the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Indian thinking was dominated by the security-centric approach instead of seeking to build a long-term state-state relationship[33]. Reluctance to address issues like the Land boundary Agreement (LBA), sharing of waters of common rivers of the Ganges and Teesta and trade deficit showed that India did not view Bangladesh as an equal partner. It is arguable that India’s troubled relationships with the neighbours were a result of its own hegemonic posture. However, this perception with political leaders has been changing gradually in the last few years. Manmohan Singh, during his visit to Bangladesh seeks to build a new future relation with Bangladesh. He also added that the time has come to plan a new path and pursue a bold vision for good relations based on mutual respect and benefits. However, three years have passed but India has not made any remarkable change to the Singh’s statement. If India fails to address the disputed issues properly, relation with China will weaken India’s regional super power. India’s relations with Bangladesh will restrict its sea connectivity and expansion of ‘East Look’ policy. It is opined that Bangladeshi and Indian political leaders both in power or opposition must consider their options carefully.

Present political situation both in India and Bangladesh must allow both sides an opportunity to rethink and re-envision the relationship[34]. As cultural relations, Indira Gandhi Cultural Center of Indian Council was inaugurated at Dhaka on March 11, 2010. Again, the AL Government, on March 27, 2012 “conferred the Liberation War Honor to 45 Indian friends and institutions for their contribution to the 1971 Liberation War”[35]. All these speak about the generosity and priority placed by Bangladesh to India. India must modify its attitude and be more cooperative to Bangladesh to settle all the unresolved issues. Bangladesh must also assist India to make the new beginning. Both countries must compromise their political issues and value the national interests. “Sheikh Hasina government has shown considerable courage and conviction to free its soil from anti-India activity”[36]. Bangladesh hopes for suitable reciprocal gestures from India to strengthen the polity. Bangladesh-India relationships started improving significantly with the visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January 2010 and the then Indian Prime Minister  Manmohan  Singh to Bangladesh in September 2011. These visits have shifted the perceptions of relations between the two countries. However, these relationships between the two countries have been amplified with the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in June 2015.

9.0 Types of Solutions Require Integrating Bangladesh and India

Both Bangladesh and India have great opportunities to resolve all the outstanding issues. India as a regional super power needs to take initiative and Bangladesh requires cooperating with India for fixing outstanding issues. Both the counties have to think for the economic ties instead of valuing the domestic politics. Central political objectives must supersede the regional or the state objectives for continuing and establishing the future relations. “The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has made the normalization of relations with India a priority”[37]. Now, India must also show due respect to it and work together with Bangladesh for building strong economic ties in the region. India must resolve the major issues like trade imbalance, Teesta and Farakka water discords. On the other hand, Bangladesh must allow transit and transhipment to Indian North East Regions. Failing to avail these opportunities will bring negative results for both Bangladesh and India. This loss will be greater for India than that of Bangladesh because China will not miss this chance to build up economic and military ties with Bangladesh. More so, Bangladesh is the strategic position for India to tie its South East policies. To build future relations with Myanmar, India needs to avail this opportunity to extend its maritime bilateral relation. India, because of its domestic politics, has already missed the genuine opportunity to resolve the Teesta River Waters Issues. In turn, this stalled the negotiation for opening up Bangladesh to transit trade from the Indian northeast[38]. Dhaka has been making proposals to Beijing for increased trade connections and investments. “This undermines Indian’s game play for keeping China out of the South Asian region”[39].

Bangladesh and India needs to work closely together for mutual benefits. Increased contacts among the people of both the countries could lead to greater understanding and interdependence. Political stability in both countries would be of prime interest for the economic progress leading to further areas of cooperation. Bangladesh’s location is a strategic position between mainland India and North-eastern states of India. Each of these states has shorter route to the sea through Bangladesh. Bangladesh provides easy land access to the Southeast Asian countries that are important for India’s Look East Policy. Chittagong seaport may be marked as an alternative in this case. On the other hand, India as a huge resourceful country is capable to serve as a big economic zone. Its strategic location linking West, South and East Asian countries makes itself an important point for the whole of the world. It has a big market for which the multinational corporations are conscious and they are competing to capture this large market. Good neighbourly relations with India and Bangladesh will influence the other members also to improve upon the relationship and enhance regional cooperation. The free trade agreement if materialized will improve upon the economy of the region.


10.0 Conclusion

More prominent  local  collaboration,  particularly  in  the  field  of financial improvement  to  destroy  the  neediness  trap,  might  be a definitive objective of every single South Asian. Be that as it may, unless some remedial and brilliant measures are embraced right now, the circumstance may move the other way. That would be amazingly unsettling for the large number of destitution stricken South Asians. They may need to go past the geopolitical impulses and move towards more concrete provincial collaboration like what the Europeans and Southeast Asians are doing. Something else, improvement as such will just evade the South Asians. Lastly, the MOU emphasized the significance of people to people contact in carrying the relationship forward, not only the two bus services were flagged off and more bus and train services were agreed upon, India and Bangladesh also announced the opening of new consulates in Sylhet and Khulna for India and in Guwahati for Bangladesh, Similarly since the Dhaka Kolkata Mitree Express is currently very popular and India has also agreed to construct a modern international passenger terminal to mitigate the grievances of travelers between the two cities. The two nations likewise have huge interests in proceeding to work together in battling fear based oppression. In the event that India will expand its control over its immature upper east, financial network and improved combination with other territorial on-screen characters like Bangladesh, Bhutan, and China is basic. India will have a significantly more noteworthy shot of achievement at keeping up peace in its northeastern states while creating them financially with Bangladesh’s proceeded with collaboration; however Bangladesh likewise has a solid motivating force to help India. Precariousness along the fringe areas of Bangladesh can serve to stop Indian venture, as well as indications of instability may likewise take away from other advancement and undermine the possibilities of Bangladesh turning into a local center point.

Critically analyze the future relations between Bangladesh and India by examining the challenges and opportunities will determine the course of the relationships between the two countries. Future relations between Bangladesh and India will depend on how India will resolve outstanding issues with Bangladesh. Narendra Modi has expressed his desire to maintain strong and stable relations with Bangladesh on the themes of economic cooperation and joint interests. The Bangladesh and Indian prime Ministers’ visits have great significance because the leadership could develop the trust and confidence. To be fair, the expectation of a historic breakthrough could not fully materialize but Bangladesh is optimistic that India will reciprocate the vision and boldness by signing the Teesta treaty. Bangladesh’s perception and approach for India has varied over time under different governments. India could maintain good and favourable relations during the periods of Awami League government while other governments have considered India as a threat to Bangladesh’s security and independence. BNP and other military governments maintained distance relations with India but friendly and congenial military and economic ties with China and Pakistan. The quality of relationships between Bangladesh and India has varied greatly depending on the respective governments in power.

Bangladesh-India relationships started improving significantly with the visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January 2010 and the then Indian  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh in September 2011. These visits have shifted the perceptions of relations between the two countries. However, these relationships between the two countries have been amplified with the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in June 2015. India must modify its attitude and be more cooperative to Bangladesh to settle all the unresolved issues otherwise China will not miss the chance to tie economic with Bangladesh. Bangladesh must also assist India to make new beginning. Both countries must compromise their political issues and value the national interest. Sheikh Hasina government has shown considerable courage and conviction to free its soil from anti- India activity. Bangladesh hopes for suitable reciprocal gestures to strengthen the polity. Progress on many of the disputes was stalled from 1975 to 1996 because political leaders of both the countries considered each other as competitor. However, it started improving their bilateral relations from 1996-2001 and significant change took place from 2009 till date. For a prosperous South Asia, both Bangladesh and India must continue to develop peaceful, cooperative and institutional means of solving disputes while integrating into the regional economy. The interests of both the countries dictate that no matter what combination of ruling coalitions are in power, Bangladesh and India have great incentives to continue the forward progress they have made.

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[1] Singh J (1996) National Security An Outline of Our Concerns. Lancer Publishers New Delhi in association with United Services Institutions of India, pp: 59-60.

[2]  Karim MA (2009) Bangladesh-India Relations: Some Recent Trends, ISAS Working Paper.

[3] Arora ND (2016) Political Science Textbook. Mc Graw Hill Publication Pvt Ltd New Delhi.

[4] Mostofa, Faruque Mohmmmed. “Outstanding Issues in Bangladesh-India Relations.” Journal of International Relations, Vol-1, no. 1 (2005) and Dilara, Chowdhury. “Management of Indo-Bangladesh Border.” The Daily Star, Dhaka, September 21, 2004.

[5] Shahid. “Bangladesh-India Relations”, Hossain, M Sakhawat, Brigadier General (Retd), Bangladesh Army. “Indo-Bangladesh Relations: Quest for Better Ties.” The Daily Independent, Dhaka, January 11, 2005 and http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33033342 (Accessed on June 06, 2015).

[6] http://www.albd.org/index.php/en/resources/special-reports/2581-beyond-neighbours-india-bangladesh-relations-between-2009-and-2015 (Accessed on October 03, 2019)

[7] Cherian, John. “India Embraces Bangladesh to Keep China in Check”. Frontline-Indian National Magazine, Volume 27, Issue 03 (January 2010) and https://www.google.com/search? q =frontline+magagine+visit+of+monmohan+singh+to+bangladesh&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=frontline+magazine+visit+of+manmohan+singh+to+Bangladesh & start=10 (Accessed June 16, 2015)

[8] http://www.gktoday.in/problems-in-india-bangladesh -direct-sea-trade/ (Accessed October 17, 2019)

[9] Bangladesh                   India’s         Largest        Trading       Partner       in                    Sub-continent               and http://www.livemint.com/Politics/tnv tYZ1HPZtnh QSACSgI9I/Bangladesh-now-Indias- largest-trading-partner-in-subcontine.html (Accessed on October 08, 2019).

[10] Shahid. “Bangladesh-India Relations” and Farooq, Sobhan. “Dynamics of Bangladesh- India Relations”: Dialogue of Young Journalists across the Border, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute. The University Press Limited, Dhaka, 2005.

[11] Davinder Kumar Madaan. “Indo-Bangladesh Economic Relations and SAARC”, (Dhaka : TYK Prokason, Tejgaon, 1996), p.54 and Shafique, Quadrat Elahi Rahman, Major, Bangladesh Army. “Indo-Bangladesh Trade Imbalance and Ways to Reduce it”, Individual Research Paper, Defense Services Command and Staff College, (February 1996), p.5

[12] Ibid, p.71 and p.5

[13] Ibid, p.13

[14] Habib.                   “India-Bangladesh                  relations”            and        http://www.livemint.com/Politics/Tnvt YZ1HPZtnhQSACSgI9I/Bangladesh-now-Indias-largest-trading-partner-in-subcontine.html (Accessed on October 08, 2019).

[15] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-06-24/news/50825908_1_h-mahmood- ali-bangladesh-exports-industry-body-cii-today (Accessed September 24, 2019).

[16] http://idcr.cprindia.org/blog/india-and-bangladeshreview-bilateral-opportunities (Accessed February 20, 2013) and http://www.gktoday.in/problems-in-india-bangladesh-direct-sea-trade/ (Accessed September 27, 2019)

[17] Ibid

[18] Habib, Haroon. “India-Bangladesh relations”. Frontline-Indian National  Magazine, Volume 28, Issue 20 (September 2011) and http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2820/stories/ 20111007282004100.htm (Accessed September 24, 2019).

[19] Cherian “India Embraces Bangladesh to Keep China in Check” and https://www.google. com/search? q=frontline+magagine+visit+of+monmohan+singh+to+Bangladesh & ie=utf- 8&oe=utf-8#q=frontline+magazine+visit+of+manmohan+singh+to+bangladesh&start=10 (Accessed October 16, 2019).

[20] Ibid

[21] Rahman, Ziaur. “Water Sharing Discord between Bangladesh and India”, (Dhaka News Network 2004). p.35 and p.36 and Hasan, AKM Mahmud, Wing Commander, Bangladesh Air Force. “Water Sharing Discord between Bangladesh and India: Effects and Ways Out”, Individual Research Paper, Defense Services Command and Staff College, (February 2006)

[22] Ibid, p.36

[23] Ibid

[24] Ibid

[25] Ibid and The Daily Star, September 17, 2004 at http://www.thedailystar.net /2004/09/17/index.htm (Accessed September 17, 2019)

[26] Ahmed, Shakil., Brigadier General, Bangladesh Army. “Transit and Transhipment: Implications for Bangladesh.National Defence College Journal, Vol-2, no-1 (2003).

[27] Hossain, AKM Sadat, Brigadier General, Bangladesh Army. “Re-examination of the Discourses on Transit to India”: Individual Research Paper, National Defense College, Bangladesh (30 August 2012), p.1-2

[28] The New Horizon, (March, 2011). Refusing Transit to India: Is Bangladesh Missing Something?

[29] Rahmatuallah, Dr. (2010). “Regional Transport Connectivity”: Opportunities for Bangladesh. BIISS, 30(1), January, 2010.

[30] Murshid, KAS. “Transit and Transhipment: “Strategic Considerations for Bangladesh and India.” Economic and Political Weakly, Dhaka. Vol- 19, no. 17 (2011).

[31] Manjur, Ahmed. (2010, March, 23). Modalities for regional connectivity, transit and transshipment. The Financial Express, Dhaka.

[32] Rahmatullah, Dr. Mohammad. (2011, August 29). $ 6000 million Estimated for Infrastructure, The Daily Star, Dhaka.

[33] Cherian “India Embraces Bangladesh to Keep China in Check” and https://www.google.com/search? q=frontline+magagine+visit+of+monmohan+singh+to+bangladesh&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=frontline+magazine+visit+of+manmohan+singh +to+bangladesh&start=10 (Accessed October 16, 2019).

[34] http://alochona.com/2014/04/02/the-indo-bangladesh-relationship-can-david-re-envision-goliath-2/_(Accessed October 02, 2019)

[35] http://www.academia.edu/4365028/India-Bangladesh_Relations_Issues_Problems_and_Recent Developments (Accessed on September 15, 2019)

[36] http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/indiabangladesh-land-boundary-agreement-breakthrough-in-ties/article7190811.ece (Accessed on September 25, 2019)

[37] Gupta, Amit. “Global Security Watch: India”. PRAEGER-An imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, California, 2012, p.158

[38] Ibid

[39] Ibid