India Bangladesh Relations
This article deals with ‘India Bangladesh Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
- Bangladesh became Independent in 1971 with military & political assistance of India
- Independence won under leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman (Party= Awami League) . They were Anti Pakistan (+ China and USA) and Pro India (+ USSR)
- 1975 : Mujibur Rehman was assassinated due to military coupe by Zia-ur-Rehman =>this regime was Pro China and US (but Anti-Pakistan) and Anti India & USSR. Later, he established Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
Hence due to historical reasons
|Awami League||Follows Bengali first ideology||Good Relations with India||Present Leader -Sheikh Hasina|
|BNP||Follows Islam first ideology||Animosity with India||Present Leader – Khalida Zia|
Importance of Bangladesh for India
- Geopolitical Importance of Bangladesh
- Outlet for North Eastern States => land-locked states have shorter route to the sea through Bangladesh.
- Important for Security of Bay of Bengal & tackling pirate activities
- Success of Act-East policy
- Bangladesh can act as ‘bridge’ to economic and political linkages with South East Asia.
- Integral part of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy‘
- To contain insurgency in North-East
- Economic importance
- Bilateral trade: currently $9 billion (+ large unaccounted informal trade) but trade potential is 4 times
- Investment Opportunity for Indian companies
- Cooperation in blue economy( deep sea fishing, hydrocarbons, disaster management etc)
- Shared Bangla history => People to People contacts
- Rabindranath Tagore is equally famous (‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ written by him)
- Co-partner in various
- Most important of which are SAARC & BIMSTEC
- Supports India’s bid for observer status at OIC + Counter Pakistan’s statement on Kashmir at OIC Forums
- To reduce the influence of
- ‘Neutral’ Bangladesh helps to counter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy .
Issues in India Bangladesh Relations(Gist)
India and Bangladesh resolved most contentious land boundary issue
But there are still some contentious issues that needs to be resolved
- Teesta Water Treaty – Teesta originates in Sikkim and enters Bangladesh after passing through West Bengal. There is conflict on water sharing between West Bengal and Bangladesh
- Ganga Water : Treaty was signed in 1996 but India constructed Farakka Barrage to supply water to Hooghly and in dry season , Bangladesh doesn’t get fair share of water
- Illegal Immigration / NRC Issue – According to NRC draft , 40 lakh people living in (only) Assam are Bangladeshis.
- Transit Rights – India wants transit rights to better develop its North East but Bangladeshis saw it as infringement of its sovereignty.
- Security Concerns – Bangladesh provides safe havens to insurgents active in North East
- Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Power Project on the Barak river
- Border Management: Porous border=> smuggling, trafficking in arms, drugs and people.
- Rohingya crisis: 11 lakh Rohingyas refugees in Bangladesh=> India providing financial help via ‘Operation Insaniyat’ but Bangladesh expects India to put pressure on Myanmar for repatriation of Rohingyas.
- Bangladesh uses China card to supplement its bargaining capacity against India.
- Growing Islamic radicalisation => ISIS in Bangladesh => can destabilise Indian Subcontinent
- Competition in some sectors like Textile
Conclusion : India should adopt the Gujral doctrine of unilateral support to its smaller neighbours to gain their confidence especially given China’s presence.
Gist : Things given by India
- Main role in their Independence
- Army joint exercises
- Land Boundry issue and Water boundry issue solved => India lost some land and EEZ but accepted for sake of friendship
- SAARC satellite => Free access to transponder
- Rooppur nuclear power plant is being made by India and Russia in Bangladesh
- Visa regime in India has been liberalized for Bangladeshi tourists and businesses
- Border Haats on Bangladesh-Meghalaya & Bangladesh – Tripura border
- 130 km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline Project for Transportation of Oil.
- Exporting 660 MW electricity daily, will add 500 MW more.
Issue : Teesta Water Dispute
Note: 54 rivers pass from India to Bangladesh => Being lower riparian state, Bangladesh is affected by dam built on them
- Teesta originates in Sikkim & after passing through West Bengal, it enters Bangladesh
- Importance=> Very important for irrigation on both sides.
- India built three Projects on Teesta like Gajoldoba Barrage (in Jalpaigudi) to divert water to other areas => Indian regions started to prosper but Bangladeshis are raising voice against this
- Radical Islamic Parties like Jamat-i-Islami using it to consolidate people against Sheikh Hasina (Indian ally)
2011 : Teesta Accord Drafted – India & Bangladesh to get 50:50% respectively.
- But West Bengal Government acting as impediment to sign this Accord .
Importance of Teesta Accord for India
- PM Hasina is an important ally of India.
- Adopted zero tolerance policy against Anti-Indian terror outfits.
- Help in containing influence of China – in Bay of Bengal region. (BNP favours China)
Signing deal will consolidate her position in Bangladeshi Polity
- Not signing such deal give oxygen to radical elements . Jamait e Islami is becoming powerful by portraying Sheikh Hasina as puppet of India
Bangladesh’s trust on India will increase if there are more water sharing agreements
Issue : China Factor in Bangladesh
- Bangladesh is part of OBOR project & also attended the OBOR Summits
- China increasing Defence Partnership with Bangladesh=> recently Bangladesh procured two submarines from Beijing
- China using Bangladesh as outlet for Kunming Province (Chittagong Port Project)
- Bangladesh is part of BCIM project
- China is financing 25 energy projects in Bangladesh including Bangladesh’s 2nd Nuclear power plant.
- Bangabandhu-1 – First communication satellite of Bangladesh to be launched with Chinese help.
- Soft diplomacy – Training of personnel, including Chinese language teachers
But points in Indian favour
- During freedom struggle, Communist China helped Pakistan and opposed the creation of Bangladesh
- China also casted a veto in the Security Council to block new Bangladesh’s entry into the United Nations.
- Issue of China building dams on Brahmaputra unilaterally.
Issue :North East Factor in Bangladesh relations
- Initiative of
- Guwahati to Dhaka
- Agartala to Kolkata via Bangladesh
shorten the distances
- Overcome strategic vulnerability of Chicken Neck by providing alternate route
- Providing outlet to industries in North Eats via Bangladeshi ports . Chittagong and Ashuganj ports are just 70 and 40 km from border
- Development of
business haats (trading centres)
- Meghalaya – Bangladesh border
- Illegal Bangladeshi Migrant Issue + NRC issue
- North Eastern Insurgents take shelter in Bangladesh
- Bangladeshis view India’s use of their land for transit as impingement of their sovereignty
Potentials & prospects :-
- Indian North East ,Bangladesh & Myanmar should create a tourist circuit
- Energy – Bangladesh is electricity deficient country. Hydropower potential of north eastern states and Bhutan can be harnessed to satisfy need of Bangladesh .
- Jointly developing its ports (Ashuganj) to connect them with our north east.
- BIMSTEC and SAARC have opened up avenues for multilateral exchange of Goods and Services
- Cooperation on dealing with climate change => West Bengal and Bangladesh are low lying areas => large scale submergence due to Ocean Level Rise leading to migration crisis