Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbours. The two nations generally have friendly relations, although sometimes there are border disputes. The historic land boundary agreement was signed in June 6, 2015 which opened a new era in the relations and further stopped all irritants in ties. They are common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the Commonwealth. In particular, Bangladesh and the east Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura are Bengali-speaking. Bangladesh has a high commission in New Delhi with consulates in Mumbai and Kolkata. India has a high commission in Dhaka with a consulate in Chittagong. In a survey, 70% percent of Bangladeshis expressed a favorable opinion of India. Historically and Culturally the two nations have been considerably close.
The two nations were strong allies during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. However, they developed different Cold War alliances in the late 1970s and 80s. With the onset of economic liberalization in South Asia, they forged greater bilateral engagement and trade. The historic Ganges Water Sharing Treaty was concluded in 1996. India and Bangladesh are close strategic partners in counter-terrorism. They are also the largest trading partners in South Asia. Two-way trade is estimated to be over US$7 billion.
Areas of contention
- A major area of contention has been the construction and operation of the Farakka Barrage by India to increase water supply in the river Hoogly. Bangladesh insists that it does not receive a fair share of the Ganges waters during the drier seasons, and gets flooded during the monsoons when India releases excess waters. See also Sharing of Ganges Waters.
- There have also been disputes regarding the transfer of Teen Bigha Corridor to Bangladesh. Part of Bangladesh is surrounded by the Indian state of West Bengal. On 26 June 1992, India leased three bigha land to Bangladesh to connect this enclave with mainland Bangladesh. There was a dispute regarding the indefinite nature of the lease. The dispute was resolved by an mutual agreement between India and Bangladesh in 2011.
- Terrorist activities carried out by outfits based in both countries, like Banga Sena and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. Recently India and Bangladesh had agreed jointly to fight terrorism.
- Bangladesh has consistently denied India transit facility to the landlocked North Eastern Regions of India. Although India has a narrow land link to this North eastern region, which is famously known as the Siliguri Corridor or "India's Chicken Neck"
- Illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India. The border is porous and migrants are able to cross illegally, though sometimes only in return for financial or other incentives to border security personnel. Bangladeshi officials have denied the existence of Bangladeshis living in India and those illegal migrants found are described as having been trafficked. This has considerable repercussions for those involved, as they are stigmatized for having been involved in prostitution, whether or not this has actually been the case. Cross border migrants are also at far higher risk of HIV/Aids infection.
- Continuous border killing of Indian and Bangladeshi people, aiding illegal immigrants, helping in armed dacoity, fake money transfer and illegal drug trades by both Indian and Bangladeshi people are the major problems between Bangladesh and India.
- Both Bangladesh and India make claims over the same seawater at the Bay of Bengal before settlement of the issue.
- There was a minor glitch in their relation when former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accidentally mentioned that 25% of Bangladeshis are anti-Indian, during an informal press meet.
Border killings of Bangladeshi civilians
Deaths of Bangladeshi citizens in the Indo-Bangladesh border became one of the embarrassments between the two nation’s bilateral relations in recent years. The so-called ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the India’s Border Security Forces (BSF) that according to Human Rights Watch killed nearly 1,000 Bangladeshis between 2001 and 2011 has remained at the core of the talks between Bangladeshi and Indian officials visiting each other.
Indian officials visiting Bangladesh, including the Indian foreign ministers and BSF chiefs numerously vowed to stop BSF shootings, but Bangladeshi nationals, comprising both illicit border crossers and innocents, have continued to be shot dead by the Indian troops.
While anger grew in Bangladesh because of the continued BSF shootings and subsequent deaths, Indian officials argue that heightened security has followed the increasing flow of illegal migrations into India as well as continued misuse of the border by illicit traders. Indian officials, vowing to cut down the number of casualties at border, showed statistics that the number of Bangladeshi deaths was in a steady decline in recent years.
The Bangladeshi deaths caused by BSF shootings at the border became subject to a so-called cyber war between the hackers of the two countries that took the websites of BSF, National Informatics Centre and Trinamool Congress as victims. The government of Bangladesh was found to comment on the issue condemning the cyber attacks on Indian websites.
In September 2011, the two countries signed a major accord on border demarcation to end the 4-decade old disputes over boundaries.This came to be known as the tin bigha corridor. India also granted 24-hour access to Bangladeshi citizens in the Tin Bigha Corridor. The agreement included exchange of adversely held enclaves, involving 51,000 people spread over 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India. The total land involved is reportedly 7000 acres.
On 9 October 2011, Indian and Bangladeshi armies participated in Sampriti-II (Unity-II), a 14-day-long Joint military exercise at Sylhet to increase synergy between their forces.
From October 2013, India started exporting 500 megawatts of electricity a day to Bangladesh over a period of 35 years. A 125-kilometre Baharampur-Bheramara transmission line, 40 km of it in Bangladesh, connects the two substations. Bangladesh officials believe the export would greatly ease the national shortage once 500 MW flows into the national grid. The two country's Prime Ministers also unveiled the plaque of the 1,320-MW coal-fired Rampal power plant, a joint venture between the two countries. The link is being seen as a major milestone in strengthening the bilateral relationship and comes at a time when India is desperate to make up for its inability to deliver on two key pacts with Bangladesh: one on Teesta waters and the land boundary pact.
From November 2013, A Wagah Border-like ceremony is being organised at Petrapole (in West Bengal, India) - Benapole (Bangladesh) border checkpoint. The ceremony which includes parades, march-past and lowering of the national flag of both the countries is now a daily routine, at sundown, on the eastern border. The relations between the countries are definitely moving in positive direction.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Bangladesh in her first official overseas trip in June, 2014. On May 7 of 2015 the Indian Parliament, in the presence of Bangladeshi diplomats, unanimously passed the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) as its 100th Constitutional amendment, thereby resolving all 68-year old border disputes since the end of the British Raj. The bill was pending ratification since the 1974 Mujib-Indira accords.
In June 2014, during her first official overseas visit, Foreign Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj concluded various agreements to boost ties. They include:
- Easing of Visa regime to provide 5 year multiple entry visas to minors below 13 and elderly above 65.
- Proposal of a special economic zone in Bangladesh.
- Agreement to send back a fugitive murder accused from India.
- Provide an additional 100 MW power from Tripura.
- Increase the frequency of Maitree Express and start buses between Dhaka and Guwahati and Shillong.
- Bangladesh allowed India to ferry foodgrains to the landlocked North East Indias using its territory and infrastructure.
During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Bangladesh during June 2015 as many as 22 agreements were signed by two sides. During the visit India extended a US$2 billion line of credit to Bangladesh & pledged US$5 billion worth of investments. As per the agreements, India's Reliance Power agreed to invest US$3 billion to set up a 3,000 MW LNG-based power plant (which is the single largest foreign investment ever made in Bangladesh) & Adani Power will be setting up a 1600 MW coal-fired power plant at a cost of US$1.5 billion. The two countries signed a total of 22 agreements including the ones on maritime safety co-operation and curbing human trafficking and fake Indian currency. Modi also announced a line of credit of $2 billion to Bangladesh.
India has recently introduced the concept of the Regional Power Trading System which will help various regions of the country in reducing the power deficit by transferring surplus power from another region. Under the Electricity Act 2003, the Indian companies could pool power in an exchange. A consumer would be free to buy it from anyone. This concept of power pool within India can also be enlarged to cover the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal after the establishment of a sub-regional power pool and necessary inter-connections among these countries are put in place. This can ultimately form a regional power pool thereby generating a huge opportunity for power trading in the region.
India is also looking to export electricity from its north-eastern region with potential to generate some 58,971 MW to its eastern States through Bangladesh.Bangladesh hopes to have access to Nepal and Bhutan’s power through India. Bangladesh has formally requested a ‘power corridor’ to access the Bhutanese and Nepalese markets. It has agreed to allow India to transfer hydroelectricity from Assam to Bihar through its territory. The proposed meeting would attempt to remove irritants in project-related areas.
High Level Visits
President Ershad visited India in 1982. Sheikh Hasina visited India imn 2010 to sign number of deals. Manmohan Singh Visited dhaka in 2011 to sign number of deals. Narendra modi visited Bangladesh which was historic as land boundary agreement was solved in 2015.
India is very active in development activity in bangladesh.
India has recently given lots of loans to bangladesh. It gave a $750 million for developing bangladesh infrastructure in 2011
In 2014 india extended a $1 billion dollars soft loan for infrastructure development.
Lines of credit: $1billion was given for padma bridge which world bank refused.$862 million was given to buy equipment and services from Indian entities such as BHEL, RITES, small and medium enterprises.
Small development projects:India announced grant of nearly $10 million to Bangladesh for implementation of various small development projects and also assured it to address trade imbalance issue
Health:India and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the fields of health and medical sciences that will include joint research in health and exchange of doctors and health professionals.The MoU is aimed at promoting cooperation between the two countries in the fields of health and medical sciences through exchange of scientific materials and information and joint collaboration in research in medical science.
Every year 200 bangladeshi students receive ICCR scholarships.India has offered scholarships for meritorious Bangladeshi under and post graduate students and PhD researchers to undertake studies in traditional systems of medicines like Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy, according to Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
Trade and Invesment
The two way trade is $7 billion.
India is second in import desination for bangladesh.Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh stood at USD 6.6 billion in 2013-14 with India's exports at USD 6.1 billion and imports from Bangladesh at USD 462 million, representing more than double the value of USD 2.7 billion five years ago.
The trade is set to go at $10 billion by 2018 throught ports.
Bangladesh Cabinet has approved a revised trade deal with India under which the two nations would be able to use each other's land and water routes for sending goods to a third country, removing a long standing barrier in regional trade.under the deal India would also be able to send goods to Myanmar through Bangladesh. It incorporated a provision that the deal would be renewed automatically after five years if either of the countries did not have any objection.
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- Indians in Bangladesh
- Foreign relations of Bangladesh
- Foreign relations of India
- Indo-Bangladeshi barrier
- Indo-Bangladesh border
- Tripura Division