Bangladesh–India relations

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Bangladesh-India relations
Map indicating locations of India and Bangladesh


Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, October 2014.

Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbours. Relations beetween the two nations generally have been friendly, although sometimes there are border disputes.[1] Recently they have solved some of those disputed issues and agreed to work on terrorism, border killings, fake currency and smuggling of goods.[2][3][4][5] 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.[6] Two nations have been close culturally,linguistically and politcally for thousand of years with Bengali being spoken by 98% of Bangladesh.

Early History[edit]

The two nations have been tied historically with Bengali language being national in Bangladesh while being minority in west bengal and tripura. They have strong cultural trade and linguistically ties. Bangladesh is covered by 94% on india territory. Bangladesh has many years of close relationship dating back to the Chola and Mughal empire. Bangladesh(then East Bengal) broke off from Bengal region in 1905 and then again in 1947.

Reations that back to 1000 years as geographic location tells how both countries have been close.[7]


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.[8][9] 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.[10] Two-way trade is estimated to be over US$7 billion.


The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is offering Government of India Scholarships to meritorious Bangladeshi students to pursue Under Graduate/ Post Graduate/ Ph.D Course in Indian traditional system of Medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy at National institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, National Institute of Unani Medicine, Bangalore and National Institute of Homoeopathy, Kolkata respectively for the academic year 2015-2016.Candidates interested to avail this opportunity may download the following enclosed documents:

ICCR handles Indian government’s scholarships for foreign students.

Every year more than 200 Bangladeshi students receive scholarships under the ICCR.[11]

Energy Cooperation[edit]

India and Bangladesh  embarked on the path of cooperation in energy sector with the inauguration of two collaborative power projects, a step termed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a "historic moment" in the partnership between the two countries.

The projects - a transmission line for supplying 500 MW power from West Bengal to Bangladesh and a 1320 MW thermal power project in Bangladesh - were inaugurated by Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina through video conferencing.

The 'Maitri' thermal power project is being developed by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company, a joint venture between NTPC and Bangladesh Power Development Board. The energy cooperation came up for discussion between Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina when they met in New York last week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.[12]

Defence Cooperation[edit]

Recently they had signed some defence deals.[13] The military to military exchange fine-tuned thereafter, and subsequent army chiefs of both India and Bangladesh visited each other’s country.The visit of the Indian army chief, Gen. VK Singh, who took part in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, deepened military ties between the two neighbours, as did the one by his counterpart Gen. Md. Abdul Mubeen. The present Indian chief of army staff, Gen. Singh must be singled out for the special efforts he had made to further military-to-military ties with Bangladesh during his tenure as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Kolkata based Eastern Command of the army. Earlier, the former Bangladesh army chief, Gen. Moeen had agreed to finally honour the Indian army soldiers who had lost their lives during the Liberation war.Joint exercises between the two militaries had been on the anvil for quite some time. The second phase of Op Sampriti that was launched in north-eastern Sylhet on 9 October 2011, therefore, is a happy departure from the time when ill-feeling marked both the countries and their armed forces. Designed as a 14-day joint exercise, Special Forces of India and Bangladesh would simulate terrorism and insurgency scenarios and operationalise counter measures that would test each other’s expertise and possible cooperative skills. The first phase of Op Sampriti was undertaken on 1–4 November 2010 in Assam’s Jorhat, the regional hub of India’s elite 21 Para Battalion, the same force that is taking part in Op Sampriti II. .[14]

Areas of contention[edit]

  1. 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.
  2. 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.[15]
  3. Terrorist activities carried out by outfits based in both countries, like Banga Sena and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami.[16] Recently India and Bangladesh had agreed jointly to fight terrorism.[17]
  4. 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"[18]
  5. Illegal Bangladeshi immigration into India.[19] 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.[19] Bangladeshi officials have denied the existence of Bangladeshis living in India and those illegal migrants found are described as having been trafficked.[19] 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.[19]
  6. 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.
  7. Both Bangladesh and India make claims over the same seawater at the Bay of Bengal before settlement of the issue.[20]
  8. 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.[21]

Border killings of Bangladeshi civilians[edit]

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)[22] 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.[23][24]

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.[25]

While anger grew in Bangladesh because of the continued BSF shootings and subsequent deaths,[22][26][27] 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.[25]

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.[28] The government of Bangladesh was found to comment on the issue condemning the cyber attacks on Indian websites.

Recent developments[edit]

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.[29]

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.[30]

In 2012, Bangladesh allowed India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to ferry heavy machinery, turbines and cargo through Ashuganj for Palatana Power project in southern Tripura.[31]

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.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34] 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.[31]

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.[35] 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.[36]

Bangladesh support india bid of un permenant seat.[37]

High Level Visits[edit]

There have been a lot of high level visits beetween two countries especially recently.

Hussain Muhammed Ershad visited India in 1982.[38] Atal Biahri Vajyapee had visit Dhaka in 1998. Sheikh Hasina visited India on 2010. The Bangladesh Prime Minister was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 11 January 2010. She called on President of India Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh paid tribute and respect to the memories of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawarlal Nehru, Smt Indira Gandhi and Shri Rajiv Gandhi at Rajghat, Shantivana, Shaktisthal and Virbhumi respectively.The Prime Minister of Bangladesh had a meeting with the Prime Minister of India on January 11, 2010, which was followed by delegation level talks. The talks were marked by great warmth, deep understanding and a spirit of close friendship between the two sides. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a banquet in honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her accompanying delegation. She aso signed this accords: The two Prime Ministers witnessed the signing in their presence of the following accords:

a. Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters

b. Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

c. Agreement on Combating International Terrorism, Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking

d. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Power Sector

e. Cultural Exchange Programme[39]

Manmohan Singh visited Dhaka in 2011 and tried to get lba signed but failed. Finally after ratification of lba in May 2015.Narendra Modi visited Dhaka in June 2, 2015 and signed together 22 deals.

Development Cooperation[edit]

Both countries have a long trade at about $7 billion with India being in the favour. Bangladesh imports electricity and other stuff from india.There is a growing feeling among sections in Bangladesh that the growing trade only benefits India. For India, Bangladesh plays a key role in its sub-regional connectivity plans which include Nepal and Bhutan.India and Bangladesh share a 4,096-km border. Five Indian states - West Bengal (2,217 km), Assam (262 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Tripura (856 km) and Mizoram (318 km) - have a border with Bangladesh. Since 2009, Dhaka has been helping India crack down on northeastern militant groups. Bangladesh has also raised its concerns about certain groups using Indian territory against it. Building on the momentum in ties will help foster better security ties between the two sides.Even after 18 years, the Teesta water-sharing pact is far from being sealed despite the two countries agreeing on a 50:50 formula in 2011. Water is a state subject in India and without West Bengal signing up, the Teesta water pact cannot be sealed. It took 20 years for the two countries to seal a water-sharing pact on the Ganga in 1996. Bangladesh says it has received only 232 cusecs (cubic feet per second of water) on March 22, which it says is the lowest in history. With the two countries sharing the waters of 54 rivers, reassurance on water-sharing is necessary.[40]

When Manmohan singh visited Bangladesh here are deals he signed:

(a)a comprehensive framework agreement on "bilateral co-operation" (b)a memorandum of understanding on renewable energy (c)to conserve the Sundarban mangrove forests, home of the Royal Bengal tigers (d)an addendum to facilitate overland transit to Nepal from Bangladesh[41]

An MoU on India-Bangladesh Renewable Energy Cooperation was signed on 6 September 2011.The MoU aims to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical, bilateral cooperation in the areas of solar, wind and bio energy on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity. Two Working Group meetings have been held so far to implement the activities under the MoU. India and Bangladesh signed an MoU on implementation of Small Developmental Projects in Bangladesh in April 2013. The MoU provides for the implementation of Small Developmental Projects through Indian grant assistance not exceeding Taka 250 million per project. The MoU is intended for small infrastructure projects in the areas of livelihood activity, education, health, or community development. Conservation of the environment, empowerment of women and child welfare are expected to be the primary focus of such projects. Local government bodies and educational and vocational institutions can make project proposals in the areas listed above to High Commission of India in Bangladesh routed through Economic Relations Division (ERD), the Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh.

Social Sector is an emerging area of cooperation between India and Bangladesh, whose potential is yet to be fully tapped. Government of India encourages cooperation in this sector involving all stakeholders. Several initiatives are underway contributing to the welfare of both countries.:

(a)Environment (b)Health (c)Fisheries[42]


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See also[edit]