Bangladesh India Relations : Problems & Prospects
Bangladesh India relations are the most friend and foe relation in South Asia. Though Bangladesh is surrounded by India on almost all sides of the border, Bangladesh has been always maintaining a better relationship with all other countries.
However, Bangladesh has only a free way to the Bay of Bengal except about 4094 kilometers shared border with India in all other three sides.
Though the current government of Bangladesh is blessed with the blessings of the Indian Central Government, current problems between India and Bangladesh are getting more.
Moreover, it is ridiculous relation considering to the international relations because Bangladesh is extremely oppressed by India in Bangladesh India border, you will understand if you check Bangladesh India map and the daily newspapers.
Though Bangladesh and India are the neighboring countries in South Asia with a friendly relation, there are also some disputes and problems including border killing, illegal human trafficking, unfair trade and much more.
But the most recognizable issues for the current years for both governments as well as the peoples are the settlement of years long boundary agreement, maritime dispute and so on.
On the other hand, it is a commonly believed, but mistakes that India made Bangladesh independent from Pakistan although India intervened at the final hour of the liberation war in December.
So, people of Bangladesh and India, don’t underestimate the heroism and dedication of the freedom fighters and the people who sacrificed their lives for the country.
Now, it has seemed that the young generations are going to India through social media against the oppression of India over Bangladesh. On the contrary, a survey says that about 70% Bangladeshis still support India over Pakistan. Bangla is also the state language of Bangladesh, West Bengal, and Tripura.
Bangladesh India relations have been got stronger as the duo countries are the members of many common organizations such as SAARC, BIMSTEC, Commonwealth, IORA, UN, and much more.
Here, we have discussed the most important issues between Bangladesh India relations.
Bangladesh India Relations and Current Problems Between Two Countries
Business & Trade
In the last state tour to Dhaka, Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, signed an agreement of $5 billion with Bangladesh Government.
Though there are some disputes against the agreement, as the national security experts say, the agreement can reduce the discrimination of trade and business between Dhaka and New Delhi.
Moreover, India is the largest geographical trading partner of Bangladesh with a huge trading gap. Bangladesh reduced the gap for the first time and still the only in 2005/06. In that year, Bangladesh rose the trading to $242 million while India fell $1.2 billion from $2.0 billion.
Furthermore, a huge amount of Indian goods is entering into Bangladesh illegally through borders by avoiding imports duties and customs.
In addition, there are some unwritten prohibitions over Bangladeshi product in India. So, it is expected that the trading gap will never be decreased until something strange changes come to the policies of the government.
However, the prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has recently announced that she is going to make two special economic zones for India; one is in Mongla, and the other one is in Bheramara, Kushtia. She also expects an enticing economic investment from India.
Teesta is the dirt wounds on death for the people of the northern territories of Bangladesh now. Once, the river is the main source of livelihood for the people, but it is now a curse to them.
In the summer season, Bangladesh doesn’t get sufficient water from the river for the barrage over the river in India part.
On the other hand, the river is over flooded in the rainy season which creates severe flood every year.
Though Dhaka tries best to sign an agreement over Teesta river with New Delhi, this is far behind. Still, Bangladesh hopes for the better decision from India.
But the past experience is not cozy for Bangladesh. It was 1974 when Farakka barrage, the sorrow of Bangladesh was built.
Though there was an agreement between the then Prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister of India. But the agreement was totally an eyewash.
The barrage was about 1o kilometers away from Bangladesh on the river Ganges to control the flow of water. But the minimum rights as a lower riparian country, Bangladesh never gets.
However, several treaties have been signed over the years, and still, the picture of the reality is unchanged. The people of Bangladesh can just hope for the better.
Border, Defense & Terrorism
Terrorism is the worldwide issue to be concerned. Bangladesh India relations are also threatened by the terrorism existing in the duo countries.
In April 2017, Sheikh Hasina paid a national visit to India for four days. At that time, the prime ministers of both countries have signed two defense agreements to secure the countries as well as to protect the terrorism in the border.
Under the agreements, India will provide $500 million loans to purchase ultra-modern weapons to redecorate the arm forces.
Also, India will help to set up manufacturing platforms for training and service centers, and both countries possess the same right to the platforms.
Furthermore, Bangladesh military will get expert training from the India expert officials under the agreements. Both countries will fight against terrorism to secure the border and make the defense proofed.
On the other hand, the long existing rebels from some insurgent groups in the states make Indian government distracted.
The rebels of north east India are operating their activities by hiding themselves in Bangladesh. It is supposed that the rebels have invested money in several projects in Bangladesh so that their income will be continued.
However, both countries now are facing the greatest problem ever as ISI, JMB and Harkat-ul-Ansar are operating the violent activities across India sitting in Bangladesh, as New Delhi demands.
Though India used Pakistan as a transit, the situation was changed after 1965 war. After the liberation war, Bangladesh allowed India to use air and marine ways to transport goods except for the road ways.
However, India has been trying for long days to get the transit opportunities from Bangladesh. And in 2015, the dream of India government has been come to true with the minimum charge of cost in exchange for using internal roads of Bangladesh.
The agreement was signed on May 31, 2010. The agreement has made Bangladesh India relations stronger than ever before.
In the meantime, there is a dispute about the definition of transit and transshipment. Let’s be cleared about it. Transit is the transport of goods via Indian owned transport while transshipment refers to the transport of goods via Bangladesh owned transport from and to the Indian border.
So, obviously, there is no doubt that it’s a transit between Bangladesh and India.
But the debate is about the fees of the transit. NBR, the National Bureau of Revenue, proposed to 1000 per ton for bulk cargo and TK 10000 per container as the transit fees.
But, the proposed fees were declined by the persuasive pressure from India.
Later, it was fixed that only TK 192.22 would be the transit fee. From the fee, NBR will collect TK 130 per ton, Road Transport and Highway Division will get TK 52.22, and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) will get the rest.
Enclaves were the most pathetic sites for Bangladesh India relations. Though both countries had the enclaves under the central rule, the lives of the people were beyond describing.
However, an agreement was signed to exchange of enclaves between Bangladesh and India, a press release on November 20, 2015, said. The exchange had been completed on June 30, 2017. The inhabitants of the enclaves had the freedom to choose the country he likes.
After all, India had 51 enclaves which comprising of 7110 acres of land. On the other hand, Bangladesh had 111 enclaves comprising 17161 acres of land.
Both countries gave the enclaves to other though there was some criticism for the exchange of level.
But, at the eleventh hour, the people of the enclaves got freedom either choosing Bangladesh or India.
The most prominent problem between Bangladesh and India relations is the cattle trafficking. Though current Indian government has imposed so many rules and regulations on cattle, especially on cow, cattle trafficking is still being happened.
Furthermore, cattle trafficking from India to Bangladesh hampers a lot to the economy of Bangladesh. Especially, in the time of Eid-ul-Adha, the farmers of the dairy firms expect some profits by selling cows. But, all of the hopes were nipped in the bud when Indian cows enter the local market.
A report says that, only in 2016, about TK 7000 crores had been exchanged for cows smuggling.
BGB tries their best to stop cattle smuggling and want to save the local dairy firms. Also, news has been spread out that people have been killed during cattle trafficking. Most of the time, cattle are exchanged with the drugs of Bangladesh.
However, killing innocent Bangladeshis in Bangladesh India border is also a noticeable concern for Bangladesh India relations.
Bangladesh has become one of the main routes to transport drugs from the golden triangles to different countries. As a result, it is the main concern for neighboring countries to control drugs trafficking via Bangladesh.
Most of the drugs have been transported via Bangladesh by the transports of India, the couriers of Pakistan and the sea transports of Myanmar.
However, each government has admitted the problem and agreed to work jointly to stop the narcotic activities.
The latest report of International Narcotics Control Board says that the government of Bangladesh has failed to control the illegal drug smuggling which invites criticism over many achievements of the recent government.
Now, Bangladesh has signed a treaty with India to control illicit drugs. After the treaty, smuggling Phensedyl in the Bangladesh India Border has been reduced at a remarkable rate.
Also, the Indian government has run several operations in the border area and stopped many phensedyl manufacturing industries.
Moreover, both governments have agreed to pass and impose strict laws to import, export, storage, transport drugs and related issues.
Illegal migration from Bangladesh to India has been a long time problem for both countries. Now, it is one of the most discussed issues. Many of the current problems between India and Bangladesh have arisen from illegal immigration.
It is stated that almost all Hindu families have a second home in India. Also, most of the Places of pilgrimage in Hindu religion are in India. So, at the old age, the Hindus are eagerly interested in having a tour to the places of pilgrimage. They also don’t return to Bangladesh after paying a tour.
Again, it is said that the Hindus in Bangladesh are not safe at all. Though it is propaganda, nobody has nothing to say or do. It is thought that the present government is favorable to the Hindus. But a regret is that most of the Hindu people have left the country to India in last few years.
Also, India is a fast growing nation with lots of job opportunities. The People of southern territories of Bangladesh, who were interested in garment industry jobs, are moving now to India for better jobs. And they are earning a handsome amount comparing to the garment industries.
However, few central ministers of India sometimes propose to give citizenships to the illegal Bangladeshis.
Finally, Bangladesh India relations are not only from the medieval era but also from the beginning of the subcontinental history. As once the countries were same, most things between the countries are matched. Only killing in Bangladesh India border can’t destroy the relations.
Also, India has to understand that Bangladesh is an independent country. So, she should be treated as a neighboring country, not as a subordinate country. So, Delhi should be more flexible and conscious on current problems between India and Bangladesh.
For Bangladesh, as her position in South Asia is lucrative, the government should utilize the resources foremost. Then, Bangladesh can take a position for decision making in regional economic and political circumstances.
Hope, the governments of Bangladesh and India will take further initiatives so that the relations between the two neighboring countries will be developed.