Categories: Editor's Pick

Focus on Bangladesh – editorials

The India-Bangladesh relationship, over the past decade, has been the brightest spot in Indian foreign policy. After a tense 1990s and 2000s, when power alternated…


The India-Bangladesh relationship, over the past decade, has been the brightest spot in Indian foreign policy. After a tense 1990s and 2000s, when power alternated between the moderate Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, and the extremist Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Begun Khaleda Zia, and a short period of indirect army rule, the Awami League returned to power in 2009. Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s iconic freedom fighter and first president, Mujibur Rahman, was clear that having good relations with India, externally, was essential for Bangladesh’s progress and cracking down on Islamists, internally, was essential for maintaining democracy and peace.

This translated into unprecedented security cooperation between the two countries, when Dhaka cracked down on militants and terrorists who used Bangladesh as a base to conduct activities in India, particularly the Northeast. Delhi consistently backed Ms Hasina in her domestic political battles. This often meant arguing against the international community, particularly the United States and European Union, which was worried about the growing democratic deficit in Bangladesh. Delhi and Dhaka also signed a landmark boundary deal, resolving a four-decade-old problem.

But it was not all smooth. India was unable to deliver on a Teesta water-sharing seal, which undermined Ms Hasina’s political standing. But in recent years, two other significant developments have taken place. The Indian political discourse over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act-National Register of Citizens appeared, on the Dhaka street, as targeted towards Bangladesh.

Dhaka scaled down diplomatic engagement substantially and made it clear that it did not approve of being at the receiving end of hostile political rhetoric, even if it was for domestic political purposes. The second has been the enhanced Chinese influence, engagement and investment in Bangladesh — on the lines of what Beijing is doing elsewhere in the region. This has encouraged a section of the Bangladeshi opinion-making elite, and political elite, to see China as a counter-weight to Indian influence.

In this backdrop, there have been reports that Ms Hasina refused to see the Indian ambassador in Dhaka for months, despite requests. Irrespective of the accuracy of the reports — there is a view that the meeting could not be held due to the pandemic — it is clear that the relationship needs work. India must not let its domestic political discourse affect its most important relationship in its eastern neighbourhood; it must reach out to Ms Hasina and provide her with deliverables, which can enhance the domestic political space for her to pursue closer ties with India; it must deploy its soft power and attempt an image-correction.

Bangladesh has been a steadfast ally. Don’t let it slip.

Published by
Ananthamurthy

Recent Posts

  • Music

We never thought that we would be able to create an animated music video for Beech Raaste: Sulaiman – music

Music composer duo Salim Sulaiman have been part of the Indian music industry for almost…

13 mins ago
  • Tech

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Getting Red, Blue Colour Variants in South Korea, Pink Variant Leaked Online

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 that was unveiled earlier this week will be getting more colour…

15 mins ago
  • Sports

India hockey captain Manpreet Singh and three other players test positive for Covid-19 – other sports

The Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh and three other players have tested positive…

18 mins ago
  • Health

This Khatte Chane Recipe Will Make You Fall For Chickpeas All Over Again!

HighlightsChana is a good source of proteinProtein is also called the building block of lifeKhatte…

19 mins ago
  • Sports

India Hockey Captain Manpreet Singh, Three Other Test Positive For Coronavirus

Mandeep Singh said he is doing fine and hopes to recover very soon.© Twitter …

22 mins ago
  • Trending Stories

Delhi Government Announces Benefits Of Up To Rs. 1.5 Lakh On EVs

Delhi government is aiming to take the EV registration share to 25 per cent of…

24 mins ago