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International Relations

50 Years of India Bangladesh Relations

  • 27 Jan 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

Commemorating 50 years of the 1971 India-Pakistan war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh, a 122-member contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces has recently participated in the 72nd Republic Day parade.

  • This year, India and Bangladesh are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of their ties.

Key Points

  • This is the third time the Republic Day parade in India has witnessed the participation of a military contingent from abroad.
    • Previously French troops marched in 2016 and UAE troops in 2017.
  • Bangladesh War of Independence: Vijay Diwas is observed on 16th December every year to mark India's victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.
    • The Government of India, on 3rd December 1971, declared that it would go for war with Pakistan to save Bengali Muslims and Hindus.
    • This war was fought between India and Pakistan for 13 days.
    • On 16th December 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces with 93,000 soldiers had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini in Dhaka.
      • Mukti Bahini refers to the armed organizations that fought against the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. It was a guerrilla resistance movement.
    • Bangladesh was born on this day. Hence, Bangladesh celebrates its independence day (Bijoy Dibos) on 16th December every year.

India-Bangladesh Relations

  • India was one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh and establish diplomatic relations immediately after its independence in December 1971.
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • Various Joint exercises of Army (Exercise Sampriti) and Navy (Exercise Milan) take place between the two countries.
    • Border Management: India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km. of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours.
    • The India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) came into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification in June 2015.
  • Cooperation over Rivers:
    • India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. A bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) has been working since June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems.
  • Economic Relations:
    • Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. India’s exports to Bangladesh for financial year 2018-19 (April-March) stood at US 9.21 billion USD and imports from Bangladesh for the same period stood at US 1.22 Billion USD.
    • Bangladesh has appreciated the Duty-Free and Quota Free access given to Bangladeshi exports to India under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) since 2011.
  • Cooperation in Connectivity:
    • Both countries jointly inaugurated the newly restored railway link between Haldibari (India) and Chilahati (Bangladesh).
    • Welcomed the signing of the second addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT).
    • Agreed to an early operationalization of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative Motor Vehicles Agreement through the expeditious signing of the Enabling MoU for Bangladesh, India and Nepal to commence the movement of goods and passengers, with provision for Bhutan to join at a later date
  • Cooperation in Power Sector:
    • This has become one of the hallmarks of India- Bangladesh relations. Bangladesh is currently importing 1160 MW of power from India.
  • Partnership on Multilateral forums:
  • Recent Development:
    • Recently, India and Bangladesh signed seven agreements and also inaugurated three projects to deepen their partnership.
    • The use of the Chattogram and Mongla ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from India, particularly from Northeastern India.
    • Use of Bangladesh’s Feni river for drinking water supply in Tripura.
  • Further areas of Cooperation:
    • The two countries need to focus on priority areas, such as investments, security connectivity development, cross border energy cooperation, blue economy, cultural economy, environment and disaster management etc.
    • Resolve the refugees (Rohingyas) crisis.
    • During Covid 19:
      • Reiterating the highest priority India attaches to Bangladesh under India’s Neighbourhood First policy, India assured that vaccines for Covid-19 would be made available to Bangladesh as and when produced in India.
      • India also offered collaboration in therapeutics and partnership in vaccine production.
  • Emerging Disputes:
    • There should be efforts to resolve pending issues concerning sharing of waters, resolving continental shelf issues in the Bay of Bengal, bringing down border incidents to zero, and managing the media.
    • Bangladesh has already raised concerns over roll out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, an exercise carried out to identify genuine Indian citizens living in Assam and weed out illegal Bangladeshis.
    • Currently, Bangladesh is an active partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that Delhi has not signed up to.
    • In the security sector, Bangladesh is also a major recipient of Chinese military inventory, including submarines.

Source: IE

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