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International Relations

Bangladesh General Elections

  • 02 Jan 2019
  • 6 min read

Recently, general elections were conducted in Bangladesh.

  • The incumbent prime minister, Sheikh Hasina’s party Awami League including the coalition won 288 out of the 300 directly-elected seats in the 350-member unicameral Jatiya Sangsad, the Bangladeshi Parliament. (50 seats are reserved for women which are elected indirectly by Member of Parliaments.)
  • With the recent victory, Sheikh Hasina became Bangladesh’s prime minister for the third straight term. This makes her the longest-serving head of the government in Bangladesh.
  • Under Sheikh Hasina’s tenure, Bangladesh’s economic growth has increased, averaging over 7% per annum. Bangladesh has become one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia. The country has also witnessed a secular polity under the Sheikh Hasina government.
  • Sheikh Hasina’s victory is seen as a positive development for India, which has been a stable ally during her term. The return of a trustworthy ally in economic cooperation and in the fight against terrorism is good for India.
  • The Sheikh Hasina’s government has shut down camps of terrorist groups operating in India’s Northeast from safe havens in Bangladesh. The insurgency has dipped in Northeastern India, with leaders of militant groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam general secretary Anup Chetia being handed over to India.

Importance of Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh is key to India’s plans to connect with South-East Asia, as well as developing the landlocked Northeast.
  • India’s plans to forge a viable alternative to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation rests on Bangladesh, given its location bridging South Asia and South-East Asia.
  • India’s ‘neighbourhood first policy’ has focused on Bangladesh, which is a key part in India’s ‘Act East Policy’ and sub-regional groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal).

India-Bangladesh Relations

  • India was the first country to recognize Bangladesh as a separate and independent state and established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971.
  • India and Bangladesh share more than 4000 km of border, which is the longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbors.
  • Security & Border Management:
    • The Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) was signed in 2011 to help both of the Border Guarding Forces for checking cross-border illegal activities and crimes as well as for maintenance of peace and tranquility along the India-Bangladesh border.
  • Power Projects: India is poised to export around 1100 MW of power to meet the energy deficit in Bangladesh. Power projects totaling more than 3600 MW are under implementation by Indian companies.
    • India is also a partner in Bangladesh’s nuclear power programme, with the beginning of construction at the Rooppur nuclear power plant.
    • In 2017, 13 agreements worth around $10 billion were signed in the power and energy sectors.
  • Trade Ties:
    • Bangladesh is India’s largest trading partner in South Asia with an annual turnover of around $9 billion plus an estimated informal trade of around $8-9 billion.
    • Indian investment in Bangladesh has reached $3 billion. To enable the flow of Bangladeshi exports into India, duty-free entry was granted in 2011 under the South Asian Free Trade Area.
  • River water sharing:
    • India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. A bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) is working since June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems.
  • Connectivity:
    • The Protocol on Inland Water Trade and Transit (PIWTT) operational since 1972 permits movement of goods over vessels from India through the river systems of Bangladesh on eight specific routes.
    • Apart from this India and Bangladesh also have air, rail and bus connectivity.
  • Capacity Building and Training:
    • India offers a number of training courses for interested Bangladesh officials/nationals including personnel of administration, police, judiciary, nuclear scientists, teachers etc.
    • Capacity building under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme is an important strand in bilateral ties and people-to-people interaction.
  • New Areas of Cooperation:
    • Improvement in bilateral ties has led to newer areas of cooperation such as cyberspace. Bangladesh has provided cyber connectivity between the international gateway at Cox’s Bazar to Agartala for faster Internet connectivity in India’s northeastern States.
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