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PM Sheikh Hasina’s India visit reflected true spirit of good neighborhood diplomacy

By Sufian Siddique* 

The trade balance between Bangladesh and India has been discussed for a long time. Both countries need to reduce the trade deficit and bring harmony. Efforts towards this goal have always been made on behalf of Bangladesh. In that case, if the ongoing trade agreements and other agreements can be properly implemented, the benefits can also be obtained.
The Indian Prime Minister's comments during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India reflected the same. India has realized at this moment that Bangladesh-India good relations will not only benefit Bangladesh. Good relations will play a leading role in the development of both. In this case, the words of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have to be recalled. He said that India is the biggest market in Asia for Bangladesh. It becomes clear that the Indian market is important for Bangladesh to speed up the pace of developing Bangladesh. But there is no big brother-younger brother relationship here. The difference is that earlier there was little interest in Bangladeshi products. During the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India, she met with India's Development Minister for Northeast Region Kishan Reddy. This meeting proves the importance of Bangladesh as a partner in India's development. In this regard, it is memorable. On this occasion, the infrastructure development within the two countries has already been completed. The benefits of which have already started to be received by the Indian people of the region.
It is possible to speed up the achievement of the goals through the proper implementation of the agreements made at various times regarding the economic development of Bangladesh and India.
According to the relevant statement of the Prime Minister of that country, it can be said that they have made new achievements. Of course, we have already seen some of the reality. For example, three years ago, the first shipment of cargo was carried out by Indians last August, three years after the contract was concluded for the convenience of the northern provinces of India. Last month, the first Indian ship entered the port of Mongla. And through this ship, after three years, their cargo journey took place. One container from this experimental ship went to Comilla in Assam and the other to Sylhet to Meghalaya. After that, more goods went by land. Both countries will gain benefits if Indian cargo transportation is increased using Mongla port. As their goods can reach the Indian northeastern states easily and at low cost, Bangladesh will also get revenue from them. Chittagong port is also mentioned in the agreement with India for the use of this sea port. It is said that this plan is supposed to be more beneficial to the Indian side. But it also took three years to become effective. Many people think that the initiative has been taken to complete it quickly before the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India. Whatever the reason, this is a big deal.
The connectivity facility of Bangladesh with Bhutan through Banglabandha has also come into consideration regarding transit facilities. On the other hand, as Nepal does not have a direct border with Bangladesh, it takes only about 1 hour to go to Nepal's Kankarvita by land from Bangladesh's Banglabandha border through India's Jalpaiguri Fulbari. In this case, the fact that India's counter-facilitation to Bangladesh is a sign of friendship.
Bangladesh and India are not only naturally close, but the development of relations between the two countries will play a role in the progress of both countries and the implementation of the grand plan of becoming a developed country. The issue of India's cooperation with Bangladesh in solving the oil and energy problem is now on the way to implementation. On the way. Bangladesh is in the crisis of fuel oil as a result of Corona and Russia-Ukraine war. The opportunity to import oil from India will play a role in dealing with that crisis. On the other hand, India also has the issue of profit.
Still, there are attempts to improve relations between Bangladesh and India. In this case, it is true that both countries want it. On the other hand, the issue of trust and distrust between the people of the two countries cannot be ruled out. There was talk of the possibility that the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Bangladesh would increase confidence among the people of Bangladesh. The same optimism was expressed by some after the visit of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister to India. But the reality is that there is a section of people in both countries who have a negative mentality. But they did not change much in their attitude even after the visits of the two Prime Ministers.
The political climate is playing a key role behind this. Bangladesh's sectarian and fundamentalist groups, instead of thinking about their own security, think of their own country's development as emotional and ideological thoughts, and oppose India. For various reasons, they have been trying to spread this spirit among the people for a long time. Community considers instability inside India as their victory. That's why they don't hesitate to consider training and cooperation of ULFA as their responsibility. They don't want to think that India's internal peace process is a factor in Bangladesh's progress. They are not that important. They even say that there is no need for an important person like the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to go to India to do these things.
A political group has again started saying that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has only given India nothing. As a friend, India's pro-development group should also think that, although Bangladesh is small, Bangladesh's role as India's development partner is also great.
And not only to solve the long-standing problems of the two countries, but also to move forward, the top-level leaders should sit in discussions. It is never possible to move forward by creating enmity.
---
*Independent researcher and freelance columnist, Dhaka

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