Q. Analyze the areas of cooperation and challenges in the India - Bangladesh relationship, with a focus on recent developments.

Q. Analyze the areas of cooperation and challenges in the India - Bangladesh relationship, with a focus on recent developments.

Daily Answer Writing Program Relevance: GS II Date:03/01/24

Ans: India and Bangladesh share a relationship rich in history, culture, and geopolitical significance. They are connected not just by proximity but also by shared historical experiences, like the 1971 Liberation War. Their bilateral ties have evolved over time, featuring phases of both cooperation and challenges that have defined their current relationship.

Areas of Cooperation between India and Bangladesh

  • Economic and Commercial Collaboration: Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has significantly increased, reaching USD 18.2 billion in 2021-2022, highlighting their economic interdependency. The countries are actively signing trade agreements to boost commerce and lower trade hurdles, enhancing their economic partnership.

  • Connectivity Initiatives: Revitalization of historical rail links, notably the Chilahati-Haldibari railway line, has been a focus, improving physical connectivity. The Inland Water Transit Agreement facilitates efficient waterway transportation of goods.

  • Development Partnership: India's provision of USD 8 billion in Lines of Credit since 2010 supports Bangladesh's infrastructural growth in key sectors. Capacity-building initiatives enhance the administrative skills of Bangladeshi officials.

  • Cultural Cooperation: The Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre in Dhaka promotes cultural exchange, reinforcing people-to-people ties.

  • Defence Collaboration: The 'Bangosagar' CORPAT exercise reflects deepening defense cooperation, bolstering maritime security.

  • Countering China's Influence: Collaborative efforts in sectors like nuclear technology and AI aim to balance China's regional presence, ensuring strategic equilibrium in South Asia.

Challenges in India-Bangladesh partnership:

  • Border Disputes: The Teesta River water-sharing issue remains unresolved, affecting the livelihoods along the river. Illegal migration continues to be a socio-economic and political concern for both countries.

  • Security Concerns: The presence of terrorism and insurgent activities necessitates joint efforts to address security challenges.

  • Water Management Disputes: Fair distribution of transboundary river waters, including the Brahmaputra and Ganges, is a contentious issue impacting water management.

  • Infrastructure and Connectivity: Inadequate infrastructure limits economic growth and regional development. Tensions along borders, like the Comilla–Tripura area, challenge peaceful relations.

Way Forward:

  • Intensify Diplomatic Engagements:  Engage in regular, structured dialogues for issues like Teesta river dispute and border management.

  • Enhance People-to-People Contact: Boost cultural exchanges, scholarships, artist programs, and joint events for better understanding.

  • Boost Regional Connectivity: Invest in infrastructure to improve cross-border transport and economic activities.

  • Coordinated Counterterrorism Efforts: Strengthen intelligence-sharing to effectively combat terrorism and insurgency.

  • Accelerate Economic Cooperation: Work towards easing trade barriers and enhancing customs efficiency for stronger economic ties.

In conclusion, deepening cooperation and addressing challenges are key to a beneficial relationship between India and Bangladesh, with regional cooperation playing a crucial role in South Asian prosperity.

Advait IAS