Dr Shakuntala Bhabani
In the past, India and Bangladesh’s relationship has been based on a common sociocultural legacy, respect for one another, and significant cooperation in every practical area. India’s Neighborhood First policy places a lot of emphasis on Bangladesh. Additionally, it is India’s principal trade partner in South Asia. The two nations have frequently cooperated to meet shared issues and have never shied away from taking action to allay each other’s sincere worries.
Ahead of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in September this year, on June 19, 2022, New Delhi hosted the seventh session of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC). Dr. S. Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs, and Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Bangladesh’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, served as co-chairs of the JCC.
The seventh iteration of the India-Bangladesh JCC got underway with a warm reminder of the shared bonds between the two nations that were established as a result of their shared sacrifices during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971. Importantly, this occasion has established intimate historical and friendly ties that go beyond the conventional idea of a strategic collaboration.
Both ministers hailed the unprecedented visits to Bangladesh in 2021 by the President and the Prime Minister of India to celebrate three historic events: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s 100th birthday, the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence, and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Bangladesh and India.
The teaser for “Mujib: Making of a Nation,” a collaboratively produced biopic on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022. This served as evidence of the mutual respect between the two nations, which has grown stronger over the past ten years.
The JCC met digitally in September of 2020; this was the first in-person meeting since the Covid-19 epidemic broke out. The efforts made by both countries in the struggle against COVID-19 were appreciated by both Ministers. The Ministers examined every area of ongoing cooperation, including the implementation of decisions made at the JCC’s most recent session in September 2020, the virtual summit between the prime ministers of the two nations in December 2020, and the visits of President Ram Nath Kovind in December 2021 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2021.
Despite the difficulties brought on by the Covid-19 outbreak, both nations have collaborated more closely than ever before in every field, from border control and defence to beneficial trade and investment.
According to the MEA, both nations have helped to improve the sub-regional multimodal connectivity, cooperation in power and energy, capacity building for development, and cultural and interpersonal ties.
The two ministers have decided to work even closer together to strengthen and deepen their current cooperation in the areas of common rivers and water resource management, cybersecurity and IT, renewable energy, agriculture and food security, sustainable trade, climate change, and disaster management.
Both ministers acknowledged and valued the extensive engagements that have taken place through a variety of bilateral institutions between the two nations.
Both parties agreed to intensify their efforts to forge new partnerships with regularity and renewed vigour. In this regard, both ministers instructed their staff to hasten the cooperation that will benefit both parties.
The Bangladeshi Foreign Minister, Mr. Momen, also made a courtesy call on Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and other dignitaries of the Government of India during his tour to New Delhi.
According to a mutual agreement between the two Ministers, the 8th round of the India-Bangladesh JCC will take place in Bangladesh in 2023.
According to a joint statement released following the discussion, all parties stressed the significance of the forcedly displaced Rohingya people from the Rakhine State returning to Myanmar in a safe, timely, and sustainable manner. They are currently being protected by Bangladesh.
The two ministers decided to collaborate closely in order to further develop and improve their collaboration in the areas of information technology and cybersecurity, renewable energy, agricultural and food security, sustainable commerce, climate change, and disaster management.
In order to further expand and develop reciprocal engagement across all sectors of bilateral cooperation, India and Bangladesh have emphasized the necessity of closer cooperation.
They also welcomed the unprecedented visits to Bangladesh by the president and prime minister of India in 2021 to commemorate three historic occasions: the centennial of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth, Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence, and the golden anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh.
Both India and Bangladesh place a lot of importance on the joint meeting dialogue. To strengthen connections with Bangladesh, the friendship discussion with India essentially indicates the improved bilateral understanding.
By exchanging ideas and points of view, misconceptions are eliminated. On how to better handle the problems that have recently generated discord in bilateral ties, formal meetings between government high officials must be continued.
During high-level meeting, this unique relationship’s warmth and kindness are frequently on display. Every time a high-level meeting occurs, some groups in both nations, notably the media and civil society, hope to see some advancement in the Teesta water-sharing agreement. There were no exceptions to this rule in any of the recent meeting. But according to media reports, India claimed that it was making significant internal efforts to resolve the unresolved issues with Bangladesh. But we were pleased to see that after the problem was discussed in the official meeting, India reiterated its commitment to finding a solution as soon as possible.
India and Bangladesh both complain about new issues in their bilateral relationships every year, thus it makes sense that they would discuss these issues here. In order to establish the finest ties possible between them, the two friendly nations merely attempted to strengthen the ties by understanding mutual position. In this aspect, they are successful. The meeting was successfully wrapped up.
The entire relationship between India and Bangladesh has benefited thus far from the recent high-level bilateral meeting. All of these trips have advanced the friendship and bilateral cooperation between the two nations while also fostering stronger ties.
The writer is a Kolkata-based educator (Assistant Professor) and Southasian Affairs researcher in the Political Science department at a Kolkata honours college which is affiliated to the University of Calcutta. [email protected]