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Bangladesh-India bilateral relations

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Bangladesh doesn’t need India’s army team to deal with COVID-19: Foreign Minister


Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said that Bangladesh did not require services of the Indian Army team for containing COVID-19 pandemic.

‘We do not need, rather we are sending teams to different countries,’ the foreign minister told New Age over phone, about an Indian media report on preparations of the Indian Army for deploying troops to several countries including Bangladesh for containing the disease.

Bangladesh armed forces have sent medical teams to Kuwait, he said.

Bangladesh also extended support to Maldives, Bhutan and China, the foreign minister added.  

‘The Indian Army is readying separate teams to be deployed in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to help those countries boost capabilities to deal with rising cases of coronavirus,’ Indian media The Print reported on Tuesday with reference to the state-owned news agency Press Trust of India.

The teams for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan are being readied as part of India’s policy of extending helping hand to all friendly countries in the region to fight the pandemic.

Bangladesh diplomatic sources said that the Indian side did not inform anything about their plan to send Indian Army teams in COVID-19 operations. ‘Publishing a report by Indian state-owned news agency PTI is, however, significant,’ a Bangladesh official said. 

India has been playing a key role in pushing for a common framework in fighting the pandemic in the SAARC region.

As part of its policy to help friendly countries to deal with the pandemic, India is also supplying anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to 55 countries, according to the report.

In the neighbourhood, India is sending the drug to Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, it added.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dhaka asks Delhi to alert BSF to avert untoward steps along border

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday requested India to alert Border Security Force to avert untoward steps along Bangladesh border in future.

Momen made the request when Indian high commissioner Riva Ganguly Das called on the minister at the foreign ministry.

The BSF recently attempted to push a mentally retarded Indian woman into Bangladesh through the border on Feni River and it was unbecoming, he said. ‘Such attempts may create adverse impacts on friendly relations between the two countries.’

He also requested the high commissioner to take steps for quickly allowing trucks carrying imported goods to cross Petrapole border to enter Bangladesh.  

The minister welcomed the high commissioner’s proposal to for the use of train for transferring goods between the two countries.

He also requested India for joint steps in other countries where citizens of Bangladesh and India were co-workers.  

High commissioner Riva handed over 30,000 COVID-19 testing kits and other materials as humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh from India.   


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India plans to slap countervailing duty on Bangladesh jute goods

India has initiated an anti-subsidy investigation for imposition of countervailing duty (CVD) on imports of jute products, including jute sacking bags, jute sacking cloth and jute yarn, from Bangladesh.

Director General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) of India has already invited Bangladesh for consultation, a condition prior to starting such an investigation.

A country can impose countervailing duty on import of subsidised products from any other country to offset injury caused to local products due to the import of subsidised imports.

The consultation is supposed to be held through video conferencing by May 15.

Bangladesh commerce ministry has already requested India to defer the consultation until June 15 considering the prevailing situation of COVID-19 pandemic.

Trade officials and industry insiders said that the move would come as a huge threat to export of jute products to India, which is a large market for jute products, where Bangladesh’s export of the products has been dwindling since 2017 following imposition of anti-dumping duty by the country.

India in April, 2017 imposed anti-dumping duty ranging from $19 to $351.72 a tonne on import of jute products including jute yarn, twine, hessian fabric and jute sacking bags from Bangladesh for five years.

Bangladesh annually exports jute and jute products worth around $200 million to India.

Trade officials and industry insiders said that India had been creating barriers one after another to import of the products to hamper Bangladesh’s export.

Export of the products will be severely impacted if, in addition to the ADD, a CVD is imposed, they said.

Commerce ministry’s World Trade Organisation cell director general Sharifa Khan on Thursday told New Age that they had already sought time extension for consultation on the ground of coronavirus pandemic.

Holding consultation is a primary stage and a WTO-set condition of initiating any countervailing investigation, she said.

At the consultation, India may raise the issue while Bangladesh will provide its arguments, she added.

The Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission will carry out research activities and provide necessary supports to the commerce ministry in handling the issues.

Bangladesh Jute Mills Association secretary general Abdul Barik Khan told New Age that India had been taking various measures to hamper Bangladesh’s export of jute products to the country.

‘Bangladesh should impose duty on export of raw jute and make containerised export of the item through sea route mandatory to make India’s export of raw jute costlier as part of tackling the measures,’ he said.

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5 minutes ago, Kamikaze said:

Bangladesh should impose duty on export of raw jute and make containerised export of the item through sea route mandatory to make India’s export of raw jute costlier as part of tackling the measures

Do BD have the balls to do that?

Didn't we report them in WTO last year for similar reason? Any knows any update of that?  

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India to sail containerised EXIM cargo to Bangladesh from IBP for first time

Loading will start after getting clearance from customs, it said

India is set to sail maiden containerised EXIM Cargo from Haldia Dock Complex to Narayanganj, Bangladesh, via Indo-Bangla Protocol (IBP) route, the government said on Saturday.

This is the first time that cargo consignment is to being exported through IBP route, News 18 reported.

"In line with government's focus on strengthening regional connectivity through inland waterways, maiden containerised EXIM cargo consignment is set to sail from Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) to Narayanganj, Bangladesh," Ministry of Shipping said in a statement.

It said 64 TEUs (Twenty Feet Equivalent Units) of steel fillings/pig iron ingots, of West Bengal-based steel manufacturer Rashmi Metaliks Ltd will be exported to Bangladesh via National Waterway 1, National Waterway 97 (Sundarbans) and IBP Route.

Loading will start after getting clearance from customs, it said.

It is expected to open up possibilities for movement of other commodities on inland waterways between India and Bangladesh.

Currently, IBP route is mostly used for transportation of Bulk cargo like fly-ash, coal, stone chips and over-dimensional cargo for export to Bangladesh.

Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, "The Maiden Exim cargo movement through National Waterways is a landmark moment and we are very delighted with our recent development in shipping sector. This environment-friendly mode of transportation would escalate business growth and contribute to the economic development of the country."

India's exports to Bangladesh in FY 2018-19 stood at USD 9.21 billion and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were USD 1.04 billion.
The government said given the trade volume, this movement is a welcome development as it will not only reduce the congestions on Land Custom Stations at Petrapole, Gojadanga etc but also reduce the cost of logistics, air pollution and GHG emissions.

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Bangladesh, India add 5 more ports of call


Bangladesh and India have added five more ports of call that would augment the trade and provide a stimulus to the economic development of the new locations and their hinterland.

The five new ports of call in Bangladesh side are Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad, while in Indian side are Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha.

Bangladesh's Shipping Secretary Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das signed the Second Addendum to the Protocol on Transit and Trade at the shipping ministry today.

Under the protocol, presently there are six ports of call. They are Kolkata, Haldia, Karimganj, Pandu, Shilghat and Dhubri on Indian side and Narayanganj, Khulna, Mongla, Sirajganj, Ashuganj and Pangaon on Bangladesh side.

Further, two more extended ports of call – Tribeli ( Bandel) and Badarpur on Indian side and Ghorasal and Muktarpur on Bangladesh side – have been added through this addendum. Now, total ports of call are 11 and there are two extended ports of call in both countries.

"Inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as a new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan. Jogigopha also becomes important, since, a multimodal logistics park is proposed to be established there," said Indian High Commission in a statement.

The Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways of India and Bangladesh, which was first signed in the year 1972, was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision of its automatic renewal for a further period of five years.

During the discussions between India and Bangladesh at shipping ministry level meetings held in October, 2018 in New Delhi and in December, 2019 in Dhaka, key decisions were taken on the extension of protocol routes, inclusion of new routes, and declaration of new ports of call to facilitate trade between the two countries.

These decisions have been made effective with the signing of Second Addendum to the Protocol. The number of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes is being increased from 8 to 10 and new locations are also added to the existing routes.

The operationalisation of Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi route and its extension up to Aricha (270 km) will help the augmentation of infrastructure in Bangladesh as it would reduce the transportation cost of stone chips/aggregate to northern part of Bangladesh through this route. Further, it will also decongest land custom stations on both sides, said the statement.

Indian High Commission said as a path-breaking development, both sides have agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India) through the use of shallow draft mechanised vessels.

This initiative will allow export of stone chips and other Bhutanese and Northeast cargo to Bangladesh and easy access for the traders to the hinterland of Bangladesh, enhancing the local economy in Bangladesh and the lower Assam region of India.

Under this Protocol, inland vessels of both the countries can ply the designated protocol route and dock at ports of call in each country, notified for loading / unloading of cargo.

"There has been significant improvement in the movement of cargo vessels in an organised manner on the protocol route carrying both the transit cargo to Northeast region of India and vice-versa and export-cargo to Bangladesh," it said.

The Indian transit cargo is mainly coal, fly-ash, POL and ODC for power projects in Northeast region. The other potential cargo for movement is fertilisers, cement, food grains, agricultural products, containerised cargo etc.

On the other hand, the export cargo from India to Bangladesh is mainly fly-ash, which is to the tune of 30 lakhs MT annually. Around 638 inland vessels (including 600 Bangladeshi flag vessels) completed with approximately 4000 loaded voyages annually.

"It is expected that these additions to the protocol will greatly facilitate the bilateral trade, with improved reliability and cost effectiveness for the business community and the people of both the countries," Indian High Commission said.

Excellent connectivity provided by the existing and the newly added protocol routes is all the more pertinent in the present Covid-19 scenario as it will be instrumental in providing economical, faster, safer and greener mode of transport, it said.

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  • 1 month later...

India backs away from Bheramara economic zone project

The Indian authorities have cancelled their plan to establish an economic zone at Bheramara in Kushtia.

They have already informed the Bangladesh government of their decision.

The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) and Economic Relations Division officials said, ‍based on the feasibility study report, the Indian authorities think the economic zone in Bherama will not be convenient for investment. 

That is why they discarded the plan, officials said. 

According to the minutes of the meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office in February this year, India is not interested in establishing the economic zone in Bheramara. Instead, it is interested in establishing a tourism park near the Naf River and constructing  a cable car over the river. 

Indian officials said, at the joint working group meeting held on August 21 last year, that they no longer wished to consider the Bheramara site, and requested that an alternative site be considered.  

The project of establishing two economic zones in Mongla and Bheramara was taken under the Indian Second Line of Credit (LoC). India was supposed to lend $88 million to implement the project.

As the Bheramara project has been cancelled, Indian officials said the remaining funds of around $50 million will be used for a new project.

The project has not yet received final approval by the Indian authorities. That is why it has not yet been raised at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting.

Officials said the Bheramara project was cancelled but India wants to establish the economic zone in Mongla.

Beza said the Mongla project proposal was sent to the Indian government and is currently being reviewed. A memorandum of understanding was signed in February last year between Beza and the Nidar Group to set up the zone.

Also, 110 acres of land was allocated for the Mongla project, but an additional $30-40 million will be needed to develop the zone as per India's requirements.

On the other hand, another project titled Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpanagar in Chattogram's Mirsharai under the Second LoC is underway. It was approved by Ecnec in mid-2019, and is estimated to be finished by June next year. 

India is providing Tk914.59 crore of the Tk919.85 crore project. Beza officials said Indian investors would be able to invest there by next year.

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  • Administrators

Bangladesh stops trading with India at land borders after India refused to allow Bangladeshi imports. This could be a retaliation by India for the Chinese allowing tax-free import of Bangladeshi goods.

If this continues Bangladesh will adopt stronger measures at diplomatic level and possibly take up the matter with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). India benefits far more than Bangladesh does in terms of trade and ultimately Bangladesh will replace Indian imports with alternatives from China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Egypt and Turkey. Its really not wise for India to push this further as they will make their own population suffer because those Indian traders rely on exports to Bangladesh.

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3 hours ago, Syed Amar Khan said:

Bangladesh stops trading with India at land borders after India refused to allow Bangladeshi imports. This could be a retaliation by India for the Chinese allowing tax-free import of Bangladeshi goods.

If this continues Bangladesh will adopt stronger measures at diplomatic level and possibly take up the matter with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). India benefits far more than Bangladesh does in terms of trade and ultimately Bangladesh will replace Indian imports with alternatives from China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Egypt and Turkey. Its really not wise for India to push this further as they will make their own population suffer because those Indian traders rely on exports to Bangladesh.

India lacks the necessary instruments to think outside its reactionary policies. 

Looking at Modi's proclivity to soothe its nationalist base and utter disdain of their neighbor's diplomatic maturity, india is not thinking the way it needs to.

Its disappointing that india will let loose of all its baggage onto us. It opens a lot of doors to them to delve into coercive actions to muddy up the water.

Here are few factors that might play out in near future:

1) India with its current trajectory (right after Ladakh) will allow US control some part of its narratives. Americans will take them for a ride, just like the way they did with Pakistan.

2) Given the current government's status over last 11 years in power, india would like to exploit the fault lines in Bangladesh's electoral processes. 

3) There's always the Hindu minority card india can go back to, any time & when ever it wants.

4) This ad-hoc approach from india is designed to exact more concessions from us in near term. Going forward, india's action towards its neighbors, i.e- Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal will be more punitive in nature.

In this current juncture, I can't see how india can come out on top against China.

But lets be honest, India can't provide the same tariff break as China can. India's market is simply not as matured and developed as China's. 

Since 2005, india failed to invest fully in manufacturing the way China did. Now the country is trailing behind, its rather a wishful thinking that under the mercy of Protectionist Americans they will get some semblance of strategic manufacturing capability. While in reality, its China who is contributing to manufacturing flights from its own territory to its more favorable trade partners. 

Modi is making moves it to sooth his own base, he knows the pit fall of continuing in this path for far too long!! In this unprecedented time, Modi needs to make his quick fix to come out as strong man here!! But he would like his base to forget about this incident as soon as possible!! That's his wish



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India's foreign policy is rather shallow and under Modi its becoming more insular because it has withdrawn very much from its international commitments. Hamstrung by US and Israeli alliance it has become a new milking cow for Western military hardware manufacturers who are using their servile agents in India to create a big fear factor in Indian society about the threat from China. From banning of Chinese origin mobile apps to boycott of Chinese products they are going backwards daily.

China does not have to defeat India militarily. It will just buy India out of everything. Moreover China will now exploit India's poor relations with its neighbouring countries to further hem it in.

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Indian envoy failed to meet Hasina despite requests: Dhaka daily

It also reported that all Indian projects have slowed down since the re-election of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2019.

A prominent newspaper of Bangladesh has said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not meet India’s High Commissioner despite repeated requests for a meeting in the last four months.

Bhorer Kagoj, a prominent daily, has reported that all Indian projects have slowed down since the re-election of Prime Minister Hasina in 2019 with Chinese infrastructure projects receiving more support from Dhaka.

“Despite India's concern, Bangladesh has given the contract of building an airport terminal in Sylhet to a Chinese company. Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das tried for four months to get an appointment with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh but did not get it. Bangladesh has not even sent a note of appreciation to India in response to Indian assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic”, said the newspaper's editor Shyamal Dutta in an article on the recent tilt of Dhaka towards Pakistan and China.

Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG) has received the contract for building a new terminal in MAG Osmania Airport of Sylhet that borders India's northeastern region and is, therefore, considered a sensitive area for New Delhi.

A diplomatic source from the Bangladesh High Commission here has confirmed that the Indian envoy had sought an appointment with Ms Hasina but it did not materialise. However, neither India’s High Commission in Dhaka nor the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) responded to questions from The Hindu. A diplomat from the Indian mission said Ms Ganguly Das has gone out of Dhaka on a tour.

Imran Khan’s call

Ms. Hasina received a phone call from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan on Wednesday. Though Dhaka refused to give more details of the conversation, Pakistan’s official news agency reported that Mr. Khan informed Ms Hasina about the situation in Kashmir and sought “resolution” of the dispute. India, in response on Thursday, appreciated Bangladesh saying that Dhaka considers Kashmir an internal matter of India.

Ms Ganguly Das has been appointed as the next Secretary in charge of the eastern hemisphere in the MEA and she is expected to take her new post in the coming days. She was met by foreign minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen on July 14 for a farewell meeting.

The article in Bhorer Kagoj said that a section of Ms Hasina’s office is actively supporting stronger ties with China. This angle was visible in the rapid improvement in ties with China’s ally Pakistan in the last 10 months. Bangladesh opted for Pakistan’s onion supplies in November 2019 after India imposed a ban on its export.

This was the first time that Bangladesh imported agriculture items from Pakistan in the last 15 years. Dhaka-Islamabad ties went cold after Ms Hasina’s government hanged Jamaat E Islami Bangladesh leader Motiur Rahman Nizami for the 1971 war crimes in 2016. Pakistan had angrily protested against the execution and for two years (2018-'19) Dhaka did not host a Pakistan High Commissioner.

NRC, CAA issues

India’s ties with Bangladesh in the meantime was also hit by the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which aims to give amnesty to minority religious groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Dhaka has maintained that instances of religious bigotry has gone down in the country and that the NRC and the CAA are internal matters of India.

The issue, however, has created a wave of concern in Dhaka, as prominent leaders of the ruling BJP spoke about “sending back” undocumented citizens to Bangladesh. In recent weeks, media in Dhaka has also been vocal about increased number of casualties along the India-Bangladesh border because of reported firings by the Border Security Force (BSF). Growing differences with India were viewed as opportunity for groups that are aligned with Pakistan and Chinese interests in Dhaka.

In this backdrop, Bangladesh-Pakistan diplomatic ties resumed earlier this year with the arrival of new Pakistan High Commissioner Imran Ahmed Siddiqui in January. Mr Siddiqui secured a special meeting with Dr. Momen on July 1.

The article in Bhorer Kagoj also said that a section of officials in Bangladesh was trying to use cricket to normalise relations between the two sides that continues to be vitiated by the memory of widespread human rights violation and war crimes committed by the Pakistan military against the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan that led to the revolt and ultimately the creation of Bangladesh in December '71 through the Indo-Pak war.

Ms Hasina’s increasing diplomatic interactions with Pakistan and Pakistan’s traditional supporter China is also being viewed as a move to bargain with India on issues of Dhaka’s special interest, especially the CAA, which remains a sticking issue for Bangladesh as it is weary of hosting more refugees in addition to the 1.2 million Rohingya from Myanmar currently residing in Chittagong’s Kutupalong.

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ইমরান-হাসিনার টেলিফোনে কথা! ইন্দো-বাংলা সম্পর্কে ফাটলের শঙ্কা দিল্লির

তাদের মত, "বাংলাদেশ-পাকিস্তানের প্রধানমন্ত্রীর ফোনে কথা এবং জম্মু-কাশ্মীর ও সীমান্ত নিয়ে আলোচনা খুব দুর্লভ।"


চলতি সপ্তাহের প্রথমে টেলিফোনে কথা হয়েছে বাংলাদেশ ও পাকিস্তানের প্রধানমন্ত্রীর (Pak-Bangladesh telephonic conversation)। আলোচনার বিষয়বস্তু ছিল ইন্দো-চিন ও ইন্দো-নেপাল সীমান্ত সমস্যা। এমনটাই জানতে পেরেছে নয়াদিল্লি (New Delhi)।  পাশাপাশি সূত্রের খবর, পাক প্রধানমন্ত্রী "ভারত অধিকৃত জম্মু-কাশ্মীর" নিয়েও শেখ হাসিনার কাছে অভিযোগ করেছেন। আর এতেই কিছুটা উদ্বেগ বেড়েছে ভারতের। তাদের মত, "বাংলাদেশ-পাকিস্তানের প্রধানমন্ত্রীর ফোনে কথা এবং জম্মু-কাশ্মীর (Talks on J&K) ও সীমান্ত নিয়ে আলোচনা খুব দুর্লভ।" যদিও বাংলাদেশের তরফে কাশ্মীর বা সীমান্ত প্রসঙ্গ উত্থাপন করা হয়নি। শুধু সে দেশের বন্যা ও করোনা সংক্রমণ নিয়ে কথা হয়েছে।

যদিও বিষয়টি লঘু করতে দেশের প্রাক্তন বিদেশ সচিব কে শ্রীনিবাসন বলেছেন, "দুই আঞ্চলিক দেশের প্রধানমন্ত্রীদের মধ্যে কথা বলায় কোনও আকস্মিকতা নেই। আর যেহেতু দু'টি দেশই ইসলাম অধ্যুষিত। সেখানে কাশ্মীর প্রসঙ্গ থাকবে। এটাই বলাবাহুল্য।"

এদিকে, এই ফোন বৈঠক প্রসঙ্গে বিদেশ মন্ত্রক শুক্রবার বলেছে, "বাংলাদেশের সঙ্গে ভারতের সম্পর্ক ঐতিহাসিক ও দীর্ঘ। আমরা জম্মু-কাশ্মীর নিয়ে ওদের স্থিতাবস্থাকে সম্মান করি। কাশ্মীর প্রসঙ্গ ভারতের অভ্যন্তরীণ ইস্যু, এটা ওরা বরাবর মেনে চলেছে।" যদিও সংশোধিত নাগরিকত্ব বিল নিয়ে ভারতের বিরুদ্ধে কিছুটা ক্ষোভ উগরে দিয়েছে ঢাকা। পাশাপাশি চলতি মাসের প্রথম সপ্তাহে ঢাকায় নিযুক্ত পাক রাষ্ট্রদূতকে উষ্ণ অভ্যর্থনা জানিয়েছে শেখ হাসিনা সরকার। আর এতেই উদ্বেগ বেড়েছে ভারতের।

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Hasina’s vision and Indian failures

by M Serajul Islam | Published: 00:00, Jul 26,2020

SHEIKH Hasina offered India a complete assurance on its security concerns about the secessionists in the north-eastern states or the Seven Sisters using Bangladesh’s territory for their destructive activities immediately on her assuming office in January 2009. She offered land transit in the name of connectivity subsequently, conscious that the concessions were extremely important to India. She offered the concessions with the vision to bring about a paradigm shift in Bangladesh-India relations expecting that her vision would encourage India to reciprocate on issues of interest to Bangladesh such as water sharing, trade, border killings, et cetera.

More than a decade has elapsed meanwhile during which India has largely failed to match Hasina’s vision. There has been zero movement on water sharing and no benefit has thus far come from land transit that was supposed to bring Bangladesh fabulous economic benefits as the connectivity hub of the region. Analysts of Indo-Bangladesh relations have been left wondering why India being the much bigger and more powerful neighbour has failed to match the vision of a much smaller and weaker neighbour. Some analysts believe that perhaps India did not fail and that it viewed its relations with Bangladesh differently. Revisiting the history of Bangladesh-India relations particularly India’s role in Bangladesh’s liberation war would clarify the question at a time when Bangladesh-India relations appear to have hit a roadblock.

It was not easy for India to be directly involved in the Bangladesh liberation war when it started. The war occurred during the cold war when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a member state of the United Nations was sacrosanct. Biafra’s attempt to become independent was brutally crushed in pursuance of that reality. The world did not lift a finger for Biafra because it was a matter of Nigeria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. India thus limited its involvement in the Bangladesh liberation war when it started to be a sanctuary to freedom fighters or Mukti Bahini and supplying them with an an inadequate amount of arms and ammunitions.

India intervened directly at the fag end of the war after the Mukti Bahini had weakened the Pakistani military considerably. India took two steps before interfering directly. First, it signed the Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union in August 1971 to strengthen its position internationally. Second,  Indira Gandhi visited several European countries towards the end of October and early November and convinced their leaders that Pakistan had attacked India by pushing 10 million of its citizens to its territory. India Gandhi further convinced them that India would not be violating the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of a member state of the United States if it intervened directly in the Bangladesh liberation war to send the refugees back to their homeland.

Thus, India formed the Mitra Bahini or the Joint Command of Indian Armed Forces and the Mukti Bahini under Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora on November 21, 1971. India thereafter engaged itself in the third India-Pakistan war on December 3, 1971. The war ended on December 16 with the surrender of the Pakistan forces in Dhaka on the war’s eastern front leading to the liberation of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971.

India thus played a decisive role in Bangladesh’s independence. Bangladeshis across their political divide have acknowledged India’s role gratefully although they also believed and continue to do so that they would have achieved their independence even if India had not intervened but that would have taken much longer than the nine months in which India helped them to win their liberation. The Awami League’s call for independence united all Bangladeshis as a monolith like a few other liberation wars in history that had made Bangladesh’s liberation inevitable and just a matter of time.

India, however, was afraid that if it allowed the war to linger, the leadership would not have remained with the Awami League that it did not want. India never forgot its role in Bangladesh and it did not allow Bangladesh to forget it either. India made a major mistake out of such a mentality when it started relations with an independent Bangladesh. It chose the Awami League as not just its favourite; as the years passed by, it became an open secret that India wanted the Awami League to be in power and was willing to interfere in the country’s politics to see its favourite political party in power and to retain it once in office.

Bangladesh’s national election in 2014 flagged India’s abnormal ‘all eggs in one basket’ policy and why it was not the right. The visit of the Indian foreign secretary Sujata Singh to Dhaka just before the elections and the details of her meeting with president Ershad that the latter released almost verbatim to the media documented India’s design to help the Awami League return to power through an apology of elections and keep the BNP and its allies out. That was one of the most blatant examples of interference of a bigger and more powerful neighbour in the affairs of a smaller and less powerful one in history.

In retrospect, India’s interference in the 2014 elections destroyed the country’s hopes of emerging as a liberal democracy at a time when it could have if New Delhi had encouraged the Awami League to hold free and fair elections that it had the ability to do, instead of interfering to the contrary. That interference created in the Awami League a dependence on New Delhi for returning to power without legitimate elections that was not good for either country and unhealthy for conducting bilateral relations, a point that was proved unequivocally when the Awami League was in more desperate need of Indian help in the 2018 elections and developments thereafter.

The BJP-led government did not come to the Awami League’s assistance as the Congress in 2014. Instead, it asked the Awami League to hold the elections with all political parties. The BJP believed that the Awami League would return to power anyway and come back to it. The Awami League returned to power as New Delhi thought it would but it did not go back to it. Instead, a week after returning to power, Hasina dropped many pro-Indian heavyweight ministers from her new cabinet much to New Delhi’s bewilderment and disbelief.

New Delhi subsequently downgraded Hasina’s visit to India in July 2019  from a state visit to an official one. Subsequently, the Awami League went deeper towards China to the extent that China has now occupied the strategic space that New Delhi had vacated albeit inadvertently or perhaps due to failure of its intelligence or from a sense of overconfidence.

Meanwhile, Dhaka-Islamabad relations are thawing, after being in the cold storage for the past few years due partly to New Delhi’s encouragement. Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan called Sheikh Hasina this week to inquire about the pandemic and the flood, a call in which Indian media have sensed a Chinese-encouraged Bangladesh-Pakistan plot against India. A human chain in Dhaka to protest at the recent Chinese attacks on India and the death of Indian soldiers drew only a handful, underlining the fact that India’s acceptance in Bangladesh has now hit a nadir that is obvious from the political distance between New Delhi and Dhaka while an AL government is in power in Bangladesh.

The ball, as the cliché goes, is in India’s court to find and address why even with an Awami League in power, there is such a distance for which its popularity in Dhaka has fallen to an all-time low. India must keep in mind that it helped Bangladesh in 1971 to emerge as a democratic country and yet helped destroy democracy there in 2014. India must stop playing favourites in Bangladesh’s highly partisan politics and keep the history of Bangladesh’s emergence in the library. And India should give Bangladesh space to pursue an independent foreign policy keeping in perspective that China has stepped into Bangladesh in a major way and according to the grapevines may have weakened its influence significantly.

And while addressing the above for better relations with Bangladesh, the BJP-led government should focus on two more issues. First, why it failed to reciprocate on Sheikh Hasina’s vision and concessions and, second, what was it thinking when its leaders and supporters were using Bangladesh’s Muslim majority as a bait for Hindutva.


M Serajul Islam is a former career ambassador.


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Rivers in north swell again as India opens 3 barrages

Fresh areas flooded, Brahmaputra, Jamuna may keep swelling

Emran Hossain with Rezaul Karim Manik in Lalmonirhat | Published: 00:34, Aug 13,2020

Parts of low-lying north in Bangladesh went under water overnight on Wednesday, less than a week after they came out of over a month-long flooding, as India opened three barrages causing major northern rivers to swell rapidly.

The sudden release of water caused embankments to collapse in four districts of Rangpur division where many villages got flooded overnight, affecting 51,000 people.

Over a third of the inhabitants of Challish Shal Char at Gangachara of Rangpur have evacuated their houses while the rest were preparing to leave as major northern rivers such as the Teesta, Dharla and Brahmaputra swelled up to more than half a metre over the last two days.

‘The rise in the rivers is temporary but might extend flooding in parts of northern and central Bangladesh,’ Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre sub-divisional engineer Sarder Udoy Raihan told New Age.

Central Bangladesh districts including Dhaka are still experiencing flooding of six rivers with hundreds of thousands of people still stranded in their houses and over 30,000 people at flood shelters.

Many of the 654 chars or shoals in the north were still under water while others surfaced less than a week ago revealing a trail of destruction left behind by receding rivers.

Draining much of the vast Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basin experiencing an unusually wet summer, flooding in Bangladesh already entered 47th day on Wednesday because of a steady onrush of huge amount of water from upstream that caused the rivers downstream to swell.   

Water Development Board north zone chief Jyoti Prashad Ghosh said that India passed 4,200 cusecs of water through the Gazaldoba Barrage, 12,074 cusecs through the barrage in upstream on the River Karatoa and 12,704 cusecs through the Deonai barrage.

‘The situation is likely to worsen for the barrages are likely to stay open for a few more days,’ said Jyoti Prashad.

Since June 27, the Gazaldoba barrage was opened more than six times and the other ones multiple times, causing the rivers to rapidly rise and burst their banks over a vast area. Official estimate shows over 23,000 families lost their houses to erosion largely around the time the rivers swell and fell.

‘I was home just for four days before witnessing the river rising again,’ said Shahidul Islam, who along with 2,500 others left his Challish Shal Char home to seek shelter on an embankment.

The shoal has 6,000 inhabitants and all of them are preparing to leave their houses.

‘What wretched life we are living here,’ quipped Rabeya Bewa, another displaced inhabitant of the Challish Shal char. In Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram and Panchagarh embankment collapsed at four points, flooding vast areas.

The Teesta eroded river banks so badly in Gangachara it threatened the integrity of a bridge in Rangpur connecting four Lalmonirhat upazilas with their divisional headquarters.

In the 24 hours, until 9:00am on Wednesday, the Dharla swelled 30cm, while Jamuneshwari 65cm, Teesta 9cm, Punarbhaba over 1 m, Atrai 68cm, Jadukata 2.55m and Bhugai 3.27m.

A Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre bulletin showed that the Brahmaputra and the Jamuna swelled across all gauging stations over the same time. The bulletin issued Wednesday morning said that the rivers might continue to swell over the next two days.

The bulletin said that the Padma might keep receding through Thursday but the rivers in Meghna basin might swell during the same time.

Floodwater might recede from flood-affected Dhaka city through Thursday, said the bulletin.

The health emergency control room said that four people died because of drowning and snakebite in as many districts in the last 24 hours until 8:00am on Wednesday taking the death toll from flood-related causes to 202.

Boat still remained the only means of communication for thousands of people in central districts including those living in the flood-affected Dhaka city areas.

Some of them were even using banana raft to move for the offices resumed fully operating as the government lifted lockdown restrictions enforced because of the coronavirus crisis.

Those who returned their houses from where floodwater receded found that floodwater not only washed away their houses but also dumped tonnes of mud there and on the field they cultivated many crops.

Waterborne diseases became a source of worry for the extensive flooding contaminated thousands of tube wells destroying the source of drinking water for many.

The flood had affected 5.5 million people at its peak and swept away vast lands.

Amid continued heavy rain upstream and inside Bangladesh, forecasters already warned about further flooding at the end of August, just two weeks after they predicted the ongoing flood to end.

In northern Bangladesh the FFWC recorded up to 168mm of rains in the 24 hours until 9:00am on Wednesday while heavy rain continued in upstream areas across the border as well.



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Indian foreign secretary’s hasty visit misfires

M Serajul Islam | Published: 00:00, Aug 23,2020 | Updated: 23:39, Aug 22,2020

THE Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s hastily arranged and sudden visit to Dhaka is shrouded in mystery. The centerpiece of the visit was his audience with Sheikh Hasina. Not a word has come out of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office, not even who were present at the important audience. The Indian side has been equally silent. Many like this writer wanted to know if the Indian high commissioner Riva Ganguli was present. A picture of Sheikh Hasina and the Indian foreign secretary in a tête-à-tête without masks in the media gave away the fact that it was one taken from his visit to Dhaka in March.

Speculative reports aplenty have come out in the Bangladesh and Indian media as a result of the decision of both sides to be silent about what transpired at the Bangladesh PMO. The Indian media, nevertheless, concluded unanimously that the visit was successful and would help in cementing the traditional ties. The Hindu, one of India’s most credible national English daily newspapers, went to the extent of reporting that the Bangladesh prime minister and the Indian foreign secretary discussed a two-year road map of Bangladesh-India relations.

The Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen described the visit as normal undertaken in the conduct of bilateral relations. He further stated that he and his counterpart had discussed India’s offer of its COVID-19 vaccine and transshipment issues at their meeting. The Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AKA Momen who was away in Sylhet zeroed on the vaccine as the main reason for the visit.

It was obvious given the blackout of any news of what happened at the PMO that whatever else was covered in the media about the rest of Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit did not reveal anything about what came out of it. The visit was hardly normal as the Bangladesh foreign secretary tried to mislead, wittingly or otherwise. One thing was, nevertheless, certain though that the visit occurred after Bangladesh-India relations had hit a hard rock over the country’s drifting towards China for which there was much credible evidence.

The Hindu report that the prime minister had discussed a two-year road map of bilateral relations with the Indian foreign secretary was an insult to Bangladesh given the latter’s position as a bureaucrat in the Indian government. Harsh Vardhan Shringla was sent to Bangladesh in a chartered aircraft, perhaps, the first time an Indian foreign secretary was ever treated in such a regal manner on a visit to Dhaka but he was only a messenger to convey New Delhi’s concern that Bangladesh was entering too deep the Chinese sphere of influence. It was not the first time though that New Delhi faced a fear of China concerning Bangladesh that has historically been India’s friendliest neighbour under an Awami League-led government in Dhaka.

New Delhi was involved in a similar effort in bringing Bangladesh back from developing a strategic-economic relationship with China after there was a change of government in India from the Congress to the BJP in 2014. New Delhi sent Sushma Swaraj, the external affairs minister, to Dhaka soon after Sheikh Hasina had visited Beijing in June 2014. Narendra Modi came to Dhaka the following year on a state visit where Bangladesh-China relations was an important issue of his discussion with Sheikh Hasina. Between the two visits, New Delhi succeeded in stopping Dhaka from implementing $1 billion projects, many of strategic nature, that Dhaka signed during Sheikh Hasina’s 2014 visit to China.

A lot has happened since. First, New Delhi stayed away from the 2018 Bangladesh election despite many signals from Dhaka for help. Dhaka reminded that it was in more desperate need for New Delhi’s assistance in 2018 than in 2014. Second, Dhaka turned to China for help and received it. More importantly, the Awami League returned to power without having to thank India. Third, Sheikh Hasina removed many pro-Indian heavyweights from her new cabinet. Fourth, India downgraded her October 2019 visit to New Delhi from a state visit she was given in 2010 and 2017 to an official visit. Fifth, New Delhi, ignored her visit to Kolkata in November 2019.

The above-cited instances underlined that Bangladesh-India relations drifted apart between New Delhi’s advise to the AL-led government not to expect its assistance in the 2018 election through Sushma Swaraj on her visit to Dhaka in November 2017 and the visit of the Indian foreign secretary. New Delhi made no effort to bring Dhaka back confident as Dhaka would come back on its own because it had no alternative to India. That did not happen.

Instead, the BJP government chose to pursue the blatantly anti-Muslim, anti-Bangladesh National Registration Act and the Citizenship Amendment Act to energize its massive Hindutva base. Amit Shah called Bangladeshi Muslims ‘termites’ as bait for Hindutva and other BJP leaders threatened to throw Bangladeshi Muslims into the Bay of Bengal. These actions encouraged Bangladesh towards China that used the opening to make huge investments in mega projects that Dhaka welcomed gladly.

Riva Ganguli waited unsuccessfully for many months to bring to Sheikh Hasina’s attention the growing distance between New Delhi and Dhaka. Meanwhile, New Delhi was given a preview of change in Bangladesh when pro-Indian groups arranged a human chain to protest China’s actions in the Indo-China border conflict. Well-known leaders who in the past were ever ready to show their pro-India sentiments were absent in the thinly gathered human chain.

Sheikh Hasina, nevertheless, did her best since coming to power in January 2009 to keep Bangladesh-India relations as those between two friendly neighbours, acknowledging India’s role in Bangladesh’s liberation even after New Delhi had distanced from her government leading to the 2018 election. New Delhi failed her time and again notwithstanding her goodwill. New Delhi did not focus on its failures because its miscalculation led it to believe that an AL led government had no alternative but remain loyal to it that encouraged her to move towards China.

Two recent developments and a flurry of reports in the Indian media jolted New Delhi’s complacency. First was China’s $1 billion offer for ‘a comprehensive management and restoration project of the Teesta’, the river over which Bangladesh was deeply unhappy with India that Indian Express described as ‘China twist in India-Bangladesh Teesta river challenge.’ The second was Chinese ambassador in Dhaka’s gifts for Khaleda Zia on her birthday that underlined how deeply China has entrenched itself in Bangladesh to feel comfortable with such a decision ignoring Sheikh Hasina’s sensitivity. These developments expedited New Delhi’s hasty decision to send its foreign secretary to Dhaka, perhaps, believing it would help to woo Sheikh Hasina away from China.

That did not happen because the decision was both hasty and condescending, taken unilaterally. Sheikh Hasina handled the visit deftly underlining that Bangladesh should not be taken lightly. She kept the visitor waiting in his hotel room for four hours and an hour more at the PMO before granting him audience according to reports in the Bangladesh media. Certain sections of the Bangladesh media also dismissed the Hindu report on the road map. Sheikh Hasina flagged for New Delhi unmistakably that she had no reason to discuss bilateral relations with an Indian foreign secretary. It was no coincidence therefore that no Bangladeshi official either received him at the airport or saw him off.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s Dhaka visit has misfired for many reasons. First Indian arrogance again led New Delhi to take the AL government for granted. Second, New Delhi failed to acknowledge that Sheikh Hasina is now dealing with India on the China issue with vast majority of the people behind her. Finally, China is on the cusp of emerging as the world’s number one power and Bangladesh has moved much deeper in its relations with China that is its sovereign right.

Therefore, New Delhi must do much more to regain its influence in Bangladesh. It must look at the impact of Hindutva, NRA, CAA among Bangladesh’s Muslim population and make them the primary focus of its relations with the country. And a change in attitude in dealing with Bangladesh would help.


M Serajul Islam is a former career ambassador.


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সম্পর্কে মোড় পরিবর্তনের সময় এল কি

বাংলাদেশের সামনে আঞ্চলিক রাজনীতির চ্যালেঞ্জটি অনেক বড়। তবে মোকাবিলাযোগ্য। রাজনীতিবিদেরা সেই অসম্ভবের শিল্পকলা জানেন।

আলতাফ পারভেজ

প্রকাশ: ১ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০২০, ১১:৫১


বাংলাদেশের প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা, ভারতের প্রধানমন্ত্রী নরেন্দ্র মোদি ও চীনের প্রেসিডেন্ট সি চিন পিং

আজকাল অনেক ভাষ্যকারের কলমেই বাংলাদেশ-চীন সম্পর্কের আলোচনা শুরু হয় ১৯৭৬ সাল থেকে। কিন্তু পূর্ব বাংলার প্রধান রাজনীতিবিদদের অন্তত দুজন একাধিকবার গণচীন সফর করেছেন ১৯৭০ সালের আগেই। আবার বাংলাদেশে তরুণদের একাংশের মধ্যে মাও সে তুংয়ের রাজনৈতিক আদর্শের চর্চার শুরু তারও আগে থেকে।

যেকোনো দুটি জনপদের সম্পর্ক অবশ্যই দূতাবাস খোলার চেয়েও বেশি কিছু। চীনের সঙ্গে বাংলাদেশের মানুষের রাজনৈতিক পরিচয়ের শুরুও  ১৯৭৬ সালের জানুয়ারির আগেই। ১৯৬৭ সালে মাওলানা ভাসানীকে দেওয়া মাও সে তুংয়ের ট্রাক্টরটি পারস্পরিক ওই পরিচয়ের প্রতীকীচিহ্ন হয়ে টাঙ্গাইলে এখনো টিকে আছে। বঙ্গবন্ধুর ১৯৫২ সালের চীন সফরের বিস্তারিত বিবরণও বেশ মনোযোগ কেড়েছে সম্প্রতি।

এসব সফর কোনো সাধারণ ভ্রমণ ছিল না; বরং দুই জনপদের সর্বোচ্চ পর্যায়ের নেতাদের দেখা-সাক্ষাৎ হয়েছিল তাতে। ছয়-সাত দশকের পরিক্রমা শেষে বাংলার সঙ্গে চীনের সেই সম্পর্ক আজ নতুন এক সন্ধিক্ষণে উপস্থিত।

সেই তুলনায় ভারতের সঙ্গে বাংলাদেশের বন্ধন অবশ্যই আরও পুরোনো, ঐতিহাসিক ও বহুমাত্রিক। বাংলাদেশের রাষ্ট্রীয় ইতিহাসের প্রায় প্রতি অধ্যায়ে ভারতীয় ছোঁয়া আছে। তার চিরদিনের সাক্ষী হয়ে আছেন খোদ রবীন্দ্রনাথ-নজরুল। কিন্তু এ সম্পর্কের গাঁথুনিতে হঠাৎ কোথাও যেন টান পড়েছে। অচেনা এই কম্পনের উৎস খুঁজতে গিয়ে কেউ পাচ্ছেন আগ্রাসী এক ড্রাগনের ছায়া, কেউ দেখছেন মধ্যম আয়ের দেশে পৌঁছার প্রয়োজনীয় সিঁড়ি।


প্রচারমাধ্যমের ভুল বার্তা

বাংলাদেশ-ভারত-চীন সম্পর্ক নিয়ে ধারাভাষ্যকারদের নাটকীয় লেখালেখি বিশেষ গতি পেয়েছে গত ১৮ আগস্ট ভারতের পররাষ্ট্রসচিবের বাংলাদেশ সফরে। হর্ষ বর্ধন শ্রিংলা কেন এলেন, আনুষ্ঠানিক বৈঠকের ছায়ায় অনানুষ্ঠানিক আলাপে কী আদান-প্রদান হলো, তার সামান্যই জানা গেছে। আবার যতটুকু জানা গেল, সেই তুলনায় গল্পগুজব তৈরি হলো শতগুণ বেশি। অথচ আরেকটু পেছনে ফিরে তাকালেই আমরা দেখব ২০১৩ সালে চীন যখন বিআরআই প্রকল্পে সবাইকে আহ্বান করে, ভারত তখনই ঘোষণা করে ‘প্রতিবেশী প্রথম’ নীতি। অর্থাৎ ঢাকার সামনে ভূরাজনীতির নাটকীয়তা হর্ষ বর্ধন শ্রিংলার এই সফরের বহু আগেই তৈরি হয়ে আছে।

বাংলাদেশের জন্য চ্যালেঞ্জটি আসলে অন্য রকম। চীন-ভারত উভয়ের সঙ্গে আমাদের বাণিজ্যিক ভারসাম্যহীনতা প্রায় ২০ বিলিয়ন ডলার। ডলার গুনতে আগ্রহী যেকোনো সরকার এই অবস্থা বদলাতে চাইবে। কিন্তু পত্রিকাগুলো মনোযোগ সরাতে চাইছে অন্যদিকে, যা জনগণকে ভুল বার্তা দেয় এবং সরকারের জন্য মানসিক চাপ বাড়ায়।

একতরফা ভালোবাসায় সম্পর্ক গভীরতা পায় না

ভারতে যদি এই প্রশ্ন তোলা হয়, নিকট প্রতিবেশী কোন দেশে তাদের প্রভাব এ মুহূর্তে বেশি, নিঃসন্দেহে তাতে এক-দুটি নামের মধ্যেই বাংলাদেশ থাকবে। এখানে রাজনীতির পাশাপাশি সংস্কৃতির পরিসরেও তাদের গর্ব করার মতো প্রভাবের পরিসর আছে। হিন্দির উপস্থিতি আজ শ্রেণিনির্বিশেষে ঘরে ঘরে। বইয়ের দোকানগুলোয় দেশের বই ছাপিয়ে আছে ভারতীয় প্রকাশনা।

আন্তর্জাতিক সম্পর্কের একাংশ যদি হয় বিভিন্ন দেশের নাগরিকদের সাংস্কৃতিক যোগাযোগ, একমাত্র ভারতীয়দের সঙ্গেই বাংলাদেশিদের সেটা কিছুটা আছে। মুক্তিযুদ্ধে সমর্থন ও সহায়তা সেই যোগাযোগের ভিত্তি হয়ে আছে। স্বর্ণালি সেই ঐতিহ্যে ভারতীয়রা আজ আর পুরো ভরসা রাখতে পারছে না বলেই মনে হয়। দেশটির সংবাদমাধ্যমের সাম্প্রতিক ভাষ্যগুলোয় সেই মনোজাগতিক সংকটের ছাপ মেলে হামেশা।


সেই তুলনায় চীনের ভাষা-সাহিত্য-মুভির প্রভাব ঢাকায় বিরল। চীনপন্থী দল-উপদল-গণসংগঠন বলে এখন আর স্পষ্ট কিছু নেই এখানে। আমাদের সাহিত্যে কলকাতার মতো ঐতিহাসিক কোনো চীনা ভরকেন্দ্র নেই। ইট-সিমেন্ট-বালু-রডের গাঁথুনি এবং মাওবাদ ছাড়া বেইজিং বাংলাদেশের সংস্কৃতিকে বিশেষ কিছু দিতে পারেনি এখনো। গণতান্ত্রিক মূল্যবোধের ক্ষেত্রেও চীন থেকে আমরা ভবিষ্যতে ঠিক কী নিতে পারব, বলা মুশকিল। সঙ্গে রয়েছে জাতিসংঘে বাংলাদেশের বিরুদ্ধে ভেটো ক্ষমতা প্রয়োগের তিক্ত স্মৃতি।

অথচ এর বিপরীতে তুলনা করা যায় মুক্তিযুদ্ধে আহত-নিহত ভারতীয় যোদ্ধাদের অবদানের কথা, শরণার্থীদের প্রতি আসাম-ত্রিপুরা-পশ্চিমবঙ্গের মানুষের সহমর্মিতার স্মৃতি। যুদ্ধোত্তর দিনগুলোতেও ভারত অবশ্যই নবীন রাষ্ট্রে বড় ভরসা ছিল। আমাদের পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী এই সম্পর্ককে ‘রক্তের বন্ধন’ বলে ভুল বলেননি। গত দশকে স্থল ও সমুদ্রসীমানা নিয়ে বোঝাপড়ায় সামান্য অপূর্ণতাসহ অনেকখানি ঝামেলা মেটানো গেছে দুই দেশের মধ্যে। কোভিডের আগ পর্যন্ত ভারতে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানিও বেড়েছে কিছু। দুই প্রতিবেশীর মধ্যে এসব গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অগ্রগতি। ভারতের ভিসা পাওয়ার ব্যবস্থাপনায়ও বড় ধরনের সংস্কার ঘটেছে। বাংলাদেশিদের বছরে প্রায় ১৫ লাখ সফর হয় ভারতে। ভিসা ব্যবস্থাপনার সংস্কারে লাভবান হয়েছে উভয় পক্ষ।

তবে ভারত যে সময় যতটা দিয়েছে, ঢাকার প্রতিদান ছিল বহুগুণ বেশি। সম্প্রতি চট্টগ্রাম বন্দরে পণ্য খালাসে ভারত যে অগ্রাধিকার পেল, ভারতীয় ভাষ্যকারদের কলমে তার কিন্তু কোনো প্রশংসা পাওয়া গেল না। এর আগে উত্তর-পূর্ব ভারতের অর্থনীতির সহায়তায় নিজের সীমানা দিয়ে স্থল ও নৌপথে সর্বাত্মক যোগাযোগ সহায়তা দিয়েছে বাংলাদেশ। একই অঞ্চলের নিরাপত্তাসংকট সামলাতেও ভারতের চাওয়া পূরণ হয়েছে। নয়াদিল্লির বড় প্রত্যাশা ছিল এসব। বন্ধুত্বকে অর্থবহ করতে বাংলাদেশ তা মিটিয়েছে। এভাবে ১৯৭১-পরবর্তী বাংলাদেশ-ভারত সম্পর্কের অডিট করলে বাংলাদেশের আন্তরিকতার ছাপই বেশি নজরে পড়ে। কিন্তু ছোট প্রতিবেশীকেই কেন বেশি দিতে হবে? কেন ভুলে যাব, ইতিহাসে কোনো নিবেদনই চিরস্থায়ী নয়। আন্তরাষ্ট্রীয় সম্পর্কে বন্ধুত্ব ও দূরত্বও স্থায়ী কিছু নয়।

একতরফা ভালোবাসায় সম্পর্ক গভীরতা পায় না। পশ্চিমবঙ্গ ও আসামে নির্বাচনকালে বাংলাদেশবিরোধী যেসব কদাকার প্রচারণা চলে, তার ওপর দাঁড়িয়ে বন্ধুত্বকে গভীরতা দেওয়া দুরূহও বটে। এসব রাজনৈতিক প্রচারণা বাংলাভাষীদের মনস্তত্ত্বকে ১৯৪৭ পেরিয়ে সামনে এগোতে দিচ্ছে না। গুজরাল-ডকট্রিন থেকে বহুদূর সরে গেছে সম্পর্কের লক্ষ্মণরেখা। আন্তনদী সংযোগ প্রকল্পগুলো যে বাংলাদেশের হৃদয়ে কতটা উদ্বেগ তৈরি করেছে, ভারতের হৃদয় তা কতটা বুঝতে চেয়েছে? ‘বাংলাদেশিরা হলো উইপোকার মতো’—এমন অভিধার জন্যও সীমান্তের ওপার থেকে কেউ দুঃখ প্রকাশ করেনি। ধারাবাহিক এসব দূরত্ব ও বন্ধ্যত্বের মধ্যেই চীনের আবির্ভাব।


চীন দুনিয়াজুড়ে এখন শিষ্য খুঁজছে

চীন অনেক ধৈর্য ধরে ধরে ইটের পর ইট গেঁথে ঢাকা-বেইজিং সম্পর্ককে আজকের অবস্থানে এনেছে। একাত্তর থেকে ছিয়াত্তর পর্যন্ত তারা পিছিয়ে পড়েছিল। দুর্দান্ত মনোযোগে তারা সেই দূরত্ব গুছিয়েছে। রাজনৈতিক দল, ভাবাদর্শ, সংগীত, চিত্রকলা, ছাত্রবৃত্তিকে তারা কমই ব্যবহার করেছে বাংলাদেশ জয় করতে। বরং শক্তপোক্ত এক অর্থনৈতিক-সামরিক ভরসা হয়ে ক্রমে তারা বাংলাদেশকে মধ্য আয়ের গরিমায় সাহায্য করেছে। দক্ষিণবঙ্গের বেকুটিয়ায় নির্মাণাধীন সেতুটিসহ আটটি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ সেতু বানাতে সহায়তা দিয়ে বেইজিং শুরু থেকে বার্তা দিচ্ছিল তারা নতুন বাংলাদেশের (উন্নয়ন) ক্ষুধা সম্পর্কে ওয়াকিবহাল। চীনের এই বোঝাপড়া নিঃসন্দেহে কলকাতা-গুয়াহাটি-আগরতলা থেকে আসা কবিতা-গান-নাটক-সিনেমাকেন্দ্রিক ভাবাবেগের চেয়ে বেশি কার্যকর প্রমাণিত হয়েছে। পদ্মা সেতুর রেললাইন কিংবা কর্ণফুলীর টানেলে যুক্ত হয়ে চীন বাংলাদেশের কাছে বন্ধুত্বের নতুন মানে দিয়েছে। ৩০০ থেকে ৪০০ বিলিয়ন ডলারের অর্থনৈতিক শক্তি হিসেবে বাংলাদেশের জন্য চীনের অনুদান বিপুল, ঋণ বিপুল এবং অঙ্গীকার আরও বিপুল। বাংলাদেশের হৃদয়েও এখন বদলে যাওয়ার বিপুল ক্ষুধা। ২০১৬ সালের ২৪ বিলিয়ন ডলারের ক্রেডিট লাইন একটা ক্ষুদ্র সূচনামাত্র, যদি আমরা সামনের দিকে তাকাতে শিখি। এমনকি ভারতের ৭ বিলিয়ন ঋণের অঙ্কও না বাড়ারও কারণ নেই।

বাংলাদেশে বেইজিংয়ের এই অগ্রযাত্রায় ভারতের আপত্তি নেই। আপত্তির সুযোগও ছিল না। বাংলাদেশে চীনের গড়া প্রতিটি অবকাঠামো থেকে পরোক্ষে ভারতীয় অর্থনীতিও লাভবান। সমৃদ্ধ বাংলাদেশের অন্যতম সুবিধাভোগী কলকাতার নিউমার্কেট থেকে ভেলোরের হাসপাতালগুলোও। চীনের অবকাঠামোগত অবদান আন্তর্জাতিক পরিসরে বাংলাদেশের কাছে রাজনৈতিক সহযোগিতার প্রত্যাশা করতে পারে। এটা অস্বাভাবিক নয়। নয়াদিল্লির দিক থেকে বন্ধুত্ব হারানোর কল্পিত উদ্বেগের শুরু হয়তো এখান থেকেই; যে বন্ধুত্ব হয়তো স্থায়ী বলে ধরে নেওয়া হয়েছিল কিংবা যে বন্ধুত্বকে ভুল করে কেউ আনুগত্য ভেবেছেন।

সাম্প্রতিক ভারতীয় ধারাভাষ্যকারদের প্রত্যাশার সোজাসাপ্টা মানে হলো বাংলাদেশ যত ইচ্ছা চীনা অর্থনৈতিক সহায়তা নিক, রাজনৈতিক আধিপত্যে নয়াদিল্লির আবেগের মর্যাদা দিয়ে চলুক এবং চীনের সঙ্গে সামরিক সম্পর্কও এড়িয়ে চলুক। কিন্তু প্রায় ২০০ মিলিয়ন ডলার দিয়ে সাবমেরিন কিনে বাংলাদেশে মৃদুভাবে জানিয়েছে, নিরাপত্তা ইস্যুতেও তাকে এখন স্বাধীনভাবে সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে শিখতে হবে।

অন্তত রোহিঙ্গা-অধ্যায়ের পর বাংলাদেশ কীভাবে আর তার সামরিক শক্তি-সামর্থ্য না বাড়িয়ে থাকতে পারে? আবার ইতিমধ্যে আন্তর্জাতিক পরিসরে চীনও ‘পরাশক্তি’ হিসেবে দাঁড়িয়ে গেছে। অভূতপূর্ব এক আগ্রাসী কূটনীতির মাধ্যমে নিজের অভিলাষের কথা জানাচ্ছে তারা দুনিয়াজুড়ে।


যেকোনো নেতারই কিছু শিষ্য দরকার হয়। চীন দুনিয়াজুড়ে এখন শিষ্য খুঁজছে। মধ্য আয়ের দেশের চলতি পর্যায় পেরোতে বাংলাদেশের সবল-সুঠাম-উচ্চাকাঙ্ক্ষী চীনকে দরকার আছে কি না সেটা ঢাকার নীতিনির্ধারকদেরই সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে দিতে হবে।

এ সত্যে আঁতকে ওঠার কিছু নেই—চীন ভারতের চারপাশে প্রভাববলয় বাড়াচ্ছে। বাংলাদেশের বিষয়েও তারা নিরাসক্ত নয়। বিশ্বের সব পরাশক্তি অতীতে আধিপত্য কায়েম করেছে। ভারতসহ অন্য যারা ভবিষ্যতে পরাশক্তি হতে চাইবে, তাদেরও এভাবেই চারদিকে ‘বিনিয়োগ’ বাড়িয়ে যেতে হবে। নেতৃত্ব সব সময় দাপট দাবি করে; সঙ্গে উদারতাও। ৯৭ ভাগ বাংলাদেশি পণ্যকে ট্যারিফ ছাড় দিয়ে চীন সর্বশেষ উদারতা দেখাল। এখন হয়তো ঢাকার কিছু দেওয়ার পালা।

তারপরও ভারত বাংলাদেশের জন্য এক মুখ্য বিবেচনা

বাংলাদেশ নিয়ে চীন-ভারতের আগ্রহকে ঢাকায় ইতিবাচকভাবেই দেখা উচিত এবং সম্ভবত এখনো তা-ই ঘটছে। চীন-ভারত উভয়ের সঙ্গেই বাণিজ্যের আয়তন ক্রমে বাড়ছে। অন্তত সাম্প্রতিক কোনো বছরই কমেনি। তবে সব সময় ভারসাম্য রক্ষা সহজ নয়। হয়তো প্রয়োজনও নেই এবং লাদাখ সংঘাতের পর সেটা দুরূহ বটে।

রংপুরের মতো প্রায় প্রান্তিক অঞ্চলে তিস্তাকে উপলক্ষ করে প্রায় এক বিলিয়ন ডলার পাওয়ার দৃশ্য বলছে, আসন্ন ভূরাজনীতি বাংলাদেশের জন্য সাহায্য-সহযোগিতা-বিনিয়োগের নতুন তরঙ্গ নিয়ে আসতে পারে। বছরে ২০ লাখ তরুণকে কর্মসংস্থানের সুযোগ করে দিতে হলে অর্থনীতিতে যেভাবে প্রবৃদ্ধি অব্যাহত রাখতে হবে, তাতে ওই তরঙ্গে নৌকা ভাসানো ছাড়া বিকল্প কী?

তবে অসুবিধার দিকও আছে। দেশের জন্য ঋণের ফাঁদ এবং দুর্নীতির সংস্কৃতি জোরদার হতে পারে এতে। দেশি-বিদেশি সম্পদ কীভাবে খরচ হয় বা হওয়া উচিত, এ নিয়ে গণনজরদারির সঠিক ব্যবস্থা গড়া যায়নি আজও। বাড়তি অর্থ মানেই দুর্নীতির বাড়তি শঙ্কা তৈরি করে। ঋণখেলাপি হয়ে পড়া এবং সম্পদ পাচার তথাকথিত উদ্যোক্তাদের যে মজা এনে দিয়েছে, তাতে চীনকে তাঁরা ভবিষ্যৎ-বান্ধব হিসেবে দেখতে পারেন।

পাশাপাশি মধ্যবিত্ত ও নিম্নবিত্তদের মধ্যেও চীনের দুর্নাম কম। বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরীণ পরিস্থিতিতে চীন কখনোই মোটাদাগে হস্তক্ষেপ করেনি। আবার উইঘুরের মুসলমানদের দুর্দশার গল্পগুলো এখনো কাশ্মীর বা আসামের মুসলমানদের মতো মনোযোগ পায়নি; বাবরি মসজিদের মতো তো নয়ই। এ রকম একটা রিপোর্ট-কার্ড আঞ্চলিক সুনাম-দুর্নামে চীনকে এগিয়ে রেখেছে।

পক্ষান্তরে নয়াদিল্লির নীতিনির্ধারকেরা কেন আজও বাংলাদেশ সীমান্তে বেসামরিক মানুষের রক্তঝরা বন্ধ করতে পারলেন না, তা দুঃখজনক। বন্ধুত্ব এবং রক্তপাত একদম বিপরীতমুখী। সার্ক না থাকায় সে কথা বলারও জায়গা নেই। সবকিছু চূড়ান্ত হওয়ার পরও তিস্তার প্রবাহ নিয়ে চুক্তি না হওয়ায় কী বার্তা পেল বাংলাদেশের মানুষ? ৫৪টি আন্তনদীর দু–চারটির পানি নিয়েও কেন উভয় দেশ সমঝোতা করে উঠতে পারল না গত পাঁচ দশকে, তা বিস্ময়কর। গ্রীষ্মে শুকিয়ে থাকা নদীগুলোর দিকে তাকিয়ে বাংলাদেশিদের যে বোবা ক্ষোভ হয়, তা বন্ধুত্বের অতীত দিয়ে কত আর মিটমাট করা যায়। এমনকি, ভারতের নাগরিকত্ব সংশোধনী আইনের বিতর্কে বাংলাদেশের দিকে অঙ্গুলিনির্দেশও ঢাকার পক্ষে মেনে নেওয়া শক্ত, বিশেষ করে যখন মেঠো বাস্তবতায় তার সমর্থন দুর্লভ।

তারপরও ভারত বাংলাদেশের জন্য এক মুখ্য বিবেচনা। চার হাজার কিলোমিটারের চেয়েও দীর্ঘ সীমান্ত উভয়ের। এ সত্য অগ্রাহ্য করা যায় না। ভবিষ্যতে এ সম্পর্ক আরও বেশি মনোযোগ ও যত্ন দাবি করতে পারে। কারণ, যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ভারতের বিশেষ বন্ধু এখন। আবার যুক্তরাষ্ট্র বাংলাদেশের বড় বাজারও। বড় বিনিয়োগ পেতে গিয়ে বড় বাজার হারানোর ঝুঁকি নেওয়া যায় না।


চ্যালেঞ্জটি অনেক বড়, তবে মোকাবিলাযোগ্য

চীনকে নিয়ে ভাবতে বসে ভারত ও যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সঙ্গে আরব আমিরাত ও সৌদি আরবের সাম্প্রতিক উদীয়মান মৈত্রীও বাংলাদেশ অগ্রাহ্য করতে পারে না। বিশেষ করে যখন তুরস্ক ও ইরানের সঙ্গে ঢাকার সম্পর্কে অর্থনৈতিক গভীরতা বেশি নয়। তবে বাংলাদেশের বন্ধুত্ব ফিরে পেতে পাকিস্তানের পুনঃপুন আগ্রহ বাংলাদেশের বাজারমূল্য বাড়াচ্ছে বৈকি।

যেকোনো সরকারকে পূর্বাপর ভেবেই সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে হয়। আসামে প্রায় ২০ লাখ বাংলাভাষী হিন্দু-মুসলমান ‘বাংলাদেশি’ পরিচয়ের এক রহস্যময় রাজনীতির করুণ শিকার হয়ে আছে। পশ্চিমবঙ্গেও তথাকথিত বাংলাদেশি অনুপ্রবেশের রাজনীতি সরব। বাংলাদেশের অর্থনৈতিক অগ্রগতি এবং সাম্প্রদায়িক সৌহার্দ্যের চলতি মাত্রার সঙ্গে এসব অনুপ্রবেশের ‘গল্প’ বেমানান হলেও আঞ্চলিক ভূরাজনীতি থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন বিষয় নয় পশ্চিম-উত্তর সীমান্তের এই দুই দৃশ্য। একই রকমভাবে রোহিঙ্গা সমস্যার সমাধানও কোনোভাবেই চীনকে অসন্তুষ্ট করে সম্ভব নয়। বাংলাদেশ সরকারের অবস্থান এখন পর্যন্ত স্বচ্ছ। কোনো রকম ছদ্মযুদ্ধে নেই ঢাকা। কিন্তু আমাদের আরও বহুদূর এগোতে হবে।

দুঃখজনক হলো আঞ্চলিক টানাপোড়েনে বাংলাদেশের জন্য এসব শুভ-অশুভ সংকেত নিয়ে কেবল সরকারকে একাকী সিদ্ধান্ত নিতে হচ্ছে। ‘জাতীয় ইস্যু’তে ‘জাতীয় ঐকমত্য’ চিরদিনই অধরা এ দেশে। স্থানীয় রাজনৈতিক দলগুলোর এসব নিয়ে ভাবনাচিন্তার প্রকাশ্য কোনো চেষ্টাই নেই। জনগণের তরফেও মতামত প্রকাশের কাঠামো নেই। ভূরাজনীতিতে ঐতিহাসিক মোড় পরিবর্তনের এই মুহূর্তে বাংলাদেশের নাগরিকেরা কেবল দর্শকের ভূমিকাতেই থাকছেন আপাতত।

ছায়া-পররাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রীর রেওয়াজ এ দেশে বরাবরই অনুপস্থিত। কোনো দল ভূরাজনীতি নিয়ে ইদানীং কোনো সভা-সেমিনার-বৈঠক করেছে বলে দেখা যায় না। অথচ এ রকম কথাবার্তার মধ্যেই জাতীয় আকাঙ্ক্ষার হদিস মিলত। এ রকম আলোচনায় চীন-ভারতের প্রতিনিধিদের কাছে আমরা রোহিঙ্গা সংকটে তাদের নিষ্ক্রিয়তার ব্যাখ্যা শুনতে পারতাম।

তবে আন্তর্জাতিক কূটনীতিতে অভিমান আর স্থবিরতার মূল্য নেই। বাংলাদেশ গভীর সমুদ্রবন্দর বানাতে না দিলেও পাকিস্তান, মিয়ানমার, শ্রীলঙ্কায় চীন ইতিমধ্যে সেটা বানিয়েছে এবং বাংলাদেশের ওপর অভিমান করে বসে নেই। বাংলাদেশ একই উপকূলে অন্য দেশকে রাডার সিস্টেম বসাতে দিলেও চীন হয়তো অভিমান করে বসে থাকবে না। ইতিবাচক কূটনীতির ধরনই আজকাল এ রকম। বাংলাদেশকেও একইভাবে চলতি নতুন ঐতিহাসিক মুহূর্তটিকে হাতের মুঠোয় নিতে হবে। এ চ্যালেঞ্জে জনগণকে যতটা সম্পৃক্ত করা যাবে, ততই সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া সহজ হতে পারে।

খেয়াল করলে দেখা যায়, মানচিত্রে ঢাকা-নয়াদিল্লি-বেইজিংয়ের মধ্যে রেখা টানলে একটা ত্রিভুজ তৈরি হয়। সেটা বিষমবাহু ত্রিভুজ। এ রকম ত্রিভুজের বাহু, মধ্যমা, কোণ, লম্ব—সবই অসমান। বাহুর দৈর্ঘ্য জানা থাকলেই কেবল বিষমবাহু ত্রিভুজের ক্ষেত্রফল নির্ণয় করা যায়। বাংলাদেশের সামনে চ্যালেঞ্জটি তাই অনেক বড়। তবে মোকাবিলাযোগ্য। রাজনীতিবিদেরা সেই অসম্ভবের শিল্পকলা জানেন।

আলতাফ পারভেজ: দক্ষিণ এশিয়ার ইতিহাস বিষয়ে গবেষক

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  • 3 months later...

India offers Bangladesh its seaports for exports to third countries


India today said it has offered Bangladesh the facility of using Indian sea ports for export to third countries.

India made the offer during the virtual summit between Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi.

"We have offered the use of our sea ports to Bangladesh for export to third countries by bringing in goods using railway containers," Smita Pant, joint secretary (Bangladesh and Myanmar) in the External Affairs Ministry, told an online media briefing on the Hasina-Modi summit.

The rail containers have been a success story for India-Bangladesh trade during much of the Covid-19 pandemic period as it ensured movement of essential goods to India's eastern neighbour and maintain the supply chain.

Replying to a question, she said India handed over eighteen 120mm mortars to Bangladesh on the occasion of Victory Day yesterday as part of bilateral defence cooperation.

India and Bangladesh have a "robust defence cooperation" envisaging frequent exchange of visits by the services chiefs of the two countries and institutional dialogue. A significant component of the cooperation is in training of defence personnel, Pant said.

She said India impressed on Bangladesh the need for expeditious implementation of projects in that country under the Line of Credit extended by India from time to time.

Responding to another question about India-Bangladesh joint ship-building project, Pant said "the talks on this are on and we will take it forward as there is interest in this area.

Replying to another query about India supplying Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh, she said, "Bangladesh will be accorded high priority in vaccine distribution."

According to Pant, the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link, which was inaugurated today by the two PMs, would be open to goods traffic "soon" but did not mention any date.

Asked about movement of passenger trains on the route, she said the modalities for this are under discussion.

Terming the Modi-Hasina summit as "very fruitful," the official said the discussions were comprehensive covering a range of issues

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India looks at integrating more countries into coastal radar network

Efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh

As part of efforts to further expand the coastal radar chain network meant to enable real time monitoring of the high seas for threats as also expand India’s assistance for capacity building to Indian Ocean littoral states, efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh, according to defence.

“Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been integrated into the country’s coastal radar chain network. Similar plans are in the pipeline with Maldives and Myanmar and discussions are ongoing with Bangladesh and Thailand,” a defence source said. Similar proposals are being pursued with some more countries, a second source said without elaborating.

Nodal agency

Two of the coastal radar stations in Maldives were functional as of last year and work was under way on the third station and was to have been completed early this year. The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) located in Gurugram which was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is the nodal agency for maritime data fusion.

As part of information exchange regarding traffic on the high seas, the Navy has been authorised by the government to conclude white shipping agreements with 36 countries and three multilateral constructs. So far agreements have been concluded with 22 countries and one multilateral construct. Of these, 17 agreements and the one multilateral construct have been operationalised, the second source stated.

Info fusion centre

At the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) which is meant to promote Maritime Domain Awareness, three more International Liaison Officers (ILO) are expected to join soon. ILOs from France, Japan and the U.S. have already joined the centre. “The additional officers have been delayed due to COVID-19,” an official said.

Speaking to the media early this month, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh said the IFC-IOR had established itself as the hub of maritime security information in the IOR through white shipping exchange agreements with 21 countries and 20 maritime security centres. ILOs from 13 countries had been invited, and three ILOs had joined the centre, with 3 more likely to join shortly, he had stated.

Under Phase-I of the coastal radar chain network, 46 coastal radar stations have been set up across the country’s coastline. Under Phase-II of the project, which is currently under way, 38 static radar stations and four mobile radar stations are being set up by the Coast Guard and is in advanced stage of completion.

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Bangladesh is now among India’s top 5 export destinations.

India’s exports to Bangladesh rose 46% on an annualised basis at $3.16 billion in January-March, securing it the fourth position after the US ($15.41 billion), China ($5.92 billion) and UAE ($5.34 billion)



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6 minutes ago, Nihonjin Karatumo said:

Bangladesh is now among India’s top 5 export destinations.

India’s exports to Bangladesh rose 46% on an annualised basis at $3.16 billion in January-March, securing it the fourth position after the US ($15.41 billion), China ($5.92 billion) and UAE ($5.34 billion)



On the other hand, Bangladeshi products are facing anti-dumping duties. 


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Dhaka requests Delhi not to impose anti-dumping duty on CFG

 REZAUL KARIM | Published:  July 31, 2021 08:27:25

Bangladesh has requested India not to impose anti-dumping duty (ADD) on its clear float glass (CFG) as such Bangladeshi product was not being exported to the Indian market at dumped prices, officials said.

Dhaka has recently made the request at a virtual meeting.

"We have presented our arguments to the Indian authority concerned, saying that CFG production is not being hampered by exports of Bangladeshi CFG to the Indian market," Md Hafizur Rahman, additional commerce secretary and director general of WTO cell, told the FE on Wednesday.

He, however, said Bangladeshi CFG was not being exported to the neighbouring country at dumped prices.

"We will formally request the Indian authority concerned not to impose ADD on Bangladeshi CFG as early as possible," he added.

Senior officials of foreign and industries ministries and Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) and Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) took part in the meeting.

Earlier, a good number of Indian producers have requested the DGTR under the commerce ministry, and the industry ministry to launch an investigation into the allegation of dumping.

Following the allegation, the Indian authority has already taken initiative for an anti-dumping investigation into export of clear float glass by Bangladeshi producers.

The DGTR on June 17 last told the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi that local industries accused three Bangladeshi exporters of dumping CFG in Indian market.

The names of the companies are PHP Float Glass Industries, Nasir Float Glass Industries Limited and Usmania Glass Sheet Factory Limited.


The DGTR also asked the three Bangladeshi exporters to provide necessary information and explanation in this regard by 30 days from the date of receipt of the letter.

The High Commission has thus requested the relevant ministry in Bangladesh to immediately take required steps in this regard.

To this effect, the commerce ministry sat with stakeholders concerned. The stakeholders presented their arguments in this regard, a high official of the commerce ministry said.

"We have noted necessary information and arguments from the exporters concerned," he added.

Any Indian imposition of ADD on clear float glass will deal a serious blow to Bangladesh's overall export to India. Float glass has huge potential in the Indian market, he said.

Currently, India imposes anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute goods, hydrogen peroxide and fishing net. Glass shipments to India have been rising in recent years.

Bangladesh exported glass sheets worth over $0.7 million to India in the fiscal year (FY) 2019-20.The volume of exports of such products has increased remarkably in FY 2020-21.

Its exports to the market grew by 357 per cent to US$3.39 million in 11 months of the last fiscal year than that of the previous fiscal year.

CFG is generally used in window, refrigeration, construction, automobiles, mirror and solar energy industries.

An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value, according to investopedia.com.

The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field between the domestic producers and foreign exporters/producers.

Earlier, India slapped anti-dumping duty on Bangladesh's jute yarn, hessian and bags back in January 2017 ranging from $19 and $352 a tonne.

A similar duty was imposed on the exports of hydrogen peroxide to India in the range between $27.81 and $91.47 per tonne in April 2017.

One year later, India put anti-dumping duty at $2.69 per kilogram on the shipment of fishing net from Bangladesh.

According to a senior commerce ministry official, this will be a clear violation of the SAFTA rules if India initiates investigation into the allegation of dumping without consulting Bangladesh.

As per existing SAFTA rules, he said, before considering anti-dumping measures against least developed contracting states, they have to be given the scope for consultation in this regard.

"The contracting states shall give special regard to the situation of the least developed contracting states when considering the application of anti-dumping and/or countervailing measures," according to Article 11(A) of the rules.

"In this regard, the contracting states shall provide an opportunity to least developed contracting states for consultations. The contracting states shall, to the extent practical, favourably consider accepting price undertakings offered by exporters from least developed contracting states."

In March, five memoranda of understanding were signed between Bangladesh and India in Dhaka to enhance cooperation, an official told the FE.

One of them was inked on the establishment of a framework of cooperation in the area of trade remedial measures between the two countries.

It has been mentioned not to make any move about measures/investigation on ADD without consultation with the respective country, the official added.

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