UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | The Spirit of 1971 – India and Bangladesh Partnership | 8th September 2022

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What is the article about:

  • The Spirit of 1971 – India and Bangladesh Partnership

Relevance:

  • GS2: International Relations
  • GS3: Internal Security

Context:

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ongoing state visit to India and meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi have resulted in positive outcomes and several agreements.

Analysis:

  • Agreements include the conclusion of the first water sharing agreement in 26 years, the launch of free trade agreement talks, and infrastructure projects particularly in the railways sector.
  • The Water Sharing Agreements:
    • The water sharing agreement on the Kushiyara, which was preceded by the first Joint River Commission meeting in 12 years, is a particularly hopeful sign on resolving water management, and a very contentious issue, of 54 trans-boundary rivers.
    • While there has been a smaller agreement on the withdrawal of 1.82 cusecs from the Feni in the interim period, the Kushiyara agreement is the first time the Centre has been able to bring on board Assam and other north-eastern States, for the agreement since the 1996 Ganga water treaty.
    • However, the Teesta agreement of 2011 remains elusive.
  • FDI and Industry:
    • Much of the focus was also on attracting investment by Indian industry, which now constitutes a small fraction of Bangladesh’s FDI inflows. Two dedicated Special Economic Zones for Indian companies, coming up at Mongla and Mirsarai.
    • Ms. Hasina’s visit, which follows her previous state visit in 2017, and Mr. Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in 2021, have set India-Bangladesh ties on a firmer footing, and on course for closer engagement in trade, connectivity and people-to-people ties.

Way Forward:

  • However, the positive trend in ties goes further back, to Ms. Hasina’s advent to power in 2009, her unilateral moves to shut down terror training camps, and to hand over more than 20 wanted criminals and terror suspects to India.
  • While cross-border sensitivities in South Asia often run high over such political rhetoric, it is necessary that New Delhi and Dhaka remain focused on their future cooperation, built on their past partnership, and what is referred to as the “Spirit of 1971”.



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