Indo-Bangla Relation : A new era of friendship
By Ajit Mitra
With the change in guard at centre the Indo-Bangla relation has caught a steady fold increase in multiple fronts. Thanks to the soft diplomacy by India, Indian investment in Bangladesh always got an advantageous position with an active support from the Bangladesh counterpart. These are several other reasons which facilitated both the neighboring countries to revise their relation which includes strategic geographical location, cultural bondage, political stability, emerging economy and many others.
The strategic geographical location for instance, is the primary reason which bring two neighboring country together in spite of all odds in the recent past. India shares longest international boundary with the Bangladesh. A stable peaceful boundary is essential for all round development. Similar is the case with Bangladesh, their hostile relation Myanmar regarding the Rohinga Muslims left India as a single option for all their international needs (i.e. business, export-import, transport etc.). With land and boundary agreement (LBA) India signaled positively to address long standing issues with Bangladesh. The land dispute with Bangladesh is one of the complex boundary issues in the modern times and peaceful bilateral negotiations resolved the issue mutually. It shows the sincerity with the bilateral relation from both sides of the borders.
The economic relation on other hand, increased significantly. Recent agreement on the transshipment operations at the Ashuganj port in Bangladesh will enable India to transport goods to the land locked north eastern states and further to Myanmar through Bangladesh. The proposed agreement will reduce risk, cost and will increase trades between two neighboring countries. The biggest foreign investment India made so far is in the Khulna area of Bangladesh for 1320 MW electricity generation where Indian external lending arm EXIM bank will provide the soft loan with technical assistance. It should be noted that the China has lost the above said agreement on technical ground. Bangladesh in return agreed to provide 100 GB bandwidth to India for speedy data transfer. A country with her emerging market is the first choice for investment. Bangladesh already provided the land for special economic zone for Indian companies.
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Emergence of China in the geo-political game has changed the world power game. Where China is trying to dominate the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with their huge forex reserve and investment capabilities, India on the hand, countered the influence with her historically proved friendly relation and soft powers. As India is heading towards the 2nd largest economy, the new market strategy is very important at this stage. Bangladesh, in terms of market size and investment opportunities may one of the finest choices for Indian companies and government agencies. At this stage India has to reciprocate by addressing the concerns (Testa problem) of Bangladesh to establish a smooth long term bilateral relation.