Skip to main content

In an effort to 'counter' China, India seeks to deepen defence ties with Bangladesh

By Dr Arpita Hazarika
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who completed her India visit recently, attended a closed-door meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on September 6. After the meeting, the two Prime Ministers attended a press conference. Sheikh Hasina termed the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India as a role model of 'neighbourhood diplomacy'.
She also said that she agreed with Modi to work on various bilateral issues. She added, they had agreed to carry out cooperative efforts to maintain our economic growth and regional peace, security and stability. If Bangladesh and India can work together as partners, it will bring peace and prosperity not only for the two countries but also for the region.
On the other hand, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “We have emphasized on cooperation against terrorism and radicalism”, underlining the need to identify those who want to “hurt our mutual trust.”
Security cooperation, investment, enhanced trade relations, Rohingya issue, water resource management, border management, cooperation in power and energy sector, common river water sharing, prevention of drug smuggling and human trafficking were discussed in the meeting of the two Prime Ministers.
Despite the delayed progress on the line of credit extension in 2018, different types of equipment are being considered at various stages. According to media reports, Bangladesh's capital Dhaka recently shared a wish list of military platforms and systems that its armed forces would like to purchase from India, marking some progress on the delayed implementation of the $500 million defense Line of Credit (LoC) extended by India to Bangladesh. This contains a wide variety of tools, such as an oil tanker for the Bangladesh Navy, a logistics ship, and a floating dock.
India considers the signing of the first contract between Bangladesh and India under the $500 Line of Credit (LoC) to be an "important first step" in bolstering bilateral defense cooperation.
"This week, I believe the first contract under the defense line of credit was signed. You have undoubtedly been paying close attention to this. Despite being small, it was an essential first step", said Vinay Kwatra, the foreign secretary of India, in New Delhi.
According to its "Forces Goal 2030," Bangladesh is modernizing its military by introducing new weaponry and enhancing infrastructure. A large portion of these requirements can be met by India, which will also boost defence cooperation between the two countries.
China has sold Bangladesh weapons, including two traditional diesel electric submarines. China has become one of the world's leading suppliers of weapons, particularly to nations in India's immediate neighbourhood.
India recently greatly increased its military support for capacity building and capabilities development for nations in the Indian Ocean region in an effort to counter this. The "intensification" of bilateral defense ties was welcomed by Sheikh Hasina and Modi.
According to the joint statement released following the bilateral talks between the two leaders, they agreed on the early completion of projects under the Line of Credit for Defense, which would be advantageous for both nations. India looks forward to strengthening bilateral defense ties and welcomed the completion of "first purchase plans" for vehicles for the Bangladesh Armed Forces, it says.
Both parties stressed on the importance of cooperating closely to implement the $500 million Line of Credit offered by India for defense items at the 4th Bangladesh-India annual defense dialogue held in New Delhi in August. 
At the meeting, representatives from Bangladesh and India reaffirmed their commitment to improving interactions between their armed forces and discussed the development of bilateral defense cooperation programmes.
For in-depth conversations, various facets of defense industrial and capability-building cooperation came up. Both nations looked at the possibility of working together on joint production, co-development, and commerce in the defense sector. The Indian side reaffirmed its demand for the 2019 MoU's provision of a coastal radar system for increased marine security to be implemented as soon as possible.
The relationship between Bangladesh and India is long-standing. One can hope that this relationship will become closer in future. But it is also true, even though the two countries have maintained good relations, some issues have not been resolved. These include the Teesta water sharing agreement, border management and trade deficit.
Regarding the Teesta water distribution agreement, Sheikh Hasina expressed optimism and said that the agreement will be signed very soon. Earlier, India and Bangladesh finalised the Teesta water-sharing deal in 2010 and it was likely to be signed in 2011. But it could not be inked due to opposition from West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banarjee.
It may be mentioned that all the formalities of signing an agreement on Teesta was completed but it was not implemented at the last moment. Indian authorities should consider to resolve the matter expeditiously.
Bangladesh also felt, Indian government should be sincere in stopping border killings. Reducing the trade deficit between the two countries was also of particular importance during the talks.
Trade and cooperation between the two neighbours have grown as a result of their special friendship relationship, promising advantages for both nations. To advance their relationship even further, Bangladesh and India signed seven agreements. These agreements covered important topics like water withdrawal from a shared river, railroad development assistance, judicial officer training in Bangladesh, science and technology cooperation, and broadcasting cooperation. These agreements portend a strengthening of the bonds that unite the two nations.
Compared to 2010, India's loan assistance to Bangladesh has now increased tenfold. About 25 percent of India's total foreign aid is allocated to Bangladesh. In the meantime, the country has handed over a billion dollars to Bangladesh, that too at less than one percent interest, a generosity that no other friendly country has shown to Bangladesh.
India's provision of tariff-free transit facilities to Bangladesh for exports to Nepal and Bhutan is considered a major step in bilateral cooperation. Also, since India can use the Chittagong seaport, not only the Seven Sisters of India will benefit from it, Dhaka will also benefit from it. Because, due to this, the South Block of Delhi expects that the export of Bangladesh to Northeast India will increase significantly.
The visit also made it clear where India wants to take its relationship with Bangladesh in the days ahead. Modi announced the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA for short, with Bangladesh. As a result, the products of both countries will get duty-free access.
It is expected that the volume of trade between the two countries will increase from the current 1.4 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars in the next ten years. India was also requested to implement CEPA with Japan and China. But it chose Bangladesh.
---
*Researcher at Gauhati University, Assam

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.