India’s Growing Ties with Bangladesh
Image Credit: Wikicommons

India’s Growing Ties with Bangladesh


While India’s relationship with its western neighbor Pakistan has been faltering despite concerted efforts, on the eastern front a new bonhomie is forming with Bangladesh.

The recent signing of a new extradition treaty and visa regime between India and Bangladesh, signed by Indian home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, marks a major shift in their relationship.  India has long demanded an extradition treaty with Bangladesh, which was not forthcoming due to an adversarial relationship with the previous regime in Dhaka.

With the treaty, New Delhi has gained a way to clamp down on insurgency in the northeastern region of the country, long a hotbed for separatist and insurgent groups who mostly operate from Bangladesh and other neighboring countries.

It is believed that senior leaders from the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other underground groups are hiding in Bangladesh. The new treaty will allow India to deport them.

Bangladesh also stands to benefit, with India pledging to track down the two convicted killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who are believed to be hiding in India.

Likewise, the new liberalized visa regime is a boon for Bangladesh. According to the Times of India, the new regime allows for the provision of multiple entry tourist and medical visas valid up to a year, five-year business visas, and other categories.

While both countries largely stand to benefit from the agreement, the issue of illegal immigration is a sticking point. With a porous, shared border more than 4000 kilometers long, many poor Bangladeshis illegally enter India to find work. The new visa regime addresses this issue to an extent. Some analysts say that the issue cannot be handled comprehensively unless New Delhi issues permits to Bangladeshi migrant laborers.

The India-Bangladesh relationship has been on the upswing since Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009. The improved relations are largely due to her efforts to stamp out anti-Indian sentiment in Bangladesh.

Along with greater cooperation, economic activity between the two nations has increased. In 2011, India pledged to invest U.S. $1 billion to build infrastructure in Bangladesh.

While the new extradition and visa agreement and stronger economic ties are a clear marker of progress, there is also a good deal of unfinished business between the two countries.

For one, India has not yet signed the Teesta Water Teaty, which will give Bangladesh access to the Teesta River that flows from India.

Meanwhile, India is waiting for Bangladesh to grant transit access to its landlocked northeastern states bordered by Bangladesh.
According to analysts, as the biggest country in South Asia, India is keen to engage its neighbor in a bid to neutralize China’s growing influence there. To do so, New Delhi must give more economic leverage to Bangladesh and allow Bangladesh to have a bigger share of India’s growing economic success.

Greater concessions from India would also boost Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s popularity, offsetting criticism leveled at her by opposition groups.

Political analysts say the extradition treaty and new visa regime are intended to give the Awami League leader a much needed political makeover before next year’s election.

The arrangement also suits India’s new foreign policy vision, which is based on greater economic engagement with its neighbors.

India has struggled to maintain smooth relations with its neighbors. In the case of Pakistan, it has stepped up economic engagement but made little political progress. By contrast, India’s slowly growing ties with Bangladesh have given its Look East Policy a boost and could be the start of renewed progress.

August 24, 2013 at 09:02

Some very typical Indian replies. No wonder we are better of cooperating with China who respects our sovereignty as equal rather than deal with another dirt poor country which likes to define itself by religion and does not mind bashing a large section of their own people because of their faith when talking against another country. Grow up. 

Facts from South India
July 28, 2013 at 01:50

Bangladeshi's have reached the Southernmost state of Kerala, there is even a colony called Bangladeshi colony in my state in the city of Calicut. They get paid, Rs 600 INR for a daily labour job, which would be almost over a a thousand Bangladeshi Daka.But along with them, they bring Islam and India does not need Islamo fascism . Please go back to your country, that you had asked for – instead of begging in Hindusthan.

April 12, 2013 at 14:45

You make the right comment. Hasina have to pay the price for being Indian poodle.

a friend from India
March 26, 2013 at 22:11

salaam to all my Bangladeshi friends, to start with I would like to go back to 1971 when people of Bangladesh with support from India liberated themselves from an oppressive government of Pakistan. We, in India, value friendship of Bangladesh supermost and are happy that Bangladeshi people are progressing well. India would like to contribute in as many ways as possible towards that transformation.the present govt of Bangladesh has been showing a keen interest in resolving issues and cooperating with India for mutual benefit. However, political will and sense of expediency has been lacking in both the countries. landboundary agreement although agreed upon has not been implemented, similarly Teesta water issue has been left on the back burner. These issues are very sensitive and emotive and perhaps need more confidence building and understanding on both sides. The good thing is that a begining has been made, the intent is there and an environment of mutual trust is developing which will bear rich dividends in the future. 

Md.Mustafizur Rahman
February 9, 2013 at 14:12

India follow worng tie with Bangladesh  like party(Ahawami legue) to State tie, The peolple of Bangladesh dont like india, even day by day anti-indian sentiment is growing on young people due to border killing,Tipae Dam,Indian River programme e.t.c . India should follow state to state relationship. A single person (sheik hasina) does not represent entire Bangladesh.      

February 7, 2013 at 11:31

What is the demand of bangladesh- that an overpopulated india host residents from an even more overpopulated bangladesh. Sorry not going to happen. Bangladeshis should try illegally migrating to myanmar and south east asia and see what happens. Dont forget india despite its weak government is still a military superpower in south aisa. When push comes to shove bullet talks.

February 7, 2013 at 04:51

india has lifted all duties for bangladesh, india has agreed to settle land according to bangladesh terms, India has provided biggest soft loans to bangladesh, in return India was only looking for transit rights to feed it's people in north east by bringing in faster developement. India is helping bangladesh build infrastructure… but India is a diff kind of governance …whereas indian state govt has capability to block any concessions so please bear with that…india has not got anything in return only some return of terrorists from india …so to say that there was big concession to india is wrong..

MBI Munshi
February 2, 2013 at 01:18

The Awami League government has decided to adopt a policy of subservience towards India. While all the key demands of India have been met not a single requirement of Dhaka's has been agreed to by New Delhi in the alst four years. The arrangement appears to be that India will secure the Awami Legaue in power in Bangladesh in return that Hasina agrees to all of India's demands. This is not a relationship of equlas but one of master and slave and is unlikley to be enduring ……  

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