India and Bangladesh are enjoying increasingly close relations, ever since the formation of the then East Pakistan to the People's Republic of Bangladesh. But this relationship cemented at the battleground of the 1971 war. This is the 50 year of strong bonding between the two countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has flagged off his first foreign tour since India declared the Covid-19 lockdown a year ago. He will be in Bangladesh today and tomorrow to attend the celebration of that country's 50th year of liberation from Pakistan and the centenary year of its founder Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. The two countries are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
“I am happy that my first foreign visit after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic will be to our friendly neighbouring country, with which India shares deep cultural, linguistic and people-to-people ties,” read his departure statement, released on Thursday. My visit will not only be an occasion to convey appreciation for Bangladesh's remarkable economic and developmental strides under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visionary leadership, but also to commit India's abiding support for these achievements,” PM Modi said in his statement.
He had also tweeted yesterday that Bangladesh is an important pillar of India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy. Besides taking part in a wide range of programs aimed at furthering cooperation between the two countries, PM Modi is also set to offer prayers at the Jashoreshwari Kali Temple.
Relation between India and Bangladesh
In 1971, India won the war against Pakistan that resulted in the birth of the then state of East Pakistan as the People's Republic of Bangladesh. Indian military forces exemplary courage during the 1971 war brought the opposition army to its knees, resulting in India’s greatest military victory.
The relationship between India and Bangladesh is anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and multitude of other commonalities between the two countries
Also, immediately after the 1971 war, New Delhi entrenched diplomatic connections with Dhaka. And was the first country to identify Bangladesh as a democratic state.
Bilateral Trade and Investment
Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. India’s exports to Bangladesh in FY 2018-19 stood at US$ 9.21 bn and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were US$1.04 bn. In 2019-20, Bangladesh’s exports to India stood at US$ 1096.38 million and Bangladesh’s Import from India during the same period stood at US$ 5793.60 million.
Earlier in 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, the trade agreement between India and Bangladesh was renewed for a period of five years with a provision for auto-renewal.\
The movement of goods between India and Bangladesh by roads is operationalized through 48 Land Customs Stations (LCSs) and 2 Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) along the border. The government of India plans to upgrade 8 more of the existing LCSs into ICPs to boost bilateral trade and commerce.
India-Bangladesh CEO’s Forum
To provide policy level inputs in various areas of trade and investment and facilitate exchanges among the business communities between both the countries, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina created an India-Bangladesh CEO’s Forum.
The longest land boundary that India shares with any of its neighbours is Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km of land border. Several boundary clashes had been erupted in the past due to no proper border management. Activities like illegal migration, smuggling, and trans-border movement were the central concern of border management.
Finding a solution out, both the countries signed the Coordinated Border Management Plan in 2011 aims to strengthen the efforts of both the forces for checking cross border illegal activities and for maintenance of peace along the India-Bangladesh border.
Several other conferences between BSF and BGB were also held regularly to discuss the management and security of the India-Bangladesh land border.
India has extended 3 Lines of Credits to Bangladesh in the last decade amounting to US$ 8 billion. Thus, Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of LOC funds from India so far.
When Prime Minister of Bangladesh paid a visit to India in January 2010, India had announced a US$1 billion Line of Credit (LOC) for Bangladesh covering projects in public transportation, roads, railways, bridges and inland waterways etc. The second LOC of US$ 2 billion was extended to Bangladesh when PM Modi visited the neighboring country in 2015. This LOC covers 15 projects in areas of Roads, Railways, Power, Shipping, SEZs, Health & Medical Care and Technical Education. The third LOC of US$ 4.5 was extended to Bangladesh in 2017 during the visit of Bangladesh PM to India.
The new LOC will cover projects in areas of Port Construction, Railways, Roads, Airports, Power & Energy, Telecommunications, and Shipping etc. Government of India also facilitates grant assistance to Bangladesh for projects under ‘Aid to Bangladesh’. Three Sustainable Development Projects (SDPs) are currently under process in the cities of Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet.
One of the most important projects under the Indian grant assistance is the Bangladesh section of the Agartala-Akhaura rail-link.
In January 2021, India extended the aid of 2 million doses of 'Made in India' COVID-19 vaccine, 'Covishield' to Bangladesh to assist the country in its fight against the pandemic.
The Government of India and Bangladesh's BEXIMCO Pharmaceuticals Limited signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding to procure 3 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India (SII).
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited is SII's sole distributor in Bangladesh