INDIA AND BANGLADESH REJOICE AND REINVIGORATE TRADITIONAL TIES
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Diplomatist|April 2021
Tremendous excitement marked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh.
VAISHALI BASU SHARMA

While this was not his first trip to Bangladesh, a certain exhilaration marked his visit. As the Bangladeshi people celebrated their ‘National Day’ commemorating 50 years of liberation from Pakistan, India joined in rejoicing. Along with the Golden Jubilee of Independence, Bangladesh commemorated the birth centenary of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. India and Bangladesh also hailed 50 years of formal diplomatic ties, with plans to hold commemorative events in 19 countries identified by the two sides and jointly organise events throughout the year. The three reasons to celebrate were referred to by PM Modi “Triveni” (trijunction).

Preceding the actual visit, a series of developmental initiatives were announced, with both leaders meeting virtually on December 17, 2020, during which Modi described Bangladesh as a “pillar of India’s Neighbourhood First policy.” The ensuing visit on March 26-27, 2021 was PM Modi’s first foreign visit after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. To honour Bangladesh’s liberation, he visited the National Martyrs Memorial at Savar and met valiant ‘Mukhtijoddhas’ or liberation war freedom fighters. In profound recognition of India’s role in the Liberation War, PM Sheikh Hasina in her speech at the National Day stated that the “self-sacrifice, support, and cooperation of the people of India during the Liberation War will never be forgotten.”

Cultural, linguistic people-to-people ties, economic interdependence, and geostrategic interests make India and Bangladesh politically vital to each other. On the eve of the liberation war in 1971, it was assumed that given the role that India had played in the birth of Bangladesh, both nations would always remain on the closest bilateral terms. But this was not to be, and there have been times that distinct acrimony marked the bilateral ties. The present dispensation on both sides of the border, led by PMs Modi and Hasina heralded a warmer relationship, cooperating on various economic, social, scientific, and technological areas. The affability that both leaders share also challenges the traditional belief that bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India aren’t the warmest when the Awami League (AL) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are in power in the respective countries. Led by a special commitment both leaders have overcome a phase of uneven times, towards close partnership in terms of economic and strategic interests.

The Visit was Preceded by Numerous Initiatives

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