The two-day go to of PM Modi wasn’t nearly goodwill gestures, bonhomie and spectacle, however in regards to the shared way forward for the 2 nations, intertwined by deep-seated cultural and historic ties.
Dhaka: From commerce, connectivity and cultural alchemy to frontier areas akin to start-ups, synthetic intelligence and nuclear energy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic go to to Bangladesh for “triple celebrations” has ushered in a brand new “sonali adhyay” (golden chapter) in multi-faceted strategic partnership between the 2 South Asian neighbours. PM Modi’s second go to to Dhaka—he visited Bangladesh after a hiatus of six years—is steeped in an environment of nationwide rejoicing as India and Bangladesh collectively have fun “Mujib Borsho”—the start centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, 50 years of Bangladesh’s conflict of liberation and 50 years of the institution of diplomatic ties. Mutual goodwill and heat of sentiments flowed spontaneously as Dhaka pulled out all stops to welcome the Indian chief. In a particular gesture, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, accompanied by her senior ministers, personally obtained PM Modi on the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday, 26 March. In diplomacy, florid phrases are sometimes utilized by leaders as feel-good messaging, however sentiments expressed by PM Modi and Sheikh Hasina on Bangladesh National Day got here straight from the center. Sporting a “Mujib Jacket” as a tribute to Bangladesh’s beloved Father of the Nation, “Bangabandhu”, PM Modi’s voice turned emotional as he described his presence in Dhaka on this historic event as “one of the most memorable days of my life” and recalled that how as a younger man in his early twenties, “doing satyagraha for independence of Bangladesh” was one of many most interesting moments of his life. Sheikh Hasina additionally struck an emotive tone, saying, “In our independence war, we always remember the contribution of India.”
The two-day go to of PM Modi that ended on the night of Saturday, 27 March, wasn’t nearly goodwill gestures, bonhomie and spectacle, however in regards to the shared way forward for the 2 nations, intertwined by deep-seated cultural and historic ties. On Day 1 of his go to, PM Modi set the tone by saying an India-Bangladesh partnership in start-ups. Marking 50 years of multinational of diplomatic ties, PM Modi invited 50 entrepreneurs from Bangladesh to go to India to affix the nation’s start-up and innovation ecosystem and meet India’s enterprise capitalists. He additionally introduced 1,000 Swarna Jayanti scholarships for the youths of Bangladesh, which is given to younger scientists in fields of biology, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, arithmetic, medication and physics. These two pioneering initiatives will body the longer term trajectory of the India-Bangladesh partnership which can revolve more and more round youth, innovation, expertise and entrepreneurship. Taking the agenda of the December 2020 digital summit ahead, the wideranging talks between PM Modi and Sheikh Hasina culminated in a future-looking template for subsequent steps within the India-Bangladesh partnership. With a view to upscale financial partnership, a commerce framework pact was signed, which won’t solely improve commerce and funding, however may even allow Dhaka to cut back commerce deficit with New Delhi and make two-way enterprise extra balanced. With a political push from the 2 leaders, CEPA negotiations are anticipated to accumulate momentum in days to come back.
Connectivity will proceed to energy bilateral ties as a brand new passenger practice referred to as “Mitali Express” was nearly launched by the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh to hyperlink Dhaka Cantonment with New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. Ahead of his go to to Dhaka, PM Modi had put the highlight on enhancing connectivity by inaugurating the Maitri Setu (Friendship Bridge) and different infrastructural initiatives in Tripura in India’s Northeast. It’s not simply bilateral connectivity however the two nations may even be intently cooperating in selling regional connectivity and integration by means of platforms akin to BIMSTEC, IORA and SAARC.
THE WAY AHEAD
Blending spectacle with substance, PM Modi’s Dhaka go to raised the bar excessive and unveiled new vistas on this mutually energizing partnership. PM Modi evocatively referred to as this new 2.Zero part of India-Bangladesh relations as Nai Urja, Nai Gati (New Energy, New Momentum) that’s brimming with prospects. Giving a peek into the way forward for India-Bangladesh relations, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla outlined these frontier areas, together with start-ups, synthetic intelligence, large knowledge, web of issues and Industrial Revolution 4.0. Collaboration in public well being and pandemic mitigation will likely be an vital space of shared endeavour. The symbolic presentation of 109 life-support ambulances and one other batch of 1.2 million models of Made-in-India vaccine underscored that Delhi and Dhaka will stroll collectively, in illness and in well being. At 10.2 million, Bangladesh is the most important recipient of Indian vaccines.
Going ahead, to retain the momentum in burgeoning ties, PM Modi and Sheikh Hasina additionally exchanged notes on shaping and elevating this partnership for the subsequent fifty years. Taking the lengthy view, the Delhi-Dhaka join has the potential to change into a mannequin for the dysfunctional South Asian area scarred by suspicion and mistrust. Going by this extraordinarily productive and future-looking engagement between the leaders of India and Bangladesh on the historic celebrations, it’s attainable to re-imagine a brand new way forward for South Asia that’s extra bodily, culturally and emotionally built-in. Moving past diplomacy, the overarching message from PM Modi’s Dhaka journey was, a joyous celebration of shared cultural heritage, historic connections and sturdy people-to-people ties that can intertwine desires of over 1.5 billion folks dwelling within the two nations.
Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of “India Writes Network” and “India and the World” journal.