Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 48-hour go to to Bangladesh within the midst of the Assembly elections in 4 states and a Union Territory had a pregnant financial connotation. This is kind of other than the ceremonial niceties that have been exchanged by the Prime Minister within the firm of his counterpart, Begum Hasina, on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh and the centenary of its brainchild, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The event, subsequently, was a chapter in South Asian historical past. While each leaders have unveiled the “roadmap for a shared future”, it’s the pacts that they signed that have been riveted to brasstacks. Chief amongst these was the inauguration of a brand new passenger prepare service, the Mitali Express, from New Jalpaiguri to Dhaka.
Connectivity has been given a lift not the least as a result of that is the fourth prepare that symbolises the sign of intent on both facet of the territorial divide, recalling the prepare from East Pakistan to Sealdah station and the steamer service with the delectable hen curry served on board ~ each modes of transport within the pre-Partition days. Small surprise that India’s international secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, instructed Begum Hasina that Mr Modi’s go to has lent “new energy and new pace” to bilateral relations.
The pacts which were concluded envisage the event of a nuclear energy plant, haats alongside the border, extra consignments of Covid vaccines, cooperation in area and within the sphere of synthetic intelligence, and India’s participation within the first-ever air present in Bangladesh in 2022. No much less crucial have been Mr Modi’s visits to the Mujib Memorial and the Matua Centre, the latter maybe with an eye fixed on the electoral potential of the category group in West Bengal.
As regards the Teesta, Begum Hasina evaded diplomatic niceties when she instructed her host fairly bluntly that the choice on sharing the waters of the river was taken 9 years in the past and is but to be applied. Mr Modi has reiterated India’s “sincere commitment and continued efforts” to conclude this settlement in “consultation with the relevant stakeholders”.
Pre-eminently Mamata Banerjee who has been stoutly in opposition to sharing the Teesta water, primarily as a result of it should impede agriculture in North Bengal, given the shallow depth of the river. Over time, subsequently, the river has turn into an electoral situation. But outstanding certainly was the cooperation in issues of public well being. With India gifting 1.2 million doses of Covid vaccine, Bangladesh now ranks as the biggest international recipient of vaccines made in India.
Less simply sorted out was Dhaka’s request for what it calls a 1.three km “Innocent Passage” which can facilitate the passage of the opposite nation’s boats with restrictions that can be in place alongside the Padma river. While India pledged to think about the request, Mr Modi’s delegation made a sturdy pitch for completion of border fencing, starting with the Tripura-Bangladesh sector.
The border stays ever so porous, with passports and visas lowered to irrelevance for tons of of hundreds who cross over amidst what this newspaper described in 1979 as “the quiet influx”.