Background, Major Outstanding Issues and Institutional Mechanisms for Cooperation

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Background

  • Longest boundary: 4096 km
  • Common cultural ties and history of national movement
  • 1971 liberation
    • India provided haven to refugees
    • Provided aid, training, and shelter for the exiled govt of Bangladesh
  • 1972: Treaty of friendship, cooperation, and peace
    • Aka Indira-Mujib treaty
  • 1975: Assassination of Mujib
    • Establishment of military regimes that sought to distance Bangladesh from India
  • ULFA started operating its bases from the territory of Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh alleged that India was supporting the Shanti Bahini insurgency in the Chittagong Hill tracts
  • Some points
    • Our geographical proximity makes us natural partners
    • Common cultural identity can promote this partnership

Major Outstanding Issues

Table 1

Major Outstanding Issues
IssueIndia՚s ConcernBangladesh՚s Concern
SecurityBangladesh՚s haven to NE insurgent groups, especially ULFA: already taken care by the Sheikh Hasina government
Water sharing/Farakka Barrage, Teesta and FeniThere are 54 rivers in common. Bangladesh says that it does not receive a fair share of the Ganges waters during the drier seasons, and gets flooded during the monsoons when India releases excess waters
Enclaves51 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh (28 sq km)111 Bangladeshi enclaves in India (70 sq km)
ImmigrationThere is illegal immigration from Bangladesh to India, especially in Assam and Tripura
Maritime BoundaryThis is mineNo this is mine
Fencing of bordersIndia has fenced borders

Table 2

Binder vs Separators
BindersSeparators
India՚s role in Bangladesh՚s liberation – Indira Gandhi conferred the highest national awardSecurity concerns: India shares the longest international border with Bangladesh
Share common concerns: poverty, development, corruption, and terrorismThe issue of enclaves:
Shared history and common heritage. Linked by culture: Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali language, outflow-inflow of peopleThere is no demarcation of maritime boundary. Bangladesh has gone to the Tribunal of the Law of the Seas in this issue
In 1982, India had gifted the ‘teen bigha’ region to Bangladesh so that it could link its two enclavesNegative mindset towards India still prevails among certain Bangladeshi circles
Bilateral trade in 2009 - 10 was 3.507 bn USD. India enjoys trade surplus.

Institutional Mechanisms for Cooperation

  • Joint Rivers Commission
  • Joint Economic Commission
  • Joint Working group on Security; Joint Boundary Working Group etc.

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