Background, Major Outstanding Issues and Institutional Mechanisms for Cooperation

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  • 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
Major Outstanding Issues


India’s Concern

Bangladesh’s Concern


Bangladesh’s haven to NE insurgent groups, especially ULFA: already taken care by the Sheikh Hasina government

Water sharing/Farakka Barrage, Teesta and Feni

There 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


51 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh (28 sq km)

111 Bangladeshi enclaves in India (70 sq km)


There is illegal immigration from Bangladesh to India, especially in Assam and Tripura

Maritime Boundary

This is mine

No this is mine

Fencing of borders

India has fenced borders

Table 2

Binder vs Separators
Binder VS Separators



India’s role in Bangladesh’s liberation – Indira Gandhi conferred the highest national award

Security concerns: India shares the longest international border with Bangladesh

Share common concerns: poverty, development, corruption, and terrorism

The issue of enclaves:

Shared history and common heritage. Linked by culture: Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali language, outflow-inflow of people

There 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 enclaves

Negative 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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