1. The sudden increase in India-Bangladesh co-operation
In recent weeks, there appears to be a sudden and unexpected increase in the engagements between Bangladesh and India in many areas of mutual interest. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit India in the first week of October, while the Indian External Affairs Minister is most likely to pay his maiden visit to Bangladesh on August 20-21. Both sides will discuss various issues concerning 54 common rivers spanning the two countries, according to a top Water Resources Ministry official, as well as the intent to develop economic ties. This is a positive sign for both nations, as they could help develop infrastructure in both nations, helping create many jobs.
2. Nations agree to boost railway connectivity
In a part of the positive contacts between India and Bangladesh, Bangladesh and India agreed to boost railway connectivity between the two countries due to growing demand from passengers, Bangladeshi state media reported. The decision came at a delegation-level meeting held between the Railway Minister of Bangladesh Nurul Islam Sujan and his Indian counterpart Piyush Goel at Rail Bhavan in New Delhi. After the meeting, Goel announced that the frequency of Kolkata-Dhaka Moitree Express and Kolkata-Khulna Bandhan Express would be increased following passenger’s demand. This is an important project that will help mend ties between the 2 countries, and a sign of a willingness to economic cooperation.
3. Bangladesh not ready to compromise
Although ties are strengthening, there are still areas of concern, Bangladesh’s home minister on Friday expressed his dismay at a report that India had requested Dhaka for a piece of land to expand an airport near its eastern border. “There is no question of giving them our territory,” Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told Anadolu Agency over the phone. This underlines that the increased cooperation between India and Bangladesh does not mean Bangladesh will let India get away with suspicious geopolitical moves in the region, which could provide an obstacle to the development of ties.
4. India maintains worry of migration
Similarly, India has not put aside its clear concerns over illegal immigration from Bangladesh. Home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday raised concerns with Dhaka regarding illegal immigration from across the Indo-Bangladesh border into northeastern India and suggested finding solutions to the problem. However, these concerns are being discussed in open talks with the Bangladeshi government, showing willingness to interact on such sensitive issues.
5. Bangladesh observing Kashmir situation
India’s latest actions, breaking article 370 in Kashmir has drawn many eyes and concerns, and Bangladesh, as a regional partner has voiced its concern as well. Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the Bangladesh government is closely observing the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. “India has revoked its constitution’s Article 370, and this is their internal matter. We have no right to say anything about the domestic matters of other countries, but we are observing the situation,” he said. The statement is clearly a cautious one, as they do not want to risk aggravating India and Bangladesh are not affected by it. However, Bangladesh does have reason to be concerned, as India’s actions in Kashmir could prove them an un-trustworthy economical and geopolitical partner, which could make Bangladesh reconsider giving them too much influence in the nation.