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Diplomatic - December 7, 2021

Indian president’s Dhaka visit to speed up joint projects

Enayet Karim: Indian president Ram Nath Kovind has scheduled to visit Dhaka during December 16-17 to join the programs of 50th Victory Day of Bangladesh and the Moitri Day, the day India has recognised Bangladesh as a sovereign country. The visit is carrying significance in making headways of different bilateral issues including the much talked unsolved ‘water sharing’ issue.
Diplomatic circles are thinking that the Indian president’s visit will help to speed up the ongoing joint projects and design a few numbers of new joint programs.
The emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation was a watershed event in the early 1970s. Bangladesh was declared the independence on March 26, 1971. Eventually, Bangladesh emerged as a free nation from under the brutality of the Pakistan regime. The birth of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971 was influenced by the dynamics of the Cold War era. Bipolarity, alliance building, the non-aligned movement, and liberation struggles in the Third World were important factors that shaped the directions and outcomes of Bangladesh’s Liberation War. The country’s diplomatic journey through the heyday of the Cold War dawned in the maze of subcontinental politics, deeply influenced by the dynamics of the 1947 partition. The events related to Bangladesh’s Liberation War provide a strong historical and philosophical basis for contemporary Bangladesh’s relations with India and Pakistan.
Bangladesh received critical support from different nations for the cause of liberation. Such support was instrumental to overcoming the forces and propaganda against the creation of the Bangladeshi state. India was a leading external power in supporting the emergence of a free and independent Bangladesh.
For Bangladesh, the conduct of foreign policy during the days of the Cold War and into the post-Cold War era has been deeply challenging. Over the past 50 years, India and Pakistan have prominently featured in the foreign policy of Bangladesh, demonstrating a complex cyclical patterns of inter-state relations.
Bilateral relations with India
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, often referred to as Mujib, laid the foundation of Bangladesh-India bilateral relations while he was returning to Dhaka from a Pakistani jail on January 10, 1972. With its recognition of Bangladesh on December 6, 1971, India laid down the path for a bright future in Bangladesh-India relations. A high watermark of Mujib’s statesmanship was reflected during his visit to Kolkata during February 6-8, 1972. During the visit, a joint declaration between the two countries announced the withdrawal of Indian troops from Bangladesh by March 25 of that year.
Apart from the recognition of mutual friendship and interests, both India and Bangladesh focused on certain principles to shape their bilateral relations. Domestically, the principles of socialism, democracy, nationalism, and secularism and externally, the principles of anti-imperialism, non-alignment, and peaceful coexistence guided the parameters of Bangladesh-India relations at the very beginning.
But the assassination of Mujib on August 15, 1975 plunged bilateral relations with India into a period of darkness and hostility. The assumption of power by army ruler has disrupted the healthy evolution of Bangladesh-India ties.
President Ram Nath Kovind will travel to Dhaka on December 16 to attend the golden jubilee celebration of Bangladesh’s 1971 independence from Pakistan following a nine-month longLiberation War, officials said.
President Kovind would travel to the neighbouring country on December 16 on a two-day visit at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Abdul Hamid.
“We expect the Indian President to arrive (in Dhaka) on December 16 on a two-day visit to join our golden jubilee celebrations,” a spokesman of Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said.
His comments came a day after Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters that President Kovind would join the Victory Day celebrations, which would also coincide with the wrapping up ceremony of Bangladesh’s founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary celebrations.This will be President Kovind’s first Dhaka visit and it comes eight months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh to join the opening of the birth centenary andgolden jubilee celebrations in March.
Bangladesh and India are jointly organising a “Logo and Backdrop” designing competition, marking the Maitri Diwas on December 6.
According to a report, Bangladesh and India are working together eyeing two mega events next month – Maitri Diwas and Victory Day of Bangladesh – on December 6 and December 16 respectively with exchange of high-level visits.
Apart from the Victory Day celebrations, the president will also take part in other key engagements, it said.
Bangladesh is commemorating Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of the country’s war of liberation. The two countries are also celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
India had recognised Bangladesh as a sovereign country on December 6 while it extended all out support to Bangladesh’s freedom fighters.
Officially three million people were killed during the nine-month long war.
The two countries decided to commemorate December 6 as Maitri Diwas (Friendship Day), the day when India recognised Bangladesh in 1971, the report said.
During his visit to Bangladesh in March, Prime Minister Modi met with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and they reviewed the full range of bilateral ties and discussed ways to deepen the economic and cultural linkages in the times to come.
During the visit, the two sides signed five MoUs covering areas such as connectivity, commerce, information technology and sports.

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