High Commissioner of India Harsh Vardhan Shringla has termed the present Indo-Bangladesh relationship the golden era of bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
“The exchange of high-level of political leadership has given a new thrust to our relationship,” Shringla said in a speech at the National Defence College and Armed Forces War College, Bangladesh on Tuesday on Contemporary India, its Foreign Policy, Security and Development Strategy and Bangladesh-India Relations.
“Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Bangladesh in June 2015 saw the exchange of 22 agreements including the historic Land Boundary Agreement. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit in April 2017 provided an opportunity to follow up on the implementation of decisions taken in 2015.
“It heralded a golden chapter or ‘Sonali Adhayaya’ in our relationship affirming the fraternal ties between both countries and an all-encompassing partnership going beyond a ‘strategic partnership’,” the Indian high commissioner said.
“A record 36 agreements and MoUs were signed during her visit, strengthening our partnership in various areas such as connectivity, development and infrastructure, high-technology areas such as IT, cyber security, space, civil nuclear energy, etc. These included 13 agreements/MoUs with Indian public and private sector companies aimed to bring over US$10 billion investment to Bangladesh in areas such as power and energy, logistics, education and medical sectors.”
In his speech, the high commissioner spoke about mutual interests and the special relationship between Bangladesh and India.
“India has, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adopted the ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy. The goals of Indian foreign policy are linked with that of the neighbouring countries.
“Terrorism is a global challenge which affects all of us and remains one of the most significant threats to peace and stability in the region. The globalisation of security threats; the networks of terror – financial or physical which transcend boundaries call for states to pool their resources and cooperate with each other to overcome these challenges.
“It also calls for the international community to jettison selective or partial approaches to combating terrorism and for early finalisation and adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by UNGA.
“The fight against terrorism should not only seek to disrupt and eliminate terrorists, terror organisations and networks but also identify, hold accountable and take measures against States and entities which encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups and falsely extol their virtues. India has a zero-tolerance approach towards terrorism and we laud your efforts in this direction,” said the high commissioner.
Shringla emphasised on mutual cooperation both countries enjoy, saying: “India and Bangladesh have excellent security cooperation at all levels. Our border guarding forces often work under challenging circumstances guarding this 4,000 kilometres plus border. The demarcation of the Land Boundary and Maritime Boundary between our two countries has created an enabling environment for our security forces to cooperate and added to their confidence. Close cooperation between the BSF and BGB along the land border keeps in check criminal activities and enhances mutual confidence. Security is one of the strongest areas of our cooperation and there are excellent relations between our military and security personnel.”
He said: “We have fought together in your Liberation War of 1971 for the shared values of democracy and secularism. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rare and extraordinary gesture of honouring of next of kin of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during the Liberation War touched a chord amongst 1.25 billion Indian people.
“Muktijodhas have played an invaluable role in cementing our relationship. In recognition of their contributions and as a special gesture, our prime minister announced additional 10,000 scholarship for wards of Muktijodhas (worth Tk46 crores); free medical treatment of 100 Muktijodhas in Indian hospitals during a year; and long-term multiple entry 5-year visas for them.
“India has been a committed development partner of Bangladesh. We fully support your vision of becoming a middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. During the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, US$ 5 billion dollars was pledged by India in concessional financing in addition to the earlier $3 billion in the first and second lines of credit taking the total up to US$ 8 billion.”