• Monday, Dec 06, 2021
  • Last Update : 02:45 pm

'It is important for Bangladesh to engage with India at the state as well as central level'

  • Published at 11:30 pm October 10th, 2021
Bangladesh and India Flag
Bangladesh and India Flag Courtesy

Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami points out that due to the power given to states under the Indian constitution, it makes sense for Bangladesh to also build relationships at the state as well as the national level. This is the second part of his interview series with Adam Pitman, exclusive to Dhaka Tribune 

Para-diplomacy is an idea that has gained traction within India recently. How can state governments help strengthen India-Bangladesh ties? 

Doraiswami: Actually, this is a corollary of the point I made about our relationship being a local issue as much as it is a foreign policy issue. Since concerns and opportunities in the relationship are local, it follows that local government entities -- states in particular -- have a disproportionately large influence and role, at least on the Indian side, in the India-Bangladesh relationship. 

Also Read- 'We want more trade, travel, cooperation with Bangladesh, but ‘urban myths’ aren't helping'

Looking at this pragmatically, it is logical for states, especially for the states of northeast India, to consider Bangladesh as a major developmental opportunity. Not only as a connectivity partner, but also as a source and destination for trade in goods and services, and for two-way flows of investment, tourism, education services, healthcare services, and so on. 

Also Read- 'It is important to filter political rhetoric from action on the ground'

On the Bangladesh side too, if I may presume to make this point, there is potential for great advantage to be gained by engaging directly not only with West Bengal and the northeastern states of India, but also with the states that are further away and somewhat less similar in cultural terms. 

These include the states of southern and western India, where I’m very glad to say that Bangladesh has opened up diplomatic posts, not only in Mumbai, but also recently in Chennai. 

Also Read- 'The nature of the incidents is very different from the popular narrative'

In my view, it is vital for the good of the relationship on both sides for Bangladeshi stakeholders to engage with the diversity of India -- and for India's diverse stakeholders to engage far more with Bangladesh. 

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