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.
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.
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.
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.