The people of Bangladesh and India should consider “self-interest” as a key driving force to improve bilateral relations, said participants at a dialogue in a city hotel saturday.
The dialogue on “Role of Media in Strengthening Relations between Bangladesh and India” was jointly organised by the Dhaka chapter of “Friends of Bangladesh”, an Indian-based organisation of Bangladeshi and Indian civil society members, and “Atondro Ekattor”, a pro-liberation war cultural body.
The lingual and cultural links between Bangladesh and bordering Indian states may appeal to the emotion of their citizens, but that would not strike the same chord with people in other parts of India, which makes the self-interest approach essential, they said.
Pointing to the Teesta water-sharing dispute, Agartala-based newspaper Desher Kotha editor Goutam Das said it was wrong of upstream countries to deny their downstream neighbours a fair share of water from common rivers.
Addressing the programme, The Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam said Indian people should understand that it would be in their self-interest for Bangladesh to attain economic prosperity.
The Times of India associate editor Shankar Raghuraman said most Indians would think of “infiltration” if the word “Bangladesh” comes up in their daily conversation.
“In the same vein, I guess most Bangladeshis regard Indians as bullies or big brothers. We need to improve our knowledge about each other to debunk and move beyond these stereotypes,” Raghuraman said.
Although both countries adhere to certain principles, like secularism, there seems to be a paucity of news coverage on Bangladesh in the Indian media, journalist Syed Badrul Ahsan observed in his paper.
Golam Sarwar, editor of Bangla daily Samakal, echoed the same view, saying the utter disregard of the Indian media towards Bangladesh issues, along with some other Indian moves, helped to spread anti-Indian sentiments among Bangladeshi people.