The relations of Bangladesh with neighbouring India are profound, but are they comfortable, asked Ali Riaz, distinguished professor of politics and government department at Illinois State University, on Monday.
Even after 50 years of independence, many longstanding issues are yet to be resolved, he observed.
Professor Ali Riaz said this while talking about the Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations at a session on the first day of the three-day Bay of Bengal Conversation-2022, organised by Centre for Governance Studies (CGS), at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka.
Another discussant in this session of the Conversation was Marc Saxer, the project head of Asia region of Germany-based political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
Ali Riaz explained the relations between Bangladesh and India from geographical, historical and cultural, environmental and economic and political points of view.
He said, “Geographically it might seem true that India surrounds Bangladesh in four sides, but psychologically speaking, this is not true. Bangladesh has a door – the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh should look at the Bay of Bengal, and Asia and Pacific region.”
Ali Riaz further said though India is a state-based country, the country is ruled basically from Delhi. Cultural ties between Bangladesh and West Bengal are profound, but at the same time it has to be remembered that the central decisions regarding India are not taken from Kolkata, but from Delhi, he added.
Mentioning that the government of India helped Bangladesh in its liberation war, Ali Riaz said the people of Bangladesh is ever grateful to India for this. But Bangladesh has become independent for more than 50 years now. Still the water sharing deal for 54 cross-border rivers has not been resolved as yet. This has been done for one river only.
Ali Riaz further said connectivity between Bangladesh and India is extremely important. India, being the largest country of South Asia, has set up road and river routes through Bangladesh in the name of regional connectivity. Through these routes India is going from its one region to another region.
He questioned why no development is taking place to set up communication between Bangladesh and northeast of India.
Ali Riaz also highlighted the issue of trade deficit between the two countries.
He said Bangladesh imports products worth US $13.70 billion from India while exports products worth only $1.09 billion. There are non-duty hindrances to export Bangladeshi products to India.
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s Marc Saxer said Bangladesh has become the battlefield of establishing supremacy of the US and China. At one hand, the issues like democracy and human rights are being brought forward, on the other hand the issue of development is there. Bangladesh is caught in between.