Terming ties between Bangladesh and India as 'beyond strategic', new Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Vikram Doraiswami, on Thursday said that he has come to Bangladesh with a mandate to nurture the relationships between the two next door neighbours.
“I recognise that even the closest of relationships need to be nurtured. My government has ordered me to do exactly that. My colleagues and I will spare no effort to promote this partnership at all levels. We will also be the best possible advocates for this partnership with all agencies and entities, on both sides,” he said while addressing his maiden media briefing at the India House in the capital after presenting his credentials to the president Md Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban.
In his maiden media briefing, the new Indian High Commissioner said, “Let me stress that Bangladesh is, was and will always be a very special partner of India. Ours is a friendship that goes beyond even strategic partnerships, because it is based on shared sacrifice, shared history and culture, and on the uniquely close ties of kinship. I want to underline this point. There is not, and will never be, a diminution of the highest level of importance that Bangladesh holds in India. The origin of our partnership is based on respect.”
“We deeply admire and respect the spirit of the Bangladeshi people, who fashioned a nation based on their own unique identity in a historic people’s struggle. You faced the harshest of oppression on your own, with unique courage and heroism, unmindful of high death tolls and the barbaric mistreatment of sisters and mothers. Your Liberation War remains an inspiration to the world. It will always be our abiding honour to have offered you our support, just as we in India offer your bravery our respectful salute, nearly fifty years later,” he said.
Vikram Doraiswami said, “It is in this spirit, and in recognition of the special commemorative years—Mujib Barsho, the Golden Jubilee of Liberation, and the 50th anniversary of our bilateral diplomatic ties—that I decided to begin my service to this partnership by paying homage to the heroes and giants who brought us to this point in our history.”
Referring India's priority to relationship with Bangladesh, he said, “During the COVID pandemic, our foreign secretary selected Bangladesh as the destination for his first visit after the suspension of most international travel. We are committed, in that context, to deliver with our partners in your government, on a special “Air Bubble” arrangement to resume aviation, very soon. We are also committed to work jointly to tackle COVID. We will work at a pace and in a manner with which you are comfortable, ensuring fullest respect for your priorities and in a way that emphasizes the value we attach to this friendship.”
Focus in future
While responding to a question of future of the relationships during his tenure, the 17th Indian envoy in Dhaka said, “I hope we can put back the relationship at the speed at it was before the Covid. I would like to see the completion of the project under the line of credit and connectivity. I like to see more Indian business come to Bangladesh both as investors and trade partners, including joint ventures partners. I would like to see that issues that exist in this closest of partnership, which is natural, I will do my best and fulfill that these are addressed as fairly as possible.”
Responding to a question on cooperation between the two countries on vaccine of Covid-19, Doraiswami said, “India is committed to partnership with Bangladesh on all aspects of vaccine development, including phase-III trial, co-production and delivery -- in a way Bangladesh government is comfortable with.”
"We would love to do this… in a way that ensures the most affordable price. We will be in discussion with your government. I hope to raise it and understand from your government how you proceed," he said.
Responding to a query on addressing the issue of border killing, Vikram Doraiswami said, “You have heard from our leadership from every level that even one death is too many. We fully understand the sentiment in Bangladesh. It is the sentiment by way which exists in our side of the border too. Much of these most unfortunate and tragic actions happen at the dead of night in dark which is not possible to see who it is when groups of people are charging at the border guards. This is not to justify it, nobody wants to justify killing.”
“Our goal is to try and bring this to absolute stop. Our director general of the Border Security Force (BSF) said to find ways to ensure maximum restraint is observed and use of maximum amount of non-lethal weapon. This is a law and order problem and we need to treat in law and order manner. I will certainly work as hard as possible with all person concerned in Indian side and seek cooperation of Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) to try and ensure that the excellent relationships of the two forces has developed is taking forward as reflected and understood by the people of both side. It is not a simple solution but it is important one and we must all try to find together. I can show you my hardest effort,” he added.
Since September 2011, the interim deal of Teesta, one of the common rivers out of 54, was stalled. Despite repeated pledges, the deal is yet to be signed. Responding to a questions what messages he carry from Delhi, Vikram Doraiswami said, “On something like that. you have to let me pass this to leadership first. I don't think the leadership will like to read it in the newspapers first. But what I can tell you that I have come here with clear intention and mandate from my leadership to work as hard as I can to ensure that in every issue we find mutually acceptable solution. What those are, I'm afraid you have to wait for that.”