Vikram Doraiswami made the remarks while addressing a programme organised by Mahanagar Sarbojoneen Puja Committee at Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka to celebrate Janmashtami, a major festival of the Hindu community marking the birth of Lord Sri Krishna.

He said the future of this bilateral friendship is with the people first and foremost, and it is based on the values and goals that Bangladesh set for itself in the first years of its independence in 1971.

The bond between India and Bangladesh was indeed forged in unique circumstances of tragedy, sacrifice and great humanitarian distress, and shared struggle in the face of a brutal and genocidal oppressor. But the bond that sustains us since 1971 builds upon that foundation and goes much further, Vikram Doraiswami said.

“Today, we are both independent, equal, sovereign nations with millennia-old bonds of common history, language, culture and heritage, as well as shared values of harmonious co-existence, and respect for diversity and inclusion. Ours are nations that are inspired by truly pluralist values. We both understand that national progress can only be achieved through fairness, compassion and through equal opportunity for all,” he added.

Vikram Doraiswami said much has been said or misinterpreted about the unique partnership and friendship between India and Bangladesh in these 50 years.

“The India-Bangladesh partnership is based on mutual respect and mutuality of benefit. Every effort on both sides to deepen the partnership is based solely on the understanding that it will benefit the people of both countries.”

The India-Bangladesh friendship is based on the values and goals that you set for yourself in the first years of your independence. Making progress in the spirit of those values of inclusion and harmony; of a Bangladesh for all who live here; is first and foremost your own national effort.

Vikram Doraiswami said, “All Indian governments have given highest priority to this friendship. We will always hope that this is reciprocated by all groups and parties here as well. Regardless of that, all of my predecessors here in Bangladesh as high commissioners of India have worked single-mindedly to seek friendship with the people of Bangladesh throughout your history all shades of Bangladesh's political and other opinion, and with whichever government.”

Addressing the event, the Indian envoy recalled his childhood memories on Janmashtami celebration. “I remember as a child not only the special food and festivities, but also the unique touches of devotional music dedicated to Lord Krishna, as well as the charming baby footmarks, usually from the aangan to the kitchen that defined my Janamashtami.”

It is delightful to see how this festival brings together not only the Hindu community, but all Bangla people in celebration of the culture and heritage of this ancient land. Every festival here—of whichever faith—is shared in festive colour across the border in India. Our traditions are truly a golden link between our nations. It is after all natural that all people in our inclusive tradition celebrate all festivals together, because the message of all religion is universal: faith, love and fellowship for all humankind, as well as peace, happiness and unity, he added.

“As a neighbour, I am glad that this is still reflected in Janmashtami celebrations in Bangladesh. As prime minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly said, ‘Dharmo Jar Jar - Utsob Sabar’. This is the spirit that inspired the Liberation War of 1971 and the magnificent, inclusive and progressive 1972 Constitution of Bangladesh,” Vikram Doraiswami said.

He hoped that in the years ahead, Indian and Bangladeshi people will continue to fully celebrate every festival that makes our subcontinent the world’s most diverse region. He also hoped that the traditional spirit of happiness, friendship, peace and harmony will only grow in a Bangladesh that remains true to the remarkable founding vision and values of Bangladesh’s Liberation War.