Dhaka: Trust and understanding is the core of India-Bangladesh relationship, whilst simultaneously having a win-win partnership, observed Hossain Toufique Imam, Political Affairs Advisor of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, during his talk on “India-Bangladesh: Historical and Contemporary Perspective” at Observer Research Foundation on 7 July.
Imam observed that shared history and geography is the foundation of the India-Bangladesh ties. The enduring links between the two are cultural, economic and historical. These bonds are key factors contributing to the success of India-Bangladesh relations. He further mentioned that India played a critical role in the independence of Bangladesh and was one of the first countries to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country. This history and shared rich culture represent togetherness. India and Bangladesh are both developing rapidly and the destiny of the two countries is interlinked.
Remembering the period after the liberation of Bangladesh and the struggle to rebuild the war-torn nation, he said the country was then economically undeveloped. Because of the war, physical infrastructure was destroyed, the economy was in shambles and it faced the challenge of relocating millions of displaced persons, including 10 million refugees returning from India who were forced to leave their homes due to the war. In this time, India came to Bangladesh’s aid and helped in this rehabilitation and reconstruction effort.
Talking about contemporary developments in Bangladesh, Imam said in spite of global economic adversities, the country has made remarkable strides for socio-economic progress. He further mentioned that Bangladesh is no longer an LEDC (less economically developed country) and per capita income has recorded significant growth. He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised to make Bangladesh a happy and prosperous country by 2041 and the country has formulated a plan of action.
Elaborating on the achievements of Bangladesh in the field of socio-economic developments, Imam said Prime Minister Hasina received the Millennium development goals award in recognition of the improvements attained by the country, especially regarding infant and child mortality. He said the Prime Minister has been awarded many accolades, including the ones that deal with climate change. In 2016, Prime Minister Hasina had received the global women’s leadership award for protecting women’s rights.
Referring to the 2008 election, he said that the most important item of Sheikh Hasina’s election was the publishing of the manifesto known as the charter for change. This revealed her vision until the year 2021. The idea was to take Bangladesh forward and for that one must envision the future of the country. He said the charter coincided with the MDG goals. The end goal was to create digital Bangladesh, where the development of the country would focus on technology, education and modern science.
Referring to the Rohingya refugee crisis, Imam said the Prime Minister has allowed sheltering of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas at a time when anti-migration sentiments are gaining popularity globally. Presently, around a million plus Rohingya refugees are residing in Bangladesh.
Evaluating the economic development of the country, he expressed satisfaction on the progress made. He said monetary and fiscal centres of the economy has established macroeconomic stability.
The event was moderated by Mr. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, Distinguished Fellow, ORF and a former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh.