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India-Bangladesh Relations on a High

Raj Kumar Sharma writes: Bangladesh is a bridge between India and ASEAN countries and the recent agreements will help India for taking positive steps in this direction.

There has been a recent agreement between India and Bangladesh according to which India will export 100 megawatts (MW) of power from Tripura to Bangladesh while India will receive 10 gbps (gigabits per second) of Internet bandwidth from its eastern neighbor. The agreement is yet another example of improving bilateral cooperation between India and Bangladesh in recent years. India is already supplying 500 MW of power across the Behrampur-Behramara transmission link on the border between West Bengal and Bangladesh. The new power connectivity will allow Bangladesh to address severe power shortages in its southeastern parts.[i] In return, India’s north-eastern states will receive high speed internet from Bangladesh. This is crucial for connecting the region with rest of India. The present internet service in north-eastern states is very slow and depends on long route service through Shillong/Kolkata via submarine cable in Chennai.[ii] Internet service from Bangladesh will be faster and on par with services in Delhi or Mumbai. With better internet connectivity, the north-eastern region of India is also likely to attract investment and thus create employment opportunities for the youth.[iii]

Bilateral relations have been smooth and mutually beneficial between the two countries in recent years. In 2015, they resolved their long standing border dispute by amicably agreeing for a solution to the complex enclave issue. On March 9, 2016, India also signed an agreement with Bangladesh to extend USD 2 billion Line of Credit, its biggest ever credit facility to another country. The deal was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Dhaka visit in June last year. It follows India’s USD 1 billion in assistance provided to Bangladesh in 2011 for infrastructure development.[iv] India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh had signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for the Regulation of Passenger, Personnel and Cargo Vehicular Traffic among the four South Asian neighbors in Thimpu in June 2015.[v] The agreement was an example of sub-regional cooperation in South Asia, as regional cooperation in the region has been thwarted by Pakistan’s regular negative behavior. The agreement was implemented in November 2015 when a cargo truck travelled from Kolkata to Agartala via Dhaka. The agreement is important as it gives India alternate access to its north-eastern states through Bangladesh overcoming its ‘Chicken’s Neck’ dilemma. Bangladesh is a bridge between India and ASEAN countries and the recent agreements will help India for taking positive steps in this direction.

Endnotes

[i] http://www.ibnlive.com/news/tech/agartala-becomes-indias-third-internet-gateway-to-allow-more-reliable-connectivity-1220575.html

[ii] http://www.tripurainfoway.com/news-details/TN/31988/india-s-3rd-international-internet-gateway-service-via-bangladesh-to-be-commissioned-by-2016-bsnl-asked-to-maintain-quality.html

[iii] http://www.newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/tech/International-Internet-Gateway-to-Improve-Connectivity-in-North-east/2016/01/13/article3226174.ece

[iv] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-03-10/news/71382363_1_land-boundary-agreement-bangladesh-dhaka-visit

[v] http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=122516

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