India’s relations with Bangladesh is a “role model” in international affairs, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardshan Shringla on Saturday.
Delivering a speech on the role of the IAF in the 1971 War of Liberation , Mr. Shringla recollected the sacrifices that Indians made to assist the people of Bangladesh fight the genocidal violence of the Pakistani military.
“India-Bangladesh relations today are deeper than any other strategic partnership. It is a role model for relations between two neighbouring countries. The spirit of friendship, understanding and mutual respect engendered during the liberation of Bangladesh continues to permeate different aspects of this relationship,” said Mr. Shringla at the Swarnim Vijay Varsh Conclave: 2021 on “Humanitarian, Political and Diplomatic Facets of the 1971 War ”.
It was noteworthy that Mr. Shringla’s remarks had no mention of the condition of the minority Hindu community which faced targeted attacks during the recent Durga puja celebrations. The statement shows that India has adopted a cautious approach in dealing with the recent attacks.
Soon after the violence erupted targeting the Hindu community in Comilla, Chittagong, Noakhali and Rangpur, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said Dhaka had dealt with the violence ‘promptly’. However, civil society figures in Dhaka have criticised the Sheikh Hasina Government for slow response. Soon after the incidents, Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswamy met a group of Hindu community leaders at the High Commission though the meeting remained unpublicised.
In his comments, Mr. Shringla highlighted that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cultivated “vibrant ties” with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and that Delhi is committed to ensure socio-economic growth in Bangladesh. “Bangladesh is India’s biggest development partner and India’s largest trading partner in South Asia, contributing to economic prosperity and supply chain resilience in the region and beyond,” said Mr. Shringla.
The comments appear to show that South Block does not want to criticise Bangladesh on the failure to protect the Hindu minority, an issue which India has enshrined in its legislative process with the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2019. The emphasis on the harmonious ties is also interesting as it reveals India’s desire to maintain undisturbed ties even under great stress.
Bangladesh has several high-profile projects being built by the Chinese. On Thursday, Sheikh Hasina inaugurated one such project — Bangabandhu Bangladesh China Friendship Exhibition Centre (BBCFEC) on the outskirts of Dhaka. Built over 26 acres, the centre is a showpiece of the close cooperation between Bangladesh and China. The venue will be able to host fairs and exhibitions around the year and will give an important platform to project the strengths of Bangladesh in the industrial and economic areas.