Opening Statement by Finance Minister at Interaction
with Distinguished Media Personalities in Dhaka on 6 May, 2012
As High Commissioner has pointed out that primarily this visit is in connection with the closing ceremony of 150th Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. Incidentally it happens that I am the Chairman of the Implementation Committee of our National Celebration Committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister. During the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Delhi in 2010, it was decided that we celebrate jointly the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. Both countries jointly inaugurated the festivities on May 6&7, 2011, in Bangladesh and India respectively. Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari visited Dhaka last year to represent India in the inauguration program. This year we have done it, today here, and tomorrow it would be concluded in Delhi. Bangladesh Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Dipu Moni would be there as Guest of Honour.
It is always a pleasure for me to visit this beautiful city of Dhaka. There are very few parallels in the world where two countries have held such joint celebrations of a cultural icon whose ideas and works find acclaim and reverence across the political boundaries – Rabindranath is one such. These joint celebrations have further reinforced the existing close and deep bonds of friendship and brotherhood between our peoples and have promoted greater understanding between India and Bangladesh. In particular, they have reminded the younger generation about the legacy of the great poet. The manner in which our two countries have marked this anniversary is an example to the entire world.
On behalf of the Government and people of India, I thank the Government and people of Bangladesh for the excellent arrangements that were made to make the celebrations such a great success. Our artists have been overwhelmed by the love, affection and warmth with which they were received in Bangladesh.
Earlier today, I called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We had a wide ranging and very friendly discussion on a broad range of issues. I conveyed to the Prime Minister the high importance we attach to our relations with Bangladesh. We reviewed the progress made by both countries in several areas of cooperation since the landmark visits of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in 2010 and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Bangladesh in 2011.
It is a matter of immense satisfaction that the current state of bilateral relations is marked by warmth, cordiality, trust and understanding. Considerable progress has been made regarding the implementation of the far-reaching decisions taken at the highest level between our countries. This includes trade and economic cooperation, development cooperation, infrastructure, power, scholarships and people to people exchanges. Other important initiatives are under implementation in the areas of border management, environment and sub-regional cooperation.
We are fully committed to our partnership with the Government and people of Bangladesh at large. We want to build upon our successes. We want to make the relationship durable, inclusive and responsive to the core concerns of both sides based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. We wish to work with the Government of Bangladesh to realize the full potential of our peoples.
India stands as a long-term and steadfast partner in Bangladesh’s development efforts. Bangladesh’s prosperity is our prosperity. I wish to categorically reiterate that India will not take any unilateral actions that will harm the interests of Bangladesh.
We support the people of Bangladesh in their quest for democracy, strong institutions and rule of law. We are ready to walk the extra mile with Bangladesh to build a peaceful, stable and secure South Asia. We both have a common interest in fighting terrorism, extremism and radicalism. These are alien to our ethos.
We look forward to welcoming Her Excellency Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni for the closing ceremony of the Tagore anniversary celebrations in India. We also look forward to jointly marking the 90th anniversary of the publication of Bidrohi by Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Later today I will meet the Leader of the Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia before returning to India.
Before we conclude I would like to make one announcement. You are fully aware that we have extended line of credit of USD 1 billion to Bangladesh. And this was agreed upon during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in January 2010. Projects worth USD 810 million have already been identified and work are going on the implementation of these projects. Five projects worth USD 83 million contracts have been signed. Today, I informed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the decision of the Government of India to treat it as ‘grant’ not ‘credit’ of USD 200 million. Out of this USD 1 billion, USD 200 million will be grant and that USD 200 million will be utilised for the projects which Bangladesh Government gives priority.