India Bangladesh Relation
India's links with Bangladesh are civilisational, cultural, social and economic. There is much that unites the two countries – a shared history and common heritage, linguistic and cultural ties, passion for music, literature and the arts. With Bangladesh, India shares not only a common history of struggle for freedom and liberation but also enduring feelings of both fraternal as well as familial ties. This commonality is reflected in multi-dimensional relations with Bangladesh at several levels of interaction. High-level exchanges, visits and meetings take place regularly alongside the wide ranging people-to-people interaction. India's Missions in Bangladesh issue about half a million visas every year and thousands of Bangladeshi students study in India on self-financing basis and are recipients of over one hundred annual GOI scholarships.
2. President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee paid a State visit to Bangladesh from March 3-5, 2013 at the invitation of the Government of Bangladesh. This was the President’s first visit abroad after his assumption of the office of President. During the visit, the President called on the President of Bangladesh Mr. Md. Zillur Rahman, and received the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award. The President also met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Dhaka at a formal Convocation Ceremony and travelled out of Dhaka to Bhadrabila in Narail District, Shilaidaha in Kushtia District and Mirzapur.
3. Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh accompanied by EAM, Chief Ministers of 4 States (Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram) neighbouring Bangladesh, and an official & media delegation visited Dhaka on September 6-7, 2011 at the invitation of PM Sheikh Hasina. Ten Agreements/ Protocols/ MOUs, including a Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development and Protocol to the Agreement concerning demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh were signed. PM announced the commencement of unfettered 24-hour access across the Tin Bigha corridor to Dahagram and Angorpota enclaves as well as duty-free import of 46 textile items (subsequently expanded to all items, except 25) from Bangladesh. Earlier Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina had paid a State visit to India from January 10-13, 2010.
4. Other High-level visits from India to Bangladesh include Union Minister for Power Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde (September 15-16, 2011), Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee (May 5-6, 2012), Minister of Law & Justice and Minority Affairs Shri Salman Khurshid (May 24-27, 2012), Rural Development and Drinking Water & Sanitation Minister Jairam Ramesh (August 4-6, 2012), Health & Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad (November 10-12, 2012), Minister of Law and Justice Dr. Ashwani Kumar (December 14-16, 2012) and Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde, Home Minister (January 28-29, 2013). 5. Visits from Bangladesh to India include Home Minister Advocate Shahara Khatun (February 24-25, 2012), Information & Culture Minister Mr. Abul Kalam Azad (September 10-13, 2012), Local Government & Rural Development Minister Mr. Syed Ashraful Islam (September 18-22, 2012), Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury (November 8-10, 2012), Home Minister Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir (December 5-8, 2012) and Health Minister Dr. AFM Ruhal Haque (February 9-12, 2013).
6. The second meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission was held on February 16, 2013 in Dhaka. EAM and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni and their respective delegations discussed all bilateral matters and assess progress of implementation of the 2011 Joint Statement, 2010 Joint Communiqué and the 1st JCC-Joint Statement. MOU on India-Bangladesh Foundation, MOU on Akhaura-Agartala Railway link and a Protocol to the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention were signed during EAM’s visit. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai visited Dhaka from February 9-10, 2013. MOU between Foreign Service Institute of India and Foreign Service Academy of Bangladesh was signed on February 10, 2013 during his visit. Home Secretary R K Singh visited Dhaka from October 15-17, 2012. Extradition Treaty and Revised Travel Arrangements between India and Bangladesh were signed during the visit of Home Minister to Bangladesh in January 2013. Similarly, an MOU on Health Cooperation was signed during the visit of Bangladesh Home Minister to India in February 2013.
5 India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers. The Ganga Waters Treaty was signed on December 12, 1996 for water sharing of river Ganga during lean season (January 1-May 31). The 37th Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting was held in New Delhi from March 17-20, 2010. In the last technical level meeting held in Kolkata in February 2012, both sides exchanged data at Dalia in Bangladesh and Gazaldoba in India. On the issue of construction of a hydro-electric project at Tipaimukh, both sides have constituted a sub-group under the JRC, which has met twice; the last meeting was held in Dhaka in the first week of February 2013. Five volumes of the Detailed Project Report on the proposed project were handed over to Bangladesh in the first meeting.
6. Bangladesh is an important trading partner for India. The two-way trade in FY 2011-2012 was US$5.242 billion with India's exports to Bangladesh accounting for US$4.743 billion and imports US$0.498 million. The trade between the two countries in the last six years is as follows:
(Figures in US$ million)
Source: Bangladesh Bank/EPB Note: FY is July to June
7. Some of the important institutional mechanisms that meet periodically to discuss bilateral issues include Joint Consultative Commission (JCC), Home Minister level Conference, Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) and Joint Economic Commission (JEC) at Ministerial level, Foreign Office Consultations, Home, Commerce and Water Resources Secretary level talks, BSF-BDR DG-level border coordination conference, Joint Working Group on Security (JWG), Joint Boundary Working Group (JBWG), Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG), Joint Group of Customs Officials (JGC), Protocol Renewal Committee and Standing Committee to review implementation of Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, and Inter- Governmental Railway Meeting. 14th Meeting of the BIWTA was held in Goa wherein the bilateral protocol was renewed for one year till March 31, 2012. The Standing Committee on IWTT met in Dhaka on February 12-13, 2012. Following the Commerce Secretary Level Talks held in New Delhi on March 28-29, 2012, the India-Bangladesh Trade Agreement was renewed for three years. Pursuant to the Shipping Secretary Talks held on July 2-3, 2012, the bilateral Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was renewed for two years till March 31, 2014. India has also agreed to pay Tk 100 million every year for maintaining two river routes viz. Doikhawa-Sirajganj and Zakiganj-Sherpur.
India's Economic Assistance to Bangladesh8. On the economic assistance side, India has extended a line of credit of US$ 800 million to Bangladesh for a range of projects, including railway infrastructure, supply of BG locomotives and passenger coaches, procurement of buses, and dredging projects. The Line of Credit Agreement was signed in Dhaka on August 7, 2010 between EXIM Bank of India and Government of Bangladesh. India has released the first tranche of USD 50 million out of 200 million grant during the visit of EAM to Dhaka in February 2013. India has stood by Bangladesh in its hour of need with aid worth over Taka 250crore (over US $ 37 million) to help it cope with natural disasters and floods in 2007-08 including supply of 1,000 MT of skimmed milk powder, and 40,000 MT of rice. India has completed and handed over 2,649 core shelters in the affected villages in Bagerhat district in southern Bangladesh.
9. On January 29 2012, NTPC and BPDB signed an agreement to set up a Joint Venture for the establishment of a 1320MW coal-based power plant in Bagerhat district, Khulna at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion and it is expected to be commissioned by 2016. Scholarships and training programmes under ITEC, TCS of Colombo Plan, ICCR, AYUSH, Commonwealth, SAARC and IOR-ARC scholarships/ fellowship schemes are being offered to Bangladesh nationals. India offers 185 slots under ITEC and 35 slots under Technical Cooperation Scheme of Colombo Plan every year to Bangladesh. Muktijoddha Scholarship Scheme extended by the Government of India to Higher Secondary-level students (200 scholarships) and Graduate-level students (500 scholarships). From 2012 onwards, another 90 slots are being offered through ITEC under the schemes specially designed for Bangladesh Civil Servants. In order to promote people to people exchanges, four hundred ten scholarships are being granted by ICCR every year to students from Bangladesh for pursuing general courses in arts, sciences, engineering and also specialized courses for culture, drama, music, fine arts and sports, etc.
10. Given the shared history and commonality of language, cultural exchanges form an important bond of friendship between the people of two countries. Special emphasis has been laid on promotion of exchanges in the fields of music, theatre, art, painting, books, etc. A bilateral Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) 2009-2012 provides the framework for such exchanges. To promote bilateral cultural exchanges, the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC) of Indian Council for Cultural Relations was inaugurated at Dhaka on March 11, 2010.