The relationship between India and Bangladesh is firmly established on historical foundations. This relationship is always there and will continue to exist. Such a relationship cannot be compared with other countries. The relationship India has with Bangladesh knows no boundaries. If Bangladesh prospers, if Bangladesh remains stable, it is in India's interest. India always desires that democracy should thrive in Bangladesh. India always respects the democracy in Bangladesh. However, the national elections in Bangladesh and how they will be conducted are entirely Bangladesh's matter.
On Monday (October 16), senior officials from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs held discussions with visiting Bangladeshi journalists.
In the exchange program, Arindam Bagchi, the face of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Smita Pant, Joint Secretary (Bangladesh-Myanmar Division), and Director (Bangladesh-Myanmar Division) Navneeta Chakraborty were present.
In the nearly one-and-a-half-hour exchange meeting, the upcoming national elections in Bangladesh and the role of Western countries, especially the United States, in the context of India's relationship with Bangladesh, were answered by Arindam Bagchi, particularly emphasizing that it is the people of Bangladesh who will make the decisions about Bangladesh's elections. However, India wishes for the safety of democracy in Bangladesh.
He also said, "India's relationship is with Bangladesh, with the people of Bangladesh. Regardless of which government is in power, we will maintain our relationship. Bangladesh is not just a neighboring country; it has sacrificed for its independence, shedding blood for India, giving life."
Arindam Bagchi further mentioned, "India was by Bangladesh's side during the country's struggle for independence, and it will continue to be in the future. Our job is to strengthen India-Bangladesh relations. Both countries' governments have been doing this."
Regarding the caretaker government, Bagchi stated that there is nothing in India's constitution about it, so India does not interfere in such matters. It is an internal matter for Bangladesh. Whatever is good for democracy, Bangladesh will do it. The people of Bangladesh will do it.
Regarding the relationship between Bangladesh and China, Arindam Bagchi stated that the matter of the relationship with China is Bangladesh's own affair. India does not make any comments on this. If they believe it's good for them, they will choose it. But India's relationship with Bangladesh is unparalleled compared to any other country.
On the issue of Bangladesh not being a member of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Bagchi mentioned that those who spread misinformation about this issue do not understand the process of BRICS expansion. India does not oppose Bangladesh; it wants Bangladesh to move forward whenever it gets the opportunity. That is why India has specially invited Bangladesh to the G-20 summit in New Delhi.
Safety, communication, and development are the key areas of progress in India's relationship with Bangladesh, according to Smita Pant. In the past seven to eight years, the two countries have been making considerable progress. There are 46 projects running in India with Bangladesh as a partner. In addition, there are 64 small investments.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, India's development assistance to Bangladesh has not stopped, as stated by Smita Pant. She mentioned that in terms of trade with Bangladesh, Indian businesses can use Kolkata and Delhi airports for bringing in goods without the need for dollars. When the rupee-card is operational, travelers can conduct cashless transactions.
Smita Pant said, "India is now giving special importance to innovation, green energy, technology, and development in Northeast India. Bangladesh is also investing there."
The stability of Bangladesh is of utmost importance for us, as mentioned by Arindam Bagchi. The states in Northeast India are also developing, and Bangladesh is investing there as well. The traffic by road and rail between the two countries is improving. In the future, tourism between the two countries will definitely increase. Travel on roads and railways within the two countries is also progressing further.
The relationship between India and Bangladesh that emerged during the liberation war of 1971 has deep roots. This relationship is so strong that even the sky is not the limit (i.e., there are no boundaries).
Regarding visas for Bangladeshis in India, she stated that India issued visas to 1.6 million Bangladeshis last year. The current visa issue is temporary. It will be resolved very soon. Travel between the two countries will definitely increase in the future. The movement of people through roads and railways between the two countries is improving.
These officials also mentioned that India is giving special importance to innovation, green energy, technology, and development in Northeast India, and Bangladesh is also investing there. The stability of Bangladesh is crucial for India's Northeastern states, which are also witnessing development, and Bangladesh is contributing to this.
In conclusion, the relationship between India and Bangladesh is deep-rooted and has historical significance. Both countries are committed to strengthening their relationship and working together for mutual development and prosperity.