New Dawn for Dhaka-Delhi Relations
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 09 Jun , 2024

The political landscape of South Asia is poised for a significant transformation with the resounding victory of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India’s 18th Lok Sabha elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory heralds a new chapter in India-Bangladesh relations, promising to deepen cooperation and address longstanding issues between the two neighbors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s electoral triumph, securing a rare third consecutive term, is a testament to his enduring popularity and the trust the Indian populace has placed in his leadership. This victory is crucial not only for India’s domestic policy but also for its international relations, especially with neighboring countries like Bangladesh. Modi’s leadership has been marked by a proactive approach to regional diplomacy, with a particular focus on fostering stronger ties with South Asian countries. His victory is expected to reinforce and build upon the existing framework of cooperation with Bangladesh.

Despite the victory, the BJP’s relatively reduced majority in the Lok Sabha could necessitate a greater emphasis on maintaining and enhancing relationships with neighboring countries. A more balanced power dynamic within India might encourage the Modi administration to seek stronger alliances and support from its neighbors to ensure regional stability and economic growth. This scenario bodes well for Bangladesh, which has enjoyed a warm relationship with India under Modi’s previous terms.

The Hasina-Modi era has seen substantial progress in several key areas of India-Bangladesh relations. While a comprehensive Teesta Water Sharing Agreement remains elusive, ongoing discussions and a mutual commitment to resolving this issue have highlighted the dedication of both leaders. Trade and connectivity have been significantly enhanced, with initiatives such as the ‘Maitree’ Express and the opening of new border ‘haats’ fostering economic cooperation and people-to-people contact. Security cooperation has been another hallmark of this period, with both countries working closely on counterterrorism efforts through intelligence sharing and joint operations. In the realm of power and energy, cross-border electricity transmission and joint ventures in power projects have marked significant achievements, bolstering Bangladesh’s energy security. Cultural and people-to-people ties have also flourished, with numerous cultural exchanges and educational collaborations, including joint celebrations of historical events and observances like International Mother Language Day, further strengthening the bond between the two nations.

The government of Bangladesh, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has articulated several key expectations from the renewed Modi administration. Foremost among these is the pressing issue of water sharing, particularly concerning the Teesta River, which remains a critical concern for Dhaka. Ensuring equitable distribution of water resources is vital for Bangladesh’s agriculture and livelihoods. Additionally, Dhaka emphasizes the need for cooperation in reducing incidents of border killings and strengthening border security to maintain peace and security along the shared frontier. Furthermore, Bangladesh seeks continued collaboration in fugitive exchanges and extradition to address criminal threats effectively and uphold justice.

Moreover, Bangladesh underscores the importance of addressing the trade imbalance and seeks enhanced access to Indian markets for its goods. This step would not only boost Bangladesh’s economy but also contribute to reducing the trade deficit between the two nations. Beyond bilateral issues, Bangladesh looks to India for support in international forums, particularly on pressing global matters such as climate change, the Rohingya refugee crisis, and economic development. India’s backing on these issues could significantly enhance Bangladesh’s position on the global stage and strengthen the partnership between the two countries.

In reciprocation, India also has its own set of expectations from Bangladesh, reflecting the mutual nature of their relationship. Foremost among these is the crucial need for continued counterterrorism cooperation, a cornerstone of regional security. India highly values Bangladesh’s collaboration in combating terrorism and extremism, recognizing it as vital for maintaining peace and stability. Enhanced intelligence sharing and joint counterterrorism efforts are paramount in addressing common threats effectively. 

Additionally, India seeks to bolster economic and trade collaboration with Bangladesh, emphasizing infrastructural development and investment opportunities. Greater connectivity projects, encompassing road, rail, and port links, hold the potential to stimulate economic growth and deepen bilateral ties. Furthermore, as India assumes a more assertive role in regional and global affairs, it may look to Bangladesh for geopolitical support on critical matters such as maritime security in the Bay of Bengal and countering external influences. By aligning their interests and working together on these fronts, India and Bangladesh can further strengthen their partnership and contribute to regional stability and prosperity.

The victory of Narendra Modi’s third term as Prime Minister is poised to significantly bolster military cooperation between India and Bangladesh. This cooperation is crucial for several reasons. First, it strengthens regional security, addressing common threats such as terrorism and insurgency. Enhanced military ties can lead to more joint exercises, intelligence sharing, and training programs, improving the capabilities and readiness of both nations’ armed forces. Furthermore, it underscores the strategic partnership between the two neighbors, fostering stability in South Asia. Modi’s leadership continuity ensures the consistency of India’s foreign policy, facilitating long-term defense collaborations that contribute to peace and prosperity in the region.

Building and maintaining mutual political trust is fundamental to the success of India-Bangladesh relations. Both nations must continue to engage in high-level dialogues and diplomatic initiatives to address contentious issues and explore areas of mutual benefit. Confidence-building measures, such as cultural exchanges, people-to-people contact, and joint ventures in various sectors, can further solidify this trust.

Prime Minister Modi’s recent electoral success offers a unique opportunity to reassert and revitalize bilateral ties. Both countries have a shared history, cultural connections, and common interests that serve as a strong foundation for a collaborative future. Strengthening political trust will enable both nations to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities, fostering a more prosperous and peaceful region.

The third term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi marks a significant juncture for India-Bangladesh relations. With a focus on addressing mutual concerns and enhancing cooperation, both countries are poised to enter a new era of bilateral ties. The expectations from Dhaka and New Delhi are clear, and the potential for a strengthened partnership is immense. By working together on critical issues such as water sharing, border security, trade, and regional stability, India and Bangladesh can pave the way for a future characterized by mutual respect, trust, and shared prosperity. As both nations move forward, the commitment to maintaining and enhancing this vital relationship will be crucial for the well-being of their people and the stability of the South Asian region.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

M A Hossain

is a political and defense analyst based in Bangladesh. He can be reached at:

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