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Indian Diplomacy in Bangladesh

Dan W Mozena, former US ambassador to Dhaka, at a meeting with core people in Jashore, a bordering district in Bangladesh, wanted to know what kind of benefit Bangladesh enjoys from its neighboring India.

In response, journalists told that nothing but the killing of innocent Bangladeshis by the Indian border guards- BSF and making people addicted in Phensedyl, a banned drug.

The US ambassador was astonished hearing this. He then told that small countries like Bangladesh enjoy manifold benefits by a big country which has borders with those.

Bangladesh, which was liberated from Pakistan in 1971, is always grateful to India for its support during the war of independence. But India seems to dominate the as some political experts claim. They also think that the support of India, towards Bangladesh, during the war of liberation, was not unconditional. India strengthened its support as they didn’t wish to take care of a foe along another border.

Indian had dominance over Nepal and some other countries very recently. We observed the revolt of Nepal over the dominance. India, the world’s largest democratic country, realized the impact of dominance. And it took prompt action to find a solution, for which the Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla paid a surprise visit to Bangladesh during the rule of Covid-19. He did it without making prior information to his counterpart, for which questions arose.

The mission and vision of the visit of the foreign secretary is not clearly known. The Bangladesh part claimed that different unresolved issues between the neighbors were discussed. Sharing of water from the Tista River was also focused. But the Indian counterpart denied the claim. The issue discussed during the visit of Harsh Vardhan Shringla is corona vaccine. Both the sides confirmed it. In this issue, India takes advantage further. If this happens, India will make money by selling the vaccine to Bangladesh.

An Indian media reported that Shringla carried an ‘important message’ from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, who he met the same evening at ‘Gonobhaban’, her official residence.

It is the content of this ‘message’ which set off a lot of speculation. That meeting at Gonobhaban lasted for nearly 90 minutes.

`It was officially announced that Shringla conveyed to the Bangladesh Prime Minister India’s decision to share the Covid-19 vaccine, which is undergoing trials, with Bangladesh as soon as it receives certification’, the media added.

It would, however, be naive to presume that the foreign secretary undertook a visit — his first, in fact —to a country during the ongoing pandemic just to deliver these messages to the executive head of that country, the media reported.

These messages, said top sources in Delhi’s South Block which houses the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), could have easily been conveyed through normal diplomatic channels or even through India’s outgoing High Commissioner to Dhaka, Riva Ganguly Das.

Yes, if the visit was only to convey the message of the Indian PM to its counterpart, it could be done by several easy channels. Why the Indian PM sent the country’s foreign secretary to Bangladesh by a special aircraft when restriction of movements in person is strictly followed to avoid further spread of pandemic covid-19?

Political analysts tried to find the answer. Some of them came up with an explanation that Shringla’s visit to Bangladesh was not just to send a message. It carries broader insights. The recent development of China- Bangladesh relationship plays a great role here.

China is already financing infrastructure projects worth $22 billion in Bangladesh and is planning to extend a fresh line of credit to Dhaka- according to the Indian media. And this meager figure is not only the Chinese contribution to Bangladesh. It has many more involvements in Bangladesh. And political analysts do not find anything negative in it. And China is believed to be a foe of India, for which India does not take the matter simply. And it did the right job by sending its foreign secretary to Bangladesh during an odd time.

India’s diplomacy is not only keeping Bangladesh in its grip, but many more. The country is now trying to build up relationships with many other wealthy countries.

As a part of this, it held talks with Australia and France on September 9 for the first time under a trilateral framework with focus on enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, a region that has been witnessing increasing Chinese military assertiveness, reported The Tribune.

According to the report- The virtual meeting was co-chaired by foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, secretary-general in French ministry for Europe and foreign affairs François Delattre and secretary in Australian department of foreign affairs Frances Adamson. Here, too Harsh Vardhan Shringla is the game maker.

I came up with a conclusion that India’s diplomacy is very much active now in building relationships with suitable countries to fight its political and economical foes. Will it be able to do it successfully without sacrificing something?

Saifur Rahman Saif is a Bangladeshi journalist. He works at New Age, a popular newspaper.He contributed a story in Freelance Success Stories published simultaneously from the USA and Canada. He can be reached at saifnewage@gmail.com

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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