Hasina’s Visit

For­get NRC bo­gey, Bangladesh has eco­nomic lessons for In­dia

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - An Ecstasy Of Ideas -

On the oc­ca­sion of the visit of Bangladesh­i Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina to In­dia, the two sides have in­au­gu­rated three bi­lat­eral projects and inked seven agree­ments. The projects are the im­port of LPG from Bangladesh, a Vivekanand­a Bha­van at Ra­makr­ishna Mis­sion in Dhaka, and the Bangladesh-In­dia Pro­fes­sional Skill De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute at the In­sti­tute of Engi­neers in Khulna. Mean­while, the agree­ments in­clude SOPs on the use of Bangladesh’s Chat­togram and Mongla ports for move­ment of goods to and from In­dia, re­newal of cul­tural ex­change pro­grammes, and an MoU on pro­vid­ing coastal sur­veil­lance sys­tems to Bangladesh.

Clearly, In­dia-Bangladesh re­la­tions to­day are wide-rang­ing. This has been pos­si­ble due to the syn­ergy be­tween the lead­er­ships of the two coun­tries. Plus, Bangladesh to­day is fast emerg­ing as a South Asian dy­namo. Its econ­omy is pro­jected to grow at more than 8% both this year and the next, and its per capita in­come now hov­ers around the $2,000 mark. Ad­di­tion­ally, there are in­di­ca­tions that Bangladesh has ben­e­fited from the US-China trade war with the coun­try’s ex­ports grow­ing from 6.7% in 2018 to 10.1% this year.

For his­tor­i­cal rea­sons, most of In­dia’s for­eign pol­icy fo­cus has re­mained on Pak­istan. But Bangladesh has qui­etly over­taken Pak­istan on most eco­nomic pa­ram­e­ters. Thus it’s time to change the In­dian nar­ra­tive about Bangladesh. The lat­ter is no longer a poor, famine-hit na­tion but a ver­i­ta­ble South Asian growth en­gine. To keep In­dia-Bangladesh ties on the as­cen­dant, the In­dian lead­er­ship must re­frain from push­ing projects like the Na­tional Regis­ter of Cit­i­zens. De­spite PM Naren­dra Modi’s as­sur­ances to Hasina on NRC, the ex­er­cise puts a strain on bi­lat­eral ties. Bangladesh econ­omy is do­ing very well and there­fore the key push fac­tor for il­le­gal mi­gra­tion no longer ex­ists. In fact, New Delhi should learn from Dhaka’s suc­cess and fo­cus on re­forms to boost its own econ­omy.

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