Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived in Delhi on a four-day visit where she will hold her 13th meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, discussing defense and security issues, water-sharing, and possible economic partnership with the Indian leadership. She concludes her travel book with prayers at the shrines of Sufi saints Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi and Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif.
But all this diplomatic jargon fades into the background if you don’t see the real significance of the tree-to-wood and Hasina’s visit. For the first time since the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, a Bangladeshi prime minister has been instrumental in restoring economic connectivity throughout the northeast of the Indian subcontinent.
What Sheikh Hasina is doing today is not only remarkable because it has never been done in the past 50 years since Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan and became an independent country – her decision to repair, rejoin and restore connectivity between rail lines, road use, inland waterways. and dry ports throughout the Northeast are significant.
The eight sister states of the northeast – Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Mizoram are connected to the rest of India by a mere 22 km wide sliver called the Chicken’s Neck. This significantly pushes up the price of goods reaching the region; Every Indian government worth its salt has urged Bangladesh to allow transit and trade across its territory. So far every request has come cropper.
But Hasina made the strategic decision some time ago that despite the Modi government’s displeasure at home with its treatment of Muslims, Delhi undermined the idea of a secular state by finding persecuted Hindu minorities in Bangladesh and giving them visas to India, and while China offers an attractive economic alternative to the Indian model, her Much – and the fate of Bangladesh – rests with India.
The importance of recent movement in oil products cannot be overestimated. Especially in the current crisis, when the war in Ukraine is destabilizing global energy markets, the financial savings involved in moving essentials from one part of the country to another from India to India is incredible. Indian leadership clearly sees the importance of Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh’s most powerful man reciprocates interest. India-Bangladesh relationship is becoming a win-win relationship for both.