India and Bangladesh relations have their foundations in a long history of sustained economic partnership and reciprocal turn of events. This relationship has been based on shared trust and collaboration. Further, both nations share a relationship that involves “civilization, cultural, religious, social and economic magnitudes.” The two nations share a typical legacy and the appalling history of Partition. The cultural strings that integrate these two nations are solid, similar to their people’s enthusiasm for music, food, literature, and art. Economically, bilateral trade between them is considerable; politically, the current indulgence in the two nations is rational and ardent to improve reciprocal ties.

Contemplating their respective connection, India and Bangladesh exchanged various agreements in sectors following their recent virtual meet. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the “Maitri Setu” with his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, on 9th March 2021 through a video conference and stated that political limitations should not become a physical hindrance to trade.

The bridge “MatriSetu” has been constructed over the Feni River, which streams between Indian borders in Tripura State and Bangladesh. The name ‘Maitri Setu’ represents developing bilateral relations and amicable ties among India and Bangladesh. The development was taken up by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd at a venture cost of Rs. 133 Crores. “The 1.9 Km long bridge joins Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh.” It is ready to proclaim a “new chapter for trade and people to people movement among India and Bangladesh.” With this introduction, the Indian state of Tripura is set to turn into the ‘Gateway of North East’ with admittance to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is only 80 Kms from Sabroom.

India’s Prime Minister added that the connectivity isn’t just fortifying the bond between India and Bangladesh but also turning out to be a solid business connection. He stated that the “entire region is being developed as a trade corridor between Northeast India and Bangladesh.” Modi accentuated that this bridge has fortified the rail and water connectivity projects that have been acknowledged in the current years. This will enhance south Assam, Mizoram, and Manipur’s connectivity alongside Tripura with Bangladesh and South-East Asia. Modi said that the bridge would give a catalyst to the economic opportunity in Bangladesh too. In a video message played at the occasion, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina addressed the inauguration of the “Maitri Setu” as a “historic moment. “ She said, “We are creating a new era in South Asia through providing connectivity to India. We are in a region which has remained conservative in opening up and where regional trade is far below potential. I believe political boundaries should not become physical barriers for trade.”

The Indian PM additionally laid the foundation stone for setting up an Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Sabroom. It will help facilitate the movement of goods and passengers between the two nations, offer a new market opening for North-East states’ products, and promote unified movement of passengers to and from India and Bangladesh. The Land Port Authority of India will build the venture with an expected expense of Rs 232 crore.

Further, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka have jointly revealed e-plaques for developmental projects in Bangladesh via video conference. The e-plaques introduced the supply of buses and trucks, 36 community clinics, 11 water treatment plants, and the widening of the National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh. According to PM Modi, busses and trucks would support reasonable public transportation endeavours; water treatment plants will help supply clean water, and community clinic will facilitate around 2 lakh individuals in Bangladesh. Further, National Knowledge Network will associate scholars and research institutes in Bangladesh, to India and the world.

While speaking at the event, Prime Minister Modi observed that this is his 6th video conferencing with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He said that PM Sheikh Hasina’s vision is the greatest motivation for more grounded connectivity among India and Bangladesh. He stated these ventures demonstrate that India-Bangladesh relations are assuming a vital part in improving people’s quality of life. PM Modi was grateful and restated that India’s assistance for the earnest development targets set by Prime Minister Sheik Hasina for Bangladesh. He showed assurance that the bilateral relations among India and Bangladesh would keep on growing further.

Further, a recent two-day visit of PM Modi to Dhaka witnessed a blend of strategic and political initiatives. Both India and Bangladesh have signed five MoUs that cover various sectors such as connectivity, commerce, information technology, and sports and enhance bilateral cooperation and ties between countries. The leaders also laid the foundation stone for power evacuation from Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant being constructed with Russian assistance. The Indian contribution will be a $1 billion credit line.

Both the countries made resolute setting up collaboration in space and artificial intelligence (AI). Both the leaders launched the Bangladesh leg of the Bapu-Bangabandhu Digital Museum, a passenger train on the Chilahati-Haldibari rail course and three border haats and considered the advancement in different zones that included protecting the heritage and soul of 1971, commerce and connectivity defence and security, societal applications of nuclear energy and AI.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava

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