Home Contact Us  

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5257, 29 March 2017
India-Bangladesh: What to Expect During Prime Minister Hasina's Visit?
Amit Ranjan
Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

After a long delay of seven years and some postponements, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, will finally pay an official visit to India. This visit - scheduled for 7-10 April 2017 - will have a long-term impact on South Asian regional political architecture, the India-Bangladesh relationship, and on the domestic politics of Bangladesh. According to reports, Hasina will stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan during her visit, which may be because of her interpersonal relationship with the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. However, this does not rule out the symbolic significance India is according to the prime minister of Bangladesh. 
Strategically, the Bay of Bengal is India's backyard where, riding on Bangladesh's back, China seems to be setting up its foothold. This is apparent in the growing Bangladesh-China defence relationship, especially between their naval forces. Since 2010, Beijing has supplied Dhaka with five maritime patrol vessels, two corvettes, and anti-ship missiles. Recently, two Ming-class submarines joined the Bangladeshi naval fleet in November 2016. The procurement cost for the submarines was USD 203 million, which is a large sum for a low-income country like Bangladesh. They are Type 035G diesel-electric submarines armed with torpedoes and mines. During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Dhaka in October 2016, Bangladesh and China entered into a ‘Strategic Partnership of Cooperation’.
To maintain its strategic interests in the Bay of Bengal, India proposed defence cooperation with Bangladesh. The momentum for it was built up during the then Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar's, visit to Dhaka from 30 November to 1 December 2016. At that time, Parrikar presented an idea of having a comprehensive defence agreement between India and Bangladesh. He also offered India’s expertise to train Bangladesh's Coast Guard for enhanced capacity building to guard its southern coastlines along the Bay of Bengal. India further convinced Bangladesh to sign a defence deal during Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar's visit to Dhaka on 23 February 2017. As a result of these two visits, India and Bangladesh are set to sign two agreements and seven Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) related to defence issues during Hasina's upcoming visit. According to The Daily Star, “they include a “Defence Cooperation Agreement,” a technical agreement between the Bangladesh Navy and the Indian Navy, and seven MoUs on issues ranging from enhancing cooperation in the field of “National Security and Strategic Studies” to research.” The article also maintained that India is interested in having a “comprehensive deal with Bangladesh on defence, while the latter prefers a MoU to an agreement.” Although declared as a ‘normal’ visit, India's Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat is expected to visit Dhaka on 30 and 31 March, 2017, in order to do some homework on India-Bangladesh defence cooperation. 
Some opposition groups in Bangladesh have objected to signing an India-Bangladesh deal because they feel India can strengthen its hold over their country via the deal. Senior Joint Secretary General of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party Ruhul Kabir Rizvi was quoted by The Financial Express as saying “signing any defence deal or memorandum of understanding with India will be a dangerous venture for Bangladesh...We think Bangladesh’s defence system will turn into India’s extended one if Bangladesh procures military hardware from that country.”
The second issue which will set the pace of the India-Bangladesh relationship is that of the Teesta river water sharing treaty. It is considered that by implementing the Teesta river water sharing agreement, India will attain more strategic space in and around Bangladesh’s coastlines in the Bay of Bengal. For Hasina, the deal is important and will have an impact on her electoral prospects in Bangladesh's upcoming 2018 parliamentary elections. 
Understanding both equations - India’s strategic need, and the relevance of Hasina as the prime minister of Bangladesh - since 2011, the government of India has agreed to release about 50 per cent of the river's water to Bangladesh; but West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is against it. In addition to political differences with the central government, Banerjee's reluctance also stems from the water situation in five districts of the North Bengal - Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, South and North Dinajpur, and Darjeeling - that fall in the Teesta River's catchment areas. The West Bengal state government believes that transfer of such a quantity of water - approximately 33,000 cubic feet per second to Bangladesh - would affect the irrigation system in the abovementioned districts in the state. On the prospect of any sort of breakthrough on Teesta during the Hasina’s visit, the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, was quoted in the Indian media as saying “Everything is work in progress. We’ll have to see what is possible and what is not possible.”
More than anything, Hasina’s visit will test the flexibility of political leadership of both countries to accommodate the interests of the ‘other', which is proportionately related to securing their respective interests.
The views expressed in this piece are personal.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-China Border Agreements: Political Negotiation Needed

India-Bangladesh: Engagement with More Stakeholders Required

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.