Indo-Bangla Relations

There has been a series of high level meetings between India and Bangladesh in the last few days. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee visited Dhaka to attend the joint celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath. On this occasion, Mukherjee announced the conversion of $200 million out of India’s $ 1 billion line of credit to Bangladesh into grants. Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni was in Delhi to attend the first meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission which committed itself to enhancement of bilateral ties including the signing of an extradition treaty. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, is sticky about the sharing of the Teesta waters and the exchange of India and Bangladesh enclaves. Her stubborn attitude prevented the signing of a water-sharing deal during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka last September. Bangladesh on its part has blocked India’s transit rights across it to the Northeast. Mamata Banerjee has set up her own Commission to collect water flow data. A joint hydrological survey to find out the exact quantum of water in the Teesta, especially in arid summer, is necessary. The enclave issue presents a humanitarian problem and the Assam government is also opposed to the agreement. An improvement in Indo-Bangla relations will benefit the West Bengal government considerably. At the same time, the Centre should consult it on every related issue at all steps. From transit to trade, an agreement with Dhaka will make Kolkata a major hub linking India with Southeast Asia. Opening up of Myanmar will also help Mamata Banerjee fulfill her promises to a significant extent. However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has no business to meddle in the internal hitches between India and Bangladesh.

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