Bangladesh, India must redesign policy

The Daily Star
Monday, September 12, 2011

Bangladesh, India must redesign policy

Analysts speak at roundtable on bilateral relations
Star Business Report

Both India and Bangladesh should redesign their foreign policies to reflect the changing scenario and take Indo-Bangla relations to a new height, analysts said yesterday.

The call came at the roundtable, Japan and South Asia: Focus on Indo-Bangladesh Relations, at Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) in Dhaka.

Mayami Murayama, deputy director general of Inter-Disciplinary Studies Centre, Institute of Developing Economies in Japan, said Bangladesh and India have remained distant neighbours despite closest geographical proximity, ethnicity, cultural commonness and shared history.
“Mistrust is the main hindrance in improving bilateral relationship. Misplaced expectation is also the main cause of mistrust against each other.”

She said mutual mistrust between two sides started soon after Bangladesh won independence in 1971, which has been strengthened by subsequent issue and political manipulation of these issues. “Now we can see change. The stance of Tripura is also appreciating among the all northeastern Indian states,” said Murayama.

Murayama also said there is also a dramatic change in how Japan look at Bangladesh. “In the eye of Japan, Bangladesh is now a symbol of growing economy from the stagnant economy.”
Prof Takenori Horimoto of Shobi University in Japan said India seems to realise the significance of its eastern neighbour Bangladesh to establish its firm foothold in South Asia as well as its global emergence.

“India is transforming into a major power. On the other hand, Bangladesh will be able to maximise its geopolitical advantage with its huge population.”

BEI Vice President Ambassador M Humayun Kabir, who moderated the event, said India should develop a new model for its foreign policy.  “Bangladesh has given them an opportunity to redesign their policies in South Asia. It is up to New Delhi whether they would utilise it or not.” The former ambassador also called upon Bangladesh to do the same. “We do not have consistent policy to India. Does our policy towards India cover all view points? Does it represent participation of all stakeholders?”

“The world is changing, so is India. We have to think about whether our existing foreign policies are keeping pace with the changing scenario.”Kabir said nowadays state and other stakeholders are playing an important role. “We need to redesign our diplomacy.”

12 September, 2012