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Sheikh Hasina’s India visit deepens ties: Indian media

Published : 18 Sep 2022 06:03 PM | Updated : 18 Sep 2022 06:03 PM

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent four-day India visit drew huge media attention of the neighbouring country as the Indian newspapers called the visit as a "successful one" which "signaled deepening of India-Bangladesh relationship".

Indian newspapers, news agencies, online portals published in Hindi, English and many regional languages across the country carried out hard stories alongside editorials, post editorials and op-eds of renowned journalists highlighting the outcome of the visit.

The visit was also highlighted in Indian electronic media like NDTV, Times Now TV, Republic TV and Sangsad TV as the media telecast programmes and arranged talk shows on the event.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid the four-day state visit to India from September 5-8 at the invitation of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Seven Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) mainly on connectivity, water resources management, trade and export and media, among others, were signed during the visit.

The Indian media saw the visit as a "very crucial one" as the two leaders engaged in an official talk when they discussed issues relating to bilateral, multilateral and regional interest amid current global geo-political situation due to Ukraine conflict that posed a negative impact on global supply chain and fuel markets.

The Indian Express, an Indian vernacular daily, published an editorial on September 9 with the headline "Sheikh Hasina's visit signaled deepening of India-Bangladesh relationship. In times of regional turmoil, it needs careful nurturing".

"The deepening of ties between Bangladesh and India comes at a time of increased uncertainty in South Asia. Sri Lanka and Pakistan are reeling from economic and political crises, even as the region as a whole is dealing with the twin shocks of the pandemic and the supply chain problems caused by the conflict in Ukraine," the editorial said.

Against this backdrop, the significance of the enhanced economic cooperation and connectivity put in place during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India from September 5 to 8 cannot be understated, it added.

India's renowned Strategic Analyst K.P. Nayar wrote a post-editorial in The Tribune stating that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India last week was a case of history repeating itself.

In order to put India-Bangladesh relations on firmer foundations for some potentially turbulent years ahead, New Delhi appears to have taken a leaf out of PV Narasimha Rao's diplomatic notebook 30 years ago, he said.

It is of a piece with what is arguably India's most reliable partnership in the neighbourhood, one that has been nurtured by both sides, especially in the last decade, he wrote.

On the trade front, he also wrote, both sides have directed officials to begin negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) as India is Bangladesh's second biggest trade partner and its largest export market in Asia.

Despite the pandemic, bilateral trade grew at an unprecedented rate of almost 44 per cent from $10.78 billion in 2020-21 to $18.13 billion in 2021-22, Nayar added.

On both border management and river waters -- significant progress has been made, he wrote.

Harsh V. Pant, Vice-President, Studies and Foreign Policy at Observer Research Foundation (ORF) wrote a piece in the opinion page of The Hindustan Times in its September 9 issue on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's India visit with the headline "Delhi-Dhaka ties have entered a new golden age".

"The visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina to India this week underscored the real bond between two neighbours as well as two peoples in a region that remains highly fragmented," Pant wrote.

The ease with which Hasina and PM Narendra Modi engaged with each other-lauding each other's contribution -is a tribute to the investment that the two leaders have made in this vital relationship, he added.

"Hasina remains confident that with PM Modi at the helm, India and Bangladesh can resolve all existing problems. PM Modi underlined Bangladesh's special place in the Indian foreign policy matrix as its biggest development and trade partner in the region," he wrote.

Former Ambassador Rajib Bhatia in a newspaper article wrote the state visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India has "amply showcased the high stakes of both polities in their bilateral ties, imbued with regional significance".

In the article headlined India-Bangladesh ties, a model for bilateral cooperation, published in the vernacular daily The Hindu on September 12, the former envoy wrote that the contributions of Sheikh Hasina government to nurturing the special 'bonding' need to be acknowledged.

India's former ambassador to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty wrote an article on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's India visit in which he wrote while bilateral ties will continue to grow, inimical forces will seek to undermine goodwill.

The article published in The Indian Express on September 9 with the headline "Mature leadership in India and Bangladesh has not let minor disagreements threaten shared interests" wrote both countries must cooperate more closely against this menace if the future has to be secured for economic growth and prosperity.

During the current visit, he wrote, seven agreements have been concluded in sectors like connectivity, environment, water management, science and technology, railway, law, information and broadcasting among others. Five new infrastructure projects have been announced.

"Significantly, there is an agreement on the water-sharing formula for the river Kushyara that flows into Bangladesh from Assam's Silchar district. India has requested the finalisation of the temporary water sharing accord on the Feni river, which meets Tripura's water requirements," the article said.

About Teesta issue, he wrote, the pending Teesta agreement has been caught in the quagmire of Centre-state relations in India. The Joint Rivers Commission has been mandated to examine the sharing of waters of 54 transboundary rivers and flood data sharing.

"Bangladesh has announced 200 scholarships to descendants of children of Indian military personnel who laid down their lives in the 1971 War of Liberation. India has a programme of providing medical facilities for war veterans and their families. These measures cement people-to-people ties," he wrote.

On CEPA, he said negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are to start shortly.

Bangladesh will graduate from a Less Developed Country (LDC) to a developing country by 2026 and will no longer be entitled to trade and other benefits that are accorded to LDCs under international and regional trading agreements, he said.

He wrote, "The CEPA will help manage this transition and preserve the trade privileges that Bangladesh enjoys".

Journalist and Columnist Subimal Bhattacharjee said the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India "has set the ball rolling for the next few years of cooperation on many fronts, primarily economics and connectivity."

In a post-editorial in The Indian Express in its September 8 issue wrote that improved connectivity between India and Bangladesh not only enhances economic prospects but also builds better relations between the people.

"Coming at a time when both the countries have achieved many lasting milestones in the eight years of coterminous leadership of the current prime ministers in their respective nations, this visit has set the ball rolling for the next few years of cooperation on many fronts, primarily economics and connectivity," he wrote.

Indian veteran Journalist and Bangladesh Affairs expert Gautam Lahiri said with the visit of PM Sheikh Hasina to India, a guideline on how to carry forward the existing bilateral relationship between the two neighbours to a newer height amid current global and regional perspective has been created.

Talking to BSS, he said the journey of implementing Bangladesh's long-standing demand on distribution of water from 54 common rivers has begun with the signing of Kushiyara water sharing agreement.

However, India has agreed to provide tax-free transit to Bangladesh to export its goods to Nepal and Bhutan, he said, adding that the decision was taken so that Bangladesh can import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan.

"Considering all those things, we can say the PM Sheikh Hasina's India visit was a successful visit in which many outstanding issues between the two countries were resolved," Lahiri, the former President of Press Club of India (PCI), said.