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A Look at the Past Present and Future of India Bangladesh Relationship

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India and Bangladesh share a unique relationship characterized by historical, cultural, and economic ties. With the recent visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India, the future of this bilateral relationship looks promising. This blog delves into the past and present of India-Bangladesh relations and explores the potential future developments following Sheikh Hasina's visit, with a special focus on the Teesta water sharing issue and other key areas of cooperation.


Historical Ties


India and Bangladesh share deep-rooted historical connections. Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, became an independent nation in 1971 with significant support from India during the Liberation War. This historical solidarity laid the foundation for a strong bond between the two countries.


Economic Cooperation

Economic cooperation has been a cornerstone of India-Bangladesh relations. Both nations have worked towards enhancing trade and investment. Bangladesh is India's largest trade partner in South Asia, with bilateral trade reaching approximately $10 billion. India exports goods such as cotton, machinery, and automobiles to Bangladesh, while importing textiles, fish, and other commodities.


Key Agreements and Projects

Several key agreements and projects have marked the economic collaboration between the two nations:


  1. Power and Energy: India has been supplying electricity to Bangladesh, and the two countries have been exploring joint ventures in the energy sector, including the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.


  2. Connectivity: Enhancing connectivity through road, rail, and waterways has been a priority. Projects like the Maitree Express (train service) and the protocol on inland water transit and trade aim to boost connectivity.


  3. Border Infrastructure: Developing border infrastructure to facilitate trade and transit is another focus area, with several Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) being established.


Political and Security Cooperation


India and Bangladesh have cooperated on political and security fronts to maintain regional stability. They have worked together to combat terrorism, human trafficking, and cross-border smuggling. The Land Boundary Agreement of 2015, which resolved long-standing border disputes, stands as a testament to their commitment to peaceful coexistence.


The Teesta Water Sharing Issue

One of the most contentious issues between India and Bangladesh is the sharing of the Teesta River waters. The Teesta River is crucial for the agricultural livelihoods of millions of people in Bangladesh, particularly in the northern regions.


Background of the Teesta Issue


The Teesta River originates in the Indian state of Sikkim and flows through West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. The sharing of its waters has been a point of contention since the 1980s. An interim agreement was reached in 1983, but a comprehensive treaty has remained elusive.


Recent Developments


During Sheikh Hasina's latest visit, the Teesta water sharing issue was a prominent topic of discussion. Both sides acknowledged the importance of finding an amicable solution. India has assured Bangladesh that it is committed to resolving the issue, but internal political dynamics, particularly in West Bengal, have complicated matters.


Future Prospects


The resolution of the Teesta issue is crucial for enhancing trust and cooperation between the two nations. A fair and equitable agreement would not only address Bangladesh's water needs but also strengthen the overall bilateral relationship. Continued diplomatic efforts and mutual understanding will be key to resolving this long-standing issue.


Sheikh Hasina's Latest Visit: A New Chapter


Sheikh Hasina's recent visit to India has further cemented the bilateral ties, with several agreements and understandings being reached. This visit highlighted the continued importance of cooperation in areas such as trade, energy, connectivity, and security.


Major Outcomes of the Visit


  1. Trade and Investment: Discussions focused on increasing bilateral trade and reducing trade barriers. Both countries aim to achieve a more balanced trade relationship and explore new avenues for investment.


  2. Energy Cooperation: Agreements were signed to enhance cooperation in the energy sector, including renewable energy projects and cross-border electricity trade.


  3. Defence Collaboration: The visit saw an emphasis on defence cooperation, with both countries agreeing to enhance joint exercises, training, and capacity-building initiatives.


  4. Connectivity Projects: New initiatives to boost connectivity, including the development of infrastructure and transportation links, were discussed. This includes enhancing rail, road, and waterway links to facilitate trade and people-to-people exchanges.


  5. Cultural and Educational Exchanges: The two countries agreed to promote cultural and educational exchanges to strengthen people-to-people ties. This includes scholarships, exchange programs, and joint cultural events.


  6. Green Partnership and Blue Economy: A shared vision for a "Green Partnership" and cooperation in the Blue Economy was finalized, highlighting a commitment to sustainable development.


  7. e-Medical Visas and Consulate in Rangpur: India will start an e-medical visa facility for Bangladesh nationals coming for medical treatment and open a new consulate in Rangpur to facilitate services for people in northwest Bangladesh.


  8. Indo-Pacific Cooperation and Regional Forums: Bangladesh’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and continued cooperation in forums like BIMSTEC were welcomed.


  9. Renewal of Ganga River Treaty: Talks will start at the technical level for the renewal of the Ganga River treaty. A technical team will travel to Bangladesh to review the protection and management of the Teesta River. This initiative reflects the importance of water resource management and the commitment to finding sustainable solutions to river water sharing disputes. The technical level talks and subsequent high-level discussions aim to ensure that both nations can benefit equitably from the river’s resources.


  10. Strengthening Defense Ties: Strengthened defense ties were discussed, including defense production, modernization, and counter-terrorism cooperation. The Bharat-Bangladesh Maitri Satellite initiative was also highlighted, which will enhance communication capabilities and aid in disaster management and resource planning. The discussions focused on the need for collaborative efforts in defense technology, joint exercises, and sharing intelligence to combat common security threats such as terrorism and fundamentalism.


  11. Currency and Electricity Trade: India and Bangladesh have started trading in Indian Rupees, facilitating smoother and more efficient transactions between businesses in both countries. This move aims to reduce dependency on third-country currencies and streamline trade processes. Additionally, the export of electricity from Nepal to Bangladesh using the Indian grid is a significant step towards regional energy cooperation. This trilateral arrangement not only enhances energy security for Bangladesh but also promotes regional integration and mutual benefits in the energy sector.


Future Prospects


The future of India-Bangladesh relations looks promising, with several key areas set to drive the partnership forward.


Economic Integration


Enhanced economic integration will be crucial for the future. Both nations are likely to focus on reducing trade barriers, promoting investment, and developing joint ventures. The establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and joint industrial parks can further boost economic collaboration.


Energy Security


Energy security will remain a priority. Both countries can benefit from joint projects in renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. Cross-border energy trade and cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector will also be significant.


Connectivity Enhancements


Improving connectivity will facilitate trade, tourism, and people-to-people exchanges. Future projects could include the development of new transportation links, modernization of existing infrastructure, and digital connectivity initiatives.


Security Cooperation


Continued cooperation on security issues will be essential. Both nations will need to work together to combat terrorism, ensure border security, and address transnational challenges like human trafficking and smuggling.


Cultural and Educational Ties


Strengthening cultural and educational ties will foster mutual understanding and goodwill. Expanding exchange programs, scholarships, and cultural events will enhance the people-to-people connection.




India and Bangladesh share a relationship built on historical ties, mutual respect, and shared interests. Sheikh Hasina's latest visit to India has opened new avenues for cooperation and highlighted the potential for a stronger partnership. With a focus on economic integration, energy security, connectivity, security cooperation, and cultural ties, the future of India-Bangladesh relations looks bright and promising.


Explore the dynamic India-Bangladesh relationship, which continues to flourish under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and PM Sheikh Hasina. For UPSC aspirants, understanding the geopolitical and economic ties between India and Bangladesh is crucial. Join the best UPSC coaching in Delhi to dive deep into topics like the Teesta water-sharing issue, economic cooperation, and cultural exchanges. Enroll at the top IAS coaching in Delhi to excel in your UPSC preparation and stay updated with current affairs that shape our region's future. Secure your future with the best IAS coaching in Delhi!