Water woes

Mar 16, 2017
If India-Bangladesh relations are at an all-time high, why has there been so much uncertainty over Sheikh Hasina's visit to Delhi? It was postponed twice in two months - December and February - and finalized only after the Indian foreign secretary's visit to Dhaka recently. The Bangladesh prime minister has finally agreed to come to Delhi between April 7-10, but there is a certain degree of unease in Dhaka over possible takeaways from the visit for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has addressed all of India's security and connectivity concerns since Hasina assumed office in 2009. The northeastern rebels, who had made Bangladesh their base, have been handed over to India or driven out. Dhaka has also gone after the Islamist radicals who were using the country to attack Indian targets. There has been considerable boost to intelligence sharing on terrorist movement and on fake currency rackets. The use of the ports at Chittagong and Mongla for connectivity to the Northeast has been allowed, the scope of the inland waterway transport further cemented by a worthwhile coastal shipping agreement. With or without a formal transit agreement that serves India's purpose, but Dhaka is considering formalizing transit. This was Indira Gandhi's expectations from a friendly neighbour in the East which would help restore pre-Partition linkages and deny any Indian rebel a base. This prompted her to buy into the suggestion of Tripura's first chief minister, Sachindra Lal Singh, of backing a Bengali freedom movement.
Singh told me in a 1986 interview that Delhi would never appreciate "my Bengali sentiments, my feelings for fellow Bengalis in bondage". So, he said, he had to hard sell how a friendly Bengali nation in the East would be a wonderful thing for India's security and economy. Bangladesh's former foreign minister, Dipu Moni, summed it up nicely: "Amader swapno ebong sartha, dui ek (Our interests and dreams are similar)".
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The Telegraph, March 16, 2017

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