As Bangladesh continues to grow at 6.5%, inking trade ties with major global players, will it be the new dark horse for the region.
By Asian Review Staff
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina being received by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Airport on her arrival in India on April 7.
It is beyond
doubt that Bangladesh has witnessed momentous growth over the past decade,
spawning over diversified arenas: economic, military, security, trade and
culture among others. As Bangladesh continues to grow at 6.5%, its increasing
ties with regional as well as global players have brought significant global
attention. In the backdrop of an aggressive China and unpredictable United
States, India’s bonding with its neighboring states could acquire greater
prominence than ever. And in this respect, India’s expanding ties with
Bangladesh is remarkable.
accession of Sheikh Hasina at the helm of affairs, Bangladesh has encountered
stability in the domestic realm and increased trade ties with global players.
India has extended a historic $2 billion line of credit which is expected to
create over 50,000 jobs in Bangladesh. Alongside reaching a conclusion over the
Land Boundary Agreement with India in 2015, Bangladesh has forged key
partnerships in energy and power sector-600 megawatt power exported from India
to Bangladesh. The two way trade stands at a remarkable
$7 billion and is expected to reach $10 billion by 2018.
During Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, over 22 agreements were signed
alongside an extension from Reliance Power to invest over US$3 billion to set
up a 3,000 MW LNG-based power plant. Additionally, to increase people-to-people
interaction, both the countries resolved to ease visa regime providing 5 year
multiple entry visas to minors below 13 and elderly above 65. Hence, Bangladesh
has emerged as an important trading partner for India.
faces no less hindrances in the path to progress. Over the years, Bangladesh
has constantly battled against rising extremism, in particular Islamic
extremism. With the advantage of technology accompanied by easy modes for
spread of ideas such as social media platforms, the transnational Jihadist
organizations readily taps into the domestic foray. Several home-grown
extremist organizations- the likes of AQIS and Jaamat-ul Mujahedeen - have
adopted both conventional and non-traditional mediums for spreading radicalism
in Bangladesh. However, reiterated the speaker, Bangladesh, as a resilient
society has staunchly rejected the idea of radicalization.
The state of
Bangladesh has vociferously countered extremist fringes, as terror groups have
aimed at exploiting existing fissures in the domestic realm. In the immediate
past, political rivalries and social dissatisfaction has largely been unchecked
providing fertile ground for an alternative narrative against democracy by
Islamic extremists. Such narratives has largely captured the imagination of the
younger generation-who have developed a profound disconnect from the indigenous
cultural past. A transition alongside has been witnessed from usage of
traditional to semi-automatic equipments, as also revealed in the Holy Artisan
incident. Furthermore, an impetus to extremism in Bangladesh is provided by
societal factors. Persisting poverty, looming socio-economic development,
including in sectors of health, education and sanitation has immensely
contributed to such activities. Hence, increasing number of young Bangladeshis
have been disenchanted with their families, political establishment as well as
the ill-grown civil society.
Bangladesh has the capacity, or rather has developed a strength to absolve
ruthless extremism. But cooperation and collaboration on counter-terrorism is
of primary significance, especially with countries facing similar threats
including in India and Myanmar. In the bilateral relation of India and
Bangladesh, several strains leave dark marks, including the prolonging water
disputes with India, case of ‘illegal’ migration, and border disputes amongst
others. In the climate of growing aggression from China and an unpredictable
United States, it is of urgent significance to India and the regional players
to join hands in furthering inclusive development, as well as establishing
peace and stability in the region.
The views expressed here are those of the author alone and not the Asia Council.