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PM Modi shares his thoughts: If Bangabandhu had been alive today...

In an Op-Ed published in a Bangladesh newspaper on the day he arrived in Dhaka, Prime Minister Modi noted that had Father of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman been at the helm longer, India and Bangladesh may have had resolved the land boundary issue earlier, and the region would have also evolved along a very different trajectory. 

PM Modi shares his thoughts: If Bangabandhu had been alive today-VPN
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Dhaka, First Published Mar 26, 2021, 11:42 AM IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Dhaka on a two-day visit to Bangladesh where he will participate in the country's National Day, join the celebrations to commemorate 50 years of India-Bangladesh diplomatic ties and also hold a bilateral summit with his counterpart Sheikh Hasina. 

In an Op-Ed published in a Bangladesh newspaper on the day he arrived in Dhaka, Prime Minister Modi noted that had Father of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman been at the helm longer, India and Bangladesh may have had resolved the land boundary issue earlier, and the region would have also evolved along a very different trajectory. 

In 2015, the two countries inked an agreement to simplify their 4,000-km border and clarify the identities of 52,000 living in enclaves. The two sides swapped around 200 tiny enclaves dotted around the border. 

"...India and Bangladesh were able to finally overcome the complications of history through the 2015 Land Boundary Agreement. It was a historic moment in the history of modern nation-states. But had Bangabandhu been at the helm longer, this achievement may have come much earlier. Had that happened, our cooperation would have reached a different orbit altogether, enabling development, economic growth and shared security," the prime minister wrote.

Mentioning the assassination of the first family of Bangladesh in 1975, the prime minister said: "His killers wanted to reverse the gains of Bangladesh's independence, for which Bangabandhu had led a heroic struggle. They also wanted to strike a mortal blow to Bangabandhu's dream of building a cooperative, peaceful and harmonious subcontinent.”

Bangabandhu's life was a story of struggle. Faced with oppression and brutality, he stood unflinching. Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa was his source of strength, he added. 

In Bangabandhu, the Prime Minister noted, "India saw a tall leader whose vision went beyond the narrow confines of physical borders and social divisions. That is why we join our Bangladeshi sisters and brothers in celebrating Bangabandhu's memory in this very special Mujib Borsho."

With his (Mujib) world-view visionary, India and Bangladesh could have built an integrated economic region with deeply interlinked value-chains spanning food processing to light industry, electronics and technology products to advanced materials.

"We could have created inter-governmental structures to maximise the economic, scientific and strategic benefits of a community of hundreds of millions of people. We could have set up mechanisms to share meteorological, maritime and geological data among ourselves and with our other neighbouring countries, saving our region from the impacts of natural disasters," he said.

"We could have joined our maritime capacities—from fisheries to offshore mineral resource exploration—to propel rapid economic growth in and around the world's biggest Bay: the Bay of Bengal," PM Modi added.

"We could have developed a vast multimodal connectivity network of roads, navigable rivers and riverports, railways, ports, container yards and airports, seamlessly integrated and coordinated through a Bay of Bengal transportation and logistics council. This could have allowed goods to move quickly and seamlessly, even multiple times during the production process, across IT-enabled and highly modernised borders," he said.

The assassination of the Father of Bangladesh deprived the region of the destiny that could and should have been ours to share. And yet today, it is possible in this dawn of a new and rising Bangladesh to believe that this future is once again within our grasp, the prime minister added. 

With growing income and prosperity, Bangladesh is progressively realising the dream of Bangabandhu, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. It is time to once again chart a bold ambition for our partnership, as Bangabandhu would have done, he said.

The two countries have resolved complex issues amicably, including land and maritime boundaries. "We have substantial cooperation covering almost all aspects of human endeavour. Our trade has reached historic levels, aiding economic activities in each other's countries. Our people-to-people exchanges remain robust as ever."

In this historic commemorative year, PM Modi said, "We look forward to the completion of important connectivity projects like the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline and the Akhaura-Agartala rail link."

"As our connectivity improves, our business will increase, our partnership will deepen, and we will open new vistas of cooperation. I firmly believe that we are once again striving towards a destiny that the Liberation of Bangladesh had once augured for our region," the prime minister said.

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