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Indian politicians should not undermine Bangladesh


Indian politicians should not undermine Bangladesh

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Whenever ultra-nationalists combined with religious bigots get into power in any country, they in fact invited unwarranted hassles for their own nation by unnecessarily exhibiting hostility towards their friendly neighbors. Leaders of the radical Hinduist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their political or ideological cronies are indulging into notorious attempts of terrorizing a friendly neighbor like Bangladesh by bringing up false claims and allegations admixed with threats of repressive actions.

According to an opinion editorial published in leading Indian English newspaper The Hindu, just a day before the official visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Kolkata seemed to draw equivalence between the citizens of Bangladesh and ‘infiltrators’ and said at a seminar, “All infiltrators will be thrown out.” At the same time, the police in Uttar Pradesh were ordered to identify and deport foreign nationals from Bangladesh. Commenting on Amit Shah’s remarks, a source told the The Hindu, “We do not yet know if these developments are giving a message to Dhaka and specifically to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, but certainly these comments are drawing attention to the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the drive against the Muslim Bengalis”.

Ruling BJP’s blue-eyed-boy, Amit Shah’s comments came days after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met Narendra Modi in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where Prime Minister Modi categorically said that Dhaka should not worry about the fallout of the NRC process in Assam which left 1.9 million Indian citizens out of the citizenship list. Similarly, Dr. S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister of Indian during his recent visit to Dhaka had described the NRC in Assam as an “internal matter” of India.

During her meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina has clearly told that the NRC has emerged as a “matter of great concern” to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Prime Minister is scheduled to participate in the India chapter of the World Economic Forum, where it will present the success story of Bangladesh in the socio-economic field during the past eleven years, which has transformed Bangladesh into a major destination of international investments.

However, Ms. Hasina conveyed to Mr. Modi in New York that the NRC had emerged as a “matter of great concern”. The communication was confirmed by Foreign Minister Abdul Momen. Ms. Hasina will reach Delhi on Thursday to participate in the India chapter of the World Economic Forum where she is expected to present her country as a success story and a major destination for international investments.

While Bangladesh has already emerged into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world under the dynamic and magnanimous leadership of Sheikh Hasina, there is a sign of grave frustration within West Bengal and Northeastern states in India as they have been gradually drowning into growing economic crisis and unemployment. Hundreds and thousands of Indian nationals currently are flocking into in search of jobs. According to statistics, currently there are over one million Indians, who are illegally working in Bangladesh.

Indian policymakers are expressing grave concern seeing the steady and fast pace of economic growth in Bangladesh, as such a situation may ultimately lead to revolts by the residents in West Bengal and the Northeaster states in India, which may ultimately result in a massive political movement against the New Delhi establishment. Those pundits are even comparing the situation in West Bengal and the Northeastern states to that of erstwhile East Pakistan, which had reacted to West Pakistan’s repressive attitude and had finally started a war of independence.

Some of the key strategists in India are even suggesting some “urgent measures” in “stopping the fast growth” of Bangladesh economy and its growing cooperation with China, for the “sake of” India’s “sovereignty and integrity”. They fear, a prosperous Bangladesh has already become as issue of anger to the Indian nationals as they are becoming increasingly frustrated at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure in resolving the growing unemployment crisis and attracting foreign investments.

Analysts say, amongst the South Asian nations, currently Bangladesh is the best destination of foreign investments as the country has political stability and has greatly resolved political and labor unrest. Moreover, Sheikh Hasina government’s policies are extremely investor-friendly while the country also enjoys an advantageous position in comparing to its South Asian neighbors due to massive infrastructural development. Furthermore, Bangladesh’s being a key partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has already opened the prospect for Bangladeshi trade to expand further in the Asian nations as well as Europe and Africa, once this brainchild project of President Xi Jinping is fully implemented. Those large industrial projects shifting their establishments from China are now giving their top preference to Bangladesh and by 2030, Bangladesh is expected to witness a massive industrial growth with most of the least advanced districts transforming into an industrial hub. Economic experts are seeing several “Pudong” in Bangladesh within the next few years.

It may be mentioned here that, Pudong is a district of Shanghai located east of the Huangpu River across from the historic city center of Shanghai in Puxi. The name refers to its historic position as “The East Bank” of the Huangpu River, which flows through central Shanghai, although it is now administered as the Pudong New Area, a state-level new area that extends all the way to the East China Sea.

The traditional area of Pudong is now home to the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone and the Shanghai Stock Exchange and many of Shanghai’s best-known buildings, such as the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Tower. These modern skyscrapers directly face Puxi’s historic Bund, a remnant of former foreign concessions in China. The rest of the new area includes the Port of Shanghai, the Shanghai Expo and Century Park, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, the Jiuduansha Wetland Nature Reserve, Nanhui New City, and the Shanghai Disney Resort.

In 2001 when I was invited by the Chinese government to visit Pudong, I was spellbound seeing how a district with mostly agricultural lands was being transformed into an economic hub, attracting foreign investors from around the world. Bangladesh too has that prospect, and by 2030, we surely will witness the creation of similar economic hubs under the leadership of our Prime Minister.

In conclusion, I would like to say, we sincerely want a sweet relationship with India based on mutual respect and trust. Indian politicians should refrain from making comments which may jeopardize the existing cordial relations between Dhaka and Delhi. We believe, NRC is an internal affair of India, and the policymakers of that country only know how to deal with their own citizen. It is totally unacceptable that the policymakers would ever think of pushing their own citizen to a neighboring country by falsely branding them as “infiltrators”.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a multi-award-winning journalist and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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