Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an extremely successful 2-day visit to Bangladesh on June 6&7 2015 that was not only a high profile bilateral visit but was equally rich in substantive content and deliverable out come. As mentioned in our pre-visit curtain raiser posted a few days before the visit, it was part of PM Modi’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ out reach initiative that has already taken him to Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles. China too has been visited by Modi and now only Pakistan is left out. But that is a different story. Relations with Pakistan are unlikely to fit into the ‘Neighbourhood First’ programme.
Coming after just a shade over two years of Modi’s installation as Prime Minister, the visit has generated a great deal of hope in both countries for a new and dynamic shift in bilateral relations and a new era of cooperative bilateral relations. The optics was right, pre-visit preparations were perfect and above all the visible display of positive chemistry between the leaders was remarkable. To set the stage, Bangladesh Prime Minister broke away from the established protocol to personally receive PM Modi on his arrival and chose to be at the airport during the departure ceremony as well. Presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamta Banerjee, who flew in separately to join the Prime Ministerial delegation, was not only symbolic but added a great deal political substance and assurance in the light of what had happened during the last visit of the Indian Prime Minister in 2011. Obviously, Modi did not want the political message of this to be diluted by including in the delegation Chief Ministers of the other north eastern neighbouring states! Similarly, PM Modi’s reaching out to the principal opposition leaders of Bangladesh including Begum Khalida Zia and Roshan Ershad carried a positive political message. In this context it may be mentioned that there seemed to be an element of bipartisanship at display in as far as relations with India were concerned.
The visit programme too had been meticulously drawn up to include all that a visit of this nature should have had from the official and personal perspectives including visits to the famous Dhakeshwari Temple and the Rama Krishna Mission. But there was no high profile people- contact programme of the kind witnessed during Modi’s visits to New York or Sydney since none was needed in Bangladesh. An important engagement for Modi was receiving on behalf of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour’ from President Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid. (Detailed list of PM Modi’s official engagements may be seen in the joint declaration appended.) Common people however turned out in large numbers where ever the Prime Minister went and the media response was enormous and for once very positive. The only negative references, though muted, came in the context of the unresolved water sharing issue. However, on this issue PM Modi reassured the Bangladesh PM that discussions were on with all the Indian stake holders and that “with the support of state governments in India, we can reach a fair solution on Teesta and Feni rivers.”
On the substantive side, the most important agreement were the Exchange of Instruments of Ratification of 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol and Exchange of letters on Modalities for implementation of 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol. Understandably, these two hogged most of the media attention. But the many other significant agreements finalised and initialed and these would add fresh impetus to bilateral relations. Some of the important ones were Renewal of Bilateral Trade Agreement, Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, Agreement on Coastal Shipping, Agreement on Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati Bus Service and its Protocol, Agreement on Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala Bus Service and its Protocol, Memorandum of Understanding between Coast Guards, Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Human Trafficking, Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Smuggling and Circulation of Fake Currency Notes, Memorandum of Understanding Extending a New Line of Credit (LoC) of US$ 2 billion, Memorandum of Understanding on Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, Memorandum of Understanding on Use of Chittagong and Mongla Ports, Memorandum of Understanding on Indian Economic Zone and Consent Letter to Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), India to start operations in Bangladesh.
PM Modi rightly summed up the underlying text of the agreements and protocols in various quotes from his speeches on different occasions when he said, “Now, we are successful fellow travelers on the road to development….Our growing cooperation is a picture of my deeply held belief in the shared prosperity of neighbours ….As our economies get more integrated and our people better connected, our nations will become more prosperous… It will also open new economic doors for India's northeast….And, it will enable our two countries to integrate South Asia and connect it with the dynamic East….. We will work together to harness the rich potential of our relationship…. we will address our challenges in a spirit of friendship and from a position of mutual trust and confidence…..Our agreements reflect this vision and commitment.”
The key words in the various quotes above are ‘vision’ and ‘commitment’. In our dealings with the neighbours, India must have a clear vision of where we want the relationship to reach and then pursue it with full commitment. Happily, India has now reached a stage from where it could shift the gears, as it were, to break from the past of ‘reciprocity’ driven approach to one of ‘mutual trust and confidence’. Viewed from the Bangladeshi perspective, the Hasina government has been doing virtually all that India expected of it. Indian response, the Bangladeshis feel, has been rather inadequate or lukewarm. It is argued that even this time around, Bangladesh has done its bit in areas of connectivity, access through Chittagong and Mongla ports, introduction of bus services, unequivocal support in dealing with terror elements, human trafficking, smuggling and flow of counterfeit currency. Bangladesh's decision to allow transit of power equipment and food-grain to the northeastern states of India came in for special mention by PM Modi when he said that this reflected Bangladesh’s “strength of your human values and our shared economic opportunities”.
They naturally now expect the Modi government to do more than the routine. Happily, this has been partially attempted. Conscious of the huge trade imbalance, despite duty free and quota free access to Bangladesh in India on all but 25 items , Prime Minister assured his host that India will do everything possible to bridge the deficit gap. He was confidant that Indian investments in Bangladesh and smoother and easier trade facilitation mechanism too will help. Obviously, something more will have to be done in this direction to help Bangladesh get over the huge trade imbalance. Similarly, the issue of power deficiency too has been taken up. It was decided that Power supply from India to Bangladesh will grow from 500 MW to 1100 MW within two years. It was also noted that work on the 1320 MW Rampal power project was making progress and this would add additional capacity to Bangladesh’s power generation efforts. In fact, close on the heels of the PM’s visit, two major Indian private sector firms have already announced plans to set up thermal and gas based plant in Bangladesh that would give a major boost to power production in the country. New Delhi should actively encourage these projects and other infrastructure development investment related initiatives in the country that is bound to not only enhance the level of mutual trust and confidence in each other in the spirit of what PM Modi described as being ‘not only pass-pass but saath- saath’.
The final take on the visit seems to that both countries have the political will and mutual confidence to further improve relations in all fields. What is now required is to put greater emphasis on concrete delivery. And this should start with agreement on water sharing which is a huge emotive issue in Bangladesh and is apparently a ‘done deal’ requiring a firm political push. It is also important that the projects announced during this visit and the previous one, are closely monitored in the implementation stage. But most importantly, in both countries, a bipartisan consensus should evolve to make the initiatives irreversible and permanent. This is particularly important in the case of Bangladesh where traditionally a change in political dispensations is invariably accompanied by changes in India specific policy approach.
‘Joint Declaration " Notun Projonmo – Nayi Disha"
Dhaka June 07, 2015
1. At the invitation of the Prime Minister of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, paid a State visit to Bangladesh from 6-7June 2015.
2. During the visit, Prime Minister of India called on H.E. Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid, Hon’ble President of Bangladesh
3. Prime Minister Modi laid a wreath at the National Martyrs’ Memorial at Savar as a mark of respect to the memory and contribution of the great freedom fighters of Bangladesh. He paid rich tribute and respect to the memory of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhaka.
4. Sushri Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, also joined Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka on June 6, 2015 for the historic ceremony wherein they witnessed the exchange of instruments of ratification of the India- Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 1974 and its 2011 Protocol. The three leaders jointly flagged off the 2 bus services connecting Bangladeshi and Indian cities.
5. Prime Minister Modi received, on behalf of the former Prime Minister of India Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour’ from President Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
6. Prime Minister Modi visited the Dhakeswari Temple and the Ramakrishna Mission on 7June 2015, and spoke at a public event at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Dhaka on 7June 2015.
7. Prime Minister Modi had a meeting with Prime Minister Hasina on 6 June 2015 which was followed by the delegation level talks. Both the meeting and the talks were marked by great warmth and cordiality reflecting the excellent bilateral relations and friendship that exist between the two countries. The two Prime Ministers led their respective sides in the talks. Prime Minister Hasina hosted a banquet preceded by a cultural programme in honour of Prime Minister Modi and his delegation.
8. During the talks, the two Prime Ministers recalled the shared bonds of history, tradition, aspirations and multitude of other commonalities between the two countries and reiterated their firm conviction to further strengthen the bilateral relations. They recognized that the destinies of the peoples of the two countries were interlinked in their quest for peace, development and stability. The two Prime Ministers also noted that India and Bangladesh have entered a new phase in bilateral relations with a pragmatic, mature and practical approach based on sovereignty, equality, friendship, trust and understanding for the mutual benefit of their peoples and collective prosperity of the region.
9. Prime Minister Modi recalled with deep respect the visionary leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He appreciated the impressive socio-economic development in Bangladesh especially in the areas of economic growth, poverty eradication, women’s empowerment and education, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hasina. He also appreciated the steps taken by her towards strengthening democracy and promoting peace, security and stability in the region and beyond. He complimented Prime Minister Hasina for her support to innovative ideas for enhancing sub-regional cooperation and connectivity. He also appreciated her commitment to the betterment of bilateral ties with India and the many path breaking initiatives taken by her to provide greater depth and substance to the relationship.
10. Prime Minister Hasina appreciated Prime Minister Modi for his dynamic and pragmatic approach in leading the largest democracy and one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world. She expressed her firm belief that Prime Minister Modi’s leadership would bring in fresh impetus to the excellent bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India.
11. Both the Prime Ministers underscored the need to preserve the memory and legacy of the Great Liberation War and the freedom fighters. Prime Minister Hasina sought assistance from India in bringing back the mortal remains of valiant freedom fighters of Bangladesh who had been buried in Indian soil during 1971 War of Liberation. Prime Minister Modi agreed to extend necessary cooperation in this regard. Prime Minister Hasina recalled with gratitude India’s enormous contribution to the glorious Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. Prime Minister Modi conveyed appreciation to the Government of Bangladesh for conferring the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour’ on former Prime Minister of India, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for his outstanding contribution to the Liberation War of Bangladesh. He also appreciated Bangladesh’s initiative to honour the memory of Indian soldiers who had laid down their lives in Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Prime Minister Modi conveyed that these gestures of Bangladesh will always be remembered and cherished by the people of India and that these are testimony to the close ties between the two peoples. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the ongoing practice of joint celebration of Victory Day at Kolkata and Dhaka and also implementation of Muktijoddha scholarship scheme for heirs of the Muktijoddhas. Prime Minister Modi handed over to Prime Minister Hasina memento of INS Vikrant, which played an important role in the Liberation War. Prime Minister Modi also handed over to Prime Minister Hasina the audio recording of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic speech on 06 February 1972 at a mammoth rally at Brigade Maidan, Kolkata during his first State visit to India after the independence of Bangladesh. Prime Minister Hasina thanked Prime Minister Modi for this special gesture.
12. Both Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction over the historic passage of the 100th Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament to give effect to the 1974Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol. They recognized that this was a milestone in Bangladesh-India relations. Prime Minister Modi handed over to Prime Minister Hasina the video recording of the debate on this Bill in the Indian Parliament. They recalled with gratitude the role played by the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the then Prime Minister of India Smt. Indira Gandhi in this regard. Prime Minister Hasina appreciated the political parties and political leaders in India for the great demonstration of camaraderie in the unanimous adoption of the bill. The two Prime Ministers gave directives to the concerned officials on both sides for expeditious implementation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol on the ground. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to extend all facilities to the residents of the enclaves and ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected. The historic instruments of ratification of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol were exchanged and modalities for ensuring smooth implementation of the said Agreement and Protocol were worked out under an exchange of letters.
13. The two Prime Ministers recalled the "Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development” of 2011 that outlines the shared vision for an enduring and long-term cooperation and commits to achieve closer ties through economic integration and better connectivity. They stressed on taking stock of the achievements and charting ways for future cooperation.
14. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the continued exchange of high level visits which helped achieve a better understanding on many of the issues under discussion. They agreed to encourage more such high level interaction between the two sides. They also appreciated the regular holding of meetings of sectoral institutional mechanisms for continually promoting bilateral relations.
15. Both the Prime Ministers appreciated the progress made in the 3rd meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) held in New Delhi on 20 September 2014 led by the two Ministers of Foreign/External Affairs and directed them to coordinate, oversee and follow up implementation of initiatives as well as explore newer avenues for cooperation.It was agreed that the 4th meeting of the JCC would be held in 2015 in Dhaka.
16. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the unparalleled level of cooperation between the two countries on security related issues and reaffirmed their unequivocal and uncompromising position against extremism and terrorism in all forms and manifestations, as well as their commitment to cooperate with each other by sharing information about groups and persons indulging in terrorism. They reiterated their commitment that their respective territories would not be allowed to be used for any activity inimical to the other. Prime Minister Modi expressed India’s appreciation for the cooperation extended by Bangladesh in security related matters. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the conclusion of the MOUs on Prevention of Smuggling of Fake Currency Notes, Cooperation between Coast Guards and Prevention of Human Trafficking, all of which will augment security cooperation.
17. The two Prime Ministers stressed the need for effective implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) for better border management so as to prevent cross border criminal activities, irregular movement, incidents of violence and tragic loss of lives. They expressed confidence that it would enhance cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries, and enable them to manage the identified vulnerable areas with a view to preventing criminal activities, irregular movement, acts of violence and loss of lives along the border areas. They agreed on the need to free the borders from criminal activities. Both Prime Ministers also welcomed the finalisation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for allowing usage of Indian border roads for construction and maintenance of Border Out Posts (BOPs) of Border Guards Bangladesh as well as use of Indian medical facilities in difficult areas in the border area by Bangladeshi personnel, who are deployed in vicinity. Both Prime Ministers reiterated that the number of deaths at the border must be brought down to zero and directed the concerned authorities and border guarding forces to work to that effect. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the holding of 1st round of meetings of DCs/DMs of clusters of bordering districts and put emphasis on regular holding of meetings.
18. Prime Minister Hasina invited India’s cooperation in jointly developing the Ganges Barrage on the river Padma in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Modi conveyed that he would have the matter examined by the concerned agencies in India.
19. Prime Minister Hasina requested Prime Minister Modi for immediate conclusion of the Interim Agreement on Sharing of the Water of Teesta as agreed upon by both the governments in January 2011. Prime Minister Modi conveyed that deliberations are underway involving all stakeholders with regard to conclusion of the Interim Agreements on sharing of waters of Teesta and Feni as soon as possible. The two Prime Ministers noted that discussions on various aspects relating to sharing of waters of the Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar rivers were taking place at technical levels under JRC and asked the concerned officials for taking expeditious action to conclude the sharing arrangements at the earliest.
20. The two Prime Ministers recalled Article-2 of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development of 2011 and reiterated their commitment to address the issue of water resources management of common rivers including water sharing, in a holistic manner through common basin management.
21. Prime Minister Modi reiterated the earlier commitment that India would not take any unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of their River Interlinking Project which may affect Bangladesh. Prime Minister Modi also conveyed that the Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric Power Project is not likely to be taken forward in its present form due to statutory requirements on the Indian side and that India would not take any unilateral decision on this matter that may adversely impact Bangladesh.
22. The two Prime Ministers stressed the need for holding the 38th Ministerial meeting of the JRC at an early date to discuss all issues pertinent to water resources for mutual benefit.
23. Both the Prime Ministers expressed deep satisfaction at the level of cooperation and achievements in the power sector between the two countries and agreed to widen the cooperation further. Prime Minister Modi expressed his appreciation for Prime Minister Hasina’s untiring efforts in improving the power situation in Bangladesh and her Government’s consistent efforts in implementing the 2021 Goal i.e. to achieve installed capacity of 24,000 MW power by the year 2021. He also conveyed that India can be a major partner in achieving this goal and many Indian corporate have the capacity to cooperate with Bangladesh in this endeavour. He requested Prime Minister Hasina for facilitating the entry of Indian companies in the power generation, transmission and distribution sector of Bangladesh. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the steps being taken to quickly enhance the supply by 30-50MW over the existing transmission line so that the net power supply to Bangladesh increases to 500MW.Both sides further welcomed the steps being taken to augment supply of power through the Bheramara-Baharampur grid inter-connection from 500 MW to 1,000 MW and to operationalise the supply of 100 MW of power from India including from Palatana Power Plantto eastern side of Bangladesh and directed the concerned officials to complete the work in a time-bound manner. To enhance power grid connectivity as envisaged in the Framework Agreement, Prime Minister Modi agreed in principle to consider Bangladesh’s proposal to allow import from India to Bangladesh additional power in phased manner through construction of an additional grid interconnection on western side of Bangladesh.
24. Both sides welcomed the consensus between Bangladesh and India to evacuate power from the North-eastern region of India (Rangia/Rowta) to Muzaffarnagar of India through Bangladesh constructing a ±800 KV, 7000 MW HVDC multi-terminal bi-pole DC grid line with suitable power tapping points at Barapukuria in Bangladesh. Prime Minister Modi agreed in principle to consider Bangladesh’s request for providing adequate power from this line for Bangladesh keeping in view the grid security of both countries. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the pace of work of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company’s 1320 MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal, Bagerhat, Bangladesh, and were optimistic that the plant will be operational by the target date and meet the exacting environmental and energy efficiency standards to become a fine example of Bangladesh-India cooperation.
25. Noting Bangladesh’s interest in importing power in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) framework, India agreed to favourably consider such import subject to grid security, transmission, interconnection and applicable laws, rules and regulations of the respective countries.
26. The two Prime Ministers agreed to further enhance cooperation in energy sector particularly in renewable energy and nuclear energy. Both Prime Ministers agreed to cooperate in the field of civil nuclear energy, especially training for technical personnel.
27. Keeping in view the growing cooperation between the two countries in the energy sector, the two Prime Ministers decided to initiate an annual India-Bangladesh Energy Dialogue to be led jointly by Secretary (Petroleum) of India and Secretary, Power Division of Bangladesh to undertake comprehensive energy sector cooperation including areas of coal, natural gas, LNG, supply of petroleum products in the sub-region, renewable energy, oil and gas pipelines etc.
28. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the MOU and the Sale-Purchase Agreement signed between Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) for construction of a pipeline from Siliguri to Parbatipur for supply of High Speed Diesel to Bangladesh. They directed the officials to quickly finalize the terms for establishment of the Joint Venture Company which will construct and operate the pipeline.
29. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the renewal of the bilateral Trade Agreement with the new trade facilitation provisions which would not only further widen bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation in a balanced and sustainable manner to mutual benefit but also open up opportunities for regional trade. Recalling Article 1 of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development, the two Prime Ministers directed concerned officials to remove all barriers to ensure unfettered bilateral trade. Both sides underscored the need to narrow the trade imbalance.
30. The two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of harmonization of standards and mutual recognition of agreements and certificates for enhancing bilateral trade. They welcomed the conclusion of the Bilateral Cooperation Agreement between the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). They also agreed to keep each other informed of new legislation, rules and regulations in safety and testing to facilitate easy compliance and up gradation of facilities.
31. Both the Prime Ministers stressed the urgent need for up-gradation of infrastructure of the Land Customs Stations (LCSs)/Land Ports/Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) in a coordinated manner. They noted with satisfaction that the work of opening immigration facilities at Phulbari (opposite Banglabandha) has been completed and that the immigration post would be operationalized soon.
32. The two Prime Ministers noted with appreciation the positive experience gained from the functioning of the Border Haats and stressed the need to open more border haats at mutually agreed locations.
33. Prime Minister Modi emphasized the importance and need to increase Indian investment in Bangladesh and underscored the role of the private sector in this regard. He welcomed the decision of Bangladesh to allocate land for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for India. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the conclusion of MoU for Establishment of Indian SEZs in Bangladesh and directed the concerned officials to work to realize this goal at the earliest. Mongla and Bheramara were identified as possible locations.
34. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Coastal Shipping Agreement which would open up newer avenues of cooperation in the areas of bilateral & regional trade and connectivity. They also noted with satisfaction the renewal of the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) with new trade facilitation measures. Both the Prime Ministers agreed on the need for dredging of the Bangladesh-India inland water protocol routes to utilize their full potential. Both the Prime Ministers directed the officials to explore the possibilities of development of entire protocol route with assured Least Available Depth (LAD) with international funding. Prime Minister Modi agreed to provide necessary assistance for enhancing navigability of the routes as envisaged in the Framework Agreement.
35. The two Prime Ministers agreed to expedite collaborative efforts towards developing a successor organization of the erstwhile International Jute Study Group. Bangladesh appreciated India’s assurance of unhindered sourcing of cotton from India for Bangladesh.
36. Both Prime Ministers emphasized the importance of seamless, multi-modal connectivity to ensure regional economic development and people-to-people contact. They noted that roadways, railways and waterways were the building blocks to an inter-dependent and mutually beneficial relationship among the countries of the region. Prime Minister Modi appreciated the various initiatives taken by the Government of Bangladesh in this regard. Both Prime Ministers also agreed to commence negotiations on a Multi Modal Transport Agreement between the two countries and to constitute a Joint Task Force for this purpose.
37. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the commencement of Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati and Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala Bus services. The Indian Prime Minister also conveyed that the new bus services on Khulna-Kolkata and Jessore-Kolkata as proposed by Bangladesh may be operationalised after completion of consultations by both sides. Reviewing developments regarding proposal for construction of a bridge over the river Feni at Ramgarh-Subroom, the two Prime Ministers directed for its expeditious construction.
38. Prime Minister Modi agreed to consider Bangladesh’s proposal to introduce the 2nd Maitree Express between Khulna and Kolkata. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction about the ongoing cooperation in the railways sector including the Akhaura-Agartala railway link and revival of the old railway links. They directed the concerned officials of both sides to take measures for ensuring more passenger-friendly customs and immigration facilities for the passengers of Maitree Express. Prime Minister Modi announced that India will construct a modern International Passenger Terminal (IPT) at a suitable location in India so as to facilitate customs and immigration requirements of passengers travelling on the Kolkata-Dhaka Maitri Express and other trains that are to connect India and Bangladesh.
39. Both the Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the utilization of the first line of credit of US$ 800 million, which was enhanced by an additional US$62 million and US$ 200 million grant extended by India to Bangladesh.
40. Prime Minister Modi announced a second Line of Credit worth US$ 2 billion for Bangladesh for undertaking various development projects. The Line of Credit is to be utilized, inter alia, for developmental projects particularly in the area of public transport, roads, railways, inland waterways, ports, ICT, education, health etc.
41. Both Prime Ministers agreed that the advantages of sub-regional cooperation in power sector, water resources, trade, transit and connectivity should be harnessed to mutual benefit. In this context, both Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress made by the Joint Working Groups on Sub-Regional Cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) on Water Resources Management and Power / Hydropower and on Connectivity and Transit. Following discussions at the two meetings of the Joint Working Groups held so far, the concerned authorities in the respective countries are working towards identifying potential future power projects in the sub-region to be undertaken jointly involving at least three countries on equitable basis for joint development and financing. They are also exchanging ideas on potential cargo (roads and railways) and bus routes involving at least three countries. The relevant authorities in the four countries are also exploring the possibility of using multimodal transport to meet their commercial as well as tourist needs. They are also considering ways and means of improving trade facilitation at land border stations so as to enhance sub-regional connectivity and cooperation.
42. The two Prime Ministers recognized the need to exploit the synergies between the two countries for expanding the relationship to newer areas. They expressed satisfaction at bilateral cooperation in new areas including nuclear science and technology, space, health, jute and textiles, renewable energy, fisheries, meteorological, and other areas related to development. The two Prime Ministers especially applauded science and technology (S&T) cooperation that is being undertaken under the ambit of the India-Bangladesh Joint Science & Technology Committee, whose fourth meeting took place in New Delhi in December, 2014 coordinated by the Ministry of Science & Technology from Bangladesh side and Department of Science & Technology (DST) from Indian side. Both Prime Ministers appreciated the efforts for spearheading S&T cooperation in various areas. Both Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction launch of India Science Research Fellowship which enables scientists/researchers from Bangladesh to carry out research work at various Indian Institutes. Prime Minister Modi invited more researchers and scientists from Bangladesh to undergo training and exposure in various Indian scientific institutions, particularly in the areas of biotechnology and oceanography, which are identified as priority areas by Bangladesh.
43. Prime Minister Hasina informed that the ‘Bangabandhu Satellite-I’, the first Bangladesh satellite, is scheduled to be launched in 2017 which would take the country to the next level of scientific advancement. She appreciated the SAARC Satellite project being undertaken by India.
44. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the amicable settlement of the maritime boundary between the two countries. To harness the vast economic opportunities this has opened up, they agreed to work closely on the development of ocean-based Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and chart out the ways for future cooperation.
45. Both Prime Ministers agreed that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind today and expressed their resolve for ambitious climate action in their countries in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development. They underscored the importance of working together and with other countries to conclude an ambitious, comprehensive, balanced and equitable climate agreement in Paris in 2015 that will also address the issue of genuine technology collaboration and financial support in meeting this common global challenge. They agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation in the areas of climate change and environment protection.
46. The two Prime Ministers also welcomed the signing of the MOU to implement the grant assistance of INR 5 crores from the India Endowment for Climate Change for installation of 70,000 improved cook stoves in Bangladesh.
47. As a technology demonstration pilot project, Prime Minister Modi announced provisioning and installation by India of solar power-based home systems including light bulbs, mobile charging facilities, fans and cook stoves to an off-grid village in Bangladesh.
48. Recognizing the ongoing cooperation between the two countries in the sector of education, the two Prime Minister reaffirmed their commitment to widen this cooperation for mutual benefit. In this connection, they appreciated the various collaborative arrangements between the universities and educational institutes of the two countries. The two Prime Ministers also welcomed the Bangladesh-India Education Initiative and expressed confidence that the framework provided by the Initiative will enable relationships to prosper between institutions of the two countries.
49. Prime Minister Hasina expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by India, under the bilateral MOU on Small Development Projects, for city improvement projects being undertaken in Rajshahi, Sylhet, Khulna & Narsingdi.
50. Prime Minister Hasina thanked India for the substantive strengthening of capacity building programme being undertaken for Bangladesh under the ITEC programme, especially the custom designed courses such as the mid-career training programme for Bangladesh civil servants. She sought continued support of India in training of Bangladesh officials. Prime Minister Modi reiterated India’s commitment to training and capacity building of Bangladesh officials and technical personnel.
51. Expressing happiness at the cultural exchanges between the two countries, the two Prime Ministers agreed to further enhance such exchanges. They also noted with satisfaction the implementation of various projects by both the countries for this purpose.
52. Both Prime Ministers welcomed growing exchanges between the two peoples which is helping foster greater understanding and goodwill between the two countries. They agreed to further increase people-to-people contacts. In this context, it was agreed that Doordarshan and Bangladesh Television (BTV) will enter into an agreement to allow BTV to join Prasar Bharati’s DTH platform.
53. Both Prime Ministers agreed that strengthening diplomatic and consular presence in each other’s country will further boost people-to-people contacts. Prime Minister Hasina appreciated the concurrence of the Government of India to the opening of a Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Guwahati as well as up gradation of Bangladesh Visa Office in Agartala to an Assistant High Commission. Prime Minister Modi appreciated the concurrence of Government of Bangladesh for the opening of India’s Assistant High Commissions in Khulna and Sylhet.
54. Prime Minister Modi deeply appreciated the Government of Bangladesh for allowing transshipment of 25,000 Metric Tonnes of food grains to Tripura across Bangladesh territory on humanitarian cause. Prime Minister Hasina deeply appreciated the cooperation extended by Government of India for facilitating movement of humanitarian assistance from Bangladesh for the victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal.
55. Prime Minister Hasina deeply appreciated India’s assistance in bringing back Bangladesh nationals from Yemen.
56. Both Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to deepen regional cooperation to maximize the mutuality of interests and to ensure equitable share of mutual benefits in all areas, including trade, transport and energy. They recognized the importance of various regional/sub-regional cooperative/collaborative initiatives to improve the lives and livelihoods of all the people across the two countries. Prime Minister Hasina thanked India for the 24 Automatic Weather Stations set up by India under the SAARC STORM programme built by Antrix Corporation of India for the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.
57. Pledging to work closely in furthering relevant regional/sub-regional cooperation processes including SAARC, BIMSTEC and BCIM-EC, the two Prime Ministers reviewed various steps taken in this regard. They welcomed the agreement on establishing of the BIMSTEC electricity grid and expressed the hope that the BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement will be finalized soon. They also expressed confidence that the BCIM-EC Study Group reports would be finalized soon to allow decision making with regard to several projects envisaged under this framework, particularly the Kolkata-to-Kunming Highway Project.
58. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work closely in the UN and other multi-lateral organizations including WTO. They underscored the importance of coordinating each other’s position on the emerging global development architecture including Post-2015 Development Agenda, Migration and Development, and other multi-lateral issues of common interest. The two sides stressed the need for concluding the Doha Development Round under the WTO, in accordance with its development mandate and especially ensuring an early harvest of the development deliverables for LDCs. Both sides noted with satisfaction contributions of both countries to UN Peacekeeping Operations and agreed to work together to pursue the ongoing Peacekeeping reform process at the UN in the 70thAnniversary year of its establishment. Both Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of an effective multilateral system, centered on a strong United Nations, as a key factor in tackling global challenges. They expressed concern at the slow pace of progress on the long standing subject of UN Security Council Reform and called for urgent outcomes to be achieved in the 70thanniversary year of the United Nations. They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) and called for results oriented outcome of the negotiations that brings about comprehensive reform of the Security Council including an expansion in both categories of membership. Prime Minister Hasina reiterated her country’s support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council.
59. Both Prime Ministers underscored the need for strengthening and reform of multilateral financial institutions and enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making. They welcomed the potential role the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank may play in responding to needs of the developing countries. In this connection, Prime Minister Modi took note of Bangladesh's request to become a member of the New Development Bank in due course.
60. The following bilateral documents were signed, exchanged, adopted and handed over during the visit:
- Exchange of Instruments of Ratification of 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol
- Exchange of letters on Modalities for implementation of 1974Land Boundary Agreement and its 2011 Protocol
- Bilateral Trade Agreement (renewal)
- Agreement on Coastal Shipping between Bangladesh and India
- Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (renewal)
- Bilateral Cooperation Agreement between Bangladesh Standards &Testing Institution (BSTI) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on Cooperation in the field of Standardization.
- viii. Agreement on Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala Bus Service and its Protocol
- Memorandum of Understanding between Coast Guards
- Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Human Trafficking
- Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Smuggling and Circulation of Fake Currency Notes
- Memorandum of Understanding between Bangladesh and India for Extending a New Line of Credit (LoC) of US$ 2 billion by Government of India to Government of Bangladesh
- Memorandum of Understanding on Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean
- Memorandum of Understanding on Use of Chittagong and Mongla Ports
- Memorandum of Understanding for a Project under IECC (India Endowment for Climate Change) of SAARC
- Memorandum of Understanding on Indian Economic Zone
- Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2015-17
- Statement of Intent on Bangladesh-India Education Cooperation (adoption)
- Agreement between Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for leasing of international bandwidth for internet at Akhaura
- xx. Memorandum of Understanding between University of Dhaka, Bangladesh and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India for Joint Research on Oceanography of the Bay of Bengal
- Memorandum of Understanding between University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh and University of Jamia Milia Islamia, India
- Handing over of Consent Letter by Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA), Bangladesh to Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), India to start operations in Bangladesh
61. In a ceremonial event at the Prime Minister’s Office, the two Prime Ministers unveiled/inaugurated/flagged off the following:
- Flagging off Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati Bus Service
- Flagging off Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala Bus Service
- Unveiling of Foundation Stone for Construction of Khulna-Mongla Railway line
- Unveiling of Foundation Stone for Rehabilitation of Kalaura-Shahbajpur section of Bangladesh Railways.
- Inauguration of Tarapur-Kamlasagar Border Haat
- Unveiling of Foundation Stone for Bangladesh – India Friendship Building at National Police Academy, Sardah
- Inauguration of Upgraded Laboratories at BSTI
- Unveiling of Foundation Stone of Rabindra Bhaban Kuthibari, Shilaidaha
- Unveiling of Foundation Stone for Construction of Bangladesh–India Friendship Bridge-1 over Feni River
62. Prime Minister Modi handed over the following to Prime Minister Hasina:
- Audio recording of Bangabandhu’s Speech at Brigade Maidan, Kolkata (06 February 1972)
- DVD of Parliamentary Debate on Land Boundary Agreement
- Momentos of INS Vikrant
- Replica of a dredger supplied to Mongla Port
- Photo and replica of one of the 24 Automatic Weather Stations installed in Bangladesh under the STORM programme
63. Prime Minister Hasina handed over the following to Prime Minister Modi:
- A photograph of the "Signing Instrument of Surrender 1971”
- A map indicating the location of SEZs for India
- A photograph of the model of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Project (2x660 MW) at Rampal.
64. Prime Minister Modi thanked Prime Minister Hasina for the warmth and cordiality shown and gracious hospitality extended to him and members of his delegation during their stay in Bangladesh.
65. Prime Minister Modi extended an invitation to Prime Minister Hasina to pay a visit to India. The invitation was accepted and it was agreed that the visit would take place at a mutually convenient date.
Published Date: 10th June 2015, Image Source: http://indianexpress.com