India-Bangladesh cooperation amidst COVID-19

On 27th July 2020, India handed over 10 broad-gauge diesel locomotives to Bangladesh over a virtual ceremony. The event has reaffirmed friendly relations between the two nations.
Pratyasha Sharma

Speaking about the ceremony, the Minister for External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar expressed that in light of the struggle during COVID-19 pandemic, the cooperation between India and Bangladesh has further strengthened.

Dignitaries attending the event in India were Dr S Jaishankar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, and State Minister for Railways Suresh C. Angadi. It was also attended by Bangladesh Railway Minister Md. Nurul Islam Sujan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Abul Kalam Abdul Momen. After the handing over ceremony, Bangladesh issued a statement noting that the two countries share “rock-solid” bilateral ties and that this event was a fulfilment of commitments made last October, during PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.

The close fraternal ties between India and Bangladesh came into highlight last week during the container cargo trial run from Calcutta to Agartala via Chattogram, a Bangladeshi port city. Moreover, the signing of the Second Addendum to Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade in May 2020 encouraged the opening up of the waterways to cordial trade.

With the railways opened up, regular parcel and container trains are expected to ply across the border. The lack of resources and raw materials during the pandemic has affected both countries equally. Freight trains carrying essentials will lighten this burden, and improve trade relations greatly.

India’s first neighborhood policy has been implemented well in terms of aiding Bangladesh in the backdrop of COVID-19. Almost 10 billion USD worth of concessional credit has been extended by India towards its neighbor. Reports from Bangladesh record that this has helped the nation meet its developmental goals and improve infrastructure.

China’s ongoing pressure on Bangladesh to open up chains of trade had experts concerned about future interactions with the latter, but the bonds of the fraternity have tightened after the ceremony. Furthermore, Pakistan’s attempt at involving Bangladesh in the Kashmir issue was thwarted by PM Sheikh Hasina, stating that it is internal to India- restoring faith between the two countries.

Jaishankar quoted this amity as a “role-model for neighborly friendship” in his interview on the event.

Indeed, the two nations share time-tested ties. This renewed goodwill is hoped to promote socio-economic development, increase industrial growth and level the playing field in backward areas.

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