India-Bangladesh Relationship IAS Target

India-Bangladesh Relations and Border Disputes UPSC

21 Jul 2020

Category : International Relations

Topic: India-Bangladesh Relations and Border Disputes UPSC

India was one of the first countries to identify Bangladesh and set up diplomatic relations immediately after its independence in December 1971. The India-Bangladesh relationship is fastened in language, history, culture, and shared values of democracy, secularism, and countless other commonalities between the two countries. Both countries share an all-encompassing win-win partnership based on equality, sovereignty, understanding, and faith that goes far beyond a strategic partnership.

Bangladesh and India share a 4,156 km, long international border
Bangladesh and India share, fifth-longest land border in the world

Bangladesh share border with Indian States

180 km With Mizoram
262 km With Assam
443 km With Meghalaya
856 km With Tripura
2,217 km With West Bengal

Bangladesh and India are South Asian neighbours. Relations have been friendly, though sometimes there are border disputes. The historic land boundary pact was signed on 6 June 2015 which opened a new era in the relations and further stopped all irritants in ties. They are common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA, and the Commonwealth. The two countries share many cultural ties. In particular, Bangladesh and the East Indian state of West Bengal are Bengali-speaking. Bangladesh has a high commission in New Delhi with consulates in Kolkata and Mumbai. India has a high commission in Dhaka with a consulate in Chittagong. In 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War broke out between West Pakistan and East Pakistan; India interfered in December 1971 on behalf of East Pakistan and helped protect East Pakistan's independence from Pakistan as the country of Bangladesh.

In a 2014 survey, 70% of Bangladeshis expressed a favorable opinion and perception of India. Since the visit of Honourable Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in 2015 and round back visit of Honourable Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in 2017, the remarkable developments that have taken places include resolution of long-pending land and maritime boundaries asserting the issue of enclaves, the conclusion of over ninety instruments comprising in the hi-tech areas, i.e., cyber-security, electronics, information technology, space, and civil nuclear energy and observed boost in bilateral trade from US$9 billion to US$10.46 billion in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-19, followed by US$7 billion to US$9 billion in FY 2017-18, an increase of 28.5%.

Security & Border Management challenges between India and Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 km. of the border, which is the longest land boundary that India may share with any of its neighbours. The India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) came into existence following the exchange of instruments of ratification in June 2015. On July 31, 2015, the enclaves of India and Bangladesh in each other’s countries were exchanged and strip maps were signed. Residents of these former enclaves, who opted to retain their Indian citizenship made a final movement to India by November 30, 2015. Both sides noted the progress made in the finalization of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Coastal Surveillance Radar System in Bangladesh. India has also provided such systems to Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, and planning one in Myanmar. The coastal surveillance system will pave way for Indo-Bangladesh White Shipping Agreement in the future. This will be useful amid growing terror threats via seas and the growing presence of China in the Bay of Bengal region.

A number of security related agreements:

  • Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners,
  • Combating International Terrorism,
  • Organized Crime and Illicit drug trafficking,
  • Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters;
  • Prevention of Human Trafficking and Extradition Treaty
  • MoUs on Prevention of Circulation of Fake Currency Notes

These agreements have been signed between both the countries and working groups have been constituted to check their implementation. The Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) signed in 2011 aims to synergize the endeavors of both the border guarding forces for checking cross border illegal activities and crimes as well as for maintenance of peace and harmony along the India-Bangladesh border. The longstanding maritime boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh was settled as per arbitration award of 7 July 2014 which paved the way for cooperation in the maritime sector.

India-Bangladesh: Defence Cooperation

India and Bangladesh share the historical legacy of cooperation and support during the Liberation War of 1971. The active engagement on the defence side includes high level exchanges at the level of Service Chiefs, conduct of the inaugural Annual Defence Dialogue and service specific staff talks.

Various Joint exercises of Army

  • Exercise Sampriti
  • Navy Exercise Milan

Both navies and coast guard exchange goodwill ship visits to each other. Scholarships are given to successors of Muktijoddhas (Bangladesh War Veterans) for Higher Secondary & Undergraduate students every year by the GoI. 100 Muktijoddhas patients per annum were cured in various Indian armed forces hospitals in 2018. Exchange visits of Bangladesh Muktijoddhas and Indian war veterans take place every year in December to mark the Victory Day celebrations in Kolkata and Dhaka.

Land Boundary agreement b/w India and Bangladesh

The India–Bangladesh enclaves, were the enclaves along the Bangladesh–India border, in Bangladesh and the Indian states of Tripura, West Bengal, Meghalaya, and Assam.
  • Within the major body of Bangladesh were 102 enclaves of Indian territory, which in turn contained 21 Bangladeshi counter-enclaves, one of which contained an Indian counter-counter-enclave – the world's only third-order enclave.
  • A joint census in 2010 found 51,549 people residing in these enclaves: 14,215 in Bangladeshi enclaves within India and 37,334 in Indian enclaves within Bangladesh.

The prime ministers of India and Bangladesh signed the Land Boundary Agreement in 1974 to exchange enclaves and simplify their international border. An improved version of the agreement was embraced by the two countries on 7 May 2015, when the Parliament of India passed the 100th Amendment to the Indian Constitution. This agreement was ratified on 6 June 2015, and under this, India received 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (covering 7,110 acres (2,880 ha)) in the Indian mainland, while Bangladesh received 111 Indian enclaves (covering 17,160 acres (6,940 ha)) in the Bangladeshi mainland. The enclave residents were permitted to either continue residing at their present location or shift to the country of their choice. The exchange of enclaves was to be improved in phases between 31 July 2015 and 30 June 2016. The enclaves were exchanged at midnight on 31 July 2015 and the transfer of enclave residents was completed on 30 November 2015. After the Land Boundary Agreement, India lost around 40 sq. Km to Bangladesh. Since the exchange of territory took place, the only remaining enclave is Dahagram–Angarpota, an exclave of Bangladesh.