Bangladesh-India: Mujib Borsho and Golden Jubilee celebrations


Dr N C Bhowmik


Mujib Borsho and the golden jubilee are being celebrated. There was a 10-day program from March 17 to 26. Head of the governments and head of the states across the globe had sent messages. Five heads of the governments and head of the states joined the celebration physically. Our closest friend Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh and his participation has glorified the celebration. The speeches of the two PMs and analysis are given below.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said India being the largest country in the region, needs to play a pioneering role in building a stable and politically and economically vibrant South Asia.”If we move forward hand in hand, the development of our people is inevitable,” she said while chairing the closing ceremony of the 10-day festival in presence of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as the guest of honor.


“India is inextricably linked to Bangladesh’s birth,” she told the concluding of the 10-day national celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Birth Centenary and Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s 1971 Independence at the National Parade Square.Narendra Modi said, “On behalf of the people of India who revere Bangabandhu as a hero, I pay humble homage to this great statesman of the 20th century. Bangabandhu is etched in the collective memory of the subcontinent, whose history he reshaped through the sheer force of his commitment and sacrifice.”


Bangladesh and India signed five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to enhance cooperation in various sectors, including disaster management, resilience, and mitigation, trade, ICT, and sports.Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightfully said that the two countries share “deep cultural, linguistic and people-to-people ties”.


We greatly appreciate and welcome the warm words and friendly gesture of the Indian Prime Minister. We also reiterate our deep gratitude for India’s invaluable support in our Liberation War during which many Indian soldiers laid down their lives and for generously accepting one crore of our people fleeing genocide by the Pakistani military in 1971.


India attached high importance to the celebrations, and this has been reflected through Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit. It was his first foreign visit in 15 months, and it came amid a growing threat of Covid-19 infections.Both Mahatma Gandhi and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made sacrifices for the greater interest of people and for establishing equality for all irrespective of religion, caste, creed and ethnicity.


Bangladesh is eagerly seeking greater access to Indian territory to get linked to Nepal and Bhutan for expanding trade and importing hydroelectricity. Bangladesh also seeks to join the India-Myanmar- Thailand Trilateral Highway Project to be connected to Southeast Asia by road. Regional connectivity has come up prominently in the speeches of the two leaders at the golden jubilee celebrations and also bilateral talks. Transit has been going on among BBIN countries. We hope BBIN motor vehicle agreement will be implemented.


The relations are not only at the state level, but also at people’s level, and this is actually very important. In the future, Orakandi in Gopalganj or Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple in Satkhira could become popular places of pilgrimage among a at large number of Indians as well. That’s how people-to-people connectivity can grow. It is mentionable that 15,00,000 people went to India from Bangladesh and 5,00,000 came to Bangladesh from India in the year 2019.


The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dhaka on the eve of Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day on 26 March as the ‘honored guest’ will not only be a diplomatic tour but also a bridge of the historical and cultural connection of the two countries.PM Modi is slated to travel to Bangladesh on March 26-27 for the second time since 2015, his first-ever foreign tour after the Covid-19 pandemic.Economic relations between these two countries have over the last couple of years become multifaceted, embracing trade transactions, joint ventures, transit facilities and transport development.


Bangladesh is the recipient of India’s largest-ever financial assistance. India has already provided eight billion dollars in last ten years in different projects.The private sector initiative comes in parallel to the Indian government’s effort to bolster relations with Bangladesh. 38 Indian investments had been registered with the Board of Investments (BoI) in Bangladesh for about $183 million in the preceding years.


We know, Dhaka’s average economic growth rate has been over 7.0 per cent for the last couple of years, thereby attracting Indian investment. Modi assured in his speech that 50 young investors of Bangladesh will be invited to invest in coming years in India.   The middle class is rising steadily and creating demand for consumer goods and services. The country has also graduated as a developing nation by UN.


Further, the recent virtual summit between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and PM Narendra Modi while inaugurating ‘Maitri Setu’ (Friendship Bridge) on March 9, has indicated connectivity on north east of India. It is remarkable that 6 December has been declared as Friendship Day and construction of the memorial for the martyred allied forces has been started.


‘Regional connectivity is not only strengthening friendship between Bangladesh and India but also proving to be a strong link of business’, PM Hasina had remarked. PM Modi also expressed the view that connectivity between Bangladesh and India will prove to be very important for the north-east region of India and Bangladesh trade as well.Prime Minister Hasina has delivered on all of India’s concerns ranging from security to connectivity. India on its part has done its best to reciprocate by giving priority to supply Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh, and other essential goods as early as possible.


The most important of these being strengthening connectivity between the two countries through resuming the long suspended rail, road and waterway links.Meanwhile, Teesta river water sharing continues to remain an old problem. PM Modi has indicated that the problem will be resolved during this tenure. Coordinated patrol and increased border Haats will reduce killings in border. India is also helping for safe return of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.


Hefajat-e-Islam and some so called left parties arranged demonstration during the visit of Indian premier Narendra Modi. These forces worked against Bangladesh Liberation. It is mentionable that in 70’s election 26 percent people went against the mandate for freedom of the people. After assassination of Bangabandhu these forces actively collaborated with anti democratic forces and work against the spirit of Liberation War.


Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina has been taking steps to establish spirit of liberation war. But still these forces are active and sometimes they are doing destructive activities also. We know recently they demonstrated against father of the Nation Bangabandhu’s Mural and destroyed it in some places.


Their activities in collaboration with Jaamat and other forces are against democracy, heritage and culture of Bangladesh .There was also a conspiracy to overthrow the government that is exposed by the documentary of Al Jazeera. This time also they attacked different government establishments and cultural centres at Brahmanbaria, Chittagong and other areas. Before that on 17th March on the birth anniversary of Bangabandhu, they attacked minority houses and temples at Shalla of Sunamganj that has been instigated by Hefazat leaders including Mamunul Haque.


It is also evident that they are doing destructive activities in some places, which are the centre of militant groups. The people of the country rejected the hartal called by Hefazat across the country. Government should take strong action against these forces and all the democratic forces should work against it unitedly.

Indian Prime Minister visited the Bangabandhu mausoleum to pay homage to one of the great leaders in the world and father of the Nation of Bangladesh. This is the first time any head of the government visited the place. It has got the special importance because largest democratic country India’s PM visited the place.


He visited the Jashoreshwari Kali Temple which is the Shakti Pith as well as the historic temple bearing the heritage. He also visited Orakandi at Gopalganj which is the centre of awakening of oppressed classes. We know India is recognized now as a big power across the world under the leadership of distinguished leader Narendra Modi.


He is being appreciated around the globe, when he was addressing USA Congress, he got maximum appreciation. He also visited Saudi Arabia, the prime mover of OIC. He got The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance, Bahrain – August 2019, Order of Zayed, UAE’s highest civilian award – August 2019, Grand Collar of the State of Palestine – February 2018, King Abdulaziz Sash Award, Saudi Arabia – April 2016 as well as awards from democratic countries.


He has been visiting the historic places of worships which are the links of civilizations. We know PM Sheikh Hasina is being awarded and appreciated across the glove from different countries and international organizations including UNO for her excellent performance in different fields. The relations between Bangladesh and India are comprehensive covering all sites. The India and Bangladesh is acting as a prime mover in South Asia and Indo-pacific region also.

The writer is an academic, former ambassador, leader-student action committee 71 and freedom fighter.