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Reconfiguring Bangladesh India Relations: Strengthening Mutual Cooperation and the implications for Regional Cooperation in South Asia Tariq A. Karim Former.

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Presentation on theme: "Reconfiguring Bangladesh India Relations: Strengthening Mutual Cooperation and the implications for Regional Cooperation in South Asia Tariq A. Karim Former."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reconfiguring Bangladesh India Relations: Strengthening Mutual Cooperation and the implications for Regional Cooperation in South Asia Tariq A. Karim Former High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India Adviser to The World Bank on South Asian Regional Economic Integration The World Bank, Washington DC January 28, 2015

2 Greetings and Thanks Association for Economic and Development Studies on Bangladesh Colleagues from the World Bank Ladies and Gentlemen GREAT PRIVILEGE Will cover two broad areas: – First: review of Bilateral Relations with India Taking stock of my tenure – What implication does Bangladesh-India cooperation signify for enlarging regional cooperation within SAARC 28/1/20152

3 Does BD-India relationship matter? India-Pakistan relations/problems tend to – Eclipse ALL other SA relationships – Marginalize other smaller South Asian countries to very edges of peripheral vision Bangladesh has history and legacy of – Democratic aspirations and political struggle – Moderate Islam, with secular world view – Huge successes in programs Empowering women and mainstreaming their societal role Terrific achievements in HDI Fighting against poverty Coping with natural disasters (cyclones, floods) YET -- Today it is a front-line state fighting battles on several fronts trying – desperately to regain its original legacies, ALL of which are under aggressive challenge – To stave off natural environmental disasters WHY? – one would need to revisit history briefly (but not now!) BUT, what happens in Bangladesh is – important for India; and – Has implications for the region Hence, getting BD-India relations right is the starting point 8/1/20145

4 Bangladesh-India relations: The problems Problem of security perceptions – Problems of cross-border insurgency Problems of shared waterways Problems of unresolved borders and enclaves Problems of massive trade imbalance Political relations complicated by party affiliations (in Bangladesh mainly, but also in others) The effect of India-Pakistan relations on Bangladesh SO, given the visceral animosity that has plagued most bilateral relations in the SAARC region, HOW did Bangladesh and India manage their own relations so remarkably well in recent years??? 8/1/201417

5 Situation before January 01, /1/201418

6 The Challenges SECURITY ISSUES LAND BOUNDARY ISSUES WATER ISSUES TRADE ISSUES MARITIME BOUNDARY ENERGY CRUNCH ISSUES REGIONAL COOPERATION ISSUES MANAGING TRADE-OFFS?? UNI-LINEAR OR CROSS-SECTORAL 8/1/20147

7 CONVERTING Challenges  Opportunities -1 Security – BAD guys? ZERO tolerance – Extradition agreement signed on Jan 28, 2013 – 2 other imp agreements signed in 2011 (sentenced prisoners completing term in own countries; legal assistance) Boundary – 3-Bigha corridor / Dahagram-Angarpota (access & electrification) – 6.4 kms of Undemarcated border (out of 4096 kms) – Enclaves:: populations (July 2011)– IND:BD::111:55:: 37,314:14,215 – APLs – BUT, Ratification pending – Border management – changing its nature (CBMP signed July 2011) Will also serve to monitor control/curb illegal movements Will also open way to advancing towards regulated system of movements – Home Ministers meetings institutionalized Political oversight – broder management cannot be a function of border forces alone Civil-admin and para-military cooperation 8/1/201419

8 CONVERTING Challenges  Opportunities - 2 Water – Teesta (initialed agreement early 2011, BUT NOT signed) – Changing the discourse From sharing to management Enlarging the parameters – HOLISTIC approach – Dredging of Ichamati / Bank protection and embankment construction ON – Flood data sharing – TIPAIMUKH -- Sub group under JRC formed August 2012 Trade & Economic coop – Gap 2013 exports to India: $ 457 mn Imports from India:: $ 6.13 bn – Barriers LCS/ICPs – Border haats – 2 in Meghalaya operationalized 2011; 2 in Tripura have been agreed to; – 4 additional in Meghalaya and Tripura just announced – many more being contemplated as means of converting illegal trade into legal 8/1/201420

9 CONVERTING Challenges  CREATING NEW Opportunities Maritime Boundary – Just resolved – Victory of good sense, rationality and friendship for both sides – Opens up opportunities POWER: new item in trade –  Towards an architecture for sub-regional energy security – ???? – Grid connectivity – Harnessing renewable hydro power – HOW??? (Will come to that later in this lecture) Launching process of Sub-regional cooperation – Flows from the BILATERAL Framework Agreement of September 06, 2011 – NOT meant to trash SAARC or diminish its long-term importance 8/1/201421

10 Where was I in October 2014? 8/1/201422

11 THE NEW SUB-REGIONAL PARADIGM First: Disaggregate SAGQ (ca 1997) into 2 sets of trilaterals Prerequiste: 3 sets of good/strong bilateral relations needed – they exist now – Bangladesh-India – Bangladesh-Bhutan – Bhutan-India TRIANGULATE THESE EFFORTS underway for another one )or two) such 3-sets configuration – BD-India, BD-Nepal, Nepal-India – BD-India, BD-Myanmar, Myanmar-India ??? Then: re-aggregate – New Maths: 3+3 = = 5 ??? 8/1/201412

12 The New Parameters of Cooperation Managing River basins, separately: WHY?? – different eco-morphology and political landscape – each 3-nation group will determine its own pace of progress and its own scope of works Energy cooperation and power trade – Again, opportunities and challenges are similar, but different Brahmaputra basin: hydro and thermal power Ganges basin: much more complex and challenging Restoring lost connectivity to facilitate trade Consider these – in stovepipes ?? – Holistically ?? 8/1/201413

13 River Basin Management: Many Dimensions & multiplier spin-offs Will entail, along entire course: – River dredging and training – Building / buttressing embankments Will result in – local employment: for initial work and continuous maintenance Local savings/wealth  economic activities – flood mitigation & planned irrigation grids – stemming and perhaps eliminating the continuous and large scale erosion – developing a network of primary and secondary roads – harvesting clean, renewable energy – linking national power grids of the countries – Using surface water increasingly for potable use – Restoring navigability of river channels 8/1/201414

14 Energy Cooperation & Power sharing Oct 04, 2013: BD-India example – Most remarkable post-Partition achievement – first link established between respective national power grids (between Baharampur in West Bengal and Bheramara in Bangladesh) – Interesting way it happened! 250  500  1000  +++ – Other points of link connections under active discussion new space of mutual trust and comfort – opening up power investment – Enabling power evacuation (NE, Bhutan, Nepal, BD) 8/1/201415


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