"However exacting the sacrifice that our two peoples may be called upon to make in the future, I am certain that we shall emerge triumphant," -- on December 6, 1972, Indira Gandhi wrote this letter to Bangladesh's provisional Prime Minister H.E Tajuddin Ahmad.
Bangladesh became an independent country after a nine-month long struggle for freedom and democracy which came to fruition on with the Victory in the Liberation War on December 16, 1971. Indira Gandhi's letter was a declaration of India's recognition to Bangladesh. Thereupon, the historic Treaty of Friendship was ushered by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangladesh and India continue this legacy of friendship by celebrating the first Moitree Dibosh this year.
India's history of engaging with Bangladesh as an equal partner started soon after Bangladesh gained independence. Bangladesh and India's affinity stems from our shared colonial past. For India, the notion of cooperation has stemmed from its own post-independence experience. The first instance of collaboration was the struggle for the independence of Bangladesh. India supported Bangladesh with intellectual, military and material resources. The shared experience of decolonisation and post-independence reforms set the foundation of Bangladesh-India relations. Five decades later, solidarity and the spirit of shared knowledge have become the basis of our cooperation. The year 2021 marks the fifty years since the Liberation War and a milestone for Bangladesh-India diplomatic ties.
To revive the erstwhile railway connectivity links between the two countries, the Chilahati-Haldibari trans-border railway line was restarted between the two countries for the first time after 1965. This rail link, the fifth in the past few years, is an attempt to revive the close people to people ties between the two countries.
As an ode to this bond, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2020 and India announced the establishment of the Bangabandhu Chair at the University of Delhi.
Bangladesh and India together represent almost 1.5 billion people of the world, with historical ties going back centuries. As we traverse similar development paths, we face several challenges in the form of resource constraints, rising inequities, climate change, and evolving technologies. To achieve sustainable growth, Bangladesh and India are on the right track to expand cooperation and meet their development goals.
The then leaders on either side of the border left their countries with a legacy which has grown in the last five decades and is progressively getting stronger. The celebration of Moitree Dibosh gives both countries another reason to remember this rich heritage.