Saturday, 4 December, 2021

It's Now India's Turn to Move Ties Forward

Jayanta Ghosal

The Global Climate Summit will be held in Glasgow city of Scotland from October 31 to November 12. This time it will be the 16th Global Climate Summit. Representatives of around 200 countries are likely to take part in it. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be going to attend the UN-sponsored summit. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, will also attend it.

In recent times, the US news agency, AP, has published a report on Bangladesh's Climate Prosperity Plan. Bangladesh will submit the plan at the international summit of COP-26. Taking help from the research-related office of Harvard's Ministry of Health, AP newsman Aniruddha Ghosal has disclosed the commendable job of Bangladesh in protecting the environment. The sea level is rising continuously. As to why, the coastal areas along the Bay of Bengal have turned dangerous. It is being apprehended that the areas, especially those close to Bangladesh's Sundarbans and its adjacent areas, are in danger. If the sea level rises much beyond apprehension, then the coastal districts will go under water.

If any tidal surge or cyclonic storm brews in the sea then the areas will fall in great danger. And, it will be a major natural disaster. The Government of Bangladesh has done a lot of work in conducting research on prevention of calamities. Not only the problems of coastal belt, but the government has also worked on renewable energy as well as on different agricultural activities. In the report, Bangladesh's special envoy on agriculture and climate-related affairs, Abul Kalam Azad, has informed that his country is well-aware about the issues for long. And, in global sphere, it has prepared an action plan following discussions with different South Asian researchers. The implementation work has already been started. Going through the report, I felt well. Visiting the Sundarbans area, I myself have witnessed that lots of work have been done in this regard.

Innumerable schemes have been undertaken on the Indian side of the Sundarbans. Lots of activities are underway for poor people. Because of rising sea level, disaster might hit the area, but, unfortunately, Indian government could not take that much befitting measures like that of Bangladesh government to combat the climate and weather-related problems. It is not always possible on the part of the state government with its limited resources. The cooperation of the central government is much more essential. While doing development activities going beyond the conflict of partisan politics, it is necessary to forget difference of opinions. It should be done for the sake of people's interest. Although Bangladesh is small in area, but it has done much more work. It is ahead of the neighbouring countries in per capita GDP race. All-out efforts are underway to attain the middle-income status by 2031 what the Bangladesh government has been stating time and again.

There is a problem on the Indian part of the Sundarbans. In West Bengal, the area of land is comparatively less than its population. In that case, it is difficult to make any action plan of this sort effective and take preventive measures by building infrastructure and working for people's development. So, there is no doubt that Bangladesh has advanced much on environment and climate issues.

It is yet to be known whether any bilateral meet will be held or not in Glasgow between Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. As per sources at the foreign ministries of the two countries, no timetable of such meeting has been fixed till now. Because of busy schedule of the two sides, there is little possibility of holding such a meeting. I think that centring the events of Cumilla, a handful of BJP leaders is out to create religious polarization to take undue advantage in Indian elections. However, in the long run, they are clearing ways for a probable rise in Islamic fundamentalism which in turn will bring danger to Sheikh Hasina's administration in Bangladesh. Narendra Modi will not be benefited by it at all. And, the Sangh family cannot understand this simple formula. The Vishva Hindu Parishad has demonstrated outside the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi.

Sheikh Hasina is the Prime Minister of independent and sovereign Bangladesh. She is in no way involved in Indian politics. Centring an internal event of Bangladesh, a party like the Indian BJP and an organisation like the Sangh family should have shown enough restraint.

A few days ago, a BJP leader informed me that Sheikh Hasina might visit Pakistan. A news story to this effect has been published in the Pakistani newspaper, 'Dawn.' Sometime in the past, the Pakistani High Commissioner in Dhaka met Sheikh Hasina to hand over the invitation of Imran Khan to her. It is ridiculous. It is worth-mentioning that when the war criminals were being executed in Bangladesh, the Government of Pakistan tried to insist Bangladesh government to refrain from it. But, Sheikh Hasina took a firm stand in this regard. So, without checking the authenticity of the report, if the Indian media spreads citing Pakistani newspapers that Sheikh Hasina is thinking of visiting Pakistan then it might create a misunderstanding between Bangladesh and India.

Presently, a cold war is underway between China and the US. In recent times, Russia has brought an allegation against India that it has come too closer to the US. As to why, India is trying to create her friendship anew with Russia. The Indian Ambassador already went to Moscow for discussions with the Taliban. And, there Moscow tried to restore Indian ties with the Taliban administration. In Bangladesh too, India should perform its responsibility by identifying the problems in a bid to solve those which will be the right path. In Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla acted as an Indian High Commissioner and earned popularity among the people of the country. Being the Foreign Secretary of India, he once visited Bangladesh. At that time, lots of people came to see him. Recently, he met the Bangladesh High Commissioner in his High Commission office in New Delhi. There, he himself has clearly expressed his views and opinions.

Sheikh Hasina successfully tackled the incident of attacks on Hindu temple as well as on minorities with an iron hand. Her bold role is worth-praising. She has been relentlessly trying to uproot militancy. She has also reaffirmed time and again that the militants will not be allowed to do subversive acts against India from the soil of Bangladesh. So, Bangladesh is not in any way damaging from its side the amity with India. Therefore, it is the responsibility of India to move the ties forward in a proper manner. It is the duty of the administration of Modi to desist the extremists who exist in his own party and bring them under control. Chanting a slogan against Sheikh Hasina in front of the Bangladesh High Commission is not at all befitting on the part of any Indian political party or an organisation like the Vishva Hindu Parishad.   


The writer is a senior

journalist based in New Delhi

Translated by Z A M Khairuzzaman