Can Robust Bilateral Cooperation on Common Rivers between Bangladesh and India Enhance Multilateral Cooperation on Water Security in South Asia?

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  • May 2013

    The Himalayan river system, which is made up of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, has a combined drainage area that covers the countries of China, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The basin of the Indus river, which originates in the Tibetan plateau, is the lifeline of regions in China, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. The perception of the subcontinent being an India-centric region does not arise solely from the disparities in resources and power, but also from the geographic reality of all countries in the region sharing a border with India, and some of the most significant rivers passing through its territory. India, thus, stands in a unique position to initiate vigorous multilateral cooperation on water issues in the region. Despite this, the low level of integration, perennial conflicts, mistrust and misinformation that have plagued relations between South Asian countries have hindered regional cooperation on water security.