India-Bangladesh Relations

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  • Depoliticising Illegal Immigration from Bangladesh to India

    With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition coming to power in India in May 2014, the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh has come to the forefront once again. However, the fear is whether the debate over the issue will shed more light, leading to the resolution of the problem, or whether it will simply degenerate into political rivalry and polarisation. Illegal immigration figured prominently in the run-up to the 2014 parliamentary elections and was often raised by one of the leading political parties, the BJP.

    January 2015

    Competitive politics over illegal migration from Bangladesh

    Realising the electoral significance of the issue the Congress seems to be engaging in a competitive politics with the BJP by talking of giving citizenship to even those migrants who came to India after 1971 but were persecuted in Bangladesh.

    August 08, 2014

    Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Bangladesh: A new beginning?

    While the visit was proposed as a good will visit, some of the issues that have been bedeviling bilateral relations came up for discussion particularly, from the Bangladesh side, the conclusion of Teesta and the ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA). The EAM assured Dhaka that New Delhi would conclude the LBA and is already in the process of building a consensus on Teesta.

    June 30, 2014

    Politics of Illegal Immigration and India Bangladesh Relations

    The rhetoric and the politics surrounding illegal immigration issue is neither new nor is the stance of the BJP on illegal immigration unknown. It has always made a distinction between the Hindus and Muslims emigrating from Bangladesh considering the former as refugees and terming the later as illegal immigrants.

    May 16, 2014

    The future of India-Bangladesh ties

    Amid claims and counter claims, it can not be denied that unabated influx from Bangladesh into the North Eastern states has reached alarming proportion. It is essential that India convey strongly its concerns to Bangladesh.

    May 06, 2014

    Chittagong Tribunal Verdict and its Implications

    The verdict exposes a conspiracy to destabilise India’s restive North Eastern region. According to the charge-sheet, all the arms and ammunition were manufactured by Chinese firm NORINCO and the funds had been procured from Pakistan. Contrary to the BNP policy of promoting cross-border terrorism, the current Awami League (AL) government has demonstrated its zero-tolerance towards militancy through the recent verdict.

    April 03, 2014

    Bangladesh Political Crisis and India`s Options

    India may have to maintain a two-pronged approach. At the governmental level, it will have to offer economic benefits and cooperation. However, a regime which is communally oriented may have to be dealt on a reciprocal basis.

    January 06, 2014

    Ruchika Sharma: What is the idea behind Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin regime, proposed recently by the Bangladesh foreign minister?

    Uttam Kumar Sinha replies: The idea behind a basin approach, in this case the Ganga-Bramaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin, is part of an enlightened understanding on water resources management. Water sharing as in the case of Ganga with Bangladesh (1996 Treaty) is a political understanding. The GBM basin approach goes beyond the boundaries to harness the social and economic benefits, while ensuring ecosystem protection, of sharing the common rivers.

    A basin-wide approach is a radical shift from the bilateral arrangement of water sharing in South Asia on a mainstream river and its tributaries to an expanded participation on many rivers, including the marginalised ones. It is a holistic approach taking into consideration divergent needs and priorities of the basin states. The GBM brings into collective participation, China, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

    The IDSA Task Force Report (2010) on “Water Security for India: The External Dynamics (free download) had recommended such an approach in future management of water resources in South Asia.

    Prashant Mathur asked : Why does India need a constitutional amendment in respect of exchange of enclaves with Bangladesh?

    Pushpita Das replies: India has 111 enclaves measuring 17,158.13 acres in Bangladesh and Bangladesh has 51 enclaves measuring 7,110.2 acres in India. An estimated 34,000 persons live in the Indian enclaves and 17,000 people in the Bangladeshi enclaves. While the Indian enclaves in Bangladesh are spread over four districts - Panchagarh, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Nilphamari, all the Bangladeshi enclaves in India are in the Cooch Behar District of West Bengal. In addition to these enclaves, there are 38 patches of Indian land measuring about 3000 acres and 50 patches of Bangladeshi land measuring 3345 acres in adverse possession of both the countries.

    Efforts for exchange of enclaves began in late 1950s. The first attempt was made in 1958, when India and Pakistan agreed to mutually exchange the enclaves ‘without any consideration of territorial loss or gain.’ Accordingly, the ninth amendment to the Indian Constitution was introduced to facilitate the implementation of the agreement. The amendment did not come into force as serious objections were raised by political parties to the transfer of southern Berubari to Pakistan. The Land Boundary Agreement signed between India and Bangladesh in 1974 provides for the ‘expeditious exchange’ of enclaves. Similarly, the additional protocol to the Land Boundary Agreement signed between the two countries in September 2011 also stipulates the exchange of the enclaves and surrender of adverse possessions. While Bangladesh had ratified the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement, India is yet to ratify it in the parliament.

    When the issue of exchange of enclaves came up in 1958, the President of India requested the Supreme Court of India for its opinion on whether a legislative action is necessary for the implementation of the India-Pakistan (Nehru-Noon) Agreement. The Supreme Court opined that implementation of the agreement requires an amendment to the constitution because the exchange of enclaves involves cessation of some territory to Bangladesh. Since the implementation of the agreement would result in the reduction in the total area of India, Article 1 as well as relevant portions of the First Schedule of the Constitution would have to be amended. The Supreme Court further stated that if the parliament makes a law under Article 3 (pertaining to creation of a new state or alteration of areas, boundaries or name of an existing state), as exchange of enclaves would involve changes in the total area of the state of West Bengal, it could do so under Article 368.

    Hence, a constitutional amendment has to be introduced and passed in the parliament to enable India to acquire as well as transfer territories to Bangladesh. Accordingly, the Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid had moved the 119th Constitutional Amendment Bill on May 7, 2013. The amendment was opposed by members of the Asom Gana Parishad and Trinamool Congress.

    Majoritarian State and the Marginalised Minorities: The Hindus in Bangladesh

    The problem confronting the Hindu minority in Bangladesh is analysed in this article within the framework of a majoritarian state, which embodies the socio-cultural ethos of the majority community in its effort to establish itself as a nation state with a unique history. Such a state by its very nature marginalises the minorities, who are considered unequal in the construction of the ‘nation state’ narrative even though constitutionally they enjoy equality as citizens.

    July 2013

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