Ties will take a huge hit if India cannot deliver on Teesta: Bangladesh FM

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ejazr, May 9, 2012.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Ties will take a huge hit if India cannot deliver on Teesta: Bangladesh foreign minister - The Times of India

    NEW DELHI: India-Bangladesh relations "will take a huge hit" if India cannot deliver on the Teesta agreement, says Dipu Moni, foreign minister of Bangladesh. In an exclusive conversation with Times of India, Moni, who is in India for the first joint consultative committee meeting with foreign minister SM Krishna said, "on Teesta there is a huge expectation in Bangladesh. I think if India cannot deliver on that expectation, our relations will take a huge hit. I'm not sure our relationship can afford it. I believe people's representatives understand this. They will do what is right.

    "In Bangladesh too there are people and groups who do not wish to see South Asia come together or our relations flourish. We should not arm them by withholding Teesta."

    Coming a day after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton talked about water being a potential source of conflict in this region, it's a sign of growing pressure on the Indian government to get moving on Teesta.

    According to sources, the central government has been working hard to get West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to get off the bench on this agreement. Since this is now linked to Mamata's own wishlist from the Centre, there is expectation in the government that a political deal could be worked out after the current parliament session which ends on May 22.

    In his joint press interaction, Krishna said, "We are trying to develop a political consensus in India. It is important that the views of all those who are dependent on the waters are taken into account and the burden is shared fairly and equitably. Meanwhile, there is no change in the ground situation. The waters are flowing, and in the last technical level meeting held in Kolkata in February this year, both sides exchanged data at Dalia in Bangladesh and Gazaldoba in India."

    However, Dipu Moni expressed satisfaction at the trajectory of the bilateral relationship. "Lot of things are moving ahead. From our point of view, our trade has nearly trebled in the last three ears. We're very happy. We will see more investments from India."

    While she is unwilling to make a direct linkage between Teesta and Bangladesh giving transit rights to India, Moni was clear that the former would "create a conducive environment" for other, more difficult agreements.

    The other sticking point is the land boundary agreement which needs India to ratify the 1974 Indira-Mujib accord. This has been held up because of objections again by Mamata Banerjee. Moni articulated the Bangladeshi apprehension. "There is a lot of apprehension in those quarters. They say, 'India did not do it then, they will not do it now either.' That apprehension needs to be proven wrong. If, God forbid, it's not done now either, we will probably shut that door forever."

    On the other hand, India-Bangladesh ties have probably never been as good as they are today. The two sides have established a joint river-basin management commission which will together manage the issues connected to 52 other rivers that are shared between Bangladesh and India. Moni said, "We have the joint basin management, we discussed it yesterday too. This would allay fears and apprehensions, lack of trust, build confidence. If we have that in place, people won't feel jittery about Tipaimukh, or river-linking projects. We would know, we would have the facts. India is agreeable and we're now putting in place a joint study group for Tipaimukh. I'm very excited that a lot of things we should have started a long time ago, we're starting now. Now we're absolutely on track, and we should move forward."

    Krishna said yesterday, India would be ready to export 500 MW power to Bangladesh by the summer of 2013. India, he said, is facilitating 24-hour unfettered access to Bangladesh nationals at Dahagram and Angarporta through the Tin Bigha corridor; India-Bangladesh boundary strip maps by being signed; a coordinated border management plan is now in operation, and will help to reduce incidents on the border, including illegal and criminal activities and new border haats would be opened in Tripura and Mizoram.
     
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  3. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Now it is all upto the Govt. Who will bell the cat is the million dollar question.

    Seldom have we seen Strategic Foreign relations being subverted at the whims and fancies of a mercurial State CM.
     
  4. SLASH

    SLASH Senior Member Senior Member

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    I think Bangladesh should realise that India policies are not only made by Centre. Even the states are equal stakeholders. WB will never agree over Teesta Water treaty. How can Bangladesh warns us over any issue. 1/4 of their countrymen are illegally living in India. Take those immigrants back with the water.
     
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  5. spikey360

    spikey360 Crusader Senior Member

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    Bangladesh should be thankful that we are giving them any water at all. With the present state of irrigation rather lack of it in WB, the farmers are going through hell to raise crops on this once very fertile land. To put the burden of providing lesser water for crops on them would be like driving a nail through the very hand that feeds us.
    There should be no question of any agreement on Teesta. The people of Bengal, have been deprived on many fronts from natural resources that rightly belongs to them for the sake of sharing and caring for neighbours. Some neighbour Bangladesh has been!
    I absolutely agree with SLASH that a fourth of their people are living illegally in WB, they should first make agreements on how and when they should take those refugees back, rather than asking for water that doesn't belong to them.
     
  6. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    I second Slash and Spikey - SM Krishna/Central govt should talk about the millions of illegal Bangladeshis who are living in West Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai etc.
     
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    We already have a water treaty that divides 75% of the waters in the ratio of 39-36 with India getting 39. The treaty that was to be signed last year basically extended this ratio to the rest of the 25% ending up with the division of 51.5 - 48.5. The treaty doesn't call for starving of water to North Bengal and sikkim. They will still get 51.5% of the waters. The BD waters can then be used to create farming and irrigation facilities in northern BD and create economic oppurtunity there which will help in indirectly decreasing illegal immigration into India as well. We have about 50+ rivers that we share with BD so we have to work with BD on water issues for the forseeable future.

    Compare this with the Indus water treaty with Pakistan where J&K can't use ANY of the rivers for irrigation purposes and diversion works. At presdent we have the best relation with BD after perhaps Bhutan. Although BD has a bigger strategic importance for us. Our look east policy is failed from the beginning if BD transit is not available. But still we "sacrifice" MORE for Pakistan and even an "equal treaty" with BD is considered a non starter? We have to think in a strategic and global context here.

    Due recognition should be given to the fact that the current BD govt. has done a lot in getting rid of the ISI network in the country, cracking down on insurgent groups taking shelter on BD soil and overall helping India in bringing peace in the NE region. It would have not been possible with the help of the current BD govt. Infact, because of the sharp crackdown, most infiltration routes are not shifting to Nepal as we have an open border policy with them.

    And BD population right now is 150 million and if you say 1/4 of their nationals are in India, that would mean 50 million. In other words, more than the entire population of the seven sisters + sikkim combined according 2011 census. WB population is 90 million. And the 50 million figure is more than 50% of that. So lets think before we make statements like these. AFAIK the figures are usually between 10 to a maximum of 20 million but there has still not been any concerete figures and surveys or a white paper on it by any govt. till now as it has been difficult to list these numbers.

    If you want to look at some data on BD migration into India, the PEW global forum has collected some of these data internationally as well from India from govt. and UN agencies. And most importantly it has also included religion in the migrants. It includes both legal and illegal immigrants and considers anyone living in a country that they were not born in for more than a year as a migrant.
    Faith on the Move: The Religious Affiliation of International Migrants - Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

    Here is the migration troubles as per 2001 census, it includes both local and foriegn migration includes from BD
    http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Data_...ta_Highlights_link/data_highlights_D1D2D3.pdf

    Another statistic to note is that In Assam, 1.5 million have been given D -voters status out of which 600,000 are Hindus. Keep in mind that at the height of the 1971 war, we had an estimated 10 million BD refugees in India. They were settled mainly in Tripura region and many of them trained as Mukti Bahini fighters and then returned to BD after independance.

    All of these tables and data may not be 100% completely accurate, but in lack of any other info, gives the size of numbers we may be delaing with.

    This doesn't mean that illegal immigration is to be put under the rug. But it also means to look for innovative ways to tackle the issue. Most of these are economic migrants, there is also the issue of human trafficking of young girls as maids or prostitutes which has a humanitarian dimension. The border fencing with BD has been almost completed and is already playing an important role in tackling this illegal migrant issue. This also means cracking down on BSF personnel who take bribes in allowing smugglers through. We should also crack down on police in other states that basically take bribes from illegal migrants to not arrest them. At the same time opening legal ways of trade like border haats that have been started in some states.

    At the same time, there should be a policy of work visa where illegal BD immigrants are incentivised to come to the govt. to register as illegal immigrant where they will get a work visa / card that will allow them to continue to work in India but not given right to vote. The can be fingerprinted and iris scanned so that future ID cards like the Aadhaar system will pick them up if they try to do it otherwise. The main issue is to think about how we can create inventives for real BD nationals to come and register themselves.

    Also, economic development of BD is going to play a very important role. There are already indications that the completion of border fencing by the Assam govt. and the starting of the flood lighting project as well as the economic development of BD in the past decade has decreased the flow of illegal migrants
    Sharp fall in migration from Bangladesh - Times Of India

    We can look at how US and Mexico illegal immigration problem has changed in the past decade. At one point in time illegal mexicans were one of the biggest problem for the US. But data for last year shows that not only has mexican immigration has stopped but it may have reversed with mexicans going back to their country as more job oppurtunities are available there
    Mexican immigration falls for first time in four decades | World news | guardian.co.uk

    We have the third longest land border between any two countries after Russia-Kazakstan and Cannada-US. So managing the border will always be a challenge. In short we can have a combination of
    (1) Border secruity improvement: these include things like border fencing, flood lighting, UAV survellince, patrol boats for rivers
    (2) Implement the border demarcation treaty which will streamline the India-BD borders making it easier to fence and patrol.
    (3) Crackdown on dodgy BSF and state police personnel that take bribes from illegals and smugglers
    (4) Incentivise illegals to register with a migrant hotline where they would be finger printed and registered with a work visa and their voting and property rights cancelled. The biggest problem is tracing and identifying these people.
    (5) Legalise border trade with the opening of border haats as has happened in Tripura so that smuggling is brought down.
    (6) Work with the Home ministerial level to establish mechaisms in identyfying and deporting illegals. This could also include helping BD with its own UID scheme now that we have some good experience with the system. With BD iris scanning and finger printing all its citizens possibly in the next 10 years and India doing the same and then sharing the infromation, we can have a very good way of ensuring any illegals are caught and deported without major fuss or issues
    Border issues top agenda during India and Bangladesh home ministers meeting


    But this is a long term issue and the water treaty along with the finalising of the border pacts should get us transit agreements which should go a long way in strengthening our look east policy. And does anybody honestly think that Mamta is not blcoking this just because she wants a debt deal with the centre? Her entire politics since she came to power has been blocking any Centre moves without rhyme or reason. States like J&K have sacrifices much much more for the sake of India's national interests, I don't see why it would be any different here so that we don't see a slide in BD relations when we have once of the most pro-India parties in power in Bangladesh
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...eciveness-spoiling-good-bangladesh-story.html
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012

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