'Indira protected us like guardians' - Sonia Gandhi's Bangladesh visit

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Oracle, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

    Mar 31, 2010
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    Bangalore, India
    Bangladesh confers highest honour to Indira Gandhi

    Former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was on Monday honoured posthumously with Bangladesh's highest state award for her outstanding contribution to the country's 1971 'Liberation War'.

    Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, the daughter-in-law of the assassinated prime minister, received the 'Bangladesh Swadhinata Sanmanona' from President Zillur Rahman at a grand ceremony attended by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and nearly 1,000 top dignitaries.

    "By her (Indira Gandhi) political wisdom and vision, she influenced the course of history and the fate of generations," Rahman said while handing over the posthumous award.

    "I recall with highest gratitude her strong support for the independence of Bangladesh... by honouring Srimati Indira Gandhi for her noble contribution for our freedom, we honour ourselves and revisit the epic of our war of liberation," he said.

    The crest weighing three kilograms is designed on 400-year-old terracotta of a Kadam tree made of gold.

    Sonia, who arrived in Dhaka on Sunday on a 24-hour visit, said the award bestowed on the former Indian premier was an honour for India too.

    "The honour is not hers (Indira Gandhi) alone, it's India's," Sonia said while receiving the award.

  3. devgupt

    devgupt Regular Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Salt Lake City, Utah, US
    It would be good if Sonia Gandhi articulates a new vision for Indo-Bangladesh ties- a vision focused on economics & security.Show them the benefits of aligning with an economic powerhouse thereby creating a permanent pro India sentiment there.Ties with Bangladesh have never been better except during just after their independence. Time to make the most of this opportunity.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    "Indira protected us like guardians" | Bangladesh | bdnews24.com

    Dhaka, July 25 (bdnews24.com) – Recalling the contribution of late Indira Gandhi to the Liberation War in 1971, prime minister Sheikh Hasina says India not only gave asylum to the refugees from Bangladesh, but also supported in diplomacy – politically and strategically.

    After handing over 'Swadhinata Sommanona' ((Bangladesh Freedom Honour) to her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi on her behalf on Monday, Hasina said, "We are delighted to arrange such a programme."

    "After the assassination of my father and family members in 1975," Hasina said, "Indira Gandhi protected us like guardians."

    The prime minister said, "Indira Gandhi raised consensus across the world for Bangladesh. We will remember the contribution of India in the Liberation War."

    She also paid homage to the martyrs of Indian army during the war.

    Sonia, president of the Indian National Congress party, received the country's highest civilian award from president Zillur Rahman at the Bangabhaban around 6pm in presence of a number of cabinet members, senior government officials and distinguished guests.

    Cabinet secretary Abdul Aziz read out the award citation.

    Born on Nov 19, 1917, Indira was assassinated on Oct 31, 1984. She was elected prime minister four times from 1966 until her assassination.

    During the 1971 war, besides accommodating Bangladeshi refugees, India also extended diplomatic and military assistance to the interim Mujibnagar government.

    Indira also played a key role in the global arena for winning recognition to Bangladesh after the war. She visited several countries to campaign for Bangladesh despite protests from the US.

    Daughter of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira also facilitated the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president of independent Bangladesh.

    The government on March 7 decided to honour 45 heads of states, including Indira, and five organisations ahead of the country's 40th anniversary of independence.

    To honour foreigners, Bangladesh government gives away three awards — Swadhinata Sommanona, Muktijuddho Sommanona and Muktijuddho Moitri Sommanona.

    The president in his speech said, "It's an occasion that would certainly be written in golden letters in the history of both the nations."

    Calling Indira a 'towering personality', he said her "contribution in our War of Liberation was very distinct, critical and singular. By her political wisdom and vision, she influenced the course of history and fate of generations."

    In her brief speech, Sonia recalled Indira and said that she was proud to receive the award, which was for the whole of India, not for Indira alone.

    She also hoped that the bilateral relations between the countries would get stronger.

    Sonia also praised the Bangaldesh government, saying the country was moving ahead of India in education, women empowerment, public health and sanitation. Bangladesh achieved economic and social progress faster than anyone thought at the time of its birth, she said.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  5. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    Asia Times Online :: Bangladesh lauds Sonia Gandhi visit

    DHAKA - Sonia Gandhi's welcome in Bangladesh this week will be hard to beat - although in theory it merely set the stage for the visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September, when numerous agreements are expected to be signed that will further confirm the warming ties between the countries.

    Gandhi's visit was "full of importance", and its "relevance and success can be simply described as fruition to the brim of the cup," gushed Bangladeshi newspaper The Financial Express on Thursday.

    Gandhi, who chairs India's ruling United Progressive Alliance coalition and heads its dominant group, the Congress party, was on a two-day visit to Dhaka at the invitation of Bangladeshi Prime Minister M Sheikh Hasina.

    The increasingly close engagement of the countries was marked the day before Gandhi's arrival when a border weekly market, or haat, was opened at Kalaichar, in the West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, for the first time since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, prompting Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma also to wax lyrical.

    "It [the border haat reopening] is the realization of a dream and fulfillment of the commitment made in the joint communique issued during the landmark visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010," the Times of India quoted Sharma as saying.

    In a sign of past as well as present close ties, Gandhi received on Monday the posthumous "Bangladesh Freedom Honor" conferred on her mother-in-law, the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, for her support and contribution to Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971, the first foreigner to be conferred the highest state honor.

    Sonia "is the person who is really calling the shots in the Indian government without being directly in power", the Financial Express emphasized in its eulogistic article, stressing the importance of a visit during which trade and investment between the countries were addressed, as were their efforts to combat terrorism.

    Manmohan is expected to follow up during his visit by moving towards resolution of a number of long-standing concerns regarding river water-sharing, border killings and a maritime boundary dispute.

    Of India's neighbors, Bangladesh is emerging as perhaps its least troublesome despite such unresolved concerns. To the west, Pakistan is at perpetual odds with India over divided Kashmir and their roles in Afghanistan; Pakistanis have been behind terror attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere in the past few years. To the north, Nepal is growing closer to China, and to the south, ties with Sri Lanka are still under repair following the end of the Tamil Tiger separatist revolt in 2009.

    During a meeting with Hasina on July 25, Gandhi expressed appreciation of Dhaka's efforts to combat terrorism. "Sonia Gandhi in a one-to-one meeting with Sheikh Hasina lauded the steps taken by the government to stop terrorism," said Abul Kalam Azad, Hasina's press secretary, following the meeting. "India and Bangladesh are committed to fighting terrorism as it is not possible for one country alone to uproot it ... The relationship between the two countries is very good, and it'll get stronger in the days to come."

    The suspected mastermind of the serial bomb blasts that killed at least 19 people in Mumbai on July 13 and injured over 130 more is in Bangladesh, Indian media reported last week.

    An agreement was reached during Hasina's 2010 visit to India to form a coordination committee comprising representatives of law-enforcement agencies and intelligence units of the two countries to "deal with international terrorism and drug smuggling, investigation and completion of trial in such crimes". The agreement has yet to be ratified by either country, though Manmohan may sign off on it during his September visit to Dhaka.

    A number of initiatives and projects approved and announced by the Bangladeshi and Indian governments during the past week have strengthened their commitment toward enhancing relations.

    The Indian government on July 18 approved 31 foreign direct investment proposals worth 38.44 billion rupees (US$871 million) from Bangladesh to India.

    "Several other firms in Bangladesh are also in talks with India for investment," the Calcutta Telegraph reported, citing the Bangladesh High Commission and other sources. The approvals follow India setting up a $1 billion credit line to Bangladesh agreed during Hasina's 2010 visit to New Delhi.

    To add to the bonhomie, the Bangladesh government on July 20 approved a $2 billion, 34-kilometer elevated expressway connecting Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjahal International Airport with Savar, northwest of the capital, the industrial Dhaka Export Processing Zone and Chandra on the important North Bengal Highway.

    The Dhaka-Ashulia elevated expressway, to be built under a public private partnership, is expected to further boost transit trade with India, Nepal and Bhutan. The government has invited tenders by July 31.

    A second border market may also be opened at Balat, in India, and Lauwaghar in Bangladesh, helping to build bilateral trade at border markets to as much as $20 million annually, according to a Times of India estimate, while Bangladesh Commerce Minister Mohammad Faruk Khan assured India this week of access to Chittagong and other ports in Bangladesh.

    "India can use not only Chittagong but several other ports that we have developed in recent years," said Khan. "Other neighboring countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar can also use our ports for trade and commerce in the future."

    His Indian counterpart, Sharma, said the move would undoubtedly "provide tremendous benefit for trade and development of Bangladesh as well as northeast India" for which India has already "finalized and shared the draft modalities with Bangladesh". An agreement on the use of Bangladesh's ports is likely to be signed during Manmohan's visit to Dhaka.

    Bangladesh has taken a "political decision" to give transit to India as the "current government wants to establish all modes of connectivity in the region", Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told United News of Bangladesh on July 18. She said a "process is underway to fix transit fees, and construct infrastructure and other related works".

    Syed Tashfin Chowdhury is a senior staff writer at New Age in Dhaka.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

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