India-Bangladesh has been observing cordial relations on various fronts over the past decades. Significantly, India was one of the first nations to recognise Bangladesh as a sovereign nation after it was formed in 1971. In recent years, under the government led by PM Modi, India has furthered its ties with its eastern neighbour Bangladesh.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, India-Bangladesh relations are seeing new horizons of cooperation and solidarity in the Asian region. Last month, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a meeting in Dhaka wherein they discussed potential ways of enhancing cooperation and partnership between the two countries in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. Reportedly, the two countries also discussed various ways to revive the economy, medical travel, and security related issues of mutual interest in the post-pandemic world.
At the early onset of the pandemic in the region, India sent medical equipment and necessary medicines to Bangladesh to support the country’s efforts in dealing with the virus. As the fight against the pandemic crisis continues, India has reportedly announced to supply the COVID-19 vaccine to Bangladesh on a priority basis as soon as it gets approval and mass production begins, in line with its vaccine diplomacy. The private sector of Bangladesh has also partnered with Indian pharma companies to jointly develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
In the South Asian region, Bangladesh has emerged as one of the biggest trade allies for India, with bilateral trade between the two countries growing rapidly. Earlier this year, India-Bangladesh bilateral trade and economic relations achieved a new milestone with the beginning of 50 electronically sealed rail containers carrying goods between the two countries.
At the same time, there is a need for both India and Bangladesh to intensify efforts to explore various opportunities to revive the economy in the post-pandemic recovery process. To facilitate this, there is a need for both countries to develop an investment-friendly environment and strengthen infrastructure in a bid to empower the key sectors of the economy. One of the most lessons learnt from the pandemic crisis is the need for developing technology infrastructure and digitisation. With effective collaboration and higher investment to innovate technology infrastructure, the two countries can engage in the transfer of knowledge and expertise along with the improved flow of economic resources.
There is great scope for bolstering economic cooperation between the two countries noting that Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been pushing for Indian investors to set up their industries in her country in a bid to export products into the markets of India and Southeast Asia at large.