At a time when China is making an attempt to make its foray into South Asia, India ought to use its shared historical past to strengthen its ties in the area, argues Dr Rup Narayan Das.
IMAGE: Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomes Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, March 26, 2021. Photograph: Press Information Bureau/PTI Photo
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s go to to Bangladesh to take part in the nation’s fiftieth anniversary (Bangladesh was born in 1971) will take the connection between the 2 nations to higher heights.
It will likely be Prime Minister Modi’s first go to overseas after the outbreak of the pandemic and testimony of India’s coverage of ‘neighbourhood first’. Earlier, on March 9, he inaugurated the Maitri Setu bridge constructed over the Feni river that hyperlinks Tripura with Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh have already got a direct practice hyperlink between Kolkata and Dhaka by means of the Maitree Express.
Although geographical proximity, historic background and cultural and linguistic proximity have at all times fostered conventional friendship and cooperation between the 2 nations and their folks, China’s makes an attempt to make inroads into Bangladesh — in explicit, its involvement with Chittagong port — has been a matter of some concern to India.
It augurs properly that the latest go to of External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Bangladesh on March 4 has already created the appropriate environment for a summit-level assembly between Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart, Sheikh Hasina.
IMAGE: External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Photograph: PTI Photo
Some constructive vibes are emanating from Pakistan additionally.
India, in a latest goodwill gesture, allowed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aircraft to make use of India’s air area on February 22 to allow him to fly to Sri Lanka.
The ceasefire announcement between the 2 nations on the identical day is one more child step in direction of repairing the precarious relationship between the estranged neighbours.
What has added additional traction to the troublesome and complicated relationship between the 2 nations is the latest assembly of the Indus Water Tribunal, which was held on March 23-24.
India’s providing the COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan is one other occasion of its goodwill gesture exhibiting that blood is thicker than water and above the transactional relationship which Pakistan shares with China.
IMAGE: Prime Minister Modi with Sheikh Hasina earlier than their assembly at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, October 5, 2019. Photograph: Altaf Hussain/Reuters
The normalisation of India’s relationship with Pakistan is, nevertheless, contingent upon many elements; the moot query being who guidelines Pakistan? The civilian authorities in Pakistan is dictated to by the Pakistan military. The ISI and China are spoilers of any enchancment in India-Pakistan relations, however China’s claims on the contrary; deception being germane to China’s strategic tradition.
While talking on the Islamabad Security Dialogue not too long ago, Imran Khan prolonged an olive department to India. Soon after, Pakistan’s chief of military workers General Quamar Javed Bajwa echoed Imran Khan’s constructive vibes, saying that it was time to ‘bury the previous and transfer ahead’.
India will take these phrases with a pinch of salt and undertake a calibrated response to present peace an opportunity.
The historic, cultural, linguistic and emotional continuity in the three nations of the subcontinent is a truth of historical past that can not be ignored and continues to be the cementing bond among the many folks dwelling throughout the border.
The nostalgia belongs to the subcontinent as an entire and to not India alone. The message from the previous is loud and clear.
The subcontinent not solely has a shared historical past, shared geography and a shared language and tradition but in addition a shared future.
Harappa, the place the Indus civilisation flourished, is located 100 miles north-west of Lahore; Mohenjo-daro is situated 200 miles from Karachi.
It is time for us to take a pause and introspect our shared previous and the legacy of our freedom wrestle, which the whole subcontinent fought collectively.
The pangs of Partition — so movingly captured by Khushwant Singh, himself a witness of that horrible occasion, in his much-celebrated guide Train To Pakistan — was as poignantly felt in India as throughout the border in Pakistan.
IMAGE: Dr Jaishankar addresses a press convention with Bangladesh Foreign Minister A Okay Abdul Momen in Dhaka on March 4. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dr S Jaishankar/Twitter
The clarion name for freedom mesmerised the subcontinent for a few century.
The whole subcontinent from Lucknow to Lahore, Champaran to Chittagong, Peshawar to Patna and Karachi to Kanpur took half in the protracted and sustained wrestle.
Lahore not solely witnessed many historic Congress classes — which opened the flood gate of mass rebellion and unrest in opposition to the British Raj — but in addition the supreme sacrifices made by martyrs like Sukhdev, Bhagat Singh and Rajguru who have been executed in the Lahore Central Jail in 1931.
The historic metropolis additionally witnessed the martyrdom of Lala Lajpat Rai, who died in a police lathi cost in 1928.
If the momentous declaration of Purna Swaraj adopted on the Lahore Congress on January 26, 1930, galvanised the whole subcontinent, the Karachi Congress of 1931 articulated in no unsure phrases the political and financial content material of the Constitution.
The late Gandhian, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, or the Frontier Gandhi as he was affectionately known as, began the volunteer brigade Khudai Khidmatatgar in the North West Frontier Province in current day Pakistan.
If Surya Sen of the Chittagong rebellion of 1930 so did Jyotindranath Mukherjee, popularly often called Bagha Jatin. He was born in undivided Bengal and made an abortive try to wage an armed revolt in affiliation with M N Roy in 1915 in the course of the First World War, with Germany’s assist.
Chittagong proved the curtain-raiser for an intense wave of terrorism in Bengal, with at least 56 incidents of reported in 1930 as in opposition to 47 for the whole decade 1919-1929.
If Tagore belongs to India and Bangladesh, so did Kazi Nazrul Islam to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Tagore has the distinctive distinction by composing the nationwide anthem of the 2 nations — India and Bangladesh.
If his Jana Gana Mana is the ovation to the motherland India, so does the patriotic be aware of Amar Shonar Bangla evoke the zeal of Bangladeshi nationalism.
The life and occasions of Kazi Nazrul Islam was an eloquent assertion of a religious convergence of the Muslim and the Hindu communities in their frequent endeavour to realize political freedom for India.
Though born in Burdwan in current day West Bengal, Kazi Nazrul Islam is held in excessive esteem because the nationwide poet of Bangladesh.
At a time when China is making an attempt to make its foray into South Asia, India must be extra proactive and interact with the area.
New Delhi can toy with the concept of reviving the defunct South Asia Speaker’s discussion board to interact with the members of South Asian parliaments.
In a really considerate initiative of parliamentary diplomacy, the Parliament of India — below the initiative of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla — hosted a particular Inter-Parliamentary Union assembly in the Central Hall of Parliament on March 15, shut on the heels of Quad summit assembly.
The assembly was graced by Prime Minister Modi who engaged with IPU President Duarte Pacheco of Portugal. The assembly was an announcement of India’s mushy energy, democracy.
The IPU president reiterated Portugal’s assist for UN reform and India’s demand for everlasting membership in the UN Security Council.
If Quad stood for the shared values of democracy, the IPU particular assembly bolstered the imperatives of democratic values.
South Block ought to thoughtfully have interaction parliamentary diplomacy as an instrument of India’s diplomatic outreach.
Dr Rup Narayan Das is a senior fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research at Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. The views in this column are private.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com