Endeavor, leadership and the story of a nation
· Recently Bangladesh and India celebrated the golden jubilee (26 March) of Bangladesh’s Independence alongside the birth centenary of ‘Banghabandu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
- The creation of Bangladesh — from the ashes of East Pakistan — is presumably India’s finest foreign policy triumph till date, and it defies imagination why India has been so reticent in acknowledging this
The architect, India’s stand
- The role of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in this seminal event, as she is widely acknowledged to be the real architect of this triumph, notwithstanding claims put forward by many a swashbuckling General and others in
- Few nations across the world can possibly boast of an achievement of this nature.
- It is more noteworthy that while accomplishing this task, India did not claim any ‘spoil of victory’.
- After Pakistan’s defeat in East Pakistan, India voluntarily and unconditionally, handed over power to the elected representatives of the newly established nation.
1971: A year of significance
- 1971 was a signal year for India as in that year India had extended all out support to the Government in Sri Lanka to defeat the group, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in that
- And in the same year, Bangladesh, was carved out of East Pakistan following a program launched by the military rulers in Islamabad that was unmatched in modern
- Half-a-century later, India would have done well to highlight and remind the world of these two events, to further
embellish its democratic credentials.
- While India was busy scripting a new destiny for the people of East Pakistan, millions of refugees from East Pakistan were streaming into
- It was to adhere to this position till Pakistan declared war on India in December 1971.
· Meantime, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been arrested and flown to West Pakistan.
- Tajuddin Ahmad had been secretly sworn in as the Prime Minister of an independent Bangladesh and installed in Mujibnagar, from where the new government-in-exile operated till the liberation of East
- India well recognized that before India could legitimately intervene in East Pakistan, the new government-in-exile had to acquire legitimacy, both within East Pakistan and also internationally.
- All this demonstrated political finesse of the highest
Coordination and the goal
- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s carefully crafted diplomatic dispatches to world leaders had helped create a groundswell of support for the persecuted Bengalis of East
- The signing of the Indo-Soviet Treaty in August 1971 came as a shot-in-the-arm for India, encouraging it to stay the course.
- Russia’s action was in marked contrast to the stand of western nations such as the United States which displayed hostility to India’s efforts, viewing it as an encouragement to the forces seeking to dismember the state of
- Within the country, regular meetings and the constant dialogue with Opposition leaders ensured that India acted in a united manner, notwithstanding the public clamor for immediate
· India sought to intervene in East Pakistan, only after Pakistan attacked India on December 3, 1971.
- Three days later on December 6, India made the formal announcement of recognizing the new state of Bangladesh, almost nine months after the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh had been proclaimed by Sheik Mujibur Rahman.
ü Still later in March 1972, India and Bangladesh signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
- The West, however, erroneously believed the humanitarian disaster notwithstanding, that it could not let down its ally Pakistan, which was a member of several western-led military
- Quite a few other nations, while sympathetic to the plight of the beleaguered population of East Pakistan, were unwilling to extend support fearing
the wrath of the U.S.
Operating from the shadows
- A great deal has been written about the military exploits in connection with the formation of Bangladesh — of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air
- Fifty years after Bangladesh gained Independence, it may, however, be time to give a pat on the back of the two
principal intelligence agencies at the time — the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW/RAW).
- A vast network of agents had been created by the IB well before the organization was bifurcated in 1968 into the IB and the R&AW, and the latter built on these
- These agents played a critical role behind the scenes, preparing the ground for the eventual collapse of Pakistani Army resistance in East Bengal.
- The time has also come to acknowledge the role of the Mukti Bahini — the Army of Bangladeshi irregulars —
fashioned by the intelligence agencies which played a key role during the conflict.
- The ultimate accolade for India’s role in creating a new nation is that Bangladesh is today a relatively prosperous country, having made steady progress from the category of a Least Developed Country to a Developing
· Bangladesh “will get time up to 2026 to prepare for the transition to the status of a developing country”.
Current Condition of Bangladesh
- Today, Bangladesh is a shining example of what is possible through human endeavor and a wise leadership.
- It has not allowed itself to be drawn into the vortex of foreign influences, and maintains an independent foreign policy.
- Relations with India are excellent today, though there have been periods when relations were not all that