GS PAPER II EDITORIAL
Deepen Indo-Bangla ties
- Building mutual confidence through dialogue and diplomacy, both India and Bangladesh have grown in exemplary ways.
- Deepening trade and transport linkages remain a priority for both nations. However, in the face of a mutating Covid19 and imminent climate risks, enabling a green, inclusive and resilient economic transition is essential.
- India and Bangladesh should not only make mutual progress but also chart a pathway for others in the Bay of Bengal region to follow.
- There is a tremendous scope for voluntary, nonbinding G20 principles for quality infrastructure investment, among others, to be the guiding force.
- For example, by building infrastructure resilience to threats posed by rising sea levels, particularly to a relatively more vulnerable Bangladesh.
- Not only will this ensure a “positive economic, environment, social and development impact of infrastructure development but also create a virtuous cycle of economic activities,” while making infrastructure investments attractive.
- Development of greenfield deep-sea ports in Matarbari in Bangladesh and a proposed transhipment port at Great Nicobar Island in India could underpin that potential.
- Bilateral efforts in operating, advancing and making navigable their transboundary rivers, and reviving and developing rail links are among growing avenues of making greater climate mitigation strides.
- The scale is huge as India and Bangladesh continues to diversify their trade and transport linkages to the Bay of Bengal.
- It is equally reinforcing for existing roadbased and emerging intermodal transit options for the landlocked Bhutan and Nepal.
- Bilateral reforms viz., the Protocol on Inland Water Transit & Trade and the Coastal Shipping Agreement, could also provide better prospects for recovery and growth for these countries.
- Such initiatives also underpin greater economic synchronization in the region — a 2020 BangladeshBhutan Preferential Trade Agreement, for example.
- Inauguration of a new passenger train, Mitali Express, between New Jalpaiguri (India) and Dhaka (Bangladesh) has galvanised prospects for a wideranging, intraregional, electricrail passenger and freight logistics transformation.
- Landlocked Bhutan, Nepal and the northeastern States of India could potentially, via the Siliguri Corridor, get railbased access to markets (and vice-versa) and ports in Bangladesh.
- Addressing the infrastructure gaps and developing new rail networks with an integrated electric transformation focus, while electrifying the existing ones, remain vital.
- It could provide a basis for developing cold supply chains for perishable fruits and vegetables, temperature sensitive commodities, products and medicines.
- Similarly, the IndiaBangladesh Friendship Bridge at Sabroom in Tripura landlinks the NorthEast to the Bay of Bengal through Bangladesh’s Chattogram port.
- Sabroom is around 72 km from the port. New and potential transport and logistics linkages could be developed with green principles to enhance their competitiveness.
- As bilateral connectivity linkages deepen, India and Bangladesh could prioritise and advance a clean, renewable energy and digital infrastructure supported transition.
- Boosting vessels and vehicles manufacturing, which makes them adaptable to cleaner fuels, and infrastructure capacity are equally important.
- Reinforcing digital infrastructure investments and making progress in digital trade facilitation measures could help the two countries decouple emissions from economic growth.
- A proposed IndiaBangladesh Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement could enable a green framework for bilateral trade and economic relations.
- This could help Bangladesh emerge stronger during its transition into a developing country in a few years.