The untold story of a Northeast India – Bangladesh bonding

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India - Bangladesh Border. (Image credit: Getty Images)

A bilateral relationship with Bangladesh will lead northeast to unprecedented heights

Bengaluru, March 31: Amidst of all the political backlash in Northeastern parts of India due to citizenship amendment bill, few Indian Academicians who had the privilege to attend a South Asian Academicians Training Program held at Chittagong has witnessed a mesmerizing bond and future prospects between Northeast India and Bangladesh.

”In the midst of war, conflict and CAB my friends, family and colleagues were skeptical about my visit to Bangladesh, instead I was eager as a student of Religions to be there and have first-hand experience with our friends from the other side.  Being there was an eye opener, I was welcomed, accepted and treated like every other person and also the experience was positive vibes of love,  acceptance and appreciation which took me back to what is acceptance,  appreciation and promotion of differences,” said VihutoliKinny, Lecturer, Department of Religions, Nito Theological College Nagaland. Academic collaborations between Northeast and Bangladesh are mutually beneficial. Several northeastern students from Assam, Arunachal, Nagaland, Manipur and Agarthala visit Chittagong and Dhaka for their higher education.

Asian University for women, one of the leading Universities in Chittagong, provides free education to deserving Indian female students. “I was astonished to see that amidst of all the controversies several Northeastern students are given a chance to be part of a vibrant and diverse residential program with 100 per cent scholarship which most of the state government cannot effort to do,” added Ms. Sradha Pradhan, Assistant Professor, Salesian College, Sonada.

“We identify the impecunious students from all over Asia and provides a year-long, pre-college preparatory program that offers intensive instruction in English language, mathematics, leadership development, and computer skills in order to make them competent as they enter their undergraduate programs,” said Mr. Kamal Ahmad, Founder and CEO of Asian University for Women.

Such cordial relation can be observed even in other sectors amidst the long propagated loathing over concerns such as boundary, migration, water dispute and transit issues. But a vast majority of northeastern citizens keep themselves away from such benefits due to fear and lack of understanding.

The insurgency has been playing the role in straining relations of India with Bangladesh. The divide and rule policies at various levels can be easily overcome by strong policymakers. An attempt to overcome such issues can develop a bilateral relationship with Bangladesh and that will lead northeast to unprecedented heights.”There are forces in both of our societies who have played, and continue to play, on this fear psychosis to perpetuate mutual suspicion and thereby keep us apart from being mutually beneficial,” said Tahsin Khan, a Law Professor from Dhakka.

Bangladesh is an important trading partner for India. An effective implementation of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s India’s Look East policy, an effort to cultivate extensive economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asia can definitely be bolstered to expand the regional power. Increased trade and investment will not only benefit the northeast but also help the Bangladesh economy grow faster, eventually deterring illegal migrants. The prospects for these relations to grow in strength are indeed enormous if they are pursued for mutual benefit and with mutual respect.

The geographical proximity, cultural affinity and shared history should form the parameters of relations. Improved rail and road transit to connect with north-eastern states can enhance trade partnerships. India-Bangladesh relations have more than an academic strategic content. Every northeastern citizen must realize the potential scope in education and business to make the best out of the geographical proximities.