13 minute readIndia, Bangladesh sign comprehensive pact

By Rahul Dass

Dhaka: India and Bangladesh Tuesday cemented their ties by signing a comprehensive framework agreement and with pacts on a variety of issues ranging from land disputes to tiger conservation.

Hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived on a two-day visit, the two countries signed a protocol on demarcating their land boundary, a pact to facilitate overland transit to Nepal and on conserving the Royal Bengal Tiger — and the Sundarbans.

The agreements were signed after Manmohan Singh, the first Indian prime minister to visit Bangladesh in 12 years, held delegation-level talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina for over half hour.

Both leaders also met separately for about 45 minutes

Manmohan Singh was accorded a warm welcome at the Shah Jalal International Airport here by Sheikh Hasina.

Accompanying the Indian prime minister were External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna and Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi of Assam, Manik Sarkar of Tripura, Pu Lalthanhawla of Mizoram and Mukul Sangma of Meghalaya.

Manmohan Singh arrived here on a day that saw considerable diplomatic efforts following India’s decision to postpone the Teesta water treaty agreement.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had refused to accompany Manmohan Singh to Dhaka to protest the final draft of the Teesta river water sharing agreement.

Bangladesh wanted to know from India as to why it was not going ahead with the Teesta deal.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mizarul Kayes queried Indian High Commissioner Rajeet Mitter on the delay in the Teesta deal, an official said.

“It is not acceptable to us at all” if India does not sign the deal after finalizing details, Kayes was quoted as saying.

Mitter assured him that the accord would be inked as quickly as possible after finishing due consultations, the official added.

India and Bangladesh have a 2,979 kilometer land border and a 1,116 kilometer riverine boundary. The Indian states of West Bengal, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura share the 4,095-kilometer border with Bangladesh, of which around six kilometers is undemarcated.

Write to Rahul Dass at rahul.d@ians.in

Did chess games change destinies on India-Bangladesh border?

Legend has it that chess games between two kings in which villages were placed as wagers resulted in the formation of many of the enclaves on the India-Bangladesh border that have become a bone of contention between the two countries.

Apparently, the Maharajas of Cooch Behar, now in India, and the Rajas of Rangpur, now in Bangladesh, used to play chess. They would wager villages and this led to the kings owning areas within each other’s land.

But that’s the legend.

“That legend is a myth,” Arup Jyoti Mazumdar of the Cooch Behar Heritage Society, told IANS by telephone.

“As far as we know, nothing like that happened,” he stressed.

The enclaves issues is a key matter that will be discussed during the two-day visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that concludes Wednesday.

India and Bangladesh are expected to sign a deal to swap 162 enclaves to resolve their decades-old border dispute.

The enclaves are islands of land resulting from traditional ownership arrangements that survived both the partition of the sub-continent after the end of British rule in 1947 and Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

A joint census of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladeshi territory and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in Indian territory concluded July 18. The survey showed 51,000 people lived in these landlocked islands.

Diptiman Sengupta, joint secretary of the India-Bangladesh Enclaves Coordination Committee, said that earlier too attempts had been made to sort out the issue.

“In 1958, 1974 and 1992, decisions regarding the enclaves were taken. But, ultimately it is the implementation that matters,” Sengupta told IANS.

“The government must declare in how many days will the agreement be implemented,” he added.

Noting that the issue has been hanging fire for the past 64 years, Sengupta said: “Three generations of people are living in the enclaves. It is not just about land, it is about people.”

Fact Sheet on Agreements and other MOUs signed between India and Bangladesh

September 06, 2011

1. Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development

A Framework Agreement between India and Bangladesh had been envisaged during the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India in January 2010. The Joint Communiqué issued on that occasion notes that the two Prime Ministers agreed to put in place a comprehensive framework of cooperation for development between the two countries, encapsulating their mutually shared vision for the future.

2. The Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development signed by the two Prime Ministers on September 6, 2011 in Dhaka provides the template for future cooperation between India and Bangladesh.

3. The Agreement lays down the framework for enhancing mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas. These include – promotion of trade, investment and economic cooperation; connectivity; water resources; management of natural disasters; generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, including from renewable or other sources; promotion of scientific, educational and cultural cooperation; people to people exchanges; environmental protection and responding to challenges of climate change through adaptation; sub regional cooperation in the power sector, water resources management, physical connectivity, environment and sustainable development; and enhancing cooperation in security. The Agreement may be amended by mutual consent in order to enhance, deepen and widen the scope of cooperation, including regional/ sub-regional expansion.

4. The Agreement would enable the two countries to realize their shared destiny and common vision through the optimum utilization of opportunities for mutual benefit.

5. A Joint Consultative Commission would be established to monitor effective and smooth implementation of the Agreement. The Commission will meet annually.

6. The Agreement entered into force today and shall remain in force until terminated by mutual consent by either Party.

2. Protocol to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement

The Protocol to the Agreement Concerning the Demarcation between India and Bangladesh and Related Matters signed today between the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh and the External Affairs Minister of India seeks to address all outstanding land boundary issues and provide a final settlement to the India-Bangladesh boundary. The outstanding issues addressed include (i) undemarcated land boundary in three sectors viz. Daikhata-56 (West Bengal), Muhuri River-Belonia (Tripura) and Dumabari (Assam); (ii) enclaves; and (iii) adverse possessions. The undemarcated boundary in all three segments has now been demarcated.The status of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh with a population of 37,334 and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India with a population of 14,215 has been addressed. The issue of Adversely Possessed Lands along the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam has also been mutually finalised. The boundary settlement has been concluded keeping in view the aspirations of the people.

3. Addentum to the MOU between India and Bangladesh to facilitate Overland Transit Traffic between Bangladesh and Nepal

The MOU seeks to facilitate rail transit to/from Bangladesh and Nepal by using the Rohanpur-Singhabad route as agreed during the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mrs. Sheikh Hasina to India in January 2010. It also facilitates rail transit between Bangladesh and Nepal using Indian territory through the Radhikapur-Birol line once the Bangladesh portion is converted into broad guage. The signing of this MOU will facilitate bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Nepal.

4. MOU on Conservation of the Sunderbans

The MOU seeks to facilitate cooperation in the areas of conservation of biodiversity, joint management of resources, livelihood generation for poverty alleviation and development, cataloging of local flora and fauna and studying the impacts of climate change. A Working Group would be set up to implement the activities under MoU. The MoU is valid for for an intial period of five years which can be extended further through mutual consent.

5. Protocol on Conservation of the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sunderban

The Protocol on Conservation of the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sunderban provides for bilateral cooperation in undertaking scientific research, knowledge sharing and patrolling of the Sunderban waterways on their respective sides to prevent poaching or smuggling of derivatives from wildlife and bilateral initiatives to ensure survival and conservation of the Royal Bengal Tiger in the unique ecosystem of the Sunderban. The Protocol also provides for cooperation to promote understanding & knowledge of Royal Bengal Tigers, exchange of personnel for training and promotion of education.

6. MoU on Cooperation in the field of Fisheries

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Cooperation in the Field of Fisheries seeks to promote development of cooperation in fisheries and acquaculture and allied activities between the two countries through joint activities, programmes, exchange of scientific materials, information and personnel. A Joint Working Group would be set up to facilitate cooperation under the MoU and review progress. The Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock of the Government of Bangladesh would coordinate implementation of the MoU. The MOU would be valid for an initial period of 5 years and can be extended further through mutual consent.

7. MOU on Cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy

The Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of renewable energy between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh aims to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional relationship to encourage and promote technical, bilateral cooperation in the areas of solar, wind and bio energy on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity.

8. MoU on Educational Cooperation between the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Dhaka University

An MoU on Educational Cooperation between Jawaharlal Nehru University and Dhaka University was signed between the Vice Chancellors of the two Universities in Dhaka on September 6, 2011.

Considering the large number of students from Bangladesh pursuing their academic career in India, especially at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, a formal mechanism on Educational Cooperation between Dhaka University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University would foster and institutionalize existing cooperation between the two Universities.

The MoU is designed to be a framework agreement for educational cooperation between the two institutions whereby the two sides express their commitment towards cooperation in identified sectors – Social Sciences, International Relations, Computer Science etc — through the annual calendar of events. The MoU is expected to benefit scholars and researchers of both India and Bangladesh.

9. MoU on Cooperation between Doordarshan (DD) and Bangladesh Television (BTV)

An MoU on Cooperation between the Doordarshan, India and the BTV, Bangladesh was signed by the representatives of two organizations in Dhaka on September 06, 2011.

Under the agreement, both the public broadcasters would make available live telecasts of News, Cultural and Educational Programmes for mutual broadcast. Doordarshan and BTV may also broadcast live of any specific events such as visit of High Dignitaries to each others’ countries or of cultural events of significance. Further, they would explore the possibilities of jointly co-producing television programmes. Doordarshan, having a well equipped Staff Training Institute for carrying out training in advanced broadcast techniques for its staff, will endeavour to provide such training to BTV in the fields of programme production, technology and management. In addition, Doordarshan may also to provide consultancy on technical services to BTV.

The agreement would provide an opportunity for BTV and Doordarashan, in general, and DD Bangla, in particular, to telecast its programmes in India and Bangladesh, respectively. The MoU is intended to reddress, to the extent possible, the paucity of Bangladesh programmes on Indian TV.

10. MoU between the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi and BGMEA Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT), Dhaka

The Memorandum of Understanding on Academic Cooperation between National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT), Dhaka seeks to promote cooperation between the two institutes in the areas of exchange of students and faculty and training and research activities concerning design, management and technology. The MoU defines the principles, policy guidelines & procedures of cooperation.

NIFT is a statutory institute under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. It was set up in 1986 to train professionals to meet the requirements of the textiles industry. The Institute has pioneered the evolution of fashion education across the country through its network of fifteen centres. BIFT, established in 1999 by the BGMEA, is affiliated to the National university of Bangladesh.

Dhaka
September 6, 2011  
Fact Sheet on Trade Related Issues

India-Bangladesh trade relations have witnessed a significant improvement in the recent past. In 2010-11, two-way trade crossed the US$ 5 billion mark as a result of a significant increase in Bangladesh’s exports to India (68% over the previous year) and India’s exports to Bangladesh (43% over the previous year). Bangladesh’s exports to India in 2010-11 was $ 512.5 million and India’s exports to Bangldesh in the same period was US$ 4586.8 million. India is the biggest export destination for Bangladesh outside the Western world.

2. The main items of Bangladesh exports to India include Raw Jute ($ 159 million); Jute goods ($69 m); Fish ($56 m); Mineral distillates ($28 m); Fruits ($28m); Garments ($25 m); Copper/articles ($25 m); Minerals ($13 m); Cotton waste ($ 11m); Iron/Steel ($8 m) & articles ($11 m); Knitwear ($10m); Leather ($10 m); Ceramic ($ 7m) etc.

3. The main items of Bangladesh imports from India include Cotton (raw, yarn, fabrics)-$1505.5 million; Vehicles & parts, other than rail rolling stock ($ 474m); Animal feed/ food waste ($ 300m); Boilers, machinery/mechanical appliances ($ 248m); Cereals ($ 209m); Iron & Steel ($ 173m);. Organic chemicals ($ 131m); Electrical machinery & equipment ($ 115m); Vegetables/roots & tubers ($ 111m); Mineral fuels/waxes/ bituminous products ($ 106 m); Plastics/articles ($ 97 m); Tanning chemicals ($ 82m); Man-made fibres ($ 74m); Rubber/articles ($ 65m); Coffee, tea, spices ($ 58m) etc. Inputs imported from India such as cotton, machinery, tanning chemicals etc. are used for value-addition for products such as Ready Made Garments, Knitwear, Leather goods etc., and get reflected in Bangladesh’s trade surplus elsewhere.

4. Tariff concessions granted by India to Bangladesh under SAFTA (as SAARC LDC) include a zero-duty market access for ALL but 480 items in the sensitive list. India had further increased the duty-free access to 10 million pieces of readymade garments (RMG) from Bangladesh every year.

5. Taking into account the trade imbalance between the two countries in favour of India, the Prime Minister of India announced on September 6, 2011, during his visit to Bangladesh, the removal of all 46 textile items from the sensitive list and zero duty access in all these 46 items for Bangladesh exports to India. This unilateral gesture is expected to address a major and and long-standing demand from Bangladesh for increased market access for Bangladesh products to India.

6. India is upgrading seven main border Land Customs Stations (LCS) as Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at a total cost of Rs. 467 crores. ICPs will have facilities for immigration, customs, parking, banks, warehousing, quarantine, fuelling etc The measure will help improve trade with Bangladesh across West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram,. Movement of goods between the two countries is covered by the existing ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (IWTT)’ for use of waterways, ‘Fundamental and Subsidiary Rules’ guiding movement of railways, ‘Standard Operating Procedures for movement of Trucks’ between LCSs and ‘Air Services Agreement’. Further, to restore the traditional economic and cultural links between people in adjoining states in India and Bangladesh, Border Haats have been established, starting with inauguration of Border Haat in Meghalaya.

7. Bilateral investment will be faciliated by the recent conclusion of the ‘Bilateral Investment Protection & Promotion Agreement’ and ‘Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation’ between the two countries. So far 225 Indian firms have proposed foreign direct investment totaling $ 558.77 million as 100% Indian-owned or JV proposals. In 2008 and 2009 the total Indian investment was $ 400 million. (Source: Board of Investment, BD, April 2011). It is hoped that Bangladesh investments in India will increase with easing of local currency transfer restrictions.

8. Given the geographical proximity, warm and friendly ties, availability of workforce and investment-supportive atmosphere, the quantum of Indian investment and trade with Bangladesh is further expected to improve for mutual benefit.

Dhaka
September 6, 2011

Issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs

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