Home Editorial Editorial: Testing times for Bangladesh-India Ties

Editorial: Testing times for Bangladesh-India Ties

India faces a strategic nightmare as China secures a foothold in another of its neighboring nations

by Editorial

Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina. Indranil Mukherjee—AFP

It is not common knowledge that it is unlawful to “criticize friendly countries on the media” in Bangladesh, primarily to contain anti-Indian feelings as “a gratitude for India’s support in Bangladesh’s liberation war.” The irrelevance of the law, however, became apparent in November 2023 during “exaggerated public celebrations over India’s defeat by Australia in the ODI World Cup Championship final,” prompting Indian media to openly acknowledge anti-Indian sentiments in Bangladesh. India’s Daily Telegraph noted that “anti-Indian sentiments have been present in Bangladesh since its birth in 1971,” while several political analysts subsequently blamed the situation on Bangladesh’s predominantly Muslim society, and “the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)’s anti-Indian politics and anti-Hindu feelings of the Islam-based political parties.”

Blaming the BNP and Muslims in Bangladesh for anti-Indian sentiments while ignoring the consequences of growing Hindu fundamentalism in India has, however, been perceived as “biased” within Bangladesh. This is largely true, as the BNP’s strong anti-Indian views arise from a political lens and have little anti-Hindu or communal reasoning. The prevailing view in Bangladesh, largely, is that anti-Indian views stem from Delhi’s belief that its support for Dhaka’s independence requires Bangladesh to be beholden to its neighbor forever.

As one Bangladeshi periodical warned, India’s “hidden intent” might be to draw Bangladesh into the “strategic conflicts” of larger countries that could expose Dhaka to great dangers. “This could have been avoided if India had backed the United States for a free, fair, and participatory election in Bangladesh,” it added, referring to the contested polls of last month. But with China gaining ground in Bangladesh—despite Delhi’s simmering tensions with Beijing—India may soon have to reckon with a deeply entrenched China in Bangladesh that risks posing a strategic nightmare Delhi may not be prepared to expect from the Bangladesh it helped secure independence in 1971.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment