Thursday, June 30, 2005

BANGLADESH: Appearance and reality in Dhaka-Delhi relations

As things stand, India's foreign policy does not seem likely to ease off on the use of psychological pressure on Bangladesh, especially when the BNP-led government is in power. And that will continue to engender resentment against India and Indians among a sizeable section of Bangladeshis. India's relations with Bangladesh had started on a wrong footing almost as soon as the liberation war had ended. The issues were many and varied, but all boiled down to a patronizing Indian attitude that demanded Dhaka's eternal subservience to New Delhi for the part it played in its liberation struggle. One would be a fool not to recognize the vital role that India played in this country's war of independence, but that does not automatically translate into an eternal debt of gratitude and deference. India had its own national interest in mind, rather than any great love for the people of East Bengal, in actively supporting, if not actually orchestrating, the struggle for Bangladesh. If eternal gratitude and deference are the price to pay for another country's act out of pure self-interest, then the United States should be kowtowing to France till eternity. That the actual scenario has been somewhat different is an acknowledgement of the reality of inter-state relations.

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