India will launch a commemorative postal stamp on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

After holding a virtual bilateral summit with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa a few days ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is gearing for conducting another bilateral summit with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in December in the South Asian region.

This was confirmed during the sixth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen on September 29.

Prime Minister Modi was scheduled to visit Bangladesh in March 2020, but it had to be postponed due to Covid-19 triggered pandemic. Now, Modi’s visit is expected to take place around the time when Bangladesh celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence and establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During the Joint Consultative, both sides reviewed the current state of bilateral relations and jointly unveiled a commemorative postal stamp issued by the government of Bangladesh on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

At the meeting, the External Affairs Minister announced India’s decision to launch a commemorative postal stamp on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on December 16.

Both countries decided to jointly celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Liberation War and the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in India, Bangladesh and in select third countries through their respective Missions.

Both sides discussed a number of programs to be held jointly, including ceremonial military parades on December 16 in Dhaka and New Delhi/ Kolkata; honoring Indian war veterans of 1971; revival of the historic Mujibnagar-Kolkata road through inauguration of Swadhinota Shoroni and establishment of a permanent immigration check post at Mujibnagar; Friendship Fair or Milon Mela through collaboration of the two border guarding forces; year-long seminars in different cities of Bangladesh and India with participation of civil society, intelligentsia and war veterans of 1971; and simultaneous launching of a website on 50 years of victory and friendship where documents of relevance to the 1971 victory will be available for public access.

It was decided to mount a Bangabandhu-Bapu digital museum in India and Bangladesh and at other places. The two ministers directed their respective Ministries to form a joint committee to coordinate these epoch events.

Both sides also discussed progress on making the biopic on Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under the direction of Indian film director Shyam Benegal. Simultaneously, they also stressed on the need to start work on the Liberation War documentary, for which Bangladesh side informed that the process for selecting a director from Bangladesh will be completed soon.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion EAM Jaishankar talked about sustained bilateral engagement between the two countries in the key areas like connectivity, capacity building, energy and power, border security and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This engagement has actually witnessed several important developments including the signing of the second addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT); the trial run for the movement of Indian cargo from Kolkata to Agartala via Chattogram; and linking of Sonamura-Daudkandi to the India-Bangladesh Protocol route. These achievements, some of which have come during the pandemic, reflect our mutual desire to further expand our bilateral relationship for the good of our people,” the EAM said.

The EAM also talked about the successful visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last year, his own interaction with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister in a virtual mode this year in June and subsequently, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Dhaka in August.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said, Bangladesh has undeniably made rapid strides in socio-economic development.

“You have grown at an average annual rate of over 6 percent in the past decade making Bangladesh one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We are glad to note that your exports to India have crossed the USD 1 billion mark. The initiative to undertake a joint study on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will further aid our efforts to strengthen our trade and economic partnership,” the EAM said.

“We have also been diversifying the modes of transportation to ensure movement of goods between our two countries. Recently, to circumvent the congestion and disruptions faced in the land route, we successfully commenced transport of essential commodities using the railway network. If there are issues in this domain, I would like to assure that we would be glad to discuss this with the Bangladesh side in the spirit of neighbourliness and friendship,” he added.

“Our land and maritime boundaries have been settled amicably and in a spirit of cooperation. It is important that we both recognise and applaud that. Sincere efforts have also been made by both sides to develop greater coordination between our border guarding forces through mechanisms like joint patrolling and exchange of real time information. I strongly feel that joint efforts to combat human trafficking are the need of the hour. Our border guarding force has been particularly sensitized on this important issue,” he further added.

“Our ties have continued to advance in the area of energy and power. Discussions on establishing synchronous connections reflect the gains made in this crucial sector. We are hopeful that the flagship Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant will come on-stream by next year and so too should the India Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline . We are also keen to cooperate in renewable energy and will be happy to undertake a solar project on a pilot basis for the government of Bangladesh,” EAM Jaishankar maintained.