Bangladesh is one of the key pillars of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy

India and Bangladesh on Friday held Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) in New Delhi and reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including cooperation in the wake of Covid-19, border management and security, trade and investment, connectivity, energy, water resources, development partnership and regional and multilateral issues.

During the FOC, both sides discussed joint activities to be held throughout the year as the two countries celebrate 50 years of their diplomatic ties and also discussed preparations for the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh.

At the FOC meet, while Indian side was led by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the Bangladesh side was represented by the country’s Foreign Secretary Ambassador Masud Bin Momen.

Bangladesh is one of the key pillars of India’s 'Neighbourhood First' Policy. Both countries have comprehensive cooperation through more than 60 bilateral mechanisms.

Recently, a consignment containing 20 lakh doses of COVISHIELD vaccines was delivered to Bangladesh, one of the first countries to receive vaccines from India. The vaccine was delivered as a “gift from the people of India to the people of Bangladesh.”

Both India and Bangladesh have been cooperating in the field of COVID-19 vaccine, including Phase-III testing, distribution, co-production and delivery.

Bangladesh was the first country to receive a joint delegation consisting of officials from Department of Bio Technology (DBT) as well as vaccine manufacturers, to discuss cooperation relating to COVID vaccine. A delegation led by DBT had visited Bangladesh in October 2020.

Separately, there has been commercial cooperation between Bangladesh public and private sectors and our private sector on vaccine supply.

India has also provided three tranches of aid to Bangladesh. 30,000 surgical masks and 15000 headcovers was given as the first tranche, while 50,000 gloves & 100,000 HCQ tablets and 30,000 RT-PCR test kits were given as second and third tranches.

Six online courses have been conducted of which one was conducted exclusively in Bangla language. In total, 352 Bangladeshi professionals have been trained in these courses.

Apart from this, both sides also worked together to ensure smooth and uninterrupted supply of essential goods during the COVID-19 lock-down by commencing the Container as well as Parcel train services in July 2020.

In addition, India facilitated the repatriation of more than 5500 Bangladeshi nationals from India during the lockdown period, using road and air. India had also facilitated repatriation of Bangladesh students from Wuhan to Bangladesh.

In order to facilitate resumption of flight operations that were disrupted due to COVID pandemic, an Air Travel Bubble was established between both sides in October 2020. This allows for 56 flights per week between both sides, connecting Indian cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai with Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. This has helped essential travel particularly of those requiring medical attention.