India and Bangladesh aim for a peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious South Asian maritime domain
In a visit that signals the flourishing military ties between India and Bangladesh, Bangladesh’s Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Nazmul Hassan is in India for extensive discussions on greater maritime cooperation between the two nations.
Admiral Hassan, who is visiting India from September 12-16, inspected a ceremonial guard of honour at South Block, in the heart of India's capital, New Delhi on Wednesday (September 13, 2023).
He later held talks with India's Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar in New Delhi. According to the Indian Navy, they discussed issues related to enhancement of cooperation in the field of ops, training, information exchange and participation in multilateral constructs. He also interacted with Chief of defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Army Chief General Manoj Pande, and Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane.
Admiral Hassan, in a heartfelt gesture, also paid homage to India’s fallen soldiers. Laying a wreath at the National War Memorial—a revered monument that stands as a testament to the valour and sacrifice of Indian soldiers—he showcased the profound respect and mutual admiration the two countries hold for each other. Such acts remind us of the intertwined histories of India and Bangladesh, especially reflecting upon events like the 1971 war, which was a defining moment in their shared narrative.
It is noteworthy that Admiral Hassan’s visit to India is his maiden international trip since he assumed office in July 2023. Such a decision to choose India as the first country to visit denotes the priority Bangladesh accords to its relationship with India. Spanning five days, from September 12-16, his visit has been packed with engagements that aim at intensifying naval and defence cooperation.
At the core of these bilateral discussions is a robust agenda focused on naval cooperation. Both nations are keen on amplifying their coordinated patrols along the International Maritime Boundary Line—a critical passage that ensures maritime security and combats threats like piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing. With the changing dynamics in the Indian Ocean region, such coordinated efforts are imperative to ensure safe and secure seas for mutual growth.
Another pivotal point of discussion is the bilateral naval exercise, Bongosagar. This exercise, initiated to bolster the naval capabilities of both countries, has seen several successful editions in the past. By deepening this exercise, both navies aim to refine interoperability, share best practices, and enhance joint operational capabilities. 
Moreover, there's a pressing emphasis on mutual training initiatives. Both India and Bangladesh recognize the importance of continuous learning and capacity-building in the ever-evolving maritime domain. Sharing insights, technologies, and methodologies can significantly enhance the operational readiness of both navies. This mutual endeavour also extends to the exchange of delegations, aimed at fostering camaraderie, knowledge sharing, and advancing strategic alignment.
“India and Bangladesh share bonds of history, language, culture and multitudes of other commonalities. The excellent bilateral ties reflect an all-encompassing partnership based on sovereignty, equality, trust and understanding, that goes beyond strategic ties,” the Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday (September 13, 2023).
The concept of multilateral constructs signifies their commitment to larger regional or global platforms. Both countries are increasingly playing pivotal roles in regional forums and joint naval exercises. Their collaborative stance fosters collective maritime security, environmental protection, and the promotion of rules-based order in the seas.
India’s association with Bangladesh transcends strategic and economic interests. Their shared history, language, culture, and a plethora of commonalities establish a bond that's unique and heartwarming. By commemorating events like the 50th anniversary of the 1971 war, both nations have time and again shown their undying commitment to each other. Their burgeoning trade relationship, with India standing as Bangladesh's second-largest trade ally boasting a volume of USD16 billion, is a testament to their intertwined economies. This relationship, marked by mutual respect and understanding, stands resilient even in the face of external influences, like China's growing ambitions in South Asia.
Furthering his engagements, Admiral Hassan is slated for an insightful trip to Mumbai—a bustling maritime hub. Anticipated meetings with the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, and a tour of an indigenously constructed Indian ship are sure to enhance maritime collaborations and technological exchanges.
Bangladesh's pivotal role in India's ‘Look East’ policy cannot be overlooked. Over the last decade, both nations have synergized their diplomatic and economic endeavors, leading to promising outcomes like agreements for bilateral trade in the Indian Rupee.
In conclusion, as Admiral Hassan’s impactful visit nears its culmination, the undertones of enhanced cooperation resonate deeply. The discussions and engagements of this visit lay the foundation stones for future endeavors, ensuring that the shared maritime vision of India and Bangladesh will guide the destiny of their collaborative efforts. Together, they aim for a peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious South Asian maritime domain.