Looking East: PM Modi’s Innovative Foreign Policy That Seeks To Work Closely With Bangladesh As Well As Promote Indian Culture And Traditions
PM Modi has demonstrated how India’s foreign policy is very much integrated with the regional historic and social context.
It also demonstrates India’s philosophy of being guided by our civilisational values in day-to-day conduct.
Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi participated in the 50th Independence Day of Bangladesh, his first visit outside India after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bangladesh celebrates its Independence Day on 26 March as anointed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the hero of Bangladesh’s liberation from Pakistan in 1971.
Right from the Jana Sangh supporting the Bangladesh liberation movement, to India’s key and official role in the Bangladesh war, the ties between the two countries have also been important.
As a neighbouring state, Bangladesh has important social, cultural, economic and historical links with India. PM Modi has always stressed the importance of the bilateral relations with Bangladesh.
His participation in the 50th Independence Day function stresses the importance of his foreign policy towards looking east and rejuvenating these non-transactional relationships with Bangladesh.
When PM Modi visited Bangladesh in 2015, he had offered puja at the historic Dhakeshwari temple in Dhaka, the national capital. On this visit, PM Modi visited and prayed at the Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple, one of the 51 shaktipeeths and a holy site for the Hindus.
The Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple underwent a beautiful renovation ahead of PM Modi’s visit, showcasing the importance the Bangladesh government gave to this gesture.
To strengthen these cultural and religious ties, PM Modi also announced building of a community centre at this temple. This community centre will help Indian pilgrims visiting this shaktipeeth in having a comfortable spiritual experience.
The Matua community is a significant link between the two great countries.
Even in 2015, PM Modi had expressed his desire to visit Orakandi. Situated in the Gopalganj district, Orakandi was where the revered Shri Shri Harichand Thakur was born.
His unmatched work towards the wellbeing and social integration of the Matua community cannot be forgotten. Many members of the Matua community today still live in Orakandi. The community has a strong presence in both countries.
During his visit, PM Modi addressed the Matua community and recalled their strong presence in India as well. He stressed how people of both India and Bangladesh wanted an atmosphere of stability, peace and love.
This shared desire of the two countries made them a natural partner and co-passenger in the journey towards economic and social prosperity.
PM Modi made it clear that both India and Bangladesh will benefit by focusing on their own development. He passionately spoke about how blessed he felt visiting Orakandi, where a large of number of Matua community members visit from India every year to mark their respect for Shri Shri Harichand Thakur.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) from Bangaon, Shri Shantanu Thakur also accompanied PM Modi on this historic visit. As the leader of All India Matua Mahasangha, he has played a key role in the betterment of the Matua community.
'Look East' has been a key tenet of India’s foreign policy in the Modi government. Given the role India played alongside the Mukti Bahini in 1971 to liberate Bangladesh from the clutches of Pakistan, it is only natural that this partnership flourishes.
The India-Bangladesh relationship is underpinned not just by shared history, but also shared sacrifices and shared vision for the region.
The painful memories of Operational Searchlight, the dreadful genocide Pakistani forces launched in March 1971 will always be alive in this region.
The way Pakistan ill-treated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during Bangladesh’s freedom struggle is a well-documented phase of history.
PM Modi was close to these events even in 1971, when he was jailed during a Jana Sangh-led satyagraha demanding Indian support for Bangladesh’s freedom movement.
India led by then-PM Indira Gandhi, the able military leadership of Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, General Aurora, General Jacob and brave hearts like Lance Nayak Albert Ekka, Group Captain Chandan Singh, Captain Mohan Narayan Rao Samant, was able to help create Bangladesh later in 1971. PM Modi recalled all these names and their contribution in Dhaka during his visit.
With this 'Look East' vision, the Modi government has also helped Bangladesh in these times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of March-mid, India has donated and offered more vaccines to countries around the world, than the number of Indian citizens inoculated. This demonstration of India being a responsible, global power has shown India as the true embodiment of a global democratic force.
Bangladesh has received the most number of these vaccines. As of 27 March, India had supplied 32 lakh vaccines to Bangladesh as grant.
Additionally, 70 lakh vaccines have been supplied on a commercial basis, bringing the total number of vaccines supplied to 1.02 crore. India has led the regional democratic commitment from the front and recognised Bangladesh as a great friend and a key ally.
PM Modi has demonstrated how India’s foreign policy is very much integrated with the regional historic and social context. His outreach to Indian neighbours seeks to strengthen the ages-old civilisational ties.
It also demonstrates India’s philosophy of being guided by our civilisational values in day-to-day conduct. This innovative foreign policy of PM Modi must be lauded for its impact and innovation.
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