Talk as powerful neighbour, not hegemon: Dhaka media tells India

May 24th, 2009 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Dhaka, May 24 (IANS) Congratulating Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Congress-led alliance on winning a second term in office, sections of Bangladesh media have said this is a good augury for development of positive relations within South Asia.
But for that to happen, Delhi needs to “talk as a powerful neighbour, not a regional hegemon”, Left-leaning New Age newspaper Sunday advised editorially.

If that was to happen, relations between Delhi and Dhaka in particular were bound to improve as the terms of Singh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would run almost simultaneously.

The Daily Star noted that India’s Congress and Bangladesh’s Awami League, both having won popular mandates, enjoyed affinity and historical ties.

“As the predominant power in South Asia, India can certainly play a significant role in the development of regional cooperation through such bodies as SAARC. On a bilateral basis and given the sweeping changes that have been taking place around the globe, India can give itself a boost by moving forward to resolve the issues between it and its neighbours.

“It is upon a resolution of those issues that closer ties between Delhi and other nations can be forged. The dividends that can accrue from such an approach are easy to foresee. A spirit of generosity on India’s part can surely contribute to good neighbourly ties. Where India’s relations with Bangladesh are concerned, in terms of specifics, there are certain crucial areas where both Delhi and Dhaka must take a deeper look into the issues,” the newspaper said.

New Age pointed out that the last major treaty, on sharing of Ganga waters, was signed in 1997 and the other in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (with assistance from Delhi), was with a non-Congress government in Delhi.

The editorials urged India to be ‘generous’, keeping in mind the imbalance in bilateral trade weighed against Bangladesh.

New Age editorial took note of the “rejection of the Hindutva forces” by the Indian electorate.

“We can only hope that this language of communal reconciliation and unity will find expression in Delhi’s foreign policy, contributing to sustained stability and economic growth across South Asia,” it said.

Entitled, “Congress govt. needs to reinvent regional foreign policy”, it said: “We can certainly say of Dhaka and Delhi that people on both sides will see much gain in resolving their disputes over water sharing and border demarcations, as well as a more constructive and holistic approach to trade issues.

Both newspapers raised, among other issues, India’s go-ahead on the Tipaimukh project in Assam, without adequately considering Dhaka’s environmental concerns.

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