Opening up

Those who hail from Chittagong, on either side of the Indo-Bangladesh border, are very protective of their insular dialect. A port of significance since the 9th century, Chittagong, however, was never a closed culture. In fact, it was a melting pot. It rose to India's national consciousness very prominently twice in the last century: first, with the Chittagong Uprising in 1930; second, as the place where Bangladesh's independence was declared in 1971, which thereafter suffered naval blockades. The geopolitical advantages of Chittagong, as a gateway to Southeast Asia and the Far East, could never be understated.

Today, Chittagong is one of the fastest-growing urban zones in the world, and Bangladesh an emerging economy. India, therefore, should be very happy with the grant of access to the historic port, itself being developed and expanded. But New Delhi must deliver on the bilateral relationship recast after Sheikh Hasina assumed charge in Dhaka. The Chittagong port is crucial to the economic development of India's landlocked Northeast. Together with Myanmar's Sitwe port, Chittagong is the Northeast's maritime gateway. With Nepal and Bhutan also likely to get access to Chittagong, Bangladesh's second-largest city and its busiest seaport can be the core of the eastern subcontinent's economic integration, and its global outreach. A parallel need would be the upgrade and integration of road and railway infrastructure to expedite the movement of goods and people.

The time is ripe for a bold bilateral agenda. Therefore, a lot has to be put in the works before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Dhaka visit in September. It's just as well many high-level Indian visits are regaining a little of the lost momentum. Delhi needs to look at Chittagong not as a one-off achievement, but the key to a re-invented eastern subcontinent.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views, opinions and comments posted are your, and are not endorsed by this website. You shall be solely responsible for the comment posted here. The website reserves the right to delete, reject, or otherwise remove any views, opinions and comments posted or part thereof. You shall ensure that the comment is not inflammatory, abusive, derogatory, defamatory &/or obscene, or contain pornographic matter and/or does not constitute hate mail, or violate privacy of any person (s) or breach confidentiality or otherwise is illegal, immoral or contrary to public policy. Nor should it contain anything infringing copyright &/or intellectual property rights of any person(s).
comments powered by Disqus