Friday, July 15, 2011

Dhaka "Only Ray Of Hope For Delhi" In S. Asia

When all the neighbours are at odds with India "only Bangladesh offers a ray of hope," wrote Brig (rtd) S K Chatterjee, strategic analyst based in Delhi on March 26 this year.
India's sympathy for the Tamils, who fought secessionist war for two decades, has adversely affected its ties with Sri Lanka. Of late, Colombo has been developing closer ties with China earning Delhi's displeasure further. Beijing had supplied the much needed arms to Colombo on credit to defeat LTTE two years ago.

Forcible fishing by Indians in Sri Lankan waters, now a regular feature, led to the arrest of several hundred Indian fishermen in the recent past. Angry, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha questioned how they dare to pick up her fishermen and called for military action against the tiny neighbour.

With emergence of the Communists in power in Nepal, people have raised strong voice against the age-old economic and political domination of India - Indian hegemony - over the landlocked Himalayan country.

Nationalist forces in Kathmandu have been demanding withdrawal of Indian Army from their land in Kalapani occupied since 1962 Indo-China war. They claim Nepal's land up to Bangladesh and Bhutan borders on the southeast, and return of hundreds of kilometres encroached along the border with Bihar and Uttar Pradhesh. Needless to say, China is gaining ground in Nepal to New Delhi's discomfort.
Delhi's failure in Yangon 
Delhi's Foreign Office mandarins are now lamenting for the failure to win the hearts and minds of military rulers in Mayanmar. Millions of dollars were invested by India in developing roads, infrastructure and port. Despite that Myanmar has allegedly been providing safe sanctuaries with all facilities to the secessionist groups of Assam, Nagaland, Monipur and Tripura.

All efforts by high profile Indian visits have failed to pursue Yangon to withdraw support to the secessionists fighting for independence from India. Rebel leaders are getting easy access to China, a close and trusted ally of Myanmar.
Indira doctrine 
Except for brief tenure of Morarji Desai and I K Gujral, India has always followed a Big Brotherly policy - stick and carrot - towards its small neighbours as envisaged by Indira Doctrine.

The key principles of Indira Gandhi inherited from her father Jawaharlal Nehru towards the neighbours were that no foreign power would be allowed to cross the Himalayas or allowed to interfere in South Asia. The region should remain under the domain of Delhi and the neighbours should follow her dotted line in internal and external affairs. The policy was akin to America's Monroe Doctrine about pre-eminence in the surrounding region.

Desai and Gujral in their bid for a shift had laid emphasis on the need for good faith and trust as the basis of India's relations with its smaller South Asian neighbours.

Needless to say that the Awami League government that came to power with a thumping majority in the 2008 general elections has provided the only ray of hope to Delhi. In compliance with her wishes the grand alliance government in Dhaka has handed over the ULFA leaders to India.

Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna visited Dhaka July 6-8 ostensibly to lay the ground for top level talks when Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh comes in September. Many in India branded the stone faced Singh a proxy prime minister of ruling Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Dr Manmohan Singh during his visit is also likely to ask for handing over of ULFA secretary general Anup Chetia to weaken its army chief Paresh Baruah who opposed peace talks without agenda of independence of Assam. Chetia is in custody of Bangladesh on completion of his jail term as his petition for asylum is lying pending.
Water of the Teesta 
It is said a package deal inclusive of thorny border issue and sharing of water of the Teesta River will be reached during Dr Singh's coming visit.

On the possibility of sacrificing about one thousand acres by Bangladesh in settling border dispute, the government is holding view exchange meetings with villagers along the Sylhet border to gain public support to its move. The villagers have questioned the necessity of fresh demarcation of border when it was done at the time of partition of India. The land now claimed by India had been owned and cultivated by the Bangladeshis for about 64 years.

Strongly opposing fresh demarcation of boundary in the last meeting with the villagers last Tuesday (July 12) the residents vowed to spill any amount of blood to protect every inch of their motherland.