Agartala, April 27 (IANS) Man-made obstacles and bureaucratic hassles are major hurdles in fostering relations between India and Bangladesh leading to distrust, underdevelopment and non-execution of a range of bilateral issues, international experts said here Friday.
The experts, including former diplomat Veena Sikri, international transport expert M. Rahmatullah, Dhaka University professor Meshbah Kamal and Tripura University professor Indraneel Bhowmik asserted that vested interests were active both in India and Bangladesh.
"People with vested interests are seriously affecting legal and normal economic activity between the two close neighbours. We are very poor in implementation of decisions. There are huge unexecuted decisions on both sides," the experts opined at a seminar.
Former diplomat and scholar Sikri said corporates, businessmen, traders, media, academicians, scholars, researchers and people, specially the youth, must get involved in the dialogue, otherwise it would get distorted.
The two-day seminar titled "Northeast India in Transition: Tripura - the Commerce and Connectivity Corridor between India and Bangladesh" was organised by Kolkata-based Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, an institution under the central government's Ministry of Culture.
"Teesta river water sharing, Manipur's Tipaimukh hydel power project, transit and connectivity issues can be expected to be resolved in the near future, if the national leaders of both countries, with the concerned stake holders' support, continue talks at all possible levels," the former Indian envoy stated.
"Following the visit of the prime ministers of the two countries to each other's nations, issues relating to enclaves, boundary, trade and business have been resolved to a large extent. For pending unsettled issues, both sides must continue talks," stated Sikri, a fellow of New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia university.
Referring to China-Bangladesh relations, Sikri said: "China has no people-to-people relations with any countries, not even with Pakistan. China has been developing its relations in its own way. It (China) has only strategic, administrative, diplomatic relations with many nations."
Dhaka University professor Meshbah Kamal exhorted the restoration of old and historical ties and connectivity between the two countries.
"We cannot change our geography, but we can revive or correct our history for the benefit of the people of the region," Kamal said and suggested that the two countries jointly celebrate poet Kazi Nazrul Islam's birth centenary, involving common people and renowned artists.
International transport policy expert M. Rahmatullah observed that unless connectivity was reinforced, the relationship could not be improved.
"A joint transport company can be formed to carry men, material and goods to make easier the whole system," said Rahmatullah, former director of the Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
He said that if the transit through Bangladesh-northeast India and neighbouring countries was allowed, both time and cost would be reduced to a large extent.
Renowned economist and former parliamentarian Nitish Sengupta has suggested setting up more financial institutions, diplomatic and administrative offices by India and Bangladesh in each other's countries.
Tripura University professor Indraneel Bhowmik said more livelihood schemes are necessary for the poor people of this region comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan.
Senior journalist Jayanta Bhattacharya said increased cultural ties and joint performance would bring the people of the region closer.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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