In South Asia, the coronavirus pandemic is at once a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a humanitarian crisis.
The Bangladesh crisis makes clear that no subcontinental crisis is ever just a subcontinental affair. There will invariably be wider geopolitical forces which will impinge on the way that the subcontinent acts.
The economic advancement of Bangladesh helps lift up the whole of the eastern Subcontinent, including India’s Northeast as well as Bhutan and Nepal.
While trade liberalization and transportation infrastructure should remain BIMSTEC’s key priorities, the Bay of Bengal will not re-emerge as a regional space unless there are significant investments to foster people to people exchanges.
India is focused on making Bangladesh a centerpiece of its Act East policy.
Bangladesh, which now has settled land and maritime borders with India, is well positioned to play a larger regional and international role that is commensurate with its growing economic weight.
As the Indian Ocean re-emerges at the heart of global trade and becomes increasingly integrated with the Western Pacific, the Bay of Bengal is likely to emerge as a critical linkage between the two oceans.
Illegal immigration from Bangladesh has been a key issue for India and has become a focal point in the 2016 assembly election in Assam.
India has not addressed the influx of refugees and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. It’s time for that to change.