Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Indira, India honoured

By RK Rishikesh Sinha

Indira Gandhi
A new chapter has been added to the Indo-Bangla relationship on July 25. Bangladesh conferred Bangladesh Swadhinata Sammanona on Indira Gandhi posthumously for her “outstanding contribution” to the country's independence from Pakistan.

Though belatedly, the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has taken a historic step by recognizing India’s role in the formation of Bangladesh. The then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi’s personal and political role to help millions of fleeing Bangladeshi people by opening Indian borders, providing economic aid and shelter, besides sending army to fight against Pakistani army, and finally giving a nation-statehood status to Bangladesh in the world map, is undeniable. However, during the period of 40-year of Independence of Bangladesh, its successive governments have done “calculative distortions …[of] India's role in the war … and [made] Indira Gandhi… the main villain. [Haroon Habib, Bangladesh salutes Indira Gandhi, July 24, 2011, The Hindu]

Haroon Habib has rightly said that Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangladesh's slain founding father, took up the challenge of setting the history straight.

Unfortunately, since 1971, many issues have emerged between the two neighbouring countries. First, there have been bitter border skirmishes, and it is still taking place in the 4095 km long border, that includes 180 km of river line. Second, illegal infiltration of Bangladeshis in the Indian soil; and third, Bangladesh’s role and support to the northeastern terrorist organisation. However, in the Indian sub-continent, India with its geographical area, population, GDP, military strength, and its role in international politics, is being taken as regional hegemon. A reason cited for acrimony towards India. 

Furthermore, Bangladesh government decision to build a memorial in honour of the Indian soldiers who died in the 1971 war is befitting and appropriate since government is susceptible to change of stance, but people’s memories and perceptions are not.
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