Your Excellency Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, High Commissioner of India
My Cabinet Colleagues, Members of the Parliament, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalamualaikum, adab and a very good evening to you all.
I am delighted to be here with you this evening to celebrate the 68th Republic Day of India. On behalf of the Government and the people of Bangladesh, I extend our warmest congratulations to your Excellency and the Government and the people of Republic of India as you celebrate the Republic Day, the day of adoption of Constitution of India.
As we celebrate with you today, we are reminded of the historic event when on this day in 1950 India was declared a Republic. This day founding fathers of the Indian nation dreamt with hope and goodwill the promise of a better future for the people of India. Today India is standing on a high point in terms of economy and stability. In this context, we note with admiration the signature initiatives such as Swacha Bharat, Make in India, and other social and economic initiatives to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people of India.
We reflect on India’s remarkable transformation down the lane of history- a transformation that is a testimony to the power of rule of law and of democratic values.
Both Bangladesh and India share history , culture, religion, language, food habit, dress and many others. Our bilateral relations have its genesis in 1971 when the government of India and its entire people extended their whole-hearted support to our Liberation War- which we had fought at the clarion call of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. We always remember this great contribution of India with deep appreciation. In fact, India not only sheltered more than 10 million of our people and gave them succour, valiant members of the Indian Armed Forces fought shoulder to shoulder with our freedom fighters in the final stages of the Liberation War- their blood mingled with the blood of our Mukti Bahini. Thus, our past, present and future are, indeed, interlinked. We are happy that the bonds of friendship have grown from strength to strength with time and today we are enjoying the best of relations.
Excellencies and distinguished guests,
Our partnership is mature, broad and strong. In the past eight years, we have experienced remarkable progress in many areas, namely, security, connectivity, development cooperation, cultural exchange, power, trade and commerce, defence exchange and so on. The security cooperation together with our collective fight against terrorism and violent extremism continue to play an important role in achieving peace, stability and security in the region and beyond.
In recent years, the steady development of bilateral relationship has been strengthened by exchange of high level visits. The visit by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in June 2015 was tremendously productive and took our relations to new heights. Recognizing the strength of our partnership, both our Prime Ministers have agreed to broaden the cooperation in new and unconventional areas such as renewable energy, satellite, blue economy, maritime cooperation, peaceful use of nuclear energy etc. We are confident that when the daughter of Bangabandhu and our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits India next time, the cooperation will be further strengthened in all these areas.
Our two countries also share common commitment to advance regional and international cooperation including strengthening regional processes such as BIMSTEC, BBIN and BCIM.
Our two countries enjoy robust economic relationship with about 6.2 billion US dollar in bilateral trade in the FY 2015-16. However, we need to work further to overcome the barriers to trade and investment, for the mutual benefit of both our nations. I am happy to note that there are many Indian companies operating in Bangladesh and we hope with the establishment of Indian SEZs more companies from India will come and invest in Bangladesh.
Excellency, you have referred to our strong people-to-people relationship based on ties of family, kinship and friendship. Together we are working towards more bus and train services between two countries. Bangladesh is going to appoint its first Assistant High Commissioner in Guwahati. India is also opening new visa application centres in various cities of Bangladesh and taking innovative steps to fast track visa processing. We acknowledge with thanks the training exchange programme for our civil servants, police, members of Judiciary, technical experts and numerous other scholarships/visits offered by India for our young talented people. Many Indian students are also studying in our public and private institutions. These people, especially the younger generation represent not just the future of Bangladesh and India, but also the future of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India. We are so happy to learn that in the year 2016, Bangladesh nationals became the largest tourist group in India. This is how it should be.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
As I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to wish continued peace, progress and prosperity of the friendly people of India and hope that the friendship will continue to be further strengthened in the days ahead.
I thank you.
Long live Bangladesh-India friendship!
Joy Bangla! Joy Bangabandhu!