It’s a bridge of friendship that has the potential to herald a new era of shared future not just for India and Bangladesh, but for South Asia as well. Ahead of his visit to Dhaka later this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi put the spotlight on enhancing connectivity between India and Bangladesh by inaugurating the ‘Maitri Setu’ and other infrastructural projects in Tripura.
“The connectivity between Bangladesh and India will prove to be very important for the northeast region and for India and Bangladesh trade as well. This is a new trade corridor between India and Bangladesh,” Mr Modi said on March 9, while inaugurating the bridge virtually.
“This is a historic moment as we are creating a new era in South Asia by providing connectivity to India. Political boundaries should not become physical barriers to trade,” said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while addressing the inauguration event.
Maitri Setu’, spanning 1.9 kilometres joining Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh, has been built over the Feni river which flows between the Indian boundary in Tripura and Bangladesh.
The name of the bridge symbolises deepening friendship between India and Bangladesh.
With this inauguration, Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh, which is just 80 km from Sabroom,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in the statement.
The inauguration of Maitri Setu has set a positive tone for Modi’s visit to Bangladesh on March 26 to join celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of freedom of Bangladesh in 1971, in which India played a pivotal role. Mr Modi will also join celebrations in Dhaka to mark “Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary.
Significantly, the trip to Dhaka will be PM Modi’s PM first foreign visit in 15 months since the eruption of the coronavirus pandemic.
The transforming relations between India and Bangladesh remain the high point of Modi’s Neighbourhood First policy. PM Modi has described Bangladesh as “an important pillar” of India’s neighbourhood first’ policy and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar termed India-Bangladesh ties as a “360-degree partnership.”
India has been generous in supplying 9 million doses of Covid vaccine to Bangladesh, including 2 million doses as a gift from the people of India. The vaccine diplomacy has enhanced constituency of goodwill for India in Bangladesh.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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