Why India is cosying up to its fractious Muslim neighbour

The neighbours are seeking a better understanding

The World Today Updated 11 December 2020 Published 25 September 2015 3 minute READ

Charu Lata Hogg

Associate Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme

When Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, promised to mend relations with his country’s immediate neighbours after his election in 2014, few thought he would prioritize Bangladesh. But as he flew home from Dhaka this June, with 22 agreements and a 60-point joint declaration on a long-stalled boundary agreement, there were visible signs that a new course had been set.

On August 1, Bangladesh and India began exchanging 162 enclaves, ending a 70-year-old border dispute and providing more than 50,000 people with the citizenship of their choice.

Modi’s host, Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the Awami League now in her seventh year in power, pointed to the agreement as a foreign policy success. Since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, relations between the two countries have been strained over cross-border migration, allegations that Bangladesh acts as an incubator for insurgent groups and disputes over water and land sharing.

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