TEXT OF THE ADDRESS AT THE 8TH INDIA BANGLADESH FRIENDSHIP DIALOGUE
– Congratulate the organisers for the completion of the 8th round of India – Bangladesh Friendship Dialogue. India values its friendship with Bangladesh deeply. It is not just a friendship. It is a shared bond of two peoples with one civilisation. We are civilisational cousins.
– India and Bangladesh have strong bilateral trade and economic relations. At G-to-G and B-to-B level we have strong engagement. Through the initiatives like this we have developed strong P-to-P relations also.
– But our relationship is essentially based on shared values. We both countries are committed to peace, democracy and true secularism. We abhor violence, oppression and hate.
– In fact the very birth of Bangladesh was based on these cherished values. We all salute Bangabandhu for leading his people into a free, democratic and peaceful future through a non-violent struggle. He had even laid down his life in that very cause.
– After returning to free Bangladesh spending 9 months in Pakistani prisons, in his first public address in Dhaka, the Bangabandhu had said: “I would like to say categorically and unequivocally that, our country will be a democratic, secular and socialist country. In this country the labourers, peasants, Hindus and Muslims all will be living in peace and harmony”. That was Bangabandhu’s dream about Bangladesh which his able daughter is pursuing with determination and dexterity.
– India too has its parallel in the freedom movement. Leaders of India’s freedom movement chose democracy and rule of law for India after independence. They even laid down their lives decrying hate. Today we are a proud nation recognised as the world’s largest and functional democracy and a nation wedded to peace, prosperity and rule of law. Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas – This mantra of Modi sums of the spirit of India today.
– Under the leadership of Her Excellency Sheik Haseena Bangladesh too is progressing and prospering in the last ten years. The country is registering excellent growth rates and per capita GDP. According to the IMF, Bangladesh’s economy is the second fastest growing major economy of 2016, with a rate of 7.1%.
– Prime Minister Modi has taken India on a hugely acclaimed transformative path of development and progress. Today India is an island of economic stability and progress in an utterly unstable and gloomy economic world. India’s GDP, as per the projections of the IMF, will continue to grow at 7% rate making it the world’s fastest-growing large economy.
– Yet we two nations have huge challenges to address. These challenges are both internal and external. Most important for our both countries is to make sure we do not deviate from our cherished values.
– Bangladesh and India face challenges of religious extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism that threaten our core values. We must strive hard to preserve the character of our respective nations in the face of these challenges. For Indians cow is sacred; cow protection is sacred too; but for us, life itself is sacred; there is nothing sacred about lynching or taking lives away of the people in the name of cow protection.
– Similarly for Bangladesh it is a challenge to keep the extremist and fundamentalist forces at bay. In the same speech as quoted above, Bangabandhu had also said in unequivocal words: “Bangladesh will be a secular state. Secularism is not anti-religion. Muslims will be practicing their religion. Hindus will be observing their faith. The Christians will be exercising their religion. Buddhists will be practicing their religion. In this land there is no anti-religion but there is secularism. This has a meaning. Here religions cannot be used as commodity for political purposes. Here people cannot be looted in the name of religion. Politics in the name of religion to create Razakars and Al-Badars in the soil of Bengal will not be tolerated any longer. The politics of communalism will not to be allowed.”
– We have certain bilateral issues to pay attention to. Trade and CT cooperation are well taken care of by both the countries.
– We share waters and there are unfinished agendas. Our previous government has given commitments regarding Teesta river etc that will be fulfilled to the satisfaction of all the different stakeholders.
– We have issues like illegal cross border movement of goods, cattle and even people. We need to devise ways of checking these movements lest they create serious problems in either country.
– Friends, we all learn from each other’s experiences and each other’s practises. Under the leadership of Excellency Sheik Haseena and Prime Minister Modi, India and Bangladesh can together chart a new course for South Asia through our value system. We know that the Indians want Modi to continue the good work for many more years. And I am sure the people of Bangladesh would also bless the government of the day many more years of service to them. India’s goodwill and good wishes are always there with you.