MODI SWEARS BY INDIA-BANGLA BONHOMIE, HASINA SECONDS PM
Saturday, 26 May 2018 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata–
India and Bangladesh are passing through a golden era of mutual relationship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday pledging more cooperation to the neighbouring country’s space programmes.
The PM, who was speaking at the 49th convocation of Central university Vishwabharati, Shantiniketan in the presence of his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina — a special invitee to the programme for inauguration of the Bangladesh Bhavan on the university campus — said “for quite some time now the golden period of India-Bangladesh has been under way,” even as he congratulated Dhaka “for launching its first satellite.”
He promised more cooperation “in the field of space technology” in years to come, adding the two countries face similar challenges on a host of issues like climate change.
He said the two countries had many bonds of unity of which Shantiniketan was one, “symbol of unity that could neither be divided by the British nor by the politics of partition,” adding “joined in collaboration, cooperation and understanding” — be it culture or public policy — “Bangladesh and India can learn a lot of things from each other.”
Acknowledging India’s help to Bangladesh, Hasina said, “We are getting all cooperation from India. Our only enemy is poverty and we want to remove it. We are working towards that goal and India is helping us in our efforts”.
“Together we have resolved many bilateral issues in an amicable way for the benefit of both the countries. Although there are issues that still need to be taken care of, I do not wish to mention them at this programme,” she said.
Hasina said, “There may still be some problems and we hope to resolve those issues in a friendly atmosphere.”
Hailing Bangabandhu Mujibur Rehman, Modi said he is “equally respected in India,” the two countries would continue to develop their mutual friendship in times to come.
Reminding that Bangabandhu himself was a great admirer of Poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore — who is equally revered in Bangladesh, Modi said, “The fight for Bangladesh’s freedom might have been across the border but the inspiration came from this side. The pain of bloodshed on that side was felt here too.”
Earlier, the PM welcomed Hasina both of whom inaugurated the Bangladesh Bhavan.
Amid huge applause, Modi who started his speech in perfect Bengali without reading out from any script, expressed his great joy at being present at the convocation of the university once established by Tagore.
“Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore said the world is one nest, one home.”
Tagore was a global citizen who gave his entire life to the belief that world is one family but always stressed on holding on to his Indian-ness, said the PM, adding during his travels abroad “I found people everywhere treating Gurudev with great respect.”
Departing from set norms where the PM as the Chancellor of the university delivers a formal speech, Modi expressed his apologies for shortage of drinking water and said, “While I was coming to this place some students gestured about shortage of drinking water and “as the Chancellor of the University I seek your apology.”
The PM is the Chancellor of Shantiniketan established by Tagore in 1921. “I hold this institution in great esteem,” the PM said reminding “simplicity is the main principle of Shantiniketam.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and State Governor KN Tripathi were also present in the function.
Hasina is known to have requested Modi to build pressure on Myanmar to “take back their citizens” (read the Rohingyas), sources said.
The two leaders met for about half-an-hour in the sidelines of convocation held at Vishwabharati University, Shantiniketan.
“Although I was not present in the meeting, we can say that bilateral issues, issues related to politics and security were also discussed,” Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said.
Hasina had in her speech said that Bangladesh was ready to even share its food with large number of Rohingyas who had taken shelter in her country fleeing Myanmar but added that country should take them back.
On whether the two sides held discussions on Teesta water sharing issue Alam said “issues can be solved through discussions,” adding “we have full faith in Prime Minister Modi.”
The Bangladesh PM is scheduled to hold talks with Mamata on Saturday. On whether Teesta issue would be raised then Banerjee had refused to comment as it was matter of international importance.
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