Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have renewed their commitment to focusing on trade and connectivity to take the bilateral ties between the two countries to a new stage, marking 50 years of Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations.
Sheikh Hasina said both Bangladesh and India should now concentrate on people-to-people contact, trade, business and connectivity.
"This has become increasingly important for both sides," she said in a video message aired in a programme in New Delhi on Monday, marking the Maitri Dibas (Friendship Day).
Sheikh Hasina: Today, our broad partnership has matured, taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape
Narendra Modi, on the other hand, reassured that he would work to further expand and deepen relations between the two countries.
"I look forward to continuing working with PM Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties," he tweeted.
Just 10 days before the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, India recognised Bangladesh on 6 December and was one of the first countries to establish bilateral diplomatic ties with the independent Bangladesh.
"Today India and Bangladesh commemorate Maitri Dibas. We jointly recall and celebrate the foundations of our 50 years of friendship," Modi said.
In her video message, Sheikh Hasina said, "Bangladesh and India are celebrating the golden jubilee of establishment of diplomatic relations. This is a milestone in the journey of our bilateral relations. India recognised Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state on 6 December in 1971."
Narendra Modi: I look forward to continuing working with PM Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties
The prime minister said, "It is an occasion also to re-commit ourselves to work towards further strengthening the longstanding dynamic partnership between Bangladesh and India."
The PM said she is confident that together the two countries and their people will continue to turn their vision and ideas into realities for decades to come.
"Our partnership is not confined to treaties, MoUs, bilateral agreements that provide the formal structures for our working relations. Today, our broad partnership has matured, taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape, and is based on sovereignty, equality, trust and mutual respect," she added.
The relationship between Bangladesh and India is anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities, she continued.
"Our bonds of friendship have been further strengthened, diversified and expanded in recent years owing to regular high-level political interactions and exchanges," the prime minister said.
Despite Covid-led restrictions, relationships between the two countries at all levels have remained stable and strong.
"This was evident in our excellent cooperation and collaboration in dealing with the pandemic," she opined.
The prime minister said the foundation of Bangladesh-India relations was laid by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She cited a 1972 speech of Bangabandhu, in which he said, "We have a very special relationship with India. The relationship is the friendliest. Friendship between Bangladesh and India is in our hearts. The bonds of friendship will remain firm and long-lasting."
PM Hasina said, "Today, I fondly recall the generosity of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her government, leaders of other political parties and overall the people of India towards the people of Bangladesh in 1971."
The prime minister added that India provided accommodation to 10 million refugees from Bangladesh, gave space for the Mujibnagar government and waged a diplomatic campaign in favour of Bangladesh.
During the state visit of the Indian prime minister to Bangladesh on 26-27 March 2021, both sides agreed on the joint celebrations in 18 selected cities, including Dhaka and New Delhi, and recognising 6 December as "Maitri Dibas" or Friendship Day, the Bangladesh premier recalled.
The Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) arranged the programme to observe Maitri Dibas yesterday.
Bangladeshi State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Bangladesh High Commissioner in New Delhi Muhammad Imran and ICWA Director General Vijay Thakur Singh also spoke at the function.
Apart from Bangladesh and India, Maitri Dibas was commemorated in 18 countries around the world – Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Qatar, Singapore, the UK, Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and the USA.