India’s High Commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami has departed Dhaka. He had already met the Foreign Minister and the President for the last time and left Dhaka on Sunday, 18th September. Mr. Doraiswami will assume his next position as the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK). During his three years tenure, Doraiswami contributed a lot to the existing bilateral relations. The next High Commissioner will also assume his role in next few days. And the expectations will also be high on him from both sides.
Doraiswami was appointed in 2020. But Mr. Doraiswami shared ties with Bangladesh since 1971 when his father- an air force officer fought in Bangladesh’s liberation war. Immediately after his joining Doraiswami started to contribute to the existing bilateral relations. Doraiswami played a crucial role in brokering deal with Serum Institute.
During his tenure, several high-level visits also took place between the countries. Indian PM Modi visited Bangladesh on the occasion of Golden Jubilee of Independence in 2021. Later, President Ramnath Kovind also visited Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s foreign minister also visited India during Doraiswami’s tenure. And lastly, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina visited Delhi from 5th to 8th September, this month. High-level visits helped countries maintaining a stable bilateral relation.
Perhaps, the biggest contribution of him is the Joint River Commission (JRC) meeting that held in August. The JRC meetings were not taking place since the past 12 years. In the last month of his tenure, Doraiswami was instrumental in meeting and both countries sat after 12 years to discuss existing river issues.
Indeed, Doraiswami could live up to the expectations for both Dhaka and Delhi. There were hardly any discontent among the countries in the meantime. The High Commissioner did a fantastic job and built very impressive rapports with Bangladesh. Through this, he gifted the nations an upward trend relation.
Departing High Commissioner will join his next post in the UK in next few days. Surely, Bangladesh has enough reasons to thank him. During his farewell visit, the Foreign Minister and the President also thanked him for his service.
The next High Commissioner will be Pranav Sharma, who will join very soon. Bangladesh will also expect a lot from Mr. Sharma.
Expectations from New High Commissioner
Both Bangladesh and India will expect a proactive role from HC Sharma. He is expected to maintain the stability that his predecessors contributed to. He is also expected to understand Bangladesh from its own perspective.
However, the scope for strengthening existing bilateral relation is vast for the new High Commissioner also. As the JRC meeting started after 12 years interval, Mr. Sharma should give effort to ensure the continuation. Bangladesh and India has more than 50 joint rivers. Hydro Diplomacy is a very important aspect between the countries due to their dependence and cultural influence regarding rivers. Many river water-sharing is awaiting and hopefully continuation of JRC meeting may bring agreements that yield mutual interests for both countries.
Connectivity is another important aspect of the existing bilateral relations. Since past decade, connectivity has flourished between the neighbors and many projects inaugurated. India is currently enjoying transit and port service in Bangladesh alongside deepening bilateral connectivity. Bangladesh is also seeking transit for transshipment deals with Nepal and Bhutan. Since the last few years, connectivity has emerged as a dominating discourse in bilateral relations perhaps.
Apart from these, the High Commissioner is expected to increase people-to-people connection, contribute to South Asia’s communal harmony, uphold international diplomatic norms and find new avenues to increase trade and finance among the countries. There will be extensive work regarding Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) also in which the HC can play a crucial role.
Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka is one of the most important diplomatic posts for Bangladesh. As a result, the appointment and departure attracts more media attention than usual. Bangladesh also waits keenly to observe who is taking up the role and expects a lot. For India, Bangladesh is one of its important diplomatic missions. So, India tries to send experienced and seasoned diplomat here too. Doraiswami’s successful tenure further increases the expectation in both countries. Therefore, Expectation is high for the next HC Pranav Sharma, and surely he has the capability to fulfill them.
Shafiqul Elahi is a retired government official of Bangladesh