India-Bangladesh relations.

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India to handover 10 broad-gauge locos to Bangladesh
Senior dignitaries from both the countries are expected to flag off the handover, which will be conducted via video conferencing, according to a statement.
India will handover 10 broad-gauge diesel locomotives to Bangladesh on Monday, providing the neighbouring country mobility solutions for both intra-country and inter-country movement, the Railways said.

Senior dignitaries from both the countries are expected to flag off the handover, which will be conducted via video conferencing, according to the statement.

The dignitaries include foreign ministers, railways ministers and high commissioners of both the countries, Railway Board chairman and others officials at the local stations on both sides of the border, it said.

The physical location of the handover will be the Gede station of the Eastern Railway in West Bengal’s Nadia district and the receiving station of Darshana on the Bangladesh side.

Bangladesh had sent a proposal to India in April last year for procurement of these locos, with 72% of its present ones already crossing their economic life.

The 3300 HP WDM3D locos being given to Bangladesh have a residual life of 28 years or more and are designed for a speed of 120 kmph. They are suitable for hauling freight as well as passenger trains and have a microprocessor-based control system.

“It will help in movement within Bangladesh as well as inter country movement,” the statement said.

“The Railways has modified the locos to suit the maximum height restrictions in BR (Bangladesh Railway),” it said. “We are keen to partner with BR for supply and maintenance of all types of rolling stock”

These locos would provide improved train operations within the BR and also for interchange with the Indian Railways, and strengthen the partnership between both the transporters, according to the statement.

According to reports from Bangladesh, the BR had till May last year 178 metre-gauge (MG) locomotives, out of which 139 have crossed their 20-year economic life. Of its 90 BG locomotives, 55 have completed their economic life.
 
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RISING SUN

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India, Bangladesh strengthen rail tie-up! Indian Railways exports 10 modern BG diesel locomotives; details
The locomotives manufactured by Indian Railways have "maintenance-friendly" features ensuring more prompt and easier maintenance. Indian Railways has also modified the locomotives to suit the maximum height restrictions suggested by Bangladesh Railways.
Indian Railways news, Indian Railways update, Indian Railways latest news, Indian Railways loco pilot, Indian Railways loco images, Bangladesh news,

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These BG locomotives are equipped with a microprocessor-based control system. The technologically advanced locomotives provide more comfort for pilots or drivers.

Indian Railways exports locomotives to Bangladesh! Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways has handed more than 10 broad-gauge (BG) diesel locomotives to Bangladesh today. Indian Railways has overseen the handing over process of the diesel locomotives to Bangladesh Railways. Each of these WDM3D type BG locomotives has a 3300 HP engine. These locomotives have been designed for a speed of 120 kilometre per hour. These locomotives have a residual life of 28 years or more. Ten BG locomotives have the capacity for hauling both passenger and freight trains, Indian Railways said in a statement.

These BG locomotives are equipped with a microprocessor-based control system. The technologically advanced locomotives provide more comfort for pilots or drivers. These locomotives also boost the safety of passengers by ensuring safer running. The ergonomic layout of the driver’s cab provides stress-free driving. This also improved visibility for safer running, Indian Railways said in the statement.

The locomotives manufactured by Indian Railways have “maintenance-friendly” features ensuring more prompt and easier maintenance. Indian Railways has also modified the locomotives to suit the maximum height restrictions suggested by Bangladesh Railways. These locomotives would provide improved train operations within Bangladesh Railways. Indian Railways has stated that it is keen to partner with Bangladesh Railways for the supply and maintenance of all types of rolling stock. The national transporter of India has underlined this kind of deal will only strengthen the partnership between railways of both the neighbouring countries further.

The association of Indian Railways and Bangladesh began way back in 1996. Indian Railways exported 10 MG locomotives from DLW. Around 40 more BG locomotives were exported over the years from 2001 to 2014. In 2016-17, Indian Railways had exported 120 passenger coaches.

Indian Railways has a knack of manufacturing world-class locomotives in the record time period. Earlier in March, Financial Express Online reported that Indian Railways created a world record. Chittaranjan Locomotives Works (CLW) – located in Asansol, West Bengal managed to enter the Limca Book of Records by registering the highest production record. The Chittaranjan Locomotives Works produced as many as 402 electrical locomotives during the Financial Year 2018-19. This was the highest production record in the world. Notably, the locomotive manufacturing factory managed to beat its own record of rolling out 350 locomotives during the Financial year of 2017-18. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal lauded the outstanding effort, hard work, and dedication of Indian Railways.
 
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RISING SUN

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Indian foreign secretary visits Bangladesh
Indian foreign secretary Harsh Shringla flew to Dhaka on Tuesday for a previously unannounced visit, during which he is expected to convey a special message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, people familiar with the developments said.

This is Shringla’s first trip abroad since the Covid-19 outbreak. It is also a senior Indian official’s the first visit to Bangladesh since travel restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic.

Shringla, who earlier served as the Indian envoy in Dhaka, is carrying a message from Modi for Hasina, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity. He is also expected to meet foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and foreign secretary Masud bin Momen.

A brief statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs after Shringla arrived in Dhaka said the foreign secretary was on a visit to Bangladesh from August 18-19 to “discuss and take forward cooperation on matters of mutual interest”.

Hasina visited India last October, while Modi’s planned visit to Bangladesh in March to participate in events marking the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was called off due to the pandemic. The two leaders have spoken on the phone several times this year, most recently in May.

Ties between the two countries have been under some strain since last year, when Bangladeshi leaders were irked by comments from BJP leaders about deporting illegal migrants from Assam. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the implementation of the National Register of Citizens also affected ties, and Hasina had questioned the need for CAA during an interview earlier this year.

India has taken several steps in recent weeks to improve connectivity with Bangladesh, including handing over 10 railway locomotives last month. This was done days after the first container train made its way from India to Bangladesh and the first shipment of goods was sent from Kolkata to Tripura via Chattogram port.

After taking over as foreign secretary in January, Shringla visited Dhaka in March. Shringla had met Prime Minister Hasina during his last visit to Bangladesh.
India plans to sell cotton to Bangladesh to trim record reserves
India plans to sell cotton to Bangladesh to trim its bulging reserves following a slump in demand from textile mills in the top grower.

State-owned Cotton Corp. of India may export 1.5 million to 2 million bales of the fiber to the neighboring nation to help reduce India’s record surplus before the new crop begins arriving in October, said Pradeep Kumar Agarwal, chairman of the company. It generally sells cotton to local mills and traders at market prices, after buying from farmers at government-set minimum rates.

Higher sales from India may potentially increase reserves in top exporters like the US and Brazil and further lower global prices that have fallen about 8% this year as the coronavirus erodes demand for clothing. Global cotton consumption is set to drop about 15% from a year earlier to 22.29 million tons in 2019-20, according to the USDA estimates.

Export prices will be decided by the two governments using the Cotlook index, Agarwal said. Industry researcher Cotlook Ltd.’s benchmark is a daily average of the five cheapest cash prices in the world.


“In any case, I can assure that it won’t be lower than domestic prices,” which have fallen about 20% since the outbreak of the coronavirus, he said.

Huge Stockpiles

Cotton Corp. plans to sell 500,000 bales to 700,000 bales of 170 kilograms each to Trading Corp. of Bangladesh in the marketing year ending on Sept. 30. The rest of the quantity will be shipped in 2020-21, Agarwal said in a phone interview. Bangladesh vies with China as the world’s biggest buyer of cotton.


India is likely to have a record closing stockpile of 10.25 million bales by Sept. 30, according to the Cotton Association of India, as domestic consumption may drop more than 20% from a year earlier to 25 million bales in 2019-20, it said.

Cotton Corp. bought 10.5 million bales this year, the highest-ever procurement. It included 2 million bales purchased during a nationwide lockdown to prevent distress selling by local growers, Agarwal said. The company is carrying about 8.4 million bales at present and its ending reserves may not exceed 3 million bales on Sept. 30, he said.

Cotton Corp. spent about 5,500 rupees ($74) per 100 kilograms to purchase cotton from farmers, compared with the market rate of 4,800 rupees to 5,000 rupees, he said. Indian farmers have planted cotton in 12.55 million hectares (31 million acres) as of Aug. 14, compared with 12.16 million hectares a year earlier, according to the farm ministry. The crop will be harvested from October.
 
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RISING SUN

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Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla Describes Bangladesh Visit as 'Very Satisfactory'
Shringla, who arrived here on Tuesday on his second visit to Bangladesh after he took office as the foreign secretary, held talks with Masud Bin Momen, a day after meeting Prime Minister Hasina.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday described his Bangladesh trip as "very satisfactory" as he wrapped up a two-day visit here during which he called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and held talks with his counterpart on bolstering bilateral ties as well as on the supply of COVID-19 vaccine to Dhaka once it is developed.

Shringla, who arrived here on Tuesday on his second visit to Bangladesh after he took office as the foreign secretary, held talks with Masud Bin Momen, a day after meeting Prime Minister Hasina.

"I have a very satisfactory visit, a very short visit," Shringla told reporters after the meeting with his counterpart. He said India would make the potential COVID-19 vaccine available for Bangladesh on a priority basis once it was produced in partnership with its developer UK's Oxford University, who appeared to be a front runner in the global race for developing the inoculation.

"When (COVID) vaccine is developed, friends, partners and neighbors will get it without any saying, for us Bangladesh is always a priority," Shringla said. He said India, which produces 60 per cent of the global vaccines, has now reached the stage of trying the vaccine with an objective to produce it on a massive scale.

Shringla on Tuesday called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina at her official residence during which they discussed security-related issues of mutual interest and co-operation in containing the corona virus pandemic and revival of the economy in a post-COVID-19 world. Shringla, who was earlier India's High Commissioner here, said he briefed her about various measures India took to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent him to Dhaka to carry forward the excellent India-Bangladesh relations even during the pandemic situation.

"Reason I came here is that our prime minister felt during COVID time there is not much contact, but the relationship (India-Bangladesh) must continue," Shringla said.

"We must continue to move forward towards our strong bilateral relations and I came primarily to look at that point," he said. Bangladesh foreign secretary, meanwhile, said that India has assured Dhaka that it would be its first priority in providing the prospective vaccine it was developing.

"We (Bangladesh) offered any cooperation that India may require regarding vaccine trials…Bangladesh is ready to cooperate," Masud said, adding that Indian side took it "positively". He said Bangladesh also sought Indian cooperation to involve Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals in developing the COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Indian pharmaceuticals.

He said the two sides also discussed measures and cooperation between Dhaka and New Delhi regarding economic recovery during and post pandemic period. The two top diplomats also discussed about a possible virtual meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) at the foreign ministers' level between Dhaka and New Delhi.

"Maybe I will visit New Delhi before the JCC meeting to fix the agendas, Masud said, adding both sides wanted to hold the JCC meeting in the shortest possible time to advance further the Bangladesh-India relations. The Bangladesh foreign secretary said both sides agreed to introduce an air travel bubble during this pandemic situation for allowing treatment aspirants and businessmen to travel between the two neighboring countries.

Under the air bubble mechanism air connectivity will be restored between only Bangladesh and India where no third country will be involved that means the airlines will not take any transit passengers. India has already introduced such air bubbles with France, Germany, the UAE and Maldives, an Indian diplomat stationed in Bangladesh said.

The two foreign secretaries also discussed the latest situation of the Rohingya refugees. India reiterated its position on safe, secure and sustainable Rohingya repatriation. Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims fled a crackdown by the Myanmar's military in 2017 in Rakhine state and are living in camps in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh had sought India's support in handling the Rohingya issue by mounting pressure on Myanmar to take back the refugees. "The visit showed the commitment of both sides (India-Bangladesh) to take the relationship more forward," Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Das Ganguly told a select media group on Tuesday night.

Shringla visited Dhaka in March last after assuming office of the Indian Foreign Secretary in January this year.
 

Ashwin

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Indian foreign secretary’s hasty visit misfires

A lot has happened since. First, New Delhi stayed away from the 2018 Bangladesh election despite many signals from Dhaka for help. Dhaka reminded that it was in more desperate need for New Delhi’s assistance in 2018 than in 2014. Second, Dhaka turned to China for help and received it. More importantly, the Awami League returned to power without having to thank India. Third, Sheikh Hasina removed many pro-Indian heavyweights from her new cabinet. Fourth, India downgraded her October 2019 visit to New Delhi from a state visit she was given in 2010 and 2017 to an official visit. Fifth, New Delhi, ignored her visit to Kolkata in November 2019.

Two recent developments and a flurry of reports in the Indian media jolted New Delhi’s complacency. First was China’s $1 billion offer for ‘a comprehensive management and restoration project of the Teesta’, the river over which Bangladesh was deeply unhappy with India that Indian Express described as ‘China twist in India-Bangladesh Teesta river challenge.’ The second was Chinese ambassador in Dhaka’s gifts for Khaleda Zia on her birthday that underlined how deeply China has entrenched itself in Bangladesh to feel comfortable with such a decision ignoring Sheikh Hasina’s sensitivity. These developments expedited New Delhi’s hasty decision to send its foreign secretary to Dhaka, perhaps, believing it would help to woo Sheikh Hasina away from China.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s Dhaka visit has misfired for many reasons. First Indian arrogance again led New Delhi to take the AL government for granted. Second, New Delhi failed to acknowledge that Sheikh Hasina is now dealing with India on the China issue with vast majority of the people behind her. Finally, China is on the cusp of emerging as the world’s number one power and Bangladesh has moved much deeper in its relations with China that is its sovereign right.
 

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Bangladesh, Japan sign big ODA loan deal to support key projects

Japan said it will continue to extend its support for the development of Bangladesh

Bangladesh and Japan have signed the largest-ever loan deal, amounting to $3.2 billion to help Bangladesh become a middle-income country and defeat the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki and ERD Secretary Fatima Yasmin signed 'exchange of notes" of the 41st Official Development Assistance (ODA) of Japan to Bangladesh on Wednesday.

Japan said it will continue to extend its support for the development of Bangladesh as the country is on its way to achieve the highest growth in Asia in this decade of the century.

This year’s loan package comprises assistance of seven projects amounting to JPY 338.247 billion (approximately USD 3.2 billion), the largest ever loan package since its inception in 1974.

Based on this agreement between the two counties, Hayakawa Yuho, Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh Office and Fatima Yasmin signed a relevant loan agreement, said the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka.

Japan has been the single largest bilateral donor for Bangladesh since 2012 and the total amount of its aid as Yen loan has reached US$ 22 billion (commitment base).
 

Gautam

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This is good news. I've posted a better map. The waterway enters through Sonamura in the the Sepahijala district. Most of the waterway travel happens in Bangladesh. Sonamura is very close to the border, from there on the cargo will be loaded on to trucks and road transported. Road transport infrastructure is pretty good on those parts. Frankly roads have gotten a whole lot better everywhere in the state in the last few years. I have travelled extensively in the West Tripura, Sepahijala, Gomati and South Tripura districts. New bridges, better roads, new construction everywhere. I haven't travelled anywhere in the Northern direction though, so can't say about that.

That little segment of the NH8 in North Tripura district that connects Assam and Tripura has been a pain in the a** for ages. The soil there is very shifty and newly built roads develop large cracks in no time, especially during monsoon. They have been trying to counter the problem with more advanced construction practices like land piling, polymer matting between layers, pre-fabricated cement blocks and so on. I don't know what has been the outcome of this. That road is how we import oil from Assam, breakdown of the road causes supply problems for Tripura. We haven't faced any supply issues this year. But due to COVID the demand this year has been low, maybe that's why.
1598515192752.png

A large part of the purchasing power of the state is concentrated in the West Tripura district. Agartala is also quite close to the border and there is a river that runs right through the middle of the city, the Haora river. The Haora is a trans-national river, just like the Gumti or Feni, and the city it connects to has much higher buying power and business potential than any other place in Tripura.

So why not make a inland shipping route through here and land the cargo directly in the city ? Well the Haora river is smaller than the Gumti or even Feni. To make it work the river needs significant dredging and the river banks need to be built up to prevent loss of depth by erosion. I still think its totally worth it. But I don't think anybody is interested, haven't seen anything on this yet.

Sorry for the long rant. Thought people should know. :)
 

RISING SUN

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Delhi-Dhaka ties: India is doing well in the region
In a telling statement, Sri Lanka’s new foreign secretary Jayanath Colombage has said that Colombo will have an “India first” strategic policy outlook. Arguing that while the Rajapaksa government has adopted a posture of neutrality in its dealings with major regional and global powers, he was categorical in underlining that “the president [Gotabaya Rajapaksa] has stated that we have a strategic security-wise ‘India first’ policy because we cannot be, we should not be, we can’t afford to be a strategic security threat for India, period.” These are powerful words indeed, and along with Colombage’s acknowledgement that the decision to give Hambantota port on a 99- year lease to China was a “mistake”, it underscored the pitfalls of a rather infantile debate in this country about India’s neighbourhood policy in recent months.

There has been a barrage of criticism that India is “losing” its neighbourhood as border tensions with Nepal have grown and China has continued to spread its tentacles in India’s vicinity.

That Indian and Chinese forces are squaring off at the border has reinforced this plaintive cry that New Delhi is getting marginalised in the neighbourhood. Even foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Bangladesh, his first outside India since the Covid-19 lockdown, got mired in needless debates about rising Chinese clout in Dhaka.

By all accounts, Shringla’s visit to Dhaka was a successful one and it managed to convey Bangladesh’s privileged position in Indian foreign policy matrix. Against the backdrop of the two nations celebrating “Mujib Borsho”, and the 50th year of the liberation of Bangladesh as well as the establishment of diplomatic relations next year, this visit was key to setting the tone for a busy calendar of events ahead and a number of high-level bilateral visits. From expediting and conceptualising major connectivity projects to diversifying bilateral engagement, the two nations are getting serious about their priorities.

What is key here is the role played by top leadership in both nations. Both Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, despite some domestic scepticism, understand the importance of cultivating strong bilateral relations. For Modi, the development of India’s East and Northeast is a top priority and a strategic imperative for New Delhi.

And that region can only achieve its full potential if it’s better integrated with Bangladesh, thereby ensuring that India-Bangladesh connectivity projects will continue to be at the top of the agenda. It is important to recognise that this connectivity push is being shaped by a politician like Narendra Modi who has been forthright about the challenges posed by illegal immigration. The fact that by next year India and Bangladesh are likely to have nine rail links is an indicator of how fast priorities in New Delhi are evolving.

There is also a growing desire on the part of the two nations to look beyond the Bengali-Bengali narrative and shape the engagement by bringing in new stakeholders more in sync with 21st century realities. There is a sizeable Tamil and Telugu population in Bangladesh in the textile industry and tech space, and a growing number of Bangladeshi students and medical tourists are now visiting South India, thereby changing the very complexion of this engagement.

It is, therefore, quite curious to suggest that India might be losing ground in Bangladesh. Of course, the all-pervasive China factor has to be reckoned with. In most of India’s neighbours, China has a seeming advantage that, unlike India, it is not part of the domestic political calculus. But, unlike India, it also does not have a long-term stake in the South Asian region.

It can afford to ignore the region, which it does, when its interests are not served. New Delhi doesn’t have that luxury. For good or bad, India’s future and that of its neighbours remain intertwined. So while China’s financial commitments to various countries in the region are much talked about, given their size, they are largely declaratory. Even in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China’s actual spending has been quite limited, compared to the $62 billion amount which is often advertised. India’s declared loan commitments might be small, but when it comes to actual delivery, India is not far behind. Its loan terms and payment conditionalities are much better too.

For all the hue and cry about India “losing” the neighbourhood, the ground reality is quite different. With Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, New Delhi’s relations are robust and progressing well. Bhutan remains as close as ever and even in the case of Nepal, it was Prime Minister KP Oli who recently reached out to his Indian counterpart.

Afghanistan is passing through a difficult phase, but both the Afghan government and the Taliban leadership recognise India’s critical role in shaping their nation’s future trajectory. And all this has happened when India has been able to successfully marginalise Pakistan, regionally and globally.

To view India’s neighbourhood policy through the lens of “wins” and “losses” is to miss the structural imperatives that shape the outcome. A region shaped by two major powers will never have a linear trajectory. And such a narrative also does a great disservice to smaller nations in the region, which have their own agency in shaping their engagements with these powers. Finally, there has never been a golden period of foreign policy when New Delhi’s ties with its neighbours were seamless. Going by India’s historical record, Delhi’s regional outreach today is quite promising. Indian discourse today seems more driven by domestic political imperatives than by the empirical realities on the ground.
 
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