Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s state visit to India from 7 to 10 April signalled a remarkable movement in the relationship between the two countries. Nearly seven years after Hasina’s last trip to India, the visit was of such importance that protocol was set aside and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally received Hasina at Palam airport in New Delhi. The Indian government even named a road in New Delhi in memory of Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — the founding leader of Bangladesh.
The visit marked the first time that the Bangladeshi government publically recognised the sacrifices made by the Indian armed forces in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The two countries also signed 22 agreements covering a range of shared concerns including nuclear power and defence.
This level of engagement was unthinkable during former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s administration when anti-India sentiment in Bangladesh was at an all-time high. It was only after Hasina came to power that Bangladesh started responding favourably towards India’s desire to strengthen ties. Modi’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy also played a pivotal role in re-energising the relationship. This first became evident when Modi visited Bangladesh in June 2015 and signed the long-pending land border agreement, reviving the philosophy of trust, friendship and commitment in the relationship.