PM’s Address at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today said that even as his 2-day visit to Bangladesh was ending, he felt the real journey begins now. He said the welcome accorded to him, was in effect, a welcome to 125 crore Indians.
He was addressing a gathering comprising members of the Indian community, eminent Bangladeshis including political personalities, cultural personalities, business persons, academicians and Dhaka University students. He said that while people thought we were just near (paas-paas) to each other, now the world would have to acknowledge that we are not just paas-paas but also saath-saath (together).
He said he was especially happy that a Mukti Jodha President, in the presence of the Bangabandhu’s daughter, had presented the Bangladesh Liberation War honour to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which Shri Modi had the honour to receive. He said that as a young man, his first exposure to politics was in the form of a Satyagrahi in support of the liberation struggle in Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister said the world rarely notices developing countries. He said Bangladesh has had to often face natural disasters. But nevertheless, he said, Bangladesh has done unparalleled work in many fields. He said the work done by Bangladesh in the garment sector is well appreciated. He said that he was happy to hear this on a recent visit to China, for the fact that a developing country had achieved such a feat. He said that if Bangladesh prospers, India too would benefit.
The Prime Minister said many states in India could learn from Bangladesh on several social indicators, such as infant mortality rate. He said when Bangladesh progresses, India feels proud, because Indian soldiers too have shed blood for the birth of this country.
The Prime Minister congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her single-minded focus on economic development. He said a firm foundation is being laid for Bangladesh’s economic progress.
The Prime Minister said India and Bangladesh are both blessed to be young nations, with young dreams. He said a nation with such leadership and such strength, like Bangladesh, would progress inexorably.
The Prime Minister said the era of expansionism in geopolitics has ended. He said the world now needs vikaswaad (development), not vistaarwaad (expansionism).
Referring to the Land Boundary Agreement between the two countries, he described it as one which bonded hearts together. The Prime Minister said both India and Bangladesh wanted to establish the Buddhist circuit – and where there was Buddha, there could be no Yuddha. He quoted a newspaper editorial that said that the Land Boundary Agreement was equivalent to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He said the world would have to acknowledge that we are people who find ways to move ahead.
The Prime Minister said the younger generation deserves the chance to achieve its aspirations. He appreciated the contribution of the Dhaka University to Bangladesh. He said that India would work with Dhaka University on oceanography, to build the Ocean Economy.
The Prime Minister said SAARC countries were keen to establish connectivity at the last SAARC summit – but then – not every country is Bangladesh. He said India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan had now decided to move ahead in this direction. He said the European Union had developed a lot because of better connectivity. He said today no country could work alone, as the whole world has become interdependent. He said India and Bangladesh had recognized this fact, and this was reflected in the 22 agreements that had been signed during this visit. He congratulated the farsighted leadership of Bangladesh for accomplishing this.
The Prime Minister said a satellite photo would reveal that the SAARC countries were still dark – had no access to electricity. He said if India Nepal Bhutan and Bangladesh worked together, this darkness would be dispelled. He said recently Bangladesh helped India transport equipment for a power plant in Tripura, and now Bangladesh was receiving 100 MW of power from that power plant.
The Prime Minister spoke of shared potential in sectors such as solar energy and space.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh had done a lot for women empowerment. He said this is a matter of pride. He recalled billboards in Dhaka featuring the woman cricket player, Salma Khatun. He added that the rise of the Bangladesh cricket team reflects the potential of Bangladesh. He said that he is proud that he has come to walk together with this Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that some tasks were still to be accomplished. He said he believed and panchhi (birds), pawan (wind), and paani (water) needed no visa – and therefore – the Teesta issue had to be solved with a human approach. Referring to unfortunate incidents on the border, he said it was the responsibility of both sides to ensure that a solution is found. He said illegal human trafficking and fake currency were issues which Bangladesh had expressed an intention to resolve.
The Prime Minister called for reform of the United Nations. He said India still had not got a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. He said this was a country which never fought to gain land. He said 75,000 Indian soldiers had sacrificed their lives for others in the First World War, and 90,000 in the Second World War. He referred to India’s role in peacekeeping operations across the world. He said Indian soldiers had fought alongside Mukti Jodhas as well, for Bangladesh. Yet India had still not got a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Referring to the Pakistani prisoners of war after the 1971 war, he said India released 90,000 soldiers, because it was only interested in the welfare and progress of Bangladesh. He said this incident, in itself should have been enough to convince the world that India should get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
The Prime Minister said that on the first day itself, his Government had invited SAARC leaders, indicating its intention to progress together with SAARC.
He said he was happy that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh had declared zero tolerance for terrorism. He said terrorism is an enemy of humanity, and therefore all humanitarian forces had to unite to fight it.
The Prime Minister said his vision and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision matched perfectly – that of development.