How would the Indian subcontinent have looked if Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had not been assassinated in 1975? Would the Land Boundary Agreement between India and Bangladesh have come much before 2015? Or perhaps the two nations would have joined their maritime capacities to develop the the Bay of Bengal? Ahead of his visit to Bangladesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to answer these and many other hypothetical questions, "imagining a different South Asia with Bangabandhu".
Ahead of his visit to Bangladesh, Prime Minister Modi took to Twitter sharing an Opinion article written by him for the neighbouring nation's largest circulating daily English-language newspaper. "Sharing my piece, published in The Daily Star in which I pay tributes to Bangabandhu and recall his insightful thoughts on various subjects," he tweeted.
Modi on Friday left for Bangladesh for a two-day visit coinciding with the National Day celebrations in the neighbouring country. He will be meeting with his counterpart, Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid as well as taking part in the festivities. This incidentally is the PM's first to a foreign country since the COVID-19 outbreak began in 2020.
This year will mark also 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Popularly known as 'Bangabandhu', Bangladesh's first Prime Minister and President is also considered the Father of the Nation.
"I look forward to my participation at the National Day celebrations tomorrow, which will also commemorate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangabandhu was one of the tallest leaders of the last century, whose life and ideals continue to inspire millions," tweeted PM Modi ahead of his departure.
For the uninitiated, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh. As the country broke away from Pakistan in 1971, Rahman and his new government had faced an uphill task. Criticism and conflict dogged their way, and in the early hours of 15 August 1975, Rahman and most of his family were assassinated by renegade army officials.
"As we look back on Bangabandhu's life and struggle, I ask myself, what could our subcontinent have looked like, had this modern-day giant not been assassinated? It is a safe bet that with Bangabandhu at the helm, Bangladesh and our region would have evolved along a very different trajectory," Modi wrote.
The Prime Minister however struck an optimistic note, contending that while the changes had been slow in coming, the two countries had now managed to "resolve complex issues amicably".
"Our land and maritime boundaries stand settled. We have substantial cooperation covering almost all aspects of human endeavour. Our trade has reached historic levels, aiding economic activities in each other's countries. Our people-to-people exchanges remain robust as ever," he noted.
"India will remain Bangladesh's partner as we jointly march towards the golden future for which Bangabandhu, and millions of patriotic Bangladeshis, and indeed thousands of Indians, gave their all," he added, noting that he was looking forward to paying his respects to Rahman at his Samadhi.