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Landmark agreement

 MPost |  2015-06-08 22:49:46.0  |  New Delhi

India has formalised the 40-year-old Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh on Saturday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit. To give him credit where it’s due this will enable the two countries to exchange land enclaves in each other’s territory. Foreign secretaries of India and Bangladesh signed and exchanged the instruments of exchange in the presence of Prime Minister Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Modi was accompanied by the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee. A few weeks ago, the Indian Parliament unanimously approved a Constitution Amendment Bill to give full effect to the Land Boundary Agreement of 1974 with Bangladesh and the related 2011 Protocol. 

The pact is aimed at the acquiring of territories by India and the transfer of territories to Bangladesh through retaining of adverse possession in pursuance of the 1974 agreement between the two nations. Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya all fall under the bill. According to a joint census conducted by both the countries, there are 111 Bangladeshi enclaves in India that houses 37,369 people while 14,215 people have been residing at 55 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh. It must be stated at this point that India has no boundary impasse or conflict with Bangladesh. Both the neighbouring countries concur on where exactly the border lies. The geopolitical issue which arose was that this border is ridiculously complex, causing difficulties to the denizens of this no man’s land which was essentially a <g data-gr-id="29">map-maker’s</g> nightmare. The bill seeks to swap land and, as a result, create a normal looking border.

The operationalisation of the LBA has resolved issues that date back not just to 1974, the year when, on May 16, the Agreement on the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh was signed between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The issues involved date back to 1947 when the state of Bengal was partitioned into India and (East) Pakistan on the basis of the Cyril Radcliffe Award. The Radcliffe Award was hastily drawn up, with hardly any reference to or consideration of the ground situation, since there was no time for field visits. For the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), Prime Minister Modi deserves far more credit than his critics are going to cede to him. Indian foreign policy formulation has historically been based upon a wide bipartisan consensus across the aisle on the most important and thorny, especially those issues relating to neighbours. 

The operationalisation of the LBA has resolved issues that date back not just to 1974, the year when, on May 16, the Agreement on the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh was signed between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The issues involved date back to 1947 when the state of Bengal was partitioned into India and (East) Pakistan on the basis of the Cyril Radcliffe Award. In less than one year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has walked the talk on his forward-looking and visionary ‘neighbourhood first’ foreign policy.

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