I warmly welcome all distinguished guests to this Special Lecture on Bangladesh’s Foreign Policy. There could not have been more qualified speakers than Ambassador Shahidul Haque, former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh, who currently occupies the ICCR Bangabandhu Chair at the University of Delhi; and Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, former Foreign Secretary of India, and currently, India’s G20 Chief Coordinator. He was High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh for three years from 2016 to 2019. Both of them have significantly contributed to promoting strong friendship between our two countries.
2. This lecture is special as it is taking place at a time, significant principally for four reasons. Firstly, our two countries celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations, last year, with Maitri Diwas being jointly observed in 18 capitals of the world apart from New Delhi and Dhaka. The Joint celebrations were a reflection of the solidarity that exists between two neighboring countries, who are also trusted partners of each other.
3. Secondly, this lecture takes place as India celebrates its 75 years of Independence under the theme ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. India’s foreign policy of strategic autonomy envisages growth and development for all under ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishvas’. Such co-prosperity depends on friendship and partnerships with countries based on common understanding and co-operation. For India, “Neighbourhood First” is a priority in its foreign policy and Bangladesh occupies a position of primacy.
4. Thirdly, this lecture takes place when Bangladesh has recently concluded the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of its independence. We are, therefore, celebrating a nation. During the fifty years of its existence, it has shown resilience and laid the firm foundations of a nation-State. Bangladesh was created on the vision that was chalked out by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, an extraordinary political statesman and a charismatic leader, who carved out an independent foreign policy for the nation. The present leadership under PM Sheikh Hasina continues to ably steer the country’s polity. Bangladesh looks at its future based on the foundations of the commendable growth and development it has achieved.
5. Fourthly, this Special Lecture is also taking place just ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi, which will further strengthen and deepen India’s ties with Bangladesh.
6. We look forward to hearing the views of both the distinguished speakers - Ambassador Shahidul Haque and Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla on the future of India Bangladesh relations and the foreign policy of Bangladesh in a world of flux and contestation in several regions, including in the Indo Pacific, a shared space of India and Bangladesh.