President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said that India-Bangladesh relations is a good example of progress which is based on mutual benefit, equality and respect for sovereignty.
"India-Bangladesh relations today are the best ever since 1974. They are based on mutual benefit, equality and respect for sovereignty," President Mukherjee said while addressing the Cavalry Memorial Lecture organized by the Cavalry Officers' Association here.
"India and Bangladesh are not just neighbours. We are two nations bound by the threads of history, religion, culture, language and kinship. Our growing cooperation is a picture of shared prosperity amongst neighbours. India attaches the highest importance to bilateral relations with Bangladesh. We have always believed that strong, stable and prosperous neighbours are in our interest. With Bangladesh, we now need to recapture the spirit of the Liberation War of 1971 to build a new future," the President said.
The President also said that connectivity is the catalyst for deeper engagement and emphasised on regional connectivity and cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.
"We have launched three bus services that will connect our citizens more easily. Connectivity by road, rail, rivers, sea, transmission lines, petroleum pipelines and digital links must increase. Regional connectivity and cooperation between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal must also be deepened. Mutually beneficial arrangements allowing movement of goods from Bangladesh through India to Nepal and Bhutan and from mainland India through Bangladesh to India's North-east have been worked out. These are significant steps forward which have been enabled by the close cooperation and frequent interaction of senior leaders of the two countries," the President said.
The President further emphasised towards greater economic integration with Bangladesh.
"South Asia should become an integrated market. A seamless assembly line as well as regional value chains for global markets should be created. Indian and Bangladesh businessmen are already collaborating in fields such as readymade garments, textiles, leather and pharmaceuticals. There exists huge potential for doing same in food processing, light engineering goods, ship building and auto components," he added.
The President also said that Indian investments in Bangladesh will help to create jobs and upgrade technology.
"These will make Bangladesh economy more competitive and increase exports. Indian investments in Bangladesh will help to create jobs and upgrade technology. These will make Bangladesh economy more competitive and increase exports. It is for this reason that the two Governments have agreed to cooperate to set up an Indian Special Economic Zone in Bangladesh. This is another big step forward towards restoring historic connections between our business communities, which will serve both well," he added.
The President said Bangladesh and India must come together as large consumers to develop and purchase cheap and clean energy.
"There is huge untapped potential to develop renewable energy like solar and wind. As our economies get more integrated and our people better connected, our nations will become more prosperous. It will also open new economic doors for India's Northeast. It will enable our two countries to integrate South Asia and connect it with the dynamic East," he added.
The President said he was confident that India-Bangladesh relations will always remain special and unique in the annals of South Asian history.
"The stage is now set for a quantum jump in our relations. He expressed confidence that the coming days will see a significant intensification of co-operation to eradicate poverty, enhance growth, promote trade and investment as well as fight the forces of terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism," he added.