Our Planet Earth was so named by human beings who’re primarily terrestrial creatures. However how would a customer from outer house, from one other planet or galaxy, react on discovering our planet for the primary time? In sharp distinction to different planets he has seen to date, he would see a planet that’s 71 p.c lined with oceanic waters, with continental land lots as floating islands on these oceanic expanses. He would understand all of the oceans as being interconnected. Such an interplanetary customer would most likely title this planet of ours as “Oceana.”
Zooming in on from outer house on our oceanic planet, our intergalactic customer would see the huge Pacific Ocean on the east, the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Antarctic Ocean on the south, and the Indian Ocean within the centre of this oceanic geosphere (geographers on Earth consult with the Indian Ocean as the good “Nice Center Bay”). Zooming in additional, our intergalactic customer would see the Bay of Bengal, the most important bay on the earth because the “lesser center bay” on this Nice Center Bay. Now, tempted to zoom in additional on this triangular Bay of Bengal, our customer from outer house would view Bangladesh, on the apex of this bay, as being on the epicentre of this oceanic planet.
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Historic growth and legacy of Bangladesh
Bangladesh derives its historic legacy, and its present significance, from its geographical location on the epicentre of this huge oceanic planet of ours. Allow us to not overlook that precolonial Bengal was famed since time immemorial, as a land of huge riches. Throughout British colonial rule over India, Bengal was the most important of its three administrative presidencies, with highest GDP and its summer time capital, Shillong, boasting the very best per capita GDP.
What enabled Bengal to attain such exceptional consideration? Traditionally, it was primarily by the net of riverine and maritime lanes extending by the Bay of Bengal by way of the coastal ports of Myanmar, Malaysia, Sumatra by way of Malacca to factors additional east. Colonial Britain added to this pre-existing riverine circulatory system the railway community from 1844 onwards. With the railways vastly augmenting the riverine routes, historic Bengal turned an important bridging nation, oceanically connecting the western and japanese hemispheres. Historic Bengal flourished due to this bridging function.
Fashionable Bangladesh, right this moment, is already discovering the advantages of performing as a connectivity facilitator between the West and the East. Its surge in progress and skill to draw consideration and funding flows over the past decade is derived from this perceived newly established stature. To present credit score the place it’s due, this could not have occurred with out the daring and visionary management of Sheikh Hasina, who effectively understood the significance of guaranteeing higher bilateral relations with all fast neighbours and embarked determinedly on the revival of all connectivity that had existed previous to 1947, however had been systematically uprooted after 1965.
Re-evaluating Bangladesh’s place and function throughout the World Commons
At this time, Bangladesh will not be an inconsequential nation. It’s actually not the “bottomless basket case” it was contemptuously dismissed as being on its wresting independence from neocolonialism in 1971. It has not solely survived as a state, however right this moment is globally regarded upon with respect and admiration as one of many quickest rising economies not simply within the area, however on the earth, thanks largely to the foundational insurance policies adopted by its Father of the Nation (“Bangabandhu: The architect of Bangladesh’s overseas coverage,” The Day by day Star, Could 7, 2020). Bangladeshis right this moment can proudly declare that they’ve higher human growth indices than most of their neighbours. Two-and-a-half generations on from its gory liberation as a nation, Bangladesh right this moment has a vibrant youthful inhabitants that’s eagerly forward-looking, replete with excessive aspirations, supremely self-confident and exuding pleasure of their nation and their achievements thus far, and that doesn’t take kindly to being patronised or dictated to by anybody. Its enterprise neighborhood has demonstrated its entrepreneurial abilities and zest by unleashing its animal spirit and driving the engine of nationwide progress.
The daring and visionary management of Sheikh Hasina has stabilised the nation economically and led it on the trail to prosperity. This identical management has reemphasised to the world Bangladesh’s id as a reasonable, secular, inclusive Muslim majority state, with deeply embedded democratic aspirations that has zero tolerance in the direction of forces of radicalism, terrorism, and destabilisation of any variety. By contributing the most important numbers of army, police and civilian personnel to the UN Peacekeeping Drive and its international peace-building efforts, Bangladesh has palpably demonstrated its core dedication to peace and justice for all.
Making certain financial prosperity and stability, deepening, widening, and broadening its instructional base, guaranteeing equal participation by ladies, gender equality and social stability are the stipulations for the primary stage of growth of any state, for progressing, consolidating, and stabilising its foundational pillars. This permits it to advance to organically guaranteeing social fairness, inclusivity, good governance, and respect for human rights with justice for all. Most superior industrialised nations have organically traversed this identical path centuries in the past. Bangladeshis are solely now embarking on this second stage of growth.
Potential for progress: The following 50 years of Bangladesh-US ties
At this time, the main focus of consideration by nearly all main, center or minor powers has pivoted to Asia. Contextually, the Indo-Pacific area is strategically on the coronary heart of Asia. The growing consideration upon Bangladesh emanates from it being perceived as a bridging nation situated at Asia’s very epicentre. Bangladesh’s prosperity is and can proceed to be derived from this function and also will rely upon its means to take care of one of the best of relations with all nations, whether or not close to or removed from it. Certainly, its survival and persevering with prosperity as a state is determined by considered administration of its geostrategic location.
On the identical time, this locational benefit and significance additionally devolves on Bangladesh an onerous duty. For Bangladesh to proceed serving as a facilitator of free maritime passage within the Bay of Bengal nested within the bigger Indo-Pacific area within the huge international Oceanic Commons, there have to be frequent understanding that it’s in its personal bigger curiosity in addition to the curiosity of all. Nonetheless, guaranteeing this requires higher regional cooperation than the peoples of the area have to date have had or indulged in. Bangladesh has at all times ardently advocated cooperation amongst neighbours. It has persistently punched effectively above its weight in selling regional cooperation, as clearly evinced from its lively roles within the formation of Saarc, Bimstec and IORA, in addition to its proactive function in fostering subregional cooperation throughout the BBIN. Bangladesh can, and may, now look to working in live performance with different Bay of Bengal littoral and adjoining nations (who collectively comprise 1 / 4 of the world’s inhabitants) to have interaction collectively in financial cooperation. Such cooperation may organically progress in the direction of the emergence of a Bay of Bengal Financial Neighborhood, whose mixture GDP would solely be surpassed at present charges by the US, China, and the European Union. The US will help Bangladesh’s main function because the facilitator of this course of.
Given Bangladesh’s centrality, the US wants a steady and affluent Bangladesh, simply as Bangladesh wants the US as a seamless interdependent growth companion. In fact, Bangladesh additionally must exhibit its function as exemplar by guaranteeing higher governance of itself that’s primarily based on the exemplary requirements of social justice and egalitarian rights for all its personal residents as effectively. Nonetheless, on this endeavour, the US, with its head begin of over 250 years in nation-building and state consolidation, would certainly recall its personal many challenges that it has needed to overcome. At this time, the US can draw upon its personal usually troublesome expertise and help Bangladesh, which launched into its journey as an impartial state a mere 50 years in the past. It could possibly assist Bangladesh in capacity-building and institutional growth in the direction of an inclusive rules-based society, avoiding the pitfalls that it itself confronted and continues to be going through to some extent.
Bangladesh has traditionally been a part of historical Indo-Pacific connectivity, and it has declared that it shall proceed to be part of guaranteeing future connectivity within the area. It’s certainly in Bangladesh’s curiosity to advocate and work for an open, resilient, and interconnected Indo-Pacific, as a result of its personal persevering with sustainability as an impartial, sovereign affluent nation-state is determined by this.
As an more and more self-confident and affluent Bangladesh strikes away from a way of compulsory dependency that outlined its relationship with the US within the final 50 years, it’s within the US’ curiosity to advertise a way of rising interdependence with the comparatively new nation-state that’s Bangladesh, wanting forward on the subsequent 50 years.
It is a shortened model of an article revealed by the Nationwide Bureau of Asian Analysis (NBR) of Washington, DC and Seattle.
Tariq Karim is a retired ambassador, and at present the director of the Heart for Bay of Bengal Research at Unbiased College, Bangladesh (IUB). Views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal.