Geopolitical Importance of Bangladesh
Being located in between Indian mainland and its reveling seven sister states Bangladesh's strategic importance for Indian has been very crucial to communicate by less spending. Besides being almost inside India having a small mouth to bay of bangal it has also become an attraction for USA and China sometime to deter India to maintain regional strategy.
The geographical location of Bangladesh is a preponderant fact that influence the decision makers in making foreign policy. Because of the various elements in the formulation of foreign of a country, geographic location occupies a significant position.(1) Geopolitics examines the political and strategic significance of geography in this context geography is defined in terms of the location, size and resources of the places. Geopolitical location of Bangladesh gives it both strength and weakness from different perspectives. As it is by location land locked by India it keeps Bangladesh in a dis advantage but a little land boundary with Myanmar and its entrance in sea give an advantage to its external orientation. India's need of corridor through Bangladesh and enhancing global importance of the south Asian region comes as a hope to Bangladesh to keeps its foreign policy in a advantageous position.
Location of Bangladesh:
With an area of about 144,000 sq km, Bangladesh is situated between latitudes 20-34' and 2638' north and latitudes 8801' and 9241' east. The country is bordered by India on the east, west and north and by the Bay of Bengal on the south. There is also a small strip of frontier with Burma on the southeastern edge. The land is a deltaic plain with a network of numerous rivers and canals. Through Myanmar( Burma )Bangladesh is linked to the entire South East Asian region.. China is not very far off. Geographically The People's Republic of china is a very close neighbor of Bangladesh with only 100 km of Indian territory between their borders.(2)Though Bangladesh does not have a common border with Nepal and Bhutan Both are very close neighbors separated from the northern border of Bangladesh by 13.7 miles and 18.67 miles of Indian territory respectively.(3)Bangladesh shares 54 international rivers with India and Myanmar. Though in the south she has her own out let to sea but the funnel like shape of the Bay of Bengal puts her in conflict with both India and Myanmar in determining the sea border.
Neighbors of Bangladesh:
India and Myanmar are the immediate neighbors of Bangladesh with common borders. The land border with Myanmar is about 243 kilometers while that India extended over 4,025 kilometers. Thus, in terms of peace along the extensive border and over all national security, the quality of relations with India is of crucial importance to Bangladesh. Among the near neighbors of Bangladesh though with out common borders, The nearest are Nepal (distance 13.7 miles/22km), Bhutan (distance 13.7 miles /22km).and china(distance 60 miles or 100km). Among the neighbors of Bangladesh there are three countries with nuclear power.
Geo political Weakness and its impacts of Foreign policy:
Truly Bangladesh is clearly locked by India both in land and water except a little border
with Myanmar. Geopolitics may be a disadvantage when a country is landlocked b or
shares common border mostly with one country. While sharing common border if she is
in dispute relationship with her neighbor , her foreign policy will largely conditioned by
fear psyche.(4). Also the security consideration of a country is greatly dictated by geo
graphical locaton.Bangladeshes nearness of border with India may appear as a weakness in her defense against any future military conflict with India. Common sharing of Rivers also appears as a weakness for Bangladesh because the flow of water which depends of the source of the rivers. Due to its almost flat topography Bangladesh also doest have the natural strategic defense that can be a barrier for the external attackers. The flow of 54 common rivers from India into Bangladesh territory creates yet another weakness to Bangladesh. Construction of Farakka barrage and possibility of constructing more other barrages also appeared as a weakness given by the nature to Bangladesh which we are considering as a geopolitical disadvantage to Bangladesh. Shiligori corridor between Bangladesh and both Nepal, Bhutan which also appears as a weakness to Bangladesh, as it could has brought more advantageous position if ti were Bangladesh part. This small land separate Bangladesh from linking Nepal and Bhutan. If Bangladesh had linkage with Nepal or Bhutan it could have made easier linkage to china which could have been strengths in bargaing to formulate Bangladesh's foreign policy. This peculiar location in the region has forced to consider India as the significant factor ih the formulation of countries foreign policy. Though there we have only but small option to go out avoiding India but the political realities of that country still cant make any positive chance for Bangladesh. Bangladesh's geopolitical location on the very besides of giant nuclear powerful India and its smallness and not deserving of abandoned natural resources dictates its policy maker not to take such policy which avoids India. Very practically we see now and then Indian BSF solders kills many Bangladeshis but we can not take those killings in consider to talk to them avoiding the geo political reality. In our foreign policy with India we see that until the mid august , 1975 Bangladesh had cordial relations with India. It seems that the policy makers at that time realized the significance of geopolitical reality. Geopolitics dictates Bangladeshis closer relation with India It is realized through the signing of the friendship treaty which demonstrating to integrate Bangladeshis security
with India. Bangladesh due to her political and security dependence on India did not strengthen relations with countries having odds with India. (5) there is not the same risk of the Chinese cutting off Assam as there was iin 1962, since in the course of hostilities, the northern Bangladesh is likely to be overrun by the Indian forces, and he communication lines with Assam will be broadened rather that narrowed down or closed"(7) just after the Bangladesh's emergence Subramanian was confident to say that "This country need no longer to be afraid that incase of military pressure from china, Assam will be cut off from the rest of the India"
Since independence Bangladesh is being used as transit route by rail and inland water ways between India's two part. It gives India benefits interms of quick movement s of goods and less freight cost. For what we see India's great interest to take corridor facility-
ties through land roads and using Chittagong port. For the foreign policy decision makers of Bangladesh this transit facilities more correctly corridor as India proposed has been an important factor to bargain and to mitigate other problems like water dispute, border dispute , sea border dispute with India.
Geo political Strength and its impact upon foreign policy:
Though Bangladesh is a small country and almost locked by India its geopolitical location gives it some strength in this interdependent world which is prone to be mulipular. Bangladesh is being significant geopolitically where we can categorizes some of the important causes
Increasing importance of South Asia in International Politics:
Bangladesh being situated in South Asia its importance because of its geopolitical location is increasing day by day with the increasing importance of South Asia and broadly Asia in International Politics. 'South Asia comprises of and where it is situated in the world, it becomes a vital position in the world at the end of the 20th century. The eight countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives- that constitute South Asia are a zone of fire. China is situated in the north of this zone, Russia is on the North and West, the Middle East, Balkans and Europe are on the West, and the Indian Ocean on the South. The Indian Ocean connects the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans.'(6) If the 19th century was the century of the Atlantic and the 20th century of the century of the Pacific, then, as the calculations of India and some other countries go, the 21 st century will be the century of the Indian Ocean.(7)
Asian High way:
For the fulfillment of Asian high way Bangladesh is Significant part it links India with south eastern countries through easer low cost way. Though Bangladesh yet hasn't linked with the Asian high way because of disagreement with India one another's proposal still Bangladesh remains as not to be avoided.
First of all geopolitical location of Bangladesh appeared for itself in some cases has been disadvantages as so its been very disadvantageous to India also. To communicate with the north western part India has the only and small corridor which is shill gory between Bangladesh and India. Incase of any dispute or war with china India's northwestern part becomes very much vulnerable to be separated. What we observed in Sino-India war of 1962 on border dispute. We understands Bangladesh's geopolitical importance from a renowned Indian Strategic analyst K.SUBRAHMANYAM where he wrote in July ,1971, "there is not the same risk of the Chinese cutting off Assam as there was iin 1962, since in the course of hostilities, the northern Bangladesh is likely to be overrun by the Indian forces, and he communication lines with Assam will be broadened rather that narrowed down or closed"(7) just after the Bangladesh's emergence Subramanian was confident to say that "This country need no longer to be afraid that incase of military pressure from china. Assam will be cut off from the rest of the India"
Since independence Bangladesh is being used as transit route by rail and inland water ways between India's two part. It gives India benefits interms of quick movement s of goods and less freight cost. For what we see India's great interest to take corridor facilities through land roads and using Chittagong port. For the foreign policy decision makers of Bangladesh this transit facilities more correctly corridor as India proposed has been an important factor to bargain and to mitigate other problems like water dispute, border dispute , sea border dispute with India.
Geo political importance of Bangladesh for other countries:
Not only India has interest over the geopolitical location of Bangladesh. But also courtiers like Nepal, Bhotan, China, and USA and even courtiers like Japan and Australia are showing their interest considering the geo political importance of Bangladesh. Nepal and Bhutan being land locked and not having sea access very much interested to use Bangladeshis sea ports to foster their trade. As china has competing relationship with India always seeks opportunities to contain India geostratagically where Bangladesh becomes
one of the perfect positions to her intention. Though USA has its biggest naval base in Andaman Nicober islands its intend to use chittagong Sea ports to strengthen its strategic position in the south Asia considering the importance of the region in World politics. More clearly interms of any dispute with India and china Chittagong port is the better place to contain two nuclear power and which are growing as a super power in international system. Japan and Australia also for their national interest maintain good relations with Bangladesh and where Australia has different project and aid in great deal in Chittagong hill Tracks. No state regulates its foreign policy with out being motivated by its national interest.
The above analysis over the geopolitical reality and its impacts on foreign policy formulation gives us the understanding that the Bangladesh hardly can avoid India as a factor to its foreign policy also in this changing world its being vice-versa. Geopolitical realities dictation over foreign policy provides both disadvantages and disadvantages which also makes the countries interdependent in this world system.
1. Akmal Husain, "Geopolitics and Bangladesh foreign policy" CLIO/1989.
2. Mohammad Shamsul Hoque, 'Bangladesh in International politics: the dilemmas of weak states 1 993'UPL,p165
3. Ibid, p 159
4 Akmal Husain, Ibid.
5. Akmal Husain, Ibid
6. "Geopolitics of South Asia and the threat of war"(Paper presented at the Conference on Global Conflict and Threat of War at the University of Windsor, Canada on October 2, 1999. 7. k. Subramanian, Bangladesh and India's security, alit and Dutt, Dehra Dun, 1972,p.109