Cultural ties between India and Bangladesh must deepen, says former Indian envoy to Dhaka

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India, especially West Bengal, could deepen its people-to-people ties with neighboring Bangladesh, said Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, former East Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, while stressing that in the official domain, collaboration between the two governments has grown considerably in all areas in recent years.

Ganguly Das, in an interaction with PTI on Tuesday, suggested there could be joint theater productions and ballets, collaborative book-writing and work on Rabindranath Tagore between people who share a common culture and language.

“With a 4,096 km long border, it is only natural that there are problems between India and Bangladesh. But many complicated issues have been resolved. The two countries are now working together in many sectors , including connectivity.

“But there is not much public awareness about the collaboration and only issues such as border shootings and illegal immigration are highlighted,” she told PTI.

Ganguly Das, who served as India’s high commissioner in Dhaka before taking up his post as secretary-east, said deeper cultural ties will help eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes that the people of Bangladesh and India hold. India, especially West Bengal, tend towards each other.

“An average, educated Bangladeshi looks at India and says we are blood brothers. He or she recognizes India’s role in liberating their country, just as we recognize the bravery shown by the fighters of the freedom of Bangladesh. However, there will always be discordant notes…which can be isolated by frequent cultural exchanges,” she said.

“The wife of a senior Bangladeshi Navy officer once told me that she was going to Kolkata to watch the first day of the premiere show of almost every movie. People come from there for education, medical care and even for proper shopping among neighbours.Similarly, many Indians do business or study medicine in Bangladesh,” she said.

However, with the two parts of Bengal sharing a common history for thousands of years, their current relationship is expected to be much more dynamic, the former diplomat said.

Ganguly Das said Bengali language cinema is one area where there can be massive collaboration between the two countries. She pointed out that over-the-top (OTT) platforms (online movie theaters such as Netflix and Hoi Choi) have made it easier for people on both sides of the border to view the movie offerings of the other.

India-Bangladesh joint production films such as ‘Padma Nadir Majhi’ (1993), ‘Moner Manush’ (2010) and ‘Shankhachil’ (2016) were very popular in both countries. The two countries are currently working on the joint production of a biopic on Sheikh Mujibbur Rehman, the founder of Bangladesh, directed by Shyam Benegal. “There can be joint production of plays, ballets…There should be collaborative writing of books. Works can be done on Rabindranath Tagore…so many Bangladeshi students come to Santiniketan for studies …”, she said.

West Bengal and Bangladesh were part of a common homeland of Bengalis, which was divided in 1947 when Pakistan was separated from India. The western part of Bengal became the Indian state of West Bengal, while the eastern half first became East Pakistan and then the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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