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Indo-Bangla must grow together: Pranab

Times National desk - March 5th, 2013

Mentioning that India and Bangladesh are interlinked, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the two close neighbours must develop and grow together, ensuring that the growth provides more opportunities for peoples in both countries.
“We need to work together to maximize the potentials of our economic cooperation,” he said, while delivering the convocation speech at the 47th  Convocation of the Dhaka University held at the DU central playground.
President Zillur Rahman was the chief guest at the convocation while DU Vice Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique also spoke on the occasion.
The Indian President noted that Bangladesh is uniquely placed to exploit its natural and human resources to emerge as a fast growing, modern economy.
He said both countries have made considerable progress in the implementation of the far-reaching decisions taken during the historic visits of the Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh to each others country. “I assure you, India remains committed to implementing the decisions that have been taken.”
Pranab Mukherjee noted that India and Bangladesh have vast opportunities to increase bilateral trade and commerce.
He said the Indian government proposes to introduce a `Constitutional Amendment Bill’ in Loksabha (parliament) to give effect to the provisions of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh and its 2011 Protocol.
“We’re committed to working closely with Bangladesh to avoid any untoward incidents on our border. We can together make it a gateway of peace and mutually beneficial cooperation.”
The Indian President said the sharing of the waters of common rivers is a high priority for India and Bangladesh. “We’ve successfully forged agreements in the past and are hopeful of arriving at an early accord on the sharing of the Teesta waters.”
He added: “Meanwhile, there are areas where we must substantially increase our cooperation, such as in information technology, skill development, agricultural research, environment protection, climate change, and in protecting the Sunderbans and harnessing energies, both traditional as well as new and renewable sources of energy.”
Pranab Mukherjee said Bangladesh now has duty-free access to India’s large market and invited Bangladesh’s industry to make full use of this opportunity.
“We’re working with the Government of Bangladesh to remove the remaining non-tariff barriers, open more border haats and harmonise our respective standards.”
Praising Bangladesh for its efforts towards achieving socioeconomic development, he said that in many social indicators, Bangladesh has acquitted itself in an exemplary manner. The school textbook programme of Bangladesh is known to be one of the largest in the world.
Pointing at the new graduates, Pranab Mukherjee, an all-time friend of Bangladesh, said: “Young men and women like you are the engine of socio-economic development of our region. The future of Bangladesh is in your hands. You should know that you have a past which is steeped in glory, and a future that is full of promise.
“Looking at you, I am convinced that the future of Bangladesh is bright. I wish you all every success in making the dream of `Sonar Bangla’ a reality. India will stand by your side as you shape the destiny of your country,” he added.
About the ongoing visit, emotion-choked Indian President said: “For me personally, this is an emotional journey. I have my roots in the soi l of Bengal, and have imbibed its language, traditions and culture. When I was a child I never dreamt that one day I would come here as the President of my country.”
He continued: “I have grown up reading the compositions of the same poets as you, listening to the same songs which both our people love, and walked along the banks of the same rivers which inspire the songs that make us all similarly wistful.”