BDMilitary.com obtained the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) document between Bangladesh and India on Defence.
The Government of India wanted to enter in to a comprehensive 25 year defence agreement with Bangladesh in order to transform the bilateral relations between the two countries in to a strategic relationship however Dhaka was deeply uneasy over any exclusive defence agreement with India as it may go against the sovereignty of Bangladesh and spur anti-government activities. This may also upset the strategic relations Bangladesh enjoys with the People’s Republic of China.
Instead the Government of Bangladesh wants to sign a defence cooperation framework which is a set of 10 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) based on loosely worded cooperation in their respective fields, which “would not infringe upon Bangladesh’s sovereignty or national interests”.
The controversial deal with India has raised concerns amongst uniformed personnel, politicians, internet bloggers and average Bangladeshi citizens alike citing India’s hegemonic policies towards neighbouring countries. People have questioned the utility of a military agreement with India given Bangladesh addressed most of the concerns of the Indian security establishment.
Line of Credit by India to Bangladesh
India shall provide a $500 million line of credit package (LoC) for the Bangladesh Armed Forces. Under the deal Bangladesh can purchase any types of Indian made military hardware from state owned enterprises of India.
India is trying to assert itself as a “defence supplier” to Bangladesh as it became increasingly insecure over Bangladesh’s military hardware purchase from China. Bangladesh is likely to utilise the LoC for purchasing vessels for the Bangladesh Coast Guard, air defence sensors and develop capabilities of its naval shipyards.
The two countries would actively work towards enhancing cooperation in the field of defence, with respect to international laws, national laws and each other’s national laws, conditions, principles and customs, on the basis of their own work and efficiency.
Joint training initiatives and exchanges
Both sides would take steps to send military delegations to each other’s country on the basis of mutual understanding and convenience. Both countries would arrange training, exchange of military experts, trainers and observers, military courses and information, provide mutual cooperation on maintenance of military equipment (where required), arrange treatment for military personnel/their families, organise sports events, impart training on disaster and relief cooperation, hold staff level discussions between the two armies, navies and air forces of both countries and resolve bilateral military issues through discussions, and hold annual talks between the military organisations of the two countries. The two parties will also exchange visits of naval ships and aircraft on the basis of mutual understanding and arrange joint patrols and coordinated exercises at the international sea boundaries.
Most of these activities are already carried out in one form or another however this clause may initiate more regular exchanges.
Defence industry cooperation
Both parties shall provide assistance to each other in the defence industry sector through joint ventures, cooperation in space technology, technical assistance, exchanges of experience and development of sea infrastructure. Cooperation would be provided after consultation with the concerned authorities with respect to national security and policies of both countries.
India is keen to access Bangladesh’s defence industry in an effort to export its Make in India products and technologies. Bangladesh’s defence industry is fully reliant on Chinese and Western sources for such cooperation. It will require a major change in the armaments of the armed forces to maintain any sort of meaningful defence industry cooperation between the two countries, which is unlikely to happen however Bangladesh may seek assistance from India in the shipbuilding sector to expand the capabilities of existing shipyards or build new ones. Munitions technology and other types of equipment transfer of technology will not be sought from India as India itself is reliant upon foreign suppliers.
Defence research cooperation
Bangladesh and India may cooperate in each other in the field of defence science and technology as well as research through training, visits by scientists and engineers and exchange of information relating to science and technology.
High level cooperation
Principal Staff Officer (PSO) level consultants between Bangladesh and India would be held on an annual basis in addition to talks with the Defence Secretaries of both nations for cooperation in management of defence deals.
Bangladesh and India will ensure that the military cooperation and exchange of defence related information will not be used against each other. Both countries will maintain secrecy during the process of exchange of defence cooperation.
Any amendments can be made as per written consent of each other in the future, if necessary.
If there arises any dispute or any controversy in future about the MoU, both sides would resolve in through discussions.
Other Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bangladesh and India
- Directorate-General of Medical Services (DGMS), Bangladesh Armed Forces, and Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, India.
- Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), India and Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) for enhancing cooperation in the field of education and research.
- Defence Service Staff College (DSSC), India, and Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) for enhancing cooperation in the field of national security and strategic studies.
- National Defence College, Bangladesh and the National Defence College, India on enhancing cooperation in the field of national security and strategic studies.
- Dockyard and Engineering Works Limited, Narayanganj, Bangladesh and Bharat Electronics Limited, India.
- Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, India and Khulna Shipyard Limited, Bangladesh.
- Khulna Shipyard Limited, Bangladesh and Bharat Electronics Limited, India.
- Chittagong Dry Dock Limited, Bangladesh and Bharat Electronics Limited, India.