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Rakshabandhan: India’s Big B Burden

by tavaga

How India is like a Big brother to its Neighbours

Being an elder sibling comes with innate responsibilities and duties towards the younger ones. Whether it’s to guide them for life or to protect them from unforeseen circumstances, an elder sibling has to play multiple roles for them at the cost of their own interest. Be it an elder brother or sister, their companionship makes the younger one’s lives easier and sorted and hence we celebrate Rakshabandhan to honor that bond for life.

Companionship is woven into Indian philosophy and that reflects in India’s behavior in International politics too. With time, the whole Akhand Bharat which dominated South East Asia got divided into small chunks of nations, due to religious issues and malicious political drama.

The division begin with Nepal separating in 1904, followed by Bhutan in 1906 and Tibet in 1914. Post that, Myanmar separated in 1937 and then started the Indian Independence struggle that further divided India into Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1947. With ticking time, India lost its parts to the world but some neighboring nations make us guilty about doing so with their constant misconduct due to land issues or back lashing India at international stages. Yet, India stood for its neighbors as and when needed irrespective of its repercussions. This Rakshabandhan, let’s celebrate India’s spirit of protecting its peers from the crisis.

How India helped its Neighbours:

India’s ‘Neighbourhood first’ approach has stood the time test since its independence as its being a kind neighbor to its peers. Having an exceptional geographical and political strength with strong military leverage, India’s neighbors usually had a good rapport with it. Here are some instances where India proved that it’s indeed a ‘Big Brother to its neighbors.

1. Sri Lanka:

Bearing the worst economic episode in history, Sri Lanka is very dear to India for support economically and morally. As soon as Sri Lanka asked for help, the Modi-led ruling government did everything above and beyond its authority to help the nation survive for the least. Till now, India extended $5 billion worth of economic assistance to the drowning island country. Along with this, India supplied 14,700 MT of rice, 38 MT of medicines, and 250 MT of milk powder to feed the nation. To satisfy the fuel requirements, both the countries signed an agreement of a $500 million supply from the Indian Oil Company through a credit line which was extended by $200 million in April.

2. Bangladesh:

For being its true strength in The Liberation war in 1971, Bangladesh shall be forever indebted to India. India gave shelter to the refugees who fled from Bangladesh (then, eastern Pakistan) due to the brutal assault by Pakistan. Although India was struggling with internal issues and population crises, it made space for needy refugees and provided for them. Not only this, but it also helped Bangladesh in achieving freedom from lethal Pakistan slavery. Since then till now, India is helping Bangladesh to set up manufacturing and service centers for defense platforms along with expert military training and logistic support.

3. Nepal:

Having a common enemy can instantly harmonize two nations and that’s what the India-Nepal bond is all about. Back in 1951, India helped Nepal with the construction of Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu after which the Indian Aid Mission was set up in 1954 to modernize the health, education, and connectivity of Nepal. Some of India’s remarkable assistance to Nepal include The Terai Road project, the Trishuli Hydropower project, the Motihari-Amlekhgunj Petroleum pipeline, etc. to name a few. Moreover, recently Nepal has extended the $1.65 billion to finance several construction and transmission projects.

4. Myanmar:

The roots for the cordial relationship between India and Myanmar are deeply planted in the cultural and religious resemblances of both nations. Enduring such a historical bond, India has stood with Myanmar for time and being. Whether it was providing relief for the cataclysmic cyclone ‘Nargis’ or supporting economically with the $1 million to rebuild the collapsed nation due to severe earthquake, India did everything with all its might to stabilize its peer.

5. Bhutan:

India-Bhutan has a friendly relationship based on two pillars, one of which is the Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1949 and the other one is the common bittersweet relations with China. Abiding those, India has been constantly helping Bhutan commercially and politically. It would be incorrect to cite that Bhutan’s economy and safety are completely based on India. The reason is India is the largest trading partner of Bhutan extending continuous financial support to its Five-year policy. Moreover, safety-wise India provides air protection to Bhutan through the Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force as Bhutan being a landlocked country doesn’t have any Air Force.

The Bottom Line

India holds prominence among its neighbours due to its size and strength that causes moments of anxiety for them.

As a result it is always stuck in a vicious loop of ‘damned if we do and damned if we don’t.’ As the above-mentioned countries were once a part of the Indian subcontinent, India will always have a soft corner for the people of its neighbors. But its constant interference in internal affairs of its neighbours and disregard towards their political, economic and cultural sensitivity has given them reasons to refrain from entrusting India.

Such real or imagined grievances cost heavily for India in its trade prospects and regional safety which highly impacts its political aspirations of global leadership. And this way, India is called out even if it interferes with its neighbours and also if it chooses to remain silent.

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