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EAM's speech during the virtual flag-off of 10 Broad Gauge Diesel Locomotives to Bangladesh

July 27, 2020

H. E. Md. Nurul Islam Sujan, Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Government of Bangladesh
H.E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Hon’ble Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh
Shri Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister for Railways and Commerce & Industry, Government of India
Shri Suresh Angadi ji, Hon’ble Minister of State for Railways,
Chairman Railway Board Shri V. K. Yadav Ji,
Foreign Secertary Harsh Vardhan Shringla Ji,
Secretary Railways Bangladesh Government, Our High Commissioners, Members of Parliament, Senior officials Ladies & Gentlemen,

I am delighted today to join my colleague the Railway Minister at the handing over ceremony of 10 Broad Gauge locomotives to Bangladesh. With this, we have been able to fulfill an important commitment made during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India last October. Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Railways have been very effective partners in implementing the Neighbourhood First Policy and this has been most evident in the case of Bangladesh. Our two countries continue to script a relationship of ‘Shonali Adhyaya’, guided by the progressive vision of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina.

Very few countries in the world share such close fraternal ties as those of ours. Our partnership today stands out as a role model in the region for good neighbourly relations.

As your close friend and neighbour, we are indeed happy to witness the transformative growth.

We have seen impressive growth rates in the last few years. And your achievements across all socio-economic indicators have set new benchmarks.

Prime Minister Modi while paying tribute to Bangabandhu at the inaugural Mujib Barsho celebration, had admired the dedication of the people and the leadership of Bangladesh in making their nation Sonar Bangla, as envisioned by Bangabandhu.

Excellencies, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges to the world especially in realizing our developmental goals. India stands prepared to cooperate with the people of Bangladesh to tide over these difficult times.

The pandemic has also forced us to come up with innovative solutions aimed at minimizing disruptions to our supply chain logistics. Thanks to our well-timed efforts, the business communities of the two countries have started utilizing freight trains for transporting commodities and raw materials for manufacturing industries. The movement of freight via rail has also ensured that the supply of essential commodities and they continued undisrupted as Railway Minister noted, particularly in the holy month of Ramzan, as trade through land borders faced many challenges.

I take this opportunity to thank our Railway Minister for his personal support and initiative in that regard.

I am equally happy to note that the ongoing COVID pandemic has not slowed down the pace of our overall cooperation. The signing of the Second Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade in May 2020, has increased the number of Protocol routes from 8 to 10 and the number of Ports of Call from 6 to 11, besides including two extended Ports of Call.

The successful completion of the trial run of the container cargo from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram, is indeed a landmark development as it not only reinvigorates our traditional waterway connections but also brings mutual economic benefits.

I am also glad to note, as our Railway Minister underlined, that parcel and container train services have recently been introduced. These cost-effective, time-efficient and environment-friendly modes of connectivity, be they rail, inland waterways or coastal, will strengthen our supply chains and open up new opportunities for business.

With exports from Bangladesh to India having crossed the US$ 1 billion mark in 2019 – which is a remarkable growth of 43% from the previous year, I invite the business community of Bangladesh to further enhance their engagement with India.

India remains a committed development partner of Bangladesh. Our uniquely concessional lines of credit of close to US$ 10 billion is the largest India has extended to any country. These projects will help in the infrastructure development of Bangladesh, a pre-requisite for its economy to leapfrog to the next level. We need to work together to expedite many of the ongoing projects.

Excellencies, as friends in prosperity and growth, we have also faced challenges together. I, therefore, firmly believe that our partnership will be key to building a prosperous and peaceful South Asia. This will be a truly befitting tribute to the vision of Bangabandhu in this historic Mujib Barsho.

I congratulate everyone associated with this event today and we look forward to many more such milestones, especially in this historic year and as we commemorate 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh and the establishment of our diplomatic ties next year. May this partnership remain truly exemplary and forge even stronger our time-tested bonds of friendship.

Thank you.

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