NEW DELHI : Contrary to the general perception about Bangladesh within a section of the BJP, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backed think tank, The India Foundation, is trying to woo the Bangladesh Government led by Awami League President Sheikh Hasina by organizing an important regional conference in Dhaka.
A group of RSS members are travelling to Dhaka to attend an important international conference organised by the India Foundation in association with India’s Ministry of External affairs, the Bangladesh foreign ministry and Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is travelling to travel to Dhaka on Thursday (May 11) to attend the conference on May 12 and 13.
To prepare for the event, the ‘Indian Ocean Countries’ Conference’(IOCC), Alok Bansal, Director of the India Foundation, and RSS governing body member Ram Madhav met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka. Earlier, Ram Madhav had been given charge of handling international affairs by the RSS.
While he was inactive on this front for several months, it appears that Ram Madhav has re-positioned himself to make a return to the spotlight by organising this high profile international event –the ‘India Ocean Countries conference,’ which will see widespread participation from Indian Ocean Rim countries. The 2-day IOCC will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on May 12.
Senior attendees from the RSS including Praful Ketkar, Editor of the RSS mouthpiece ‘Organiser,’ former Union Minister M J Akbar, BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta and Kanchan Gupta, Advisor to the Information and Broadcasting minister, are among the 17- member delegation from India, which also includes Bansal and Ram Madhav.
On the day that the Indian and Bangladeshi prime ministers, Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, inaugurated the ‘friendship’ diesel pipeline, from Siliguri to Parbatipur in Bangladesh through video conferencing, the Bangladesh PM met Ram Madhav. In the meeting PM Sheikh Hasina was accompanied by Bangladesh’s Ambassador-at-large, Muhammad Ziauddin, who is also Sherpa for the forthcoming G-20 summit in Delhi, Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Tofazzel Hossain Miah, the PM’s Principal Secretary, clearly indicating the importance accorded to the IOCC by the Bangladesh government.
The Indian Ocean conference was started in 2016 and has gained importance as a flagship consultative forum for the countries around the Indian ocean. The Dhaka meet will be the sixth edition of conference, since the event could not take place during the Covid pandemic.
The theme of this year’s conference is ‘ Peace, Prosperity and Partnership for a Resilient Future.’
Prithwiraj Sing Rupan, the President of Mauritius, Faisal Nasim, Vice President of the Maldives and US Under Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, along with India’s EAM Jaishankar, will be present at the conference and have already reached Dhaka, reports said. Representatives from Australia, Japan and several other Indian Ocean countries will be attending the conference.
Among the key subjects to be discussed will be maritime security, in line with India’s regional cooperation initiative, ‘security and growth for all in the region’, also known as SAGAR.
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