India gives largest soft loan of Rs 32k cr to Bangladesh

Delhi, Dhaka sign 22 pacts across sectors

India gives largest soft loan of Rs 32k cr to Bangladesh

India on Saturday pledged a soft loan of nearly Rs 32,000 crore for Bangladesh, as the two nations inked 22 pacts for cooperation in diverse areas, including defence, cyber security, nuclear energy and space technology.

This is the single-largest soft loan New Delhi has pledged to any country at one go.Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India’s new line of credit of $4.5 billion (Rs 28,921 crore) for development projects in Bangladesh after a meeting with his counterpart from the neighbouring country, Sheikh Hasina, who is currently on a four-day-visit to New Delhi.

He also announced a separate credit line of $500 million (approximately Rs 3,213.50 crore) to help Bangladesh procure military hardware from India. New Delhi’s pledge for soft loans is apparently aimed at dissuading Dhaka from allowing China to expand its footprints and build strategic assets in Bangladesh.

“India has always stood for prosperity of Bangladesh and its people,” Modi said, while addressing a joint press conference with Hasina at the Hyderabad House here.

“This (line of credit) brings our resource allocation for Bangladesh to more than $8 billion over the past six years,” Modi said, adding that the implementation of the defence credit line would be “guided by the needs and priorities of Bangladesh”. “India is certainly our most important neighbour and one of our key development partners,” said Hasina.

The neighbours inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to lay the framework for bilateral defence cooperation. Two other MoUs were inked for cooperation between the National Defence College, New Delhi, and the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu with counterpart institutions in Dhaka and Mirpur in Bangladesh on national security, development, strategic and operational studies.

The Indian Space Research Organisation and Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission signed an MoU for cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space. This will pave the way for India to offer its space technology to Bangladesh.

The two countries inked an agreement for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, along with the inter-agency arrangement for Exchange of Technical Information and Co-operation in the Regulation of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection.

India’s Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership signed an agreement with Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission for cooperation on nuclear power plant projects in the neighbouring country.

The pacts are likely to pave the way for India joining Russia for developing nuclear power plants in energy-starved Bangladesh. India also promised to train 1,500 judicial officers of Bangladesh in its institutes.  New Delhi already delivered on its promise of training 1,500 civil servants of Bangladesh in India.

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