India, Bangladesh bolstering ties through Silchar-Sylhet Festival

The Silchar-Sylhet festival aimed at strengthening the longstanding bonds of friendship between the two neighboring nations, which share a wide range of complementary traditions, cultures, and other things.  The festival once again demonstrated the closeness between India and Bangladesh, and improved mutual understanding.

Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan Dec 05, 2022
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Silchar-Sylhet Festival

A three-day Sylhet-Silchar festival December 2-4 has opened up new doors in relations between Bangladesh and India. The festival began on the afternoon of December 2 at the Police Parade Ground in Silchar town, in Assam in northeastern India, and ended on the afternoon of December 4. 

A large Bangladeshi delegation, including six ministers, twelve MPs, educationists, and industrialists, under the leadership of Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen, visited Silchar, as did chief ministers of Assam, Manipur, and Meghalaya, and were joined by officials from India's culture and Northeast development ministries. 

The festival, hosted by the Assam state government, was organized to revive the historical relationship between Sylhet and the Barak Valley of Assam. The festival's goal was to explore the shared heritage and ideals of the twin cities and their inhabitants who were divided by the partition of Bengal in 1905 by the British colonial rulers. The festival highlighted the local fare, artwork, crafts, culture, and agricultural products of the two regions, which have strong cultural ties. Opportunities of collaboration in the business and trade, healthcare, tourism, and educational sectors were discussed at the event. 

Besides the two governments, the Bangladesh Foundation for Regional Studies and the India Foundation were involved along with the Bangladesh India Friendship Society and India, Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry

India's Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of Northeast G Kishan Reddy and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma were also present.

The road border of Sylhet city allows for close connectivity with the Assamese city of Silchar. This festival of friendship was being held to commemorate 50 years of independence for Bangladesh and 75 years of freedom for India, officials of both countries said. 

Zero-tolerance against terrorism

Assam's MP from Silchar, Dr. Rajdeep Roy, took the initiative to organize this festival. This festival is expected to enhance people-to-people connectivity between Bangladesh's eastern and southeastern parts with India's northeastern area. 

According to Momen, due to the visionary leadership of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the effective implementation of her government's zero-tolerance policy against terrorism, India's Northeastern region has been developing fast and contributing to regional stability and economic development. 

According to the media reports, the foreign minister said the Silchar-Sylhet Festival will serve as an important platform to discuss common culture, language, art and literature, as well as mutual development and progress.

"They have treated us very well. We all felt at home. This is going to be a historic event", Momen is reported to have said. 

Momen also met with India's Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, who also hails from the Northeast.

Festival highlighted commonness 

The festival highlighted tribal culture, cuisine, arts, crafts, and local produce, provide entertainment, and brought together eminent people from both sides to discuss and deliberate on issues of mutual growth and opportunity. 

Several events, including a panel discussion on trade and commerce, a tribal and culinary festival, a panel discussion on "Our Rivers, Our Water, Our Climate," and a festival of language and literature, among others, were held. 

Leaders of both nations stressed the importance of creating a shared framework for understanding and collaboration to further advance relations, with  Bangladesh's peace and stability directly benefiting the Indian states neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Silchar-Sylhet festival aimed at strengthening the longstanding bonds of friendship between the two neighboring nations, which share a wide range of complementary traditions, cultures, and other things.  The festival once again demonstrated the closeness between India and Bangladesh, and their improved mutual understanding.

(The author is a development worker and researcher in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Views are personal. He can be contacted at bhuiyanmashrursiddique1971@gmail.com)

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