Research Director, Economic Research Group, and
Professor in Economics, BRAC University
Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar have long been members of the BCIM forum; and efforts are being made to showcase K2K (Kolkata to Kunming) car rally. The eleventh meeting of the Forum was recently held in Dhaka, facilitated by the Centre for Policy Dialogue; and I had the opportunity to attend one of its sessions. The exchanges on cooperation (or lack of it) in the fields of trade, investment and finance, reminded me of a talk that Dr. Ishwar Ahluwalia (a distinguished Indian) had delivered in a Dhaka hotel back in 2004. The Professor’s focus was on India-Bangladesh cooperation with one of the issues dealing with security of Indian investment in Bangladesh that targets to access Indian market – a viable cooperation that would benefit both the countries. I recall raising a question: how about joint investment so that the partner in Bangladesh is motivated to secure the investment and the Indian partner negotiates easy access to Indian market? Visibly, the silence revealed a lack of interest in pursuing such routes! Listening to the participants at the BCIM Forum meeting, I suddenly realized that things have moved a lot beneath the surface; and we may pause to ponder on the future that appears to stroll with looming uncertainty in political space. When politics appears to dominate (which generally happens when it is messed up!), digging into the economics may be the most appropriate way to seek clarity.