A Neighbourly Affair : Assignment India

Hemayetuddin, The University Press Limited, 2009, viii, 176 p, photos, ISBN : 9847022000226, $25.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Prologue. 1. The roots. 2. Beginnings. 3. Know thy neighbours. 4. Assignment India. 5. Loving Punjabis. 6. Ingratitude thy name is Bangladesh? 7. The mindset. 8. Man proposes; God disposes. 9. I shall love thee as myself. 10. The challenge. 11. Leaders. 12. Foreign minister and track II diplomacy. 13. A friend indeed: more about Mani Dixit. 14. Despair and discontent. 15. The others. 16. Between the devil and the Deep Blue Sea. 17. The gas issue. 18. The security issue: rhetoric and facts. 19. A fence in between. 20. Troubled waters. 21. Bilateral trade: where lies the snag. 22. Foreign secretary and the affair. Epilogue. Index.

"Bangladesh-India bilateral relations is perhaps amongst the most important and sensitive elements in the foreign policy of both the countries. It has been influenced by common history, traditions, cultural affinity, as it is the closest neighbour of Bangladesh sharing a border of more than 4000kms, and most importantly, for India's role in Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971.

The relations between the neighbours have seen many a ups and downs. Beginning from the ecstatic state of intimacy in the immediate post-independence period to the creeping in of serious and vexing issues into the bilateral relations, such as: water sharing of 54 common rivers, the land boundary demarcation, a growing trade imbalance, and the inroad of suspicions on security related matters.

A Neighbourly Affair is an account of the special relationship the author developed during his two diplomatic assignments in India. In narrating his Affair, he has at times been overwhelmingly emotional and brutally frank.

He was first posted to India in 1981 as a junior diplomat. He arrived in Delhi with a baggage full of perceptions, misgivings based on what he had learnt from books and hearsay about this neighbour through his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. While in India, which is both the object and subject of his Affair, he wondered and explored how Bangladesh and India could be brought closer to each other for their mutual benefit. This helped the author to mature and blossom into an effective ambassador of his country. In recognition of his diplomatic skills, outgoing style of functionary and his passion for initiatives he was subsequently assigned to New Delhi as High Commissioner in 2003. The book would attract the readers and help understand the complexity of the special relationship between Bangladesh and India. It has a story book approach and touches on the points that concern Bangladesh the most. The author has equally highlighted the concerns of India. The author did not draw the curtains on his Affair with India, rather concluded on an optimistic note of enduring and strengthening the relationship as good neighbours. It is a narration of personal experiences and the many anecdotes and interactions the author had with the common people, the political leadership, civil servants and members of the civil society in India. In doing so, the author has succeeds in highlighting the nuance of the state of Indo-Bangladesh relations that is perhaps not known to many." (jacket)

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