14 July 2012

Water Sharing in between Bangladesh & India

After watching this water saga for the last 40 years; I have heard the best thing from 
this gentleman ; who has the audacity to speak his mind and speak it sensibly.
 My salute to you. You have made my day; hope the indian political class understand 
the plight of the people of Bangladesh and do take prudent decision to eradicate
 these impasses.  

Waters are not 'ours' to 'give': Tharoor

New Delhi, July 14 (bdnews24.com) – Even as uncertainty continues over the proposed agreement between Dhaka and New Delhi on Teesta, celebrity author and former Indian minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, argued that waters of the common rivers are "shared natural resources" and should be used "responsibly and equitably".

"We must all help persuade the Paschimbanga [West Bengal] leadership that these waters are not 'ours' to 'give', but a shared natural resource (as we accepted in the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan), which we should use responsibly and equitably," Tharoor wrote in his new book "Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century", which was launched by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday.

Tharoor, a former under secretary general of the United Nations, is now a leader of the ruling Congress party of India and a member of the lower house of the country's parliament. He was India's minister of state for external affairs from May 2009 till April 2010.

Though he had to resign in the wake of a controversy over his alleged role in promoting a cricket team in the Indian Premier League, Tharoor continued to play a key role in shaping the foreign policy of the Congress. He is also a member of the Indian parliament's standing committee in external affairs.

In his latest book, Tharoor took a subtle dig at Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Indian state of West Bengal or Paschimbanga, who blocked the proposed deal between Dhaka and New Delhi for sharing of waters of Teesta.

Noting that Banerjee, whom he referred to as "an important coalition partner of the Manmohan Singh government", vetoed the proposed agreement on Teesta in 2011, Tharoor wrote: "This was widely seen as a setback for a relationship that was once again beginning to blossom after a long freeze."

Banerjee in fact withdrew herself from Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh's entourage to Bangladesh in September 2011, indirectly expressing her reservation over the proposed deal on Teesta.

The relation between the Congress and its ally Trinamool Congress, a regional party headed by Banerjee, continued to worsen since then and reached its nadir recently over the presidential polls.

Though the Congress nominated its senior leader Pranab Mukherjee, who held the finance portfolio in Manmohan Singh government, as the candidate for the presidential polls, Banerjee made an attempt to convince former president A P J Abdul Kalam to contest with the support of her Trinamool Congress and a few other parties.

Kalam, however, declined to contest and the Congress managed to secure the support of other regional parties like Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Bahujan Samaj Party for its candidate Mukherjee.

Banerjee is yet to declare whether her party would vote for Mukherjee or his rival P A Sangma, who is backed by opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, but the Congress is confident that its candidate would have a cakewalk in the presidential polls even without the support of the Trinamool Congress.

Tharoor, who authored 13 books earlier, wrote in his latest that cooperation on sharing of waters of Teesta waters is 'indispensable' for prime minister Sheikh Hasina to be able to claim that Bangladesh 'gained from her friendship with India'.

The Congress still maintains that Trinamool Congress continued to be its ally, but might no longer allow its regional ally to dictate terms. It is however still not clear whether New Delhi would expedite the deal with Dhaka on Teesta, in case the acrimony between Congress and Trinamool Congress leads to a break-up in future.

Tharoor also wrote about the Bangladesh-India dispute over enclaves and adversely possessed land along the border between the two countries.

"Most strikingly, a seemingly intractable territorial irritant – the existence of small enclaves of each country within the other's borders – was settled during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka in September 2011 on terms that even Bangladeshis found generous on India's part".

"It is a pity that parliamentary ratification of the land transfer (which requires a two-thirds majority in both Houses that the United Progressive Alliance government does not have) has not yet happened. It will require an effort to persuade the opposition parties to cooperate, but the effort is well worth making; otherwise, the perception that 'India does not deliver on its promises' will gain ground," he argued. 

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