During the recent visit of India’s Finance Minister to Bangladesh, India signed an agreement offering $1-billion credit facility to Bangladesh at a particular interest rate, which many in Bangladesh have found “disgraceful” and “too high”. This line of credit for Bangladesh was the one-time single-largest credit package offered by New Delhi to any other country. And it has been frequently noted that through such lines of credit, India, like other more advanced countries, has been facilitating the overseas expansion of its domestic capital. What is your assessment of the present Indo-Bangladeshi relationship? Don’t you find streaks of sub-imperialism (both in economic and political terms) emerging in this relationship as in the case of India’s relationship with Nepal and Sri Lanka?
Anu Muhammad: The question of India is very important for us. Without locating India and the role of Indian corporate big capital we cannot get rid of overall hegemony of global capitalism. India has the highest number of rich people but contradictorily India also has the highest number of poor people. The current Indian state is not representing Indian people but is representing Indian big capital. India for South Asia is the same as what the US is for the world. It is hegemonic, oppressive and undemocratic. The present India should be characterised with the rise of big capital, unprecedented accumulation of wealth and power in few hands, and its linkages with global monopoly capital. This India can be termed as sub-imperialist within the global capitalist system, and within South Asia it is imperialist. This India has recently increased its military expenditure to a record high level, also building military alliances with the US. They are both now trying to take control of the Bay of Bengal. With the increasing interests of India, China and the US in Bay of Bengal, the possibility for creation of new alliances or conflicts is rather high. Either way, Bangladesh is going to suffer.
Now global corporate bodies including the ADB, the WB or MNCs consider India a regional centre. Therefore, their projects are selected in line with the interest and long-term programme of Indian big capital. For example, the coal that the British company, Asia Energy, wanted to extract, when it attempted to start open-pit mining in Phulbari, was supposed to be exported to India. When the US oil multinational UNOCAL was trying to export gas, the destination was once again India. Now a number of projects have been conceived to build new coal-based power plants in Khulna and Chittagong. It is apparently a joint project, but the result will be different for the two countries. Bangladesh will have carbon emissions and dispossession of farmers that will create social tension and human tragedy, but Indian companies will earn huge profits.
Indian big business has access to huge potential market in Bangladesh, especially after the SAP. India’s presence is very high in every sector in Bangladesh. It is trying to monopolise each of those sectors, started utilising aid or credit, very well-known instruments of imperialist control and influence. Recently, India granted 1 billion USD loan to Bangladesh for building its own transit facilities. This transit is going to change everything in South Asia. Bangladesh is entering into the ambit of India’s military, political and economic domination on a scale not seen before.
I don’t know, how far the military aspect of the domination will go, but economically India is going to have a commanding authority over Bangladesh. India is claiming that Bangladesh is the land of terrorists and they erected fences around border, then how can they feel comfortable in taking their goods through Bangladesh? Yes, it will be used as an excuse. So, they will demand more regional security coordination under India’s control. The security system of Bangladesh will be subordinated to India status and interests.
Indian sub-imperialism behaves similarly with Nepal, Sri Lanka and other smaller countries in the region. In this context, people’s movements of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries should have a very high level of cooperation and coordination to strengthen united struggles for building a free, democratic and different South Asia not polluted by Indian or big capital’s hegemony.