THE Bangladesh president’s call, during his latest visit to India, on India’s prime minister appears to have breached the diplomatic protocol as it is customary, so far honoured by both Bangladesh and India, that a visiting head of the state can call on the host head of the state at the residence of the host country while other dignitaries, including the head of the government, call on the visiting head of the state where the visiting head of state resides in the host country. Bangladesh’s president Abdul Hamid, who visited India to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister for the second consecutive term, called on Modi, as media reported, at the Hyderabad House on May 31. Abdul Hamid, as the visiting head of the state, calling on Narendra Modi, as the head of the host government, at Modi’s residence has, thus, undermined the dignity of Bangladesh, as a country, and Bangladeshis, as a people. Successive Indian prime ministers or heads of government, including Narendra Modi, have received their foreign counterparts at the Hyderabad House for official meetings but they have generally called on foreign heads of state at the place where the guests have resided.
Diplomatic protocol nuances were largely breached when the Bangladesh president called on the Indian prime minister at the latter’s residence, rightly sparking off repercussion in Bangladesh to such an event, which could generally be considered an insult to Bangladesh and Bangladeshis. It appears that either the president or the people in charge of looking after the protocol issues have briefly been oblivious of the fact that Abdul Hamid is the president of an independent state and not the governor or chief minister of an Indian state. All this may have happened because of Bangladesh’s subservient policy towards India, which is also reflective of the lack of national pride in the ruling quarters. The decision of Bangladesh to send the president to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the prime minister of a neighbouring country, however ‘friendly’, also smacks of a capitualistic attitude. Indian authorities, as New Age reported quoting diplomatic sources in India, proposed that the Bangladesh prime minister should attend but consequent on the visit of Bangladesh’s prime minister to Japan being scheduled that time, a senior minister, as it had been in conversations here, was to attend, which should have sufficed. The Indian side then proposed a Bangladesh representation by someone above the level of a cabinet minister, which in effect refers to the president, and, therefore, the president attended the ceremony in New Delhi. Bangladesh, by sending the president to the ceremony, appears to have sent out a signal to New Delhi about how much Bangladesh values its relationship with India, a country that has, in effect, for long left a number of prickly issues unattended that have cost Bangladesh heavily.
It would have been wise for Bangladesh, in what has so far happened in every bilateral aspect on the diplomatic front between Dhaka and New Delhi, if it had considered the issue in the entirety of its relation with India, reserving its enthusiasm for issues that do call for it most.
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