Economic and political question of boycott

Economic and political question of boycott

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Statistics show that bilateral trade and economic relations in both the government and private sectors have grown manifold in 15 years. In 2008, as per official records, Bangladesh's total imports were US$2 billion (US$200 crore), which has now increased to US$16 billion (US$16 billion) and Bangladesh is now India's fourth top export market. Then, official imports of electricity, fuel oil and liquefied gas increased from almost zero to more than a billion dollars. Then there is the border 'haat' (market), whose commercial value is estimated at about a billion dollars according to the Observer Research Foundation.

Apart from these bilateral trade figures, there is a tendency for Bangladeshis to visit India for medical treatment and travel. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, the number of Bangladeshis traveling to India was 1.38 million (13 lakh 80 thousand), of which 77 percent went on tourist visas and 7.3 percent on medical visas. Visa. Then these Bangladeshis spend Rs 52,000 per person, which means they spend more than one billion dollars. Even though the latest figures are not known, records from Indian authorities show that Bangladeshis top the list of foreign travelers to India.

Then, from secondary level to higher education, thousands of students go to study in India every year. Huge amounts of dollars are spent on their education, accommodation and other areas. There is no reliable record of how much is spent in this area. India's cultural export is relatively new and now Bollywood films are released in Bangladesh on the same day as their releases in Mumbai and Delhi.

In the case of boycotts at the international level, it is clear that no matter how limited the economic impact may be, the political effects are much more far-reaching. This has happened due to active and organized initiative to run a movement politically. Trade unions, teachers and student associations and peace-pro-anti-war non-governmental organizations coordinate on a planned organizational structure and build the movement.

The participation of any political party, professional group, student organization or civil organization in the anti-India movement in Bangladesh is still absent. It may be difficult to boycott Indian goods due to the habit developed over one and a half decade in terms of transactions, but it cannot be said that it is impossible due to political reasons. The question is whether the anger arising from India's role in the elections will really take the form of a political movement?

*Kamal Ahmed is a senior journalist

*This column appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir.

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