India's Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy, recently said that half of Bangladeshi citizens would migrate to India if Indian citizenship was offered to them.
This is not the first time an Indian politician has undermined Bangladesh. Many BJP leaders have been spreading propaganda against Bangladesh since the list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published and bill of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in the Indian parliament.
A long debate has ensued about the Bangladeshi migrants in India and the legality of their citizenship. They went to India at different times under different circumstances – in search of a better life.
But one thing that should be discussed now more than ever – when Bangladesh is doing better in many economic and social indicators than that of India, why would any Bangladeshi consider migrating to India?
The Indian economist and Noble laureate Amartya Sen in an interview with The New Yorker recently said, "Bangladesh has been, in many ways, more successful than India now."
He praised Bangladesh for improving in life expectancy, gender equity and increasing women's literacy rate than that of India. "It used to have a life expectancy lower than that of India. Now it is five years longer. Women's literacy is higher than in India," said Sen.
Sen in that interview castigated the Indian Prime Minister Modi's crackdown on its Muslim citizens and for upholding the fascist Hindutva ideology. On the other hand, he applauded Bangladesh for moving faster because of upholding secular ideology.
Kaushik Basu, another Indian economist, in an article published in Project Syndicate in 2018 estimated that Bangladesh's GDP growth was likely to surpass that of India. Two years later, Asian Development Bank (ADB) in their Asian Development Outlook (ADO) report showed, Bangladesh indeed has overtaken India's GDP growth. ADB had revised Bangladesh's GDP growth for 2019 from 8 to 8.1 per cent. The forecast for India, meanwhile, was revised from 7.2 to 6.5 per cent.
Bangladesh has transformed a lot from being a "bottomless basket" to the fastest growing economy in the subcontinent. Basu also said Bangladesh deserves credit for the inclusion of grass-root initiatives in the economy.
In the Inclusive Development Index 2018, India ranked at 62nd is far behind Bangladesh ranked at 34th. The index is made taking "living standards, environmental sustainability and protection of future generations from further indebtedness" into account.
Logically, there is no reason for Bangladeshis to migrate to India. On top of that, India has not shown any valid data on how many illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are currently living in India.
Though the CAA and NRC are India's internal matters, repeatedly dragging Bangladesh down in the course calls for a strong response, which was provided by former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India last year.
In his farewell speech, former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India late Syed Muazzam Ali, in response to the question over illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in India, said, "People of Bangladesh would prefer to swim the Mediterranean and go to Italy than come to India. I got three people from Bangladesh to work here but not one stayed for more than six months," reported The Telegraph.