By Nadine Murshid for AlalODulal.org
OPEN LETTER TO NARENDRA MODI
Dear Mr. Modi,
It has come to our attention that you are about to head the next government in India. Many congratulations. It has also come to our attention that you have been saying un-neighborly things about us, Bangladesh and Bangladeshis. We are deeply hurt by your comments, but we are open to forgiveness. We are not the forgiving type, really, but we do make exceptions. And we will for you if you carefully consider the following:
Intervene in “regional politics” in West Bengal, as you promised, but not to deport who you claim to be illegal Bangladeshis but to restore the Teesta deal. Just have a chat with Didi, or oppose Didi’s no-Teesta plan in parliament. Do something. The thing is this: we need water. If we don’t have water we might want to move to India for water. We don’t really want to [move to India]. And you don’t really want us. What will you do with a disgruntled group of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants straining your resources? No, you don’t want us. No hard feelings. It’s mutual. Just give us that water. And all will be well. Well, almost.
Stop pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other. Why? Because we don’t want illegal immigrants from India in Bangladesh either. Listen, you are a world player now. You will be shamed by the international community if there is a rise in communal violence because of you. You want a permanent seat at the UN? It won’t happen. They don’t give up those seats for communal leaders. No, no. They’re not saints. No one said that. But there is such a thing as lip service. That’s the least they have to do. And you also don’t want international organizations or western governments to come “save” your Muslims, do you? Look at Afghanistan and all the saving that happened there. No, thank you. We don’t want that either. Let’s all behave so that they don’t come for us. Deal?
You should agree to free up the borders a bit. Don’t worry. We don’t want to live in India. But we like going there. It’s all around us, we are primed to like going to India. But you have made it increasingly difficult for us to do so. Let down your guard. We are a tiny country. We won’t bother you. We just want to be tourists. You see, more people have money now. We want to be able to go away for the weekend to a nice place somewhere. Why not India? Serves us all. And it makes us good neighbors.
This may sound trivial but it is not (to us at least) – we want a thank you note. For negotiating a transit deal with you that allows you to connect to the Northeast. Speaking of the Northeast, you could tone down the anti-Bangladesh rhetoric there, you know? Just friendly advice on behalf of fellow Bengalis in that region who are tired of being called Bangladeshis. They must not like being used as pawns. Becharas. And, you know, it would have the added benefit of mitigating border tensions. As we already said, that is a must. Would make everyone so happy. But I digress. Thank you note. We also want one for taking care of your businessmen; from what we see they are getting rich (though, not very famous), and they’re making you rich with the for-ex you get from them (Bangladesh is now the fifth largest remittance earning source for India. World Bank data shows that expatriate Indians working in Bangladesh have successfully drained away US$ 4,082 million alone last year as half a million Indians are now working in Bangladesh). We let it happen because we really do like you. You have culture. You know, Bharatnatyam and all that. Maybe we are impressed easily.
And lastly, please don’t feel the need to intervene in our politics. We are no longer a part of India. You are happy about that, yes. So are we. No need for big brother’s attention. We have grown up, even if we don’t always act it. So, no need to watch what we’re doing. No need to scare us with your army personnel. No need to kill people at the border to send us a message. Let us co-exist in peace. It’s good for the soul. You probably know that; sorry to state the obvious.
Well, that’s all for now. If we think of anything else, we will surely let you know. Till then, enjoy the attention and love that will only be surpassed by the amount of money that some of your closest big business allies will be making in the near future. Oh one more thing: think of criticism as love because you will learn more from that than you will from those who claim to love you for who you are. But you probably know that too.
your friendly Bangladeshi neighbor (in Bangladesh)