A reminder for New Delhi: India isn’t Bangladesh’s gatekeeper anymore

A new generation of Bangladeshis are defining their country. They came of age in the 2013 Shahbagh protests. They started working amid unprecedented growth. Now they’re setting out their values.

This generation makes up a third of the population.

Women that entered the workforce have their sights set on equality and empowerment. Graduates are finding jobs at aid agencies and tech companies. Startups are creating new market opportunities.

Dhaka is scrambling for trade and investment from across the world.

It’s rare to open a newspaper in Bangladesh and not find stories about country’s future. Yet these stories rarely make it outside the country. And when they do, they are reframed as esoteric questions about the country’s development or foreign relations – often from an Indocentric perspective.

Increasingly, though, efforts to repurpose Bangladesh have proven out of touch. And it’s reached an inflection point. India isn’t dealing with the Bangladesh it used to know.

This came into sharp focus when commentators began framing Bangladesh’s relationship with China as a problem for India. Their rhetoric questioned Dhaka’s decision-making and Bangladeshis’ loyalties. But more than anything, it showed that many couldn’t rationalise the country Bangladesh has become.