Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have ‘virtual form of presence’ at the birth centenary celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 17.
He will also send a recorded video message on the occasion as Bangladesh and India, with strong relations in place, are looking forward to the mega celebrations.
"We’ll have a virtual form of our Prime Minister's presence and India as well through him," said Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday highlighting the ‘close and strong’ partnership between Dhaka and Delhi.
India will also provide 150 ambulances to Bangladesh, he said, adding that 100 of them will be provided marking the birth centenary.
Shringla came up with the information during an interaction over lunch at Hyderabad House which he hosted in honour of the visiting 20-member media delegation from Bangladesh.
On donation of ambulances, Shringla said this is a gift from Modi who will make the formal announcement.
He said these are not ordinary ambulances but have systems in place so that victims facing trauma can access the nearby ambulance by calling a dedicated number immediately.
“This is a people-centric idea to promote more people-to-people contact,” the Foreign Secretary said.
Both the countries emphasised the need for greater cooperation to commemorate the two important anniversary years: Bangabandhu’s birth centenary in 2020; and 50 years of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation, and the establishment of India-Bangladesh bilateral diplomatic ties in 2021.
To commemorate these two historic years, the two countries also agreed to enhance cultural interactions.
Modi had specially been invited to participate in the inaugural ceremony of ‘Mujib Borsho’.
India finds Bangabandhu so iconic – as a globally-recognised statesman and iconic symbol of liberation for Bangladesh and for the subcontinent.
For people in India, there is a special resonance to his name.
But after the detection of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh, the year-long programmes taken to celebrate the birth centenary have been rescheduled considering public health.
The grand inaugural ceremony of the birth centenary celebrations scheduled for March 17 next at the National Parade Ground has been put on hold due to the prevailing situation.
Other celebration programmes will also be observed avoiding massive public gatherings.
The decision was taken at a meeting of Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee at Ganobhaban in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana.
Meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Monday confirmed the deferral of Modi's visit to Bangladesh following the rescheduling of programmes.
The Indian government received a formal notification from the government of Bangladesh in this regard.
"Bangladesh has advised us that fresh dates for these commemorative events will be conveyed later," said MEA Official Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
Expressing understanding of the circumstances that necessitates this deferment, he said India is ready to work with Bangladesh, as partners, to combat the spread of this disease in their shared neighbourhood.
The impact of this deferment applies also to the large gathering planned for March 17, at which the Prime Minister of India was invited.
Modi was scheduled to visit Bangladesh on March 17 with a bilateral component. Officials said there have been important initiatives that seek to not only resolve outstanding issues but also take the relationship forward to meet the aspirations of people of the two countries.