Farakka has been made an issue of anti-India propaganda. Well, this is an unfortunate development. But in that matter also we have taken unilateral steps and we have told them that it is a matter which can be discussed. As you know, the real problem in the Ganges is the floods. Every year, we suffer from floods. The problem was that during the fair weather the water of the Ganges comes to its lowest and there the question of distribution of water for Calcutta Port and Bangladesh arose.
As you know, in the last twelve years, we were working on the Farakka Barrage. We spent nearly Rs. 160 crores. Last year, we had discussions with Bangladesh when Mujibur Rehman was there. My senior colleague, Shri Jagjivan Ram, went to Bangladesh and had an agreement with them and the Farakka Barrage was opened. Now, they have taken a position that it is not only during the lean period but every month that water must be distributed. It is a rather difficult situation. We are very firm as far as Farakka is concerned. We have not invested this much money for nothing. We have to look to the future of the Calcutta Port which is a very lively link for India’s economic development and other things. At the same time, we took unilateral action and allowed ourselves to take less water so that there should not be any difficulty for them. But we told them, let technicians meet and discuss it. Unless we see the effects, what is use of making unrealistic demands and complicating the entire matter? Their main interest is to internationalise the issue. This is the difficulty.
In regard to some of the smaller issues, some of the countries are encouraged to internationalise them so that an opportunity is given to those countries which are adversely interested in India to exploit the issues. This is the position. I do not think I need spend more time on Bangladesh.
I only wish that they respond to us in a mood of co-operation because the people of Bangladesh and the people of India have the same problems of economic development and poverty. We have to fight those problems. Concerted attention must be given to those problems and not to other non-priority problems that create division among ourselves.
Coming to Pakistan, it is a little complicated matter. I am using the words deliberately. For that matter, I must say, we have made a very constructive contribution. Ultimately, for the neighbouring problems we have evolved a certain policy framework. We had the Simla Agreement. You know how in a difficult situation, the Prime Minister took initiative at the summit meeting and arrived at the Simla Agreement. We have a policy framework for dealing with any neighbouring country. We cannot say that there will be no problems with any neighbouring country. As we are living together, there are bound to be some problems. What is the method for it? The method for it is that both the parties should sit together without the intervention of any third party and decide all the issues. This is the basic approach.
He said, yes; he went back. We took the initiative and sorted out certain small issues, like travel permits and telecommunications. We signed certain trade agreements also. We also purchased cotton from them worth about Rs. 25 crore. They completely stopped there. Once in a while, we reminded them and they thought that they must do something. They have done some business worth about Rs. 7 lakhs. We told them, it is all right; it is a good beginning and let us try to continue it.
What is more important today is, and, we must not be unaware of it, to see what is happening in Asia, not only in this region. That is where the problems of Asia must be considered more carefully. Though detente is progressing in Europe, I must tell you, Asian problems are getting more complicated. Prof. Hiren Mukerjee wanted to know as to what is happening in West Asia.