Norman also can share some ideas and policy with Bangladesh beyond friendship. Both of the places are largely dependent on agriculture and natural gas production. We may even expect joint study groups on these issues. No doubt that, Bangladesh is a county of water bodies — the rivers, haor (great lakes that dry up in the dry season), and lakes; at the same time, we have some drought prone areas, especially in northern Bangladesh. Norman life also balances natural features. We can share the experience of drought and watershed management. And many other issues will be common.
So, what should be the starting point of engagement? We know the United States of America is the long time and proven ally of Bangladesh. They are working together within and across the borders. But the real relations lie on the people’s heart. So people to people contact and cultural exchange is far more important than diplomatic deals. And people are wandering back and forth between Bangladesh and Norman, as well as the United States. But in case of closer relations, we must seek a special arrangement. Exchange programs like this one, under which we are now visiting Norman, are one of the ways, I am sure. But there is another unique path which we can seek easily.
In fact it is common in United States, but very uncommon in Bangladesh. That is to make “sister city.” Norman has four sister cities. They are Arezzo, Italy; Clermont-Ferrand, France; Colima, Mexico; and Seika, Japan. A nonprofit citizen diplomacy network, named Sister Cities International is establishing such partnerships between communities in the United States and those in other countries. They have partnered more than 2,000 cities states and counties between 136 countries around the word. Why not Bangladesh into this fold?
Let me tell one thing that the topography and ecology of Norman is something similar to our North Bengal — mostly plain, not so dense green, drought, extreme weather — too cold or too hot, stormy. Like that part of Bangladesh, Norman’s rivers are not in good condition either. They are flowing lean due to dams in upper riparian regions.