ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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India's Role in Bangladesh's War of Independence: Humanitarianism or Self-interest?

This paper assesses India's decision to intervene militarily in Bangladesh's War of Independence in 1971. It explores the various arguments - shared ethnicity, irredentist tendencies, lack of international involvement, and the need to tip the balance of power against Pakistan - to understand the motivations behind India's apparent aggressive behaviour, as deemed by the international community at the time. By analysing the speeches of the key actors and reactions of ordinary men and women, it is argued that the lack of international interest and the heavy burden that India faced due to the 10 million refugees it hosted explain the timing of and impetus for military intervention, an action with repercussions that are experienced even today.

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