India Helps Bangladesh Meet Shortage Of Green Chilies – OpEd


Around 123 tons of imported green chilies have arrived in Bangladesh from India through the Benapole port in the last three days.

The Bangladesh government approved importing 36,830 tons of green chili from India to address a shortage and curb the excessive price of the spicy item. The price of each kg of green chili exceeded Tk1,000 at local markets when the country was celebrating the holy Eid-ul-Azha. This Eid, suddenly, raw chili has become the most talked about ingredient in the whole country. Somewhere this raw chili is sold at the price of thousands of rupees per kg. After days of much debate and clamor, when the government took the initiative to import green chilies from abroad, prices had started to decrease.

Regardless of one’s attitude towards chili, Bengalis are actually chili lovers. Almost everyone loves chili. The country produces more than 200,000 tons of pepper annually. Also imported from India. In total, about one and a half kg per capita and 9 kg per household or family consumes pepper per year. The amount of chili consumed varies from region to region and even from family to family.

However, the imported raw chilies are collected by their exporters from various markets in West Bengal including Bangaon. In addition to the import price and custom duty, they have to pay more and extra money for the transportation and other expenses of the two countries. All in all, the price of imported Indian green chilies falls to Tk 150-160 till it reaches the wholesaler in Dhaka. The wholesale price of green chilies in the local market of Bangaon was 160 to 280 rupees per kg on Tuesday. And retail was sold at Rs 300 per kg. On that day, the wholesale price in Nagpur, India was 70 rupees per kg. Incidentally, chilies are being imported from India due to the increase in the price of raw chilies in the Bangladesh’s market.

According to the information of the Agriculture Department IN Bangladesh, the government has allowed the import of 36 thousand 830 tons of green chilies from India so far to prevent shortage and high prices in the country. The India’s green chilies exports to Bangladesh in times of urgency in Bangladesh has opened a new chapter of further strengthening friendship between the two neighbours. We know the contributions of India to Bangladesh during the liberation period. It is true that without the assistance of India, it was quite impossible for Bangladesh to gain independence from occupied west Pakistan.  India stood by Bangladesh all-time in her crisis moment. Even despite having internal problems in India during this global inflation, India helped Bangladesh in hours of need. 

One must recall that India has been the most reliable neighbor for Bangladesh at times of crisis, and the very liberation and birth of Bangladesh were possible because of the active support and cooperation of India in 1971. Though there was a bad phase in between for the bilateral relationship between the two countries against the backdrop of certain political problems in Bangladesh, India has stood by its neighbour in a very significant manner when the entire world was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is India that stood by Bangladesh always. Even during the green Chiles’s crisis, India helped Bangladesh to control and stabilize its local vegetable market. India’s helping hand to Bangladesh is time-tested. A friend in need is a friend indeed. 

India has always had good relations with Bangladesh. India helps Bangladesh in many ways. The bond of harmony between the two countries is also quite strong. Modi promised to work with Sheikh Hasina to further strengthen India-Bangladesh relations. However, during this green chilies’ crisis moment, India proves once again that it’s the real friend of Bangladesh.

The height of the relationship between the two countries can be seen through the exchange of high-level visits in recent times. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi in October 2019. In November of the same year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the first pink-ball day-night cricket match between Bangladesh and India in Kolkata as the honourable guest of the Government of India. In March 2021, Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh as a ‘Guest of Honour’ on the occasion of Mujib Barsha. This was PM Modi’s first trip to a foreign country since the global outbreak of the coronavirus in 2020.

Moreover, the ex-President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, visited Bangladesh from December 15-17 in 2021 to attend the celebration of Bangladesh’s 50th Victory Day, the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh. This was also Ram Nath Kovind’s first visit to Bangladesh, at the invitation of Bangladesh’s immediate past President Md Abdul Hamid, since he took office. There is no other example of the President and Prime Minister of India visiting the same country in the same year during corona. This is an expression of the excellent friendly relations and warmth of the two countries.

During the government of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has played a role in protecting the geographical integrity of India and bringing stability to the Seven Sisters. The leadership at all levels of India has unreservedly acknowledged it. Assam, Tripura, Arunachal, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur, the 7 states of Northeast India known as Seven Sisters, are now enjoying peace and stability. One of the top leaders of ULFA, Anup Chetia, was handed over to India. On this issue reports and articles are often published in Indian media praising Bangladesh enthusiastically.

At present 1160 MW of electricity is being imported from India. Discussions on importing electricity from Nepal and Bhutan through India are ongoing. As a result of continued diplomatic activities, a draft memorandum of understanding on investment in proposed trilateral hydropower projects between Bangladesh and India is under discussion, as well as a memorandum of understanding between Bangladesh and Bhutan on investment in hydropower projects in Bhutan.

Now to go from Kolkata to Agartala via Bangladesh it takes 6 to 7 hours in India and the distance has to be covered at most 350 miles. India has been seeking this facility for a long time, which has been piloted in the current context of warm relations between the two countries. In continuation of this, the Akhaura-Agartala rail line will be launched in the next few months. Then Shahjadpur-Kulaura will be completed. Experts believe that the Petropol-Benapol, Gede-Darshana and Birol-Radhikapur connectivity will protect the interests of both countries in the coming days.

India’s relationship with Bangladesh is very deep. The relationship between the two friendly nations, based on the same culture for thousands of years, is still alive. More updates on this will follow. I can say with confidence that Bangladesh-India friendship is now at a unique height, the highest level in its 52-year history. This achievement belongs to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina and the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. Let the warmth of the relationship spread in the friendship and love of the people of the two countries.

Indrajit Kumar

Indrajit Kumar is an educator, OpEd columnist, international affairs analyst and freelance researcher.

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