During the recent green-chili crisis, India helped Bangladesh control and stabilize its local market prices through chili exports, even though that led to its sharp price rise back home.
An estimated 123 tons of green chilies has arrived in Bangladesh from India through the Benapole port in five truckloads. A few more trucks of raw chilies are waiting to cross the border.
The Bangladesh government approved importing 36,830 tons of green chili from India to address a severe shortage and curb the excessive price of the popular vegetable that is an indispensable ingredient of all dishes in Bangladeshi and other South Asian countries. The price of each kg of green chili exceeded Tk1,000 at local markets when the country was celebrating the Eid-ul-Azha festival and its shortage became the most important talking point in the country. It was only after days of much debate and clamor when the government decided to import green chilies from abroad that prices began to fall.
Bengalis are chili lovers. The country produces more than 200,000 tons of pepper annually. About one and a half kg per capita and 9 kg per household of chilly is consumed per year but this year because of the various market factors the spicy vegetable became unaffordable.
India's chili exports to Bangladesh in times of need have opened a new chapter of friendship between the two neighbours. India has been a reliable neighbor for Bangladesh in times of crisis, and the very liberation and birth of Bangladesh was possible because of the active support and cooperation of India in 1971. Though there was a bad phase in the bilateral relationship between the two countries because of certain political problems in Bangladesh, India stood by its neighbour when the entire world was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
India is a genuine friend in need
During the recent green-chili crisis, India helped Bangladesh control and stabilize its local vegetable market prices through chili exports, even though that led to its sharp price rise back home. India’s helping hand to Bangladesh is time-tested. And a friend in need is a friend indeed.
India helps Bangladesh in many ways. At present 1160 MW of electricity is being imported from India. Discussions on importing electricity from Nepal and Bhutan through India are ongoing. 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.
Rail connectivity between the two countries is also increasing. New rail links will make travelling between the two countries far easier and quicker.
India's relationship with Bangladesh is very deep. The relationship between the two friendly nations, based on common culture for hundreds of years, is still alive. Bangladesh-India friendship is now at a unique height, the highest in its 52-year history. This achievement can be credited to the joint vision of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Let the warmth of the relationship spread through the friendship and love of the people of the two countries.
(The author is a Dhaka-based educator, international affairs analyst and researcher. Views are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)