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Sheikh Hasina Deploys Mango Diplomacy To Counter Rising Tensions With India

by Nabjot Kaur

Sheikh Hasina Deploys Mango Diplomacy To Counter Rising Tensions With India

July 5, 2021

Mango is not just India's national fruit but it's also India's favorite. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh in a display of friendship gifted over two-ton mangoes to India.

Mangoes or Mangifera Indica, also known as the king of fruits in India, originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is the national fruit of India. India is also the world’s largest producer of mangoes and grows over 1200 varieties of mangoes throughout the year. On Sunday, 4 July, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gifted 2600 kgs of mangoes to India, in 260 cartons. The Mangoes were sent as a “Memento of friendship,” said Deputy Commissioner of Benapole Customs House, Anupam Chakma. Sheikh Hasina sent these mangoes to her Indian counterpart Mr. Narendra Modi, Mamta Banerjee(CM of Bengal), and some other political leaders.

On completion of all the customs and port formalities, a Bangladeshi truck loaded with 260 cartons of special Haribhanga mangoes crossed the border in the afternoon, after clearing the port and customs formalities. The fruit was officially handed over to the Indian authorities on the Bangladesh-India border, at no-man’s land. The shipment was received by the First Secretary of the Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Kolkata, Md Samiul Quader. President Ram Nath Kovind is also one of the recipients. The report also states that Bangladesh is planning to send more mangoes to the northeastern states of India like Assam Mizoram, Tripura, and Meghalaya. “Our Prime Minister has sent 2,600 kilograms of local Haribhanga mangoes for India’s Prime Minister, Chief Minister of West Bengal, and other political leaders,” said Anupam Chakma.

modi=bangladesh-scoolbuzz
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh in a display of friendship gifted over two-ton mangoes to India.

Haribhanga Mangoes

Haribhanga are a special variety of Mango cultivated in the northwest part of Bangladesh, mainly in the Rangpur district. Locally known as Haribhanga, these mangoes are slightly black with a round shape. They are fiberless less, fleshy and they weigh around 300-400 grams. However, some mangoes are even recorded to grow as much as 700 grams. These mangoes are one of the major sources of trading for around 30 thousand people of Mithakupur and other Upazilas of the Rangpur district.

Mango Diplomacy

So, was that a part of “Mango Diplomacy” or was it a genuine gesture of friendship from the Bangladesh PM? On closely reviewing the gesture, one can make out that Hasina sent these mangoes exactly when Dhaka was facing issues with Delhi, as New Delhi temporarily halted the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh from India. It’s possible that this was more of a selfish act than a genuine one or vice versa.

A similar move was made by Pakistan in 2015, when then PM of Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, sent their special Chaunsa variety of mangoes to PM Narendra Modi, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, President Pranab Mukherjee, and Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi to promote goodwill between India and Pakistan. According to an official, “Mangoes were sent around the same time as foreign secretary S Jaishankar warned Pakistan of a forceful and effective response to the ceasefire violation in Kashmir”. This brought Pakistan’s Mango Diplomacy to the forefront. Along with India, the Mangoes were also sent to other countries like Canada, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, etc. But some countries like the United States and China refused to accept the gesture.

Maitri Setu

Coming back to India and Bangladesh, the latter settled a deal between its drug maker Beximco Pharma and Serum Institute of India in November 2020 to manufacture around three crore (30 million) doses of vaccine. It paid around $60 million for the same. But, out of the promised amount of doses, it has just received 10 million doses from India. However, India is planning to resume its vaccine shipment to the neighboring countries by late July-Aug, only if the vaccination numbers increase within India.

Amid rising tensions between both countries on Teesta River water sharing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Dhaka in March 2020 to discuss the same. Apart from this, India and Bangladesh jointly inaugurated the ‘Maitri Setu’ bridge which will connect Bangladesh with India’s Landlocked Northeast, another effort made to drive away from the tensions between both nations.

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