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Sunday, November 25, 2012
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Ironic rice of India

Conditions fulfilled, sale deal agreed following cyclone Sidr havoc yet rice never crossed the border

A farmer carries his produce on a traditional bullock cart on the dirt road of Shalna in Gazipur yesterday. Farmers across the country are now busy harvesting their aman paddy leaving fields empty, much like the one seen in the background of the photo. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq

Bangladesh didn't receive even a single tonne of rice from India to contain the spiralling food prices between 2010 and 2011, despite its acceptance of India's terms and conditions, Food Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said yesterday.

The Indian authority, however, wanted to provide five lakh tonnes of rice and wheat voluntarily, said Razzaque.

India's pledge to give Bangladesh the grains came when the country was trying to overcome the impacts of cyclone Sidr and recurring floods.

"We did not want any favour or concessionary price. We wanted to buy the grains at the international market price," said the minister.

He said the Indian government gave many conditions and Bangladesh accepted them all.

The conditions stipulated relaxation of policies that Bangladesh usually follows when importing food grains, he said.

As a norm, the food ministry inspects the purchased food items at the ports of unloading, such as Chittagong and Mongla ports, but India insisted that the inspection should take place at the ports of loading.

"We accepted that," said Razzaque.

It then sought relaxation of the requirement for 5 percent performance guarantee, which the food ministry agreed to, he said.

Later, India imposed another condition which said 90 percent of the value of letters of credit would have to be paid before shipment, which Bangladesh accepted as well.

But that was not the last of India's demands. The next one stipulated that the inspection be conducted at the warehouse and payment be made through telegraphic transfer.

"Then I spoke to the highest level [of the Indian government] to convey my concerns over this proposition. What if some dishonest traders switch trucks after loading and send bad quality grains? We won't be able to do much then."

"The conditions were discussed in detail and we decided to accept them all, fearing a political backlash if a famine broke out. Still, we could not get the rice.”

According to Razzaque, political tangles or internal problems might have been the reason behind India's decision. “But wisdom should prevail…for humanity, for mankind."

His comments came at the inaugural session of a policy dialogue “Value Chains for Inclusive Development: Lessons and Policies for South Asia”, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue in association with several national, regional and international organisations at the Brac Centre.

The minister expressed his gratitude to Vietnam and Thailand that sold Bangladesh 5 lakh and 2.50 lakh tonnes of rice during the food crisis.

"Fortunately, we could tackle the crisis. Vietnam and Thailand accepted the terms and conditions we usually practise,” Razzaque said.

"We also got wheat from Ukraine and they too accepted the terms and conditions we practise."

Terming his experience with India a bitter one, Razzaque stressed the need for “political will” and “sincere political wishes” for effective regional co-operation.

"It depends on political leadership."

The Saarc Food Bank is yet to become operational despite the framework and mode of operation being in place, said the minister.

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Typical India

: T Islam

If we did then it would contradict ALs claim that we have food surplus!

: Selma


  • Anonymous
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 03:30 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    I salute Minister Razzaque to expose Indian chicanery for what it is. From the emergence of Bangladesh, India's track record of treating us is abysmal, and Government of any political stripe must be weary of India. Sticking up for one's national interest is what statesmanship about. Well done.

  • rch
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 03:54 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This is the true face of India ---Why AL is pushing BD to a more subservient position with India?

  • Sohel Taj
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 04:08 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    That clearly shows how friendly that particular country towards us in every sense is. What they did not ask for is that you pay us in full amount and do not ask for rice; you may be able to have agreed that too. Look, my dear minister- we must understand that it can only be based on mutual respect, nothing else. Next time you should learn how to do business and if they do not be guided by standard business rules...we should have guts to take them to Int'l court. This is typical Indian bureaucracy and we have lesson to learn for all parties.

  • N. Alamgir
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 07:43 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This statement by our Food Minister is another glaring example that India will never do anything for Bangladesh. We cannot expect anything from India which will ever benefit Bangladesh, as they do not have the mentality to do good for a Muslim majority nation. This is the truth.

  • Concerned
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 07:45 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Thailand, Vietnam and Ukraine found our usual terms and conditions acceptable and went ahead with the deal and later shipment. But our great friend found and continued to find faults and put forward NEW RULES for us one after another. But just to make our life more difficult. Perhaps wanted a famine to strike us. This is only one instance. There are hundreds of instances where deals are NOT fulfilled by our greatest friend! Now we can realise how the transit, Teesta and other deals would have fared in our favor at all! They have been and will always make a fool of us unless we are able to discuss on equal and internationally acceptable terms.

  • Dr. Iftikhar-ul-Awwal
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 09:14 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    India proved undependable, untrustworthy and deceitful by breaking a pledge whereby it was supposed to provide Bangladesh with five lakh tones of rice and wheat after the cataclysmic cyclone Sidr in November, 2007. India voluntarily came forward with the proposal to sell the same but soon after it started to attach one after another condition for the delivery of the same. To contain the specter of spiraling price rise of the commodities, our government broke all precedents and acceded to all the conditions put forward by the Government of India. Yet not a single tone of rice was delivered in 2010-11 even after the personal intervention of our Food Minister. By their flip flop, Indian government proved to be an unreliable partner in the need of Bangladesh at critical hours (1971 had many dimensions which suited India strategically). Read with issues like Teesta, Tipaimukh, border killings, land boundary disputes, bottlenecks like creating non-tariff barriers-it is no wonder that India is fast losing its friends in Bangladesh.

  • M Mamun
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 09:21 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This is unbelievable and ridiculous. So many things come to Bangladesh from India both legally and illegally. It appears that AL is disheartened with India with the visit of Begam Zia.

  • Hasan-SZ
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 09:39 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    India will always dictate its terms and see to it that Bangladesh is forced to its slave. Thank you PM.

  • Vampire knight
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:08 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This is what India is with us now and has been for centuries. We would have been in great problem this time around again had the Thailand and Vietnam not delivered the rice in time. We must pursue our go east policy seriously without losing time. India will never accept our progress happily and always will try to hold us in their grief. Their attitude has been always like big brother. Whatever they have done in 1971 was for their best interest, not just to help us. Still, we are and will remain thankful, but we must stand on our own feet to compete India economically, academically, politically, intellectually, diplomatically. Because in all these and other avenues they are our close competitor. They always try to push us behind. We must not forget this ever.

  • QTS
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 03:23 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Fortunately, we are on the road to self-sufficiency in food grain production. Hopefully, we will not need to strike detrimental deals like the one described in the future.

  • Ahmed , London
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 04:42 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    It's friendship indeed! When will our novice politicians learn how to deal with a 'big brother'? India's most-loyal political friends in Bangladesh should now realise that they have zero value in India.

  • Ahmed Badruzzaman
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 06:55 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Will these folks learn from this? Being kiss-ups does not benefit in the end. Such shameful agreements should never happen.

  • hasan
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:27 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    If this was done by Bangladesh, I would be ashamed of myself.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 01:44 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    This is all about rice from India. What about wheat? Only yesterday a TV Channel showed rotten wheat from India is being unloaded at Mongla port. If this wheat ultimately come to our market, it would bring about tremendous health hazards for the common people.I, as a consumer and also as a citizen of Bangladesh, appeal to the highest authority including the Hon'ble High Court to kindly take cognisance of the matter and take steps deemed appropriate to save our people.

  • barkat
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 03:05 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    The true face of India is exposed. Those who believe India helped Bangladesh get independence are living in fool's paradise. India dint helped Bangladesh it helped in taking its revenge with Pakistan. If that is understood than it is very clear to know the entire relationship between India and Bangladesh.

  • Vampire knight
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 03:28 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Hearty thanks to Dr Razzak for expressing the fact and to TDS for reporting this for our knowledge of latest Indian attitude towards BD. More thanks to Dr Razzak for tackling the situations taking support from Thailand and Vietnam.

  • Annonymous
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 11:51 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Dear Bangladeshis, please remember the following saying.

    A friend in need,is a friend indeed.

  • Anonymous
    Sunday, November 25, 2012 11:52 PM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    Learn from Nepal too.

  • Nasim Hasan
    Monday, November 26, 2012 10:04 AM GMT+06:00 (168 weeks ago)

    What a mockery!! Present government seems to have lost all self esteem. Why they must make deals with India? Too much dependency on India has made us their undeclared colony. Poor farmers of Bangladesh will never forget what this Indianized government has done with cattle business during Eid-ul-Azha.

  • Salahuddin Ayubi
    Monday, November 26, 2012 03:49 PM GMT+06:00 (167 weeks ago)

    Can this act of our big neighbor be termed as act of friendship? Can they really be trusted? It is said that a friend in need is friend in deed. Question naturally arises if they are our friend indeed.





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