A consignment of 2,600 kg mangoes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, and other leaders has reached India as a mark of goodwill from Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, reports said. The mangoes are of the Haribhanga variety, grown in northwest Bangladesh.
Md Samiul Quader, first secretary (political) of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata, received the consignment. Daily Manab Zamin, a Dhaka-based newspaper, reported that the shipment arrived at Bengal’s Benapole-Petrapole checkpost on Sunday. The consignments will be shipped to the residences of their respective recipients soon. One consignment will also be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind. The report said Bangladesh was planning to send mangoes to some states in the northeastern such as Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura.
Mango is a staple in households in both Bengal and Bangladesh, with the fruit seen not only as a summer delicacy but as an essential ingredient in several dishes on both sides of the border. India as a whole is home to over 1,000 varieties of mangoes, only a few of which are cultivated for commercial purposes. The Indian mango is also among the most popular export products with shipments heading to the Middle East, the United States and the United Kingdom every summer.
The fibre-rich fruit is popular throughout south Asia. And so is the tradition of mango diplomacy. In 2015, then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reportedly sent a box of mangoes to his Indian counterpart on the occasion of Id, following a flurry of ceasefire violations along the border. Pakistan, which is the world’s fifth-largest producer of mangoes, reportedly sends cartons to political leaders across the globe. Pakistan has used ‘mango diplomacy’ to secure friendships before as well, none more so than with China, when Chinese leader Mao Zedong was gifted a box of mangoes to cement a friendship between the two countries in the late 1960s.
India and Bangladesh, a part of Pakistan till 1971, haven’t been on the best of terms of late after India halted exports of COVID-19 vaccines to that country. Mango diplomacy has always been a tradition in the South-Asian region. Even before that, the two countries were at loggerheads over sharing over the water from the Teesta river in north Bengal.
Modi is a big fan of mangoes and had revealed in an interview to actor Akshay Kumar ahead of the general elections in 2019 that he loved the juicy fruit as a youngster and still loves them. He added that he did not have the luxury of buying mangoes as a child in Gujarat and, as a result, resorted to plucking from the trees. However, he had added that he has to control how many mangoes he eats these days because of his age. But whether he controls his desire after receiving Hasina’s gift is another matter altogether.