Ø 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. The mangoes are of the Haribhanga variety, grown in Rangpur district of Bangladesh.
Ø The mangoes were transported through the land border via the Benapole-Petrapole checkpoint. 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.
Ø 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 Narendra Modi on the occasion of Id, following a flurry of ceasefire violations along the border.
Ø 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. Mango diplomacy has always been a tradition in the South-Asian region.
Ø The gift from Bangladesh PM Hasina comes at a time when there is growing disquiet on the Bangladeshi side over the halting of vaccine exports from India since late March. In March this year, Dhaka was the destination for PM Modi’s first and only foreign visit since the Covid-19 outbreak.