Rotten Indian rice likely to hurt India’s ties with Bangladesh

December 22nd, 2007 - 11:59 am ICT by admin  

By B. Roy
Dhaka, Dec.22 (ANI): Some vested interests in Bangladesh have alleged that the Indian Government is exporting rice to Bangladesh that is rotten in quality, and if this “word of mouth rumour” gains credence, it could affect bilateral ties between the two countries.
According to informed sources, a section in Bangladesh, known for their traditional India baiting, is responsible for spreading this rumour, and have suggested that the Government of India would do well to ensure the export of quality rice.
There is a view that anti-India sentiment is building up in Bangladesh, and there are senior people like former judge and member of the Bangladesh Election Commission, Abdul Rab, who have publicly stated that the issue of the trial of war criminals in Bangladesh, has been fomented by India to divide the country.
Intellectuals and representatives of NGOs’ in Bangladesh, besides university dons and key civil society members are appalled over the caretaker government’s inability to “differentiate between the head, the body and the tail of the problems” facing Bangladeshi society.
An eminent economist and sociologist told this agency in an informal chat over the phone, that the army-backed caretaker government “seems to have lost its way and is flaying its hands in the dark, hoping to hit a solution”.
The economist, who preferred not to be named at this stage, told the BBC’s Bengali service recently that the immediate approach of the caretaker government should be to at least procure the cheapest cereals - rice and wheat - and provide it to the people.
There is a view that the machinery is just not functioning, and is constricted by overwhelming responsibilities. There are people in the government who are literally sitting with their arms folded. For instance, some of the government institutions, including those responsible or connected with procurement and the issuing of licenses are acting in an almost frozen manner.
Over the years, these departments have developed an institutionalised system of corruption where, everyone from the top downwards get their fixed cuts from deals.
With the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) very recently looking into these work systems, these agencies have had to put up their defences.
The Council of Advisors’ Purchase Committee have recently approved the procurement of rice and wheat from local suppliers totalling around 2.6 million tonnes. This was done on December 17.
The crackdown on corruption has slowed down the business of small and middle-level food importers. More than 400,000 people have been detained since January 11 this year, the day a state of emergency was declared in Bangladesh. Most of them were detained on “suspicion” and belong to different strata of society.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), however, reports that the level of corruption in the country has not gone down. Questions are being asked as to how the caretaker government plans to deal with this assessment, and why no ordinance has been issued to check these hoarders of foodstuff. (ANI)

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