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Wheat Loss

July 13, 2015

Bangladesh’s relations with South America remain an unsuccessful adventure with full of tragedies and twists and turns. However, in Textiles and garments, which are gradually finding their markets in South America, the tie is yielding some benefits.

The continent, viewed enviously by local leftists as a league of west-defying regimes, is exporting its age-old vice to subcontinent: narcotics.

Seizure of a consignment of liquid cocaine at Chittagong port actually brought to fore this whole fishy narcotics trade. The concoction of cocaine and sunflower oil was destined for a third country.  It is not certain that whether the consignment was first of its kind or there were other such consignments passed through Chittagong port. British authority should get the due credit since their tip-off actually put Bangladeshi authority onto the whereabouts of the contraband. Prima facie, it was reported that cocaine consignment was heading for India. Only India’s annual cocaine consumption data can verify such assumption. The incident is a revelation that poor governance and lack of scrutiny have turned Bangladesh into a transit country of contraband and narcotics trade.

In the literary arena, the search for ties between the two came to an abrupt hault with the brutal murder of Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy. Avijit’s last book is about an Argentine literary magazine editor Victoria Ocampo who had acquaintance with Nobel laureate Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Avijit traveled the breadth and length of Argentina and Peru and researched on the little known Tagore-Ocampo relationship. He is perhaps the first writer who published a book on Ocampo for Rabindraphiles, followed by another book published from Kolkata by an Indian writer .

But, it was the Brazilian wheat that stirred the storm into the teacup and drew most of public attention at the end of the day. The wheat, imported by govt and was about to be stocked into govt depots, was very poor in quality. However, the food ministry maintained that despite its poor quality, the wheat is edible and not hazardous. Even High Court intervened by issuing a ruling stating that govt has to take back the wheat if anyone wants to return it.

The ensuing debate almost unseated the Food Minister. However, he did not resign. Nor did the Expatriates’ Welfare Minister, Khondoker Mosharraf Hossain, following the discovery of mass graves of migrant Bangladeshi workers in Thai and Malaysian jungles and an unprecedented rise of human trafficking incidents since independence. Rather, Mosharraf Hossain has recently been given another portfolio.

The interesting part of this wheat debate is that wheat remains as scandalous in Bangladeshi politics as it was in the era of military rule.

Few years ago, during the time of caretaker govt, a controversy surrounding the exhibition of Bangladeshi artifacts in a European country ended up in the resignation of a bureaucrat-turned minister. The exhibition was canceled and the relations with European country became strained. Save-our-culture jihadists’ relentless campaign had played a role in minister’s premature departure.

A govt with little public mandate does not care about people. But what does happen to our nationalists and firebrand patriots who love to let off steams on the streets whenever this kind of controversy broke out? Why are they so quiet? Do they already have their pound of flesh for being quiet?

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