We are not privy to decision-making on supply of fertilizers and its modality right now. But we are reminded of two events as regards Nepal-Bangladesh relations. Facebook
First, we happened to hurriedly reach Dhaka to take up our oft repeated position, de facto or de jure, of number-two in the Embassy on the waning days of June 1995 as our predecessor Mana Bahadur Bisht now no more, had already come back and Ambassador was ringing every day. The first day of arrival was memorable hospitality by Ambassador Lok Bahadur Shrestha who is also sadly no more. He was nice, jovial and a good expert on gastronomy. After serving food, he immediately asked me and other colleagues, Rishi Ram Ghimire, now Ambassador in Moscow and Jeet Bahadur Karkee now posted in the third position in Tokyo, to pack up our essential items and leave for Chittagong. In a way, he virtually asked us to leave Dhaka within a couple of days to arrange for the supply of chemical fertilizers that we had procured from Bangladesh. We left Ambassador Shrestha whom we affectionately referred to as HL, alone to fend for himself and travelled to the site of the production of fertilizers as if making the circuit house as our Embassy.
The whole movement of supply that passed through Kolkata by vessels and then to Kathmandu by road was aptly monitored by our Foreign Secretary Kedar Bhakta Shrestha and of course by Ambassador Lok Bahadur Shrestha. The manner with which we could arrange the supply of much needed item for the agrarian economy saw immediate rewards in the form of grade enhancements for all of us. Since we could also crack joke, we proposed to the Ambassador to collectuvely recommend his name too to the Ministry for enhancement of his grade. As a simple person, the Ambassador did not understand our joke and declined our offer immediately. The Embassy also made serious efforts to make a long-term perspective plan to ensure regular supply of fertilizers to Nepal as the factories there were quite interested and there was even offer of investments in establishing a chemical fertilizer plant based on nitrogen. May be experts can talk much on this matter. We did not proceed any further as we are not at all serious people and wake up only at the last hour as if such panic button has been pushed by someone instead of taking it as a regular exercise. To go back to our team, Jeet Bahadur Karkee is a wonderful colleague. There was one secretary in the government with the same name and coming from the same discipline. There was of course another Jeet Bahadur who used to be involved in bilateral relations with Bangladesh.
Second, when we were in Japan, our close colleague Hari Kumar Shrestha was ambassador in Dhaka. He spared no pains in arranging support for Nepal during the time of mega earthquake in 2015. Bangladesh made an impressive supply of food grains to us to meet possible shortages. It was highly appreciated by all. Ambassador Hari sir is also credited to have successfully resolved the problem emanating from students in Chittagong just before his appointment as ambassador when I was foreign secretary n he handled least popular among colleagues, South Asia. It is an entirely different story that we read several reports of the Bangladeshi rice supplied to us in times of emergency as a bulk of the supply was allowed to decay, gather worms and become inedible in poorly managed stores itself. This again proved that we are neither serious nor do our homework in time.
Time has come that we at least become serious in matters of supply and procurement, not to speak of any other tangible development, as the need of fertilizers is a permanent affair and not like COVID-19 or earthquake that came without adequate warning. Alternatively, we shall remain in the same position despite our claim for superiority and forward-looking approach.
Madan n Ambika