In 2010, India and Bangladesh signed an agreement for setting up of Border Haats. It’s been three years since the agreement expired in 2013, but four of these Haats flourished. The considerable success of these haats has paved the way for six more of them to be established. And if Indian and Bangladeshi officials are to be believed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is set to be signed by this year-end or early next year.
What are Border Haats?
Border Haat means makeshift bazaar/ market at a certain point on zero lines of the India-Bangladesh borders allowing villagers of both the countries to market and shop each other’s products once a week.
The Border Haats are aimed at creating a traditional system of marketing local produce through local markets in local currency or on a barter basis, thereby promoting the well-being of the people living in remote areas, along both sides of the border. The Haats also do their bit to boost India-Bangladesh ties.
The border haats which are currently operational are: Kalaichar (Meghalaya-Bangladesh border), Balat (Meghalaya-Bangladesh border), Kamlasagar (Tripura-Bangladesh border), Srinagar (Tripura-Bangladesh border).
In addition, both the Government agreed to further establish two Border Haats in Tripura and four Border Haats in Meghalaya on the Bangladesh border.
How to make the haats more purposeful?
Both the Governments clearly seem buoyed by the success of these border haats as the period of the MoU has been increased to five years from the previous three years. Not only that, the number of vendors is also set to be increased to 50 from 25. The value of purchase person has been estimated at $200. Trading could be carried out in both Indian and Bangladeshi currencies. Barter system too can be implemented.
However World Bank Operations Officer (Regional Integration-South Asia) Mohini Datt rues the fact these haats have a lesser number of women. According to her, women vendors should be increased in these haats.
‘Women’s participation in the ‘Border Haats’ would make the scheme more meaningful and purposeful. In many countries including African nations, the ‘Border Haats’ scheme has achieved tremendous success’, she said.