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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2612

Libyan unwarranted interference: Bangladesh ‘Should merge with India’

By T R Sharma-contributing for Asian tribune

The Libyan media published an article titled 'Bangladesh 'Should Merge With India' Posted: 2007/09/07 From: Mathaba net. This news item is motivated with an ulterior sinister design and violation of decency and decorum of international practices and gross interference into the internal affairs of Bangladesh.. It's a piety that we don't get any comment from Bangladesh Care Taker Government. Are they in daytime snapping?

The news item says: “A member of the International Scientific Committee of the World Centre for Studies and Researches on The Green Book says that there is a call for Bangladesh to merge with India in order to save it. He said that Bangladesh faces no future, as it will disappear under the sea, something that the author of The Green Book, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi has confirmed on a number of occasions. He said Bangladesh's best bet is to submit a proposal to India to say that it is willing to become a state in an Indian Union, and thus to cease to exist as an independent country.

By becoming additional eastern states within India, local democracy will continue, and thus the effect on the people is positive. Moreover, the resources of India's central government would be required to defend its territory and care for its citizens and they can relocate to any other part of the country in the case of flooding. He pointed out that Bangladesh has no need for an armed force of its own but should instead say to India we are ready to submit to you, come and occupy us and integrate us within India. This would put an end to accusations against Bangladesh regarding terrorism, and allow India to take full responsibility for its new state.

Historically, he said, the entire region has one culture and one destiny. It was British colonialism, which ripped the region apart into several failed states the borders of which produced tensions. Bangladesh has one chance for survival and that is immediate and unconditional offering of itself for full integration into India, he said.

All politicians of Bangladesh, can submit themselves for election to the new local state after an interim period of transition to India's democracy, or immediately be removed should India wish upon reunification. The armed forces, police and other institutions can be integrated or maintain their existence during a transition phase, or the new states of Bangladesh can have certain autonomy functions at the state level.

The precedent for integration is not new, with Hong Kong, East and West Germany being but two recent examples which lessons can be learnt from that it is entirely possible for a larger state to easily absorb a smaller one with more benefits than disadvantages, he said" ## ends (Source: www.newsnow.co.uk search 'Bangladesh' dated 8 Sept.07)

Discussion:

Why Libya is interested in the internal affairs of Bangladesh and to suggest Bangladesh to merge with India? What are the motives behind such unbecoming comment on a UN member country Bangladesh?

In analyzing the statement, apart from other options we find three prong motives appear –

Cultural and Socio-politico reality of Bangladesh
Geo-political reality or compulsions. Islamists Terrorists Passage from Arab world to Indonesia via India

A) Cultural and Socio-politico reality of Bangladesh:

Ancient Hindu epics indicate those thousands of years ago; tribal people inhabited a kingdom called Vanga in the region that is now Bangladesh. Before about the 200's BC, the region formed part of the Maurya Empire. This empire broke up about 185 BC, and local kings then ruled Bengal. From about A.D. 320 to 500, the region was part of the Gupta Empire.

Buddhist rulers gained control of eastern Bengal in the mid-700's. Buddhist culture spread throughout the region. After about 300 years of Buddhist rule, Hindu kings came to power. The Pala Empire, which lasted for more than four hundred years and reached its zenith in the eighth and ninth centuries under Dharmapala and Devapala, is cited as an example of Bengal's political genius.

Beginning in the 1200's, Turkish Muslims who had conquered northern India extended their control into eastern Bengal. Muslim art and architecture flourished. By about the 1600's, most of the, oppressed Buddhist and downtrodden saivait-Hindus, people of eastern Bengal had been converted to Islam. For about five hundred years beginning from the 13th century, this region was under the Muslim rule, Parsi was the court language. Bengali language was nurtured in Sultanate period as court language.

The English government in 1600 to develop trade with India and the Far East chartered the East India Company. By the mid-1700's, the company had become the strongest trading power in Bengal. In 1757, company forces led by Robert Clive defeated the ruler, Nawab of Bengal, in the Battle of Plassey.

The emergence of Bangladesh has raised fundamental questions about the concept of nationhood in South Asian subcontinent. The political evolution of Bangladesh region deviated significantly from that of neighboring Bihar and Assam. Bihar witnessed the emergence of large empires like the Nandas, Mauryas, Guptas and Palas in the ancient period. In Assam, the militarist Ahom rulers succeeded in building a strong empire which lasted for about six hundred years (13 th century to 19th century A.D.). Similarly other regions of South Asia also experienced the rise of large empires in different phases of their history. By contrast, political entities in Bengal particularly in the East and south were always small and short-lived. (Dr. Akbar,p-18)

The culture of Bangladesh has a unique history, dating back more than 2500 years ago. The land, the rivers and the lives of the common people formed a rich heritage with marked differences from neighboring regions. It has evolved over the centuries, and encompasses the cultural diversity of several social groups of Bangladesh. The culture of Bangladesh is composite, and over centuries has assimilated influences of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Islam . It is manifested in various forms, including music , dance and drama; art and craft ; folklores and folktales; languages and literature , philosophy and religion, festivals and celebrations, as also in a distinct cuisine and culinary tradition. Bangladesh is ethnically homogeneous, with Bengalis comprising 98% of the population.

The majority of Bangladeshis (about 86%) are Muslims, and a number of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians are also in the country. People of different religions perform there religious rituals with festivity in Bangladesh. The Government has declared National Holidays on all important religious festivals of the four major religions. Eid-ul-Fitr,Eid-ul-Azha, Jnmaatami of Lord Krishna, Durga Puja, Buddha Purnima and Christmas are celebrated with enthusiasm in Bangladesh. All of these form an integral part of the cultural heritage of Bangladesh. (Wikipeadea,gogle/Bangladesh)

The birth of Bangladesh reaffirmed the partition of a distinct geographical unit and division of a homogeneous ethno-linguistic community. Neither part of the divided Bengal has exclusive claim over Bengal's rich cultural heritage. (Discovery of Bangladesh, Akbar Ali Khan, 2001,p-14)

Political Reminiscences of the 20th Century

Bengal became a province of British India. Under British rule, industrial development and educational reforms advanced rapidly in western Bengal, where most of the people were Hindus. But eastern Bengal, where most of the people were Muslims, remained backward and agricultural. Throughout British India, independence movements began to gain strength during the 1900's.

"1901 Indians generally had mourned the death of Queen Victoria, whose concern and affection for India admitted of no doubt. The accession of King Edward was celebrated at Delhi in January 1903, where a great durbar was attended by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. The speech of the Viceroy was full of confidence in the present and the future .Yet in fact the period of unchallenged government, which had, lasted since the Mutiny was drawing to a close.

Among the Western educated classes, who were dissatisfied with their economic position and had imbibed ideas of nationality and self-government from English politics, history and literature, there was an impatience of existing conditions. The presidency province of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, with its population of 78, 000, 000, including the inhabitants of the capital of the Empire, had weighed too heavily on a single provincial government.

The water-country of eastern Bengal with its abundant rainfall, its precarious and scanty communications, its rich harvests of rice and jute, its teeming population partly concentrated in a few towns but mainly scattered over multitudinous villages, had been largely and inevitably neglected. Some administrative change was desirable: and after much discussion, after personally touring in Eastern Bengal and consulting its leading men, after considering the matter on leave to England, Lord Curzon decided, in consultation with his Executive Council, to combine the existing province with small neighboring province of Assam in a new arrangement whereby two new provinces would be constituted, one consisting of Western Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, and the other of Eastern Bengal and Assam.

The Hindu Bar and Press at Calcutta were already opposed to Lord Curzon's policy, and particularly to vested interests too seemed in peril. A loud outery was raised that the Bengali nation would be cut into two. ... The partition was carried out in October 1905; and the new provinces started on their brief career. Lord Curzon had left India on November 18,1905. Lord Minto had succeeded him; and Mr.John, afterwards Lord; Morley had become Secretary of State, as the representative of a mammoth Liberal majority in the House of Commons. Lord Curzon's resignation was caused by a difference with the Commander -in –Chief, Lord Kitchener, who was busy with their organization of the Indian Army.

... On December 12, 1911, King George V and Queen Mary presided over a Coronation Durbar at Delhi. The royal visit was a brilliant success, .... At the Durbar His Majesty announced that Bengal would no longer be divided. The capital of India would henceforth be Delhi and not Calcutta ... Congress was gratified; but the Mohammedans of the young province of Eastern Bengal and Assam were bitterly annoyed." (INDIA by Sir Verney Lovett, K.C.S.I., M.A., 1923,p.156-67)

Revolutionary Terrorism marked a phase in Bengal politics characterized by political violence by youthful section of the Hindu upper caste mainly during the first three decades of the twentieth century. The emergence of revolutionary terrorism coincided with the partition of Bengal (1905) and rift in the Indian National Congress (INC) as moderate and extremist.

The revolutionaries were organized into two major groups Calcutta Jugantar and Dacca Anushilan Samiti.These revolutionaries had to face Britishers tortures, jail, and transpotation to the Andamans cellular jails as well over two decades. Later they joined INC, Communist Party and National Volunteer Corps of Subhas Chandra Bose.

In 1915, reflecting critically upon the Swadeshi Movement, Rabindranath Tagore (1860-1941) wrote his best –known novel Ghorey Bairey in English translation, the Home and the World (which Satyajit Ray filmed in 1984). 'In fact, so strong did the Hindus remain and so violent was their protest that in the royal durbar of 1911,when high British officials heard the complaints of the people and King George V was crowned Emperor of India, England reversed its decision, much to the disappointment of Muslims. To placate the Muslims, the British made two crucial decisions: they offered to (and ultimately did) build a university in Dhaka for East Bengal's Muslim majority, and they punished Calcutta's powerful minority Hindus by moving the viceroy's capital to Delhi. This move marked the beginning of the end of British rule and the decline of Bengal as a province. ' (Novak, Bangladesh, 1994, p-88)

"To begin with, how firm is the foundation of the nation we are considering? Nearly 100 years ago the Bengali-speaking people of the British Indian Empire, at least the vocal and vociferous section of it, vowed to unsettle a settled fact and to a large extent succeeded in unsettling it. The Bengali speaking people were to live together ever after, presumably too. ... But the majority of the Bengali speaking people, not altogether unwilling to go it alone, out side India and Pakistan, but not without reservation. The reservation resulted in the Language Movement, the end product of which is the new nation-state of Bangladesh ...The most abiding product of the genius of a people, its language, is neither the product of labor in isolation nor unshared by other people. The language of our nation is also the language of a part of the great nation in India-Surendra Nath Banerjee's nation in the making."(Razzak, Bangladesh: State of the Nation, p.2-3)

In December 1906 chiefly at the initiative of a Muslim Leader of Bengal, namely, Nawab Salimullah of Dacca, that the All India Muslim League (AIML) was established. This political conference attended by a section of Muslim religious leaders, landlords and professional men to form the AIML "with its main objective resolution 'to foster a sense of loyalty to the British Government among the Muslims of India.' The Muslim League grew up under British patronage."( Genesis of Bangladesh,SubrataRoy Chowdhury, p.4)

In course of time the Muslim League had become the most popular political organization of the Indian Muslims. We would discuss the political developments in Bengal during the era of Deshbandhu C R Das and aftermath in the bygone century. How taking advantage of the backwardness of the Muslim community and by exploiting the religious sentiments of the people, the Muslim League leadership sought to win the support of the Muslim masses?

But Anushilan –Jugantar merger revive the spirit of the revolution movement, they made a federation of all groups to launch a new offensive. Niranjan Sengupta of the Barisal Anushilan, Satish Chandra Pakrashi of Dacca Anushilan, Jatin Das of the South Calcutta Anushilan, led the Federation and Surjya Sen and Ganesh Ghose of the Chittagong Jugantar Party. They adopted in 1929 a programme of hitting government establishment all at a time. Biplobi Surjya Sen made series of attacks on government establishment from 1929 to 1933 including most sensational Chittagong Armoury raid led in 1930.

Surjya Sen alias Masterda (1894-1934) was hanged in Chittagong Jail in 1934.and his followers were tortured, jailed and transported.

The 1930 Chittagong Youth Revolt, which the British colonialists used to denigrate as the loot of the Chittagong Armoury, was one of the glorious chapters of the anti-colonial movement of the subcontinent and a valiant example of armed struggle. The exploits of the revolutionaries, whom the British denounced and tried and hanged as terrorists, have entered our folklore of people's struggle. Masterda Surya Sen, the leader of the revolt, has ever remained an icon of revolution and patriotism. One of the associate Biplovi Benode Behari Chowdhury is now 98 ,living in Chittagong.

T R Sharma is a researcher and columnist.

To be Continued

- Asian Tribune -

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