Bengali nationalism | Wikipedia audio article

Bengali nationalism | Wikipedia audio article


Bengali nationalism (Bengali: বাঙালি
জাতীয়তাবাদ) is one of the four fundamental principles according
to the original Constitution of Bangladesh. It was the main driving force behind the creation
of the Independent nation state of Bangladesh through the 1971 liberation war. The people
of Bengali ethnicity speak Bengali Language. Apart from Bangladesh, people of Bengali ethnicity
live across the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and some parts of Jharkhand
known as united Bengal during the British period. After the 19th century’s Bengal Renaissance
occurred in Bengal, it then was the four decades long Bengali Nationalist Movement that shook
the region which included the Bengali Language Movement, the Bangladesh Liberation War and
the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.==History=====Defining a Bengali nation===
Bengalis are the are the people who are commonly referred to as who speak in Bangla language
as a mother language. The history of Bengali people started when Shasanka came to the power.
Bengalis are the people who are third largest ethnicity in the world.About 25 core people
in the world speak in Bangla as a mother tongue.After the birth of Bangladesh Bangla became official
language of Bangladesh(98%). Bangla is also official language of Indian states west Bengal(85.67%),Tripura(67-68%,Assam(27%,only
barak valley), Jharkhand(9-10%,second official language) and Sierra Leon(second language).
There are also significant number of speaker in Pakistan(15 lakh),Indian states Andaman
Nicobar islands(25-26%)and United kingdom(4 lakh).===19th century===Bengali nationalism is rooted in the expression
of pride in the history and cultural heritage of Bengal. In what is described as the Bengal
Renaissance, the introduction of Western culture, science and education led to a major transformation
and development of Bengali society. Bengal became a centre of modern culture, intellectual
and scientific activities, politics and education under British Raj.
The first social and religious reform movements such as the Brahmo Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission
arose in Bengal, as did national leaders and reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Sri
Aurobindo, Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda. Bengali literature, poetry, religion,
science and philosophy underwent a massive expansion with the works of Bankim Chandra
Chatterjee, Debendranath Tagore, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath
Tagore, Satyendra Nath Bose, Jagdish Chandra Bose and Kazi Nazrul Islam.
The Young Bengal, and Jugantar movements and newspapers like Amrita Bazar Patrika led the
intellectual development of India. The Calcutta-based Indian National Association and the British
Indian Association were the earliest political organisations in India.===Partition of Bengal (1905)===The first Bengali nationalist agitation emerged
over the 1905 Partition of Bengal by British authorities. Although the partition was supported
by Bengali Muslims, a large majority of Bengalis protested the partition and participated in
civil disobedience campaigns such as the Swadeshi movement and mass boycott of European goods.
Seeking a united Bengal and rejecting British hegemony, Bengalis also spearheaded an emerging
revolutionary movement, which assumed a central role in the national independence struggle.
It was during this time the Mother Bengal was an immensely popular theme in Bengali
patriotic songs and poems and was mentioned in several of them, such as the song ″Dhana
Dhanya Pushpa Bhara″ and ″Banga Amar Janani Amar″ (Our Bengal Our Mother) by Dwijendralal
Ray. Rabindranath Tagore wrote Banglar Mati Banglar Joland Amar Sonar Bangla, the national
anthem of modern Bangladesh as a rallying cry for proponents of annulment of Partition.
These songs were meant to rekindle the unified spirit of Bengal, to raise public consciousness
against the communal political divide. Bengal became a strong base of the Indian
struggle for independence, giving rise to national political leaders such as Bipin Chandra
Pal, Khwaja Salimullah, Chittaranjan Das, Maulana Azad, Subhas Chandra Bose, his brother
Sarat Chandra Bose, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, A. K. Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy
– the latter two would become important leaders of the Pakistan movement.===United Bengal Proposal===As the Hindu-Muslim conflict escalated and
the demand for a separate Muslim state of Pakistan became popular amongst Indian Muslims,
the partition of India on communal lines was deemed inevitable by mid-1947. To prevent
the inclusion of Hindu-majority districts of Punjab and Bengal in a Muslim Pakistan,
the Indian National Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha sought the partition of these provinces
on communal lines. Bengali nationalists such as Sarat Chandra Bose, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy,
Kiran Shankar Roy, and Abul Hashim sought to counter partition proposals with the demand
for a united and independent state of Bengal. Ideological visions for a “Greater Bengal”
also included the regions of Assam and districts of Bihar.Suhrawardy and Bose sought the formation
of a coalition government between Bengali Congress and the Bengal Provincial Muslim
League. Proponents of the plan urged the masses to reject communal divisions and uphold the
vision of a united Bengal. In a press conference held in Delhi on 27 April 1947 Suhrawardy
presented his plan for a united and independent Bengal and Abul Hashim issued a similar statement
in Calcutta on 29 April. A few days later, Sarat Chandra Bose put forward his proposals
for a “Sovereign Socialist Republic of Bengal.” With the support of the British governor of
the Bengal province, Frederick Burrows, Bengali leaders issued the formal proposal on 20 May.The
Muslim League and the Congress issued statements rejecting the notion of an independent Bengal
on 28 May and 1 June respectively. The Hindu Mahasabha also agitated against the inclusion
of Hindu-majority areas in a Muslim-majority Bengal, while Bengali Muslim leader Khawaja
Nazimuddin and Maulana Akram Khan sought the exclusion of Hindu-majority areas to establish
a homogenous Muslim Pakistan. Amidst aggravating Hindu-Muslim tensions, on 3 June British viceroy
Lord Louis Mountbatten announced plans to partition India and consequently Punjab and
Bengal on communal lines, burying the demand for an independent Bengal.===Partition of Bengal (1947)===In 1947, in line with the Partition of India,
Bengal was partitioned between the Hindu majority west and Muslim majority East. East Bengal
became part of the Islamic state of Pakistan while West Bengal became part of the Republic
of India.==Bengali nationalism in East Pakistan(1947-1971)
==After the decisive defeat in battle of Plashy
in 23rd June 1757 Bengal sink into a British slave for 190 years. During the British rule
Calcutta was the capital of whole India as well as Bengal province till 1910. During
that time Calcutta was the center of education. From 1775 to 1941 to we see the emergence
of Bengal renaissance (From the birth of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to death of Rabindranath Tagore
considered as Bengal renaissance). At that time, we see the emergence of Nationalism
at that we see the revival of oriental language. This time, many of the writer create their
best composition among them Sarath Chandra Chatropadaya, Rabindranath Tagore, Kaji Nazrul
Islam, Mir Mossaraf Hossain are more influential. In the course of time, their creation force
to think Bengali people that we have the separate identity other Indian ethnic people. In 1905
we saw the severe movement due to dividing Bengal. During the time, Bangladesh national
anthem “Amar sonar Bangla” was composed. Especially, that event gathers Bengali people
under same flag to keep Bengal province secure. Then, in 1947 the world saw an emergence of
two country Pakistan and India based on religion. Two parts of Bengali people accepted this
division. After the birth of Pakistan East Bengali people expect that now they will be
get scope to change in fortune. But they saw that new colonies emerge instead of other
colonies. Over the 24 years they exploit us culturally, economically and politically.
Right after the establishment of Pakistan, some prominent Bengali politicians realized
that they need to form a new party to establish their own right. On 23rd June in 1949 Awami
Muslim League was established the leadership of Maoulana Abdul Hamid Khan Basani. This
party played an influential rule to create nationalism and to gain independence in 1971
as a new country.==Factors behind the rise of Bengali nationalism
in East Pakistan=====
Language issue===Right after the establishment of Pakistan,
a controversy arise what would be state language of Pakistan. A movement is started in 1947
few months after the birth of Pakistan its main point was Bengali language. In the beginning,
it was cultural movement, but gradually it took the form of a political movement. The
language movement of 1948-1952, which was divided into two-stage movement. In 1948,
it was restricted between educated and intellectual class and their demand was to make Bengali
language as the state language. But in 1952 it’s not only inadequate to the educated
class, but also spread among the entire Bengali nation. At this stage, demand not only restricted
to discrimination of language, but also it added in the social, political and cultural
discrimination against the Bengalis. As a result, Language Movement brought Bengali
nation on a single political platform and became aware of its own rights. In this way,
the movement of the non-communal Bengali nationalist sentiment, the creation of new consciousness,
the beginning of liberal outlook, the social change, the language movement took Bengalis
into the new horizon. Language Movement motivates Bengali people to autonomy movement and motivates
them in the struggle for independence to gain sovereign Bangladesh. So, it can be said that
due to the language movement, the development of Bengali nationalism was created and helped
to add a new country in world map called Bangladesh.===Bengali Language movement(1952)===The Language movement was a political and
cultural agitation in East Pakistan that centred on the recognition of the Bengali language
as an official language of Pakistan and a broader reaffirmation of the ethno-national
consciousness of the Bengali people. Discontent against Pakistan’s “Urdu-only” policy had
spilled into mass agitation since 1948 and reached its climactic strength after police
fired upon and killed student demonstrators on 21 February 1952.
After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the central government under Muhammad Ali Jinnah
ordained Urdu to be the sole national language, even though the Bengali-speaking peoples formed
a majority of the national population. He did so because Urdu was a neutral language
– it was not the mother tongue of any one of Pakistan’s ethnicities. The policy, compounded
by sectional tensions served as a major provocation of political conflict. Despite protests in
1948, the policy was enshrined into law and reaffirmed by national leaders, including
several Bengali politicians. Facing rising tensions, the government in
East Pakistan outlawed public meetings and gatherings. Defying this, the students of
Dhaka University and other political activists started a procession on 21 February. Near
the current Dhaka Medical College Hospital, police fired on the protesters and numerous
protesters, including Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat, and Abdul Jabbar were
killed. The deaths of the students served to provoke
widespread strikes and protests led mainly by Bengali political parties such as the Awami
League (then Awami Muslim League). The central government relented, granting official status
for Bengali. The Language movement served as a catalyst for the assertion of the Bengali
cultural and national identity within Pakistan.===Significance of Language movement===
Language movement was not only developed for language dignity. In Pakistan, 7.2 percent
of the people were Urdu speakers. On the other hand, 54.6 percent of the population did not
want to accept that their mother language will be neglected. Along with this, the question
of livelihood was also involved. In the beginning, Pakistan established in the center of the
capital administration in West Pakistan, in violation of the multiplicity of population
in East Pakistan. There is a possibility of further lagging behind in various fields due
to choose Urdu as the only state language of Pakistan. It was associated with Western
mentality to deprive Bengalis everywhere including politics. Therefore, language movement makes
the Bengalis skeptical about the Muslim nationalism of Muslim League and the two-nation theory.
They choose Bangla language as the first stage to establish their rights. This Bengali nationalist
spirit inspired the movement for anti-dictatorship and autonomy for the sixties and independent
wars.===Cultural issue===
Pakistan’s two wings were isolate by one thousand miles of enemy territory India. This
unique geographical position could pose a grave threat to the integrity of the country.
There was nothing common between two wings with the exception of religion. In a word,
all the common identity that tie a nation-state, physical bonding, common culture, common language,
habits of life was absent in Pakistan. Eastern wing was only one-seventh of the total
area of the country but its people surpassed the total residents of all other provinces
and states of Western wings. Western wings residents spoke diverse languages such as
Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu and Pashtun. On the other hand, Eastern wings residents Bangla
was the common language. It was also portrait of Bengali nationalism and egotism. The political
professional in West wings predominantly came from the landlords. On the other hand, Eastern
wings from professionals like lawyers, teachers and retired government officials. The people
in the eastern wing were, therefore, more conscious about political matters and well
aware of their rights compared to the people in the western wing who had been living in
a society dominated by the feudal lords and the tribal chiefs. Education was more widespread
in the eastern wing and middle class was strong and assertive. The politician and Government
official from East and West wings had inconsistent ideas and objectives and they could not understand
properly each other’s problems. The Bengali politicians had more secular and democratic
outlook which closest to the common peoples’ mood and attitude. The West Pakistani dominated
ruling class considered every demand of East Pakistanis as a conspiracy and a threat to
the Islamic belief and reliability of the country. Culturally, and possibly mentally,
the country was divided long before the 1971.===Educational and economic grievance===
From 1947 Bangladesh (East Pakistan) is derived from their legal rights by Pakistan (West
Pakistan). The East Pakistani population was 58% of the total population of the whole of
Pakistan. Even this majority were not even allowed to have their language as one of the
national languages until after a bloody battle between army and students. From the very inception
of Pakistan, west Pakistanis dominated political, social, cultural and economic field of life.
Discrimination against East Pakistan started right from the outset in 1947, because, most
of the private sector was located in West Pakistan. In addition, East Pakistanis felt
that since the central policy making structures were dominated by West Pakistani civil servants,
most of the lucrative import licenses were given to West Pakistanis.
Moreover, East Pakistan’s earnings enabled West Pakistani merchants and traders to enhance
manufacturing and infrastructure facilities in West Pakistan and offered a maximum scope
to the private sector in industries like cotton textiles, woolen cloth, sugar, food canneries,
chemicals, telephones, cement, and fertilizer. Day after day from 147 educational facilities,
qualities were highly reducing in East Pakistan compare to West Pakistan. With the quality
of education, number of school was reduced at that period. As we know that education is the key element
for any kind of development on any nation or state or province. But the above group
indicates that how East Pakistan was discriminated by West Pakistan during 1950-1971. We can
clearly see that though the number of primary school in the East Pakistan were higher than
the West Pakistan during 1950-1961 but later on it was decreased compare to the west Pakistan.
On the other hand, number of primary school in West Pakistan was an upward sloping line.
Because, the number of primary school was increased from 1962-1971, Though East Pakistan
was majority in term of population. Most of the earlier leaders were from West
Pakistan: the founder and the first governor general of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah was
from Karachi (A West Pakistan’s city). Similarly, Bengalis were under-represented in the Pakistan
armed forces and bureaucracy, as these areas were dominated by the West Pakistanis. For
instance, in the total of 3 lacks of armed forces in 1970 only 40,000 army personnel
were from the West Pakistan, while in the Civil services numbers of Bengalis were much
less as compare to their proportion of population. Bengalis also were deprived from economic
rights. Talking about economic disparities peter says “Although both the wings (East
and West Pakistan) produced about the same quantities of food grains, nutritional levels
of the Bengalis were lower. East Pakistan received only 25 percent of the economic portion
of the aid. Agriculture and service contributed 70% and
10% respectively to East Bengal’s GDP, the comparable figures for West Pakistan were
54% and 17% respectively. The East wing had consistently received smaller
public expenditure than its western counterparts. Given such disparity in the overall expenditure,
it is no surprise that educational expenditure also followed suit. The above group clearly indicates that East
Pakistan was neglected by West Pakistan for per capita public expenditure by the provincial
governments during 1952-1968. We can see that from the year of 1952 West Pakistan’s public
expenditure was an increasing way till 1968. On the other hand, per capita public expenditure
of East Pakistan was always below compare to the West Pakistan’s, though it was more
increased from 1962-1968. But it was not enough in terms of majority population in the East
Pakistan. East Pakistan’s people realize that though
they got freedom from the British colonialist, but now they are dominated by new colonialist
which is West Pakistan. After that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, very popular political leader
in the East Pakistan create six point movements including all kind of economic and educational
discrimination. But West Pakistan’s government didn’t care about this movement. Bengali people
again realize that they will not get the proper facilities from the West Pakistan. So they
need to raise their voice more strongly and actively.===Political issue===
Since 1947 Muslim League was in power. To defeat the Muslim League, it was challenging.
There was only one way to win the general election and that was to create alliance among
opposing parties of East Pakistan. It was mainly composed of four parties of East Bengal.
On the election of March 10, 1954, The United Front won 223 seats out of 309 seats. Muslim
League only captured 9 seats. The election result was a signal to the end of the dominance
of the national elite in the politics of East Bengal. Towards the history of the independence
of East Bengal 1954’s election and United Front formation was a very significant chapter.
The oppression of Muslim League against Bengali nation, language and culture and also the
six years tyranny of Pakistani rulers, against them this election was a ballot revolution.
Before the election East Bengal’s people were well aware that provincial autonomy is
the only way to stop the oppression of West Pakistan. This unity was the reflection of
nationalism among the people of East Bengal. They wanted their own identity based on their
culture, their language. Though for the deceptive and undemocratic events created by Pakistani
rulers did not allow the United Frond to stay in power. Although it was failed, but the
political parties saw that people were supporting them for the country. The effect of this event
was extensive in growing nationalism in the future.
From the beginning of the formation of Pakistan, the people of East Pakistan were demanding
for a constitution and constitutional rule but 1956’s constitution of didn’t reflect
the expectation of the East Pakistani people. So their reaction was negative on this. It
is also true that the couple of demands of the East Pakistani people were full filled.
Government like British, parliamentary system, state autonomy and Bangla as the state language,
these demands were full filled in this constitution. But it was doubtful that it would work or
not through the deception of the West Pakistani superior class. By the mutual understanding
of East Bengal’s politicians and West Pakistani politicians, the constitution was adopted.
But they changed the name of the East Bengal to East Pakistan. As we know, back then out
of 69 Million population of Pakistan, 44 Million were from East Pakistan with Bangla as their
mother tongue. It was expected by the East Pakistani people that the name of this province
would remain the same. But it was also a deception of West Pakistani superior class people. East
Pakistan did not get the proper representation accordance with its huge population, moreover
they started to treat East Pakistan and West Pakistan as distinctive units and treat them
differently. After these dissimulations the constitution was no more acceptable to East
Pakistani people. Awami League was against the constitution. There were strikes against
it but because of the differences between A K Fazlul Haque and Hussain Suhrawardy the
strikes were not that effective. Before the constitution it was a war for language and
after it was a war for their identity. It was clear that West Pakistan had no interest
on the culture, language and emotions of the East Pakistani people. East Pakistani people
were deprived of their rights and their very own identity. The theory of nationalism grew
stronger among the East Pakistani people. They wanted their own independent nation of
the Bengalis as the West Pakistan don’t respect and treat them how they wanted to
be treated. West Pakistan had no idea that this will backfire in their face. This event
leads East Pakistanis to one step closer to independence.===Six point movement issue===
Six points movement was one of the most important events that eventually led East Pakistan to
a new nation, Bangladesh. It was the result of the growing sense of nationalism in the
mind of East Pakistani people. Six points movement was to describe the demands of the
people of East Pakistan. The East Bengal nationalism was developed from almost the beginning of
the partition of 1947, because of the disparity that we see in East Pakistan’s history. The historic six points was the first powerful
movement that was taken by the East Pakistani people against the central Pakistani Government.
These six points demand of autonomy was declared by Sheikh Mujib. He said these six points
are the “Muktir Sanad for the people of East Pakistan”.
Before the six point’s movement, the demands – that East Pakistani people made – were being
a part of Pakistan. By these six points East Pakistani people got the identity themselves
as a separate nation and claimed full autonomy. These six points represented the claims of
mass people of East Pakistan. They collectively supported six points and participated in six
point’s movement. In 1966, to make East Pakistan free from the
colonial rules and oppressions, Sheikh Mujib declared six points movement. These six points
were declared in Lahore in a political meeting. Considering the 18 years of struggle of East
Pakistani people, the declaration was the supreme demand of autonomy under Pakistan.
The Indo-Pak war of 1965 made East Pakistani people more restless and the military arrangements
in East Pakistan made the demand of autonomy stronger. Eventually, Sheikh Mujib declared
six points. After these six-points declaration people of East Pakistan got excited and they
supported this movement whole-heartedly. After 1966 the six point’s movement gave
East Bengal people the confidence and belief for the autonomous movement, election in 1970,
and in the liberation war. In reality, there was no hint in the six point’s movement
of being separated from Pakistan. Moreover, Sheikh Mujib never mentioned such separation
or possibility of the separation. If we look at the depth of the six point’s
movement, we see that first two points were about the regional autonomy of East Pakistan.
The next three points were to remove the disparity between the two wings of Pakistan. The last
point was to ensure he defense of East Pakistan. However, these six-points were not accepted
by the West Pakistan. After the six point’s movement, the history
has seen another important event in East Pakistan’s history. As the six-points movement got no
approval from West Pakistani authority, and moreover, they conspired against the major
political leaders of East Pakistan. This case also holds an important meaning in East Pakistan’s
history, known as Agartala Conspiracy Case. This mass upsurge had objectives of freeing
the political leaders and removing the military rulers. This upsurge was one of the landmarks
in East Pakistani history. This mass upsurge developed the grown nationalism in the East
Pakistani people. People from all over the East Pakistan joined this upsurge.==Creation of Bangladesh==The Language movement and its fallout had
created substantial cultural and political animosity between the two wings of Pakistan.
Despite constituting a majority of the Pakistani population, Bengalis constituted a small part
of Pakistan’s military, police and civil services. Ethnic and socio economic discrimination against
Bengali people aggravated and agitations arose in East Pakistan over sectional bias, neglect
and insufficient allocation of resources and national wealth.
Steeped in Perso-Arabic culture, West Pakistanis saw Bengali culture as too closely associated
with Hindu culture. One of the first groups demanding the independence of East Pakistan
was the Shadhin Bangla Biplobi Porishad (Free Bengal Revolutionary Council). Under Sheikh
Mujibur Rahman, the Awami League became more secular in character, changing its name from
Awami Muslim League to just Awami League. and launched the Six point movement demanding
substantial political, administrative and economic autonomy for East Pakistan.
Seeking democracy, a separate currency and balanced sharing of wealth and resources,
Mujib also sought the recognition of the term “Bangla-desh” to describe the eastern wing
of Pakistan, instead of East Pakistan, thus emphasising the Bengali Identity of the people
of East Pakistan. Mujib was arrested by Pakistani forces in 1966 and tried for treason in what
became the Agartala Conspiracy Case. Following violent protests and disorder, Mujib was released
in 1968. In the elections of 1970, the Awami League won an outright majority in the Parliament
of Pakistan. When Pakistan’s president Yahya Khan and West Pakistani politician Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto resisted Mujib’s claim to form the government, sectional hostility escalated
significantly. Before his arrest on the night of 25 March
1971, Mujib issued a call for Bengalis to fight for their independence; the message
was conveyed over Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro by Major Ziaur Rahman on 27 March and the
independent state of Bangladesh was officially declared by the Awami League’s government-in-exile
in Mujibnagar. Mujib’s trademark “Joy Bangla” (Victory to Bengal) salute became the rallying
cry of Bengali nationalists, who mobilised to form the Mukti Bahini guerrilla force,
which received training and equipment from the Indian government. Indian intervention
at the height of the liberation war would eventually lead to the surrender of Pakistani
forces and the establishment of the Bangladeshi state on 16 December.==Bangladeshi nationalism====
Symbols==Bangamata or Mother Bengal, national personification
of Bengal. Vande Mataram, An Ode to Mother Bengal (Bangamata)
by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay Banga Amar Janani Amar, An Ode to Mother Bengal
by Dwijendralal Ray Bangamata (poem), by Rabindranath Tagore
Amar Sonar Bangla, An Ode to Mother Bengal by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905
Bangladesh, An Ode to Mother Bengal by Kazi Nazrul Islam
Aaji Bangladesher Hridoy, An Ode to Mother Bengal by Rabindranath Tagore

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