Shyamol Sobuj Bangladesh

BANGLADESH

 / 23; 90
People's Republic of Bangladesh
গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ (Bengali)
Gônoprojatontri Bangladesh
Flag Emblem
 

Amar Shonar Bangla
My Golden Bangla

Capital
(and largest city)
Dhaka
23°42′N 90°21′E / 23.7°N 90.35°E / 23.7; 90.35
Official language(s) Bengali
Demonym Bangladeshi
Government Unitary state and parliamentary democracy[1]
 -  President Zillur Rahman
 -  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
 -  Speaker Abdul Hamid
 -  Chief Justice Md. Muzammel Hossain
Legislature Jatiya Sangsad
Independence from Pakistan 
 -  Declared March 26, 1971 
 -  Victory Day December 16, 1971 
Area
 -  Total 147,570 km2 (94th)
56,977 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 6.9
Population
 -  2011 estimate 190 million[2] (8th)
 -  Density 1,099.3/km2 (9th)
2,917.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $258.608 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $1,572[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $104.919 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $638[3] 
Gini (2005) 33.2[4] (medium
HDI (2007) increase 0.543[5] (medium) (146th)
Currency Taka (BDT)
Time zone BST (UTC+6)
Drives on the left
ISO 3166 code BD
Internet TLD .bd
Calling code 880
1 Adjusted population, p.4,

Bangladesh (Listeni/ˈbɑːŋɡlədɛʃ/ or Listeni/bæŋɡləˈdɛʃ/; Bengali: বাংলাদেশ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (Bangla: গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônoprojatontri Bangladesh) is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The name Bangladesh means "Country of Bengal" in the official Bengali language.

The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became East Pakistan, part of the newly formed nation of Pakistan. However, it was separated from the western wing by 1,600 km (994 mi) of Indian territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, and economic neglect by the politically-dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation grew against West Pakistan and led to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, which the Bengali people won with the support of India. After independence, the new state endured famines, natural disasters and widespread poverty, as well as political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress.

Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, with an elected parliament called the Jatiyo Sangshad. It is the eighth most populous country and among the most densely populated countries in the world. A high poverty rate prevails, although the United Nations has acclaimed Bangladesh for achieving tremendous progress in human development.[6][7] Geographically, the country straddles the fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and is subject to annual monsoon floods and cyclones.

The country is listed among the Next Eleven economies and Global Growth Generator countries. It is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the D-8 and BIMSTEC, and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement. However, Bangladesh continues to face a number of major challenges, including widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, economic competition relative to the world, serious overpopulation, widespread poverty, and an increasing danger of hydrologic shocks brought on by ecological vulnerability to climate change.[citation needed]

Contents

History


Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur, Bangladesh, is the greatest Buddhist Vihara in the Indian Subcontinent, built by Dharmapala of Bengal.

Remnants of civilization in the greater Bengal region date back four thousand years,[8] when the region was settled by Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, and Austro-Asiatic peoples. The exact origin of the word "Bangla" or "Bengal" is not known, though it is believed to be derived from Bang, the Dravidian-speaking tribe that settled in the area around the year 1000 BCE.[9]

The kingdom of Gangaridai was formed from at least the 7th century BCE, which later united with Bihar under the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan and Sunga Empires. Bengal was later part of the Gupta Empire and Harsha Empire from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE. Following its collapse, a dynamic Bengali named Shashanka founded an impressive short-lived kingdom. After a period of anarchy, the bengali Buddhist Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years, followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty.

Medieval European geographers located paradise at the mouth of the Ganges and although this was overhopeful, Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent up until the 16th century. The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance.

Islam was introduced to Bengal in the 12th century by Arab Muslim merchants; Sufi missionaries and subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region.[10] Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkic general, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal in the year 1204. The region was ruled by several sultans, Hindu states and land-lords-Baro-Bhuyans for the next few hundred years. By the 16th century, the Mughal Empire controlled Bengal, and Dhaka became an important provincial centre of Mughal administration.


Sixty Dome Mosque in Mosque city of Bagerhat was built in the 15th century and is the largest historical mosque in Bangladesh, as well as a World Heritage site.

European traders arrived late in the 15th century, and their influence grew until the British East India Company gained control of Bengal following the Battle of Plassey in 1757.[11] The bloody rebellion of 1857 – known as the Sepoy Mutiny – resulted in transfer of authority to the crown with a British viceroy running the administration.[12] During colonial rule, famine racked the Indian subcontinent many times, including the war-induced Great Bengal famine of 1943 that claimed 3 million lives.[13]

Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones, with Dhaka being the capital of the eastern zone.[14] When India was partitioned in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines, with the western part going to India and the eastern part (Muslims majority) joining Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), with its capital at Dhaka.[15]


Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (3rd person from right) and Maulana Bhashani (4th person from right) in 1953

In 1950, land reform was accomplished in East Bengal with the abolishment of the feudal zamindari system.[16] Despite the economic and demographic weight of the east, however, Pakistan's government and military were largely dominated by the upper classes from the west. The Bengali Language Movement of 1952 was the first sign of friction between the two wings of Pakistan.[17] Dissatisfaction with the central government over economic and cultural issues continued to rise through the next decade, during which the Awami League emerged as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking population. It agitated for autonomy in the 1960s, and in 1966, its president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), was jailed; he was released in 1969 after an unprecedented popular uprising. In 1970, a massive cyclone devastated the coast of East Pakistan, killing up to half a million people,[18] and the central government responded poorly. The Bengali population's anger was compounded when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose Awami League won a majority in Parliament in the 1970 elections,[19] was blocked from taking office.

After staging compromise talks with Mujib, President Yahya Khan and military officials arrested him in the early hours of 26 March 1971, and launched Operation Searchlight,[20] a sustained military assault on East Pakistan. Yahya's methods were extremely bloody, and the violence of the war resulted in many civilian deaths .[21] Chief targets included intellectuals and Hindus, and about ten million refugees fled to neighbouring India.[22] Estimates of those massacred throughout the war range from three hundred thousand to 3 million.[23]

Before his arrest by the Pakistan Army, Sk. Mujibur Rahman formally declared the independence of Bangladesh, and directed everyone to fight till the last soldier of the Pakistan army was evicted from East Pakistan. Awami League leaders set up a government-in-exile in Calcutta, India. The exile government formally took oath at Mujib Nagar in Kustia district of East Pakistan on 17 April 1971, with Tajuddin Ahmad as the first Prime Minister.

After Mujib declared independence of Bangladesh, Yahyah’s brutal crackdown, including a virtual massacre of the intelligentsia in the universities of Bangladesh, was comparable in method to the war crimes of the Nazis. International public opinion was revolted and a tidal wave of hapless refugees, their number soon reaching 10 million, sought shelter in India.[24]

The Bangladesh Liberation War lasted for nine months. The Bangladesh Forces formed within 11 sectors led by General M.A.G. Osmani consisting of Bengali Regulars, and Mukti Bahini conducted a massive guerilla war against the Pakistan Forces with all out support from the Indian Armed Forces. Jointly, the Mitro Bahini achieved a decisive victory over Pakistan on 16 December 1971, with Indian Armed Forces taking over 90,000 prisoners of war.

After its independence, Bangladesh became a parliamentary democracy, with Mujib as the Prime Minister. In the 1973 parliamentary elections, the Awami League gained an absolute majority. A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974,[13] and in early 1975, Mujib initiated a one-party socialist rule with his newly formed BAKSAL. On 15 August 1975, Mujib and most of his family members were assassinated by mid-level military officers.[25] A series of bloody coups and counter-coups in the following three months culminated in the ascent to power of General Ziaur Rahman, who reinstated multi-party politics, and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Zia's rule ended when he was assassinated by elements of the military in 1981.[25]

Bangladesh's next major ruler was General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, who gained power in a bloodless coup in 1982, and ruled until 1990, when he was forced to resign after a massive revolt of all major political parties and the public, along with pressure from western donors (which was a major shift in international policy after the fall of the Soviet Union). Since then, Bangladesh has reverted to a parliamentary democracy. Zia's widow, Khaleda Zia, led the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to parliamentary victory at the general election in 1991, and became the first female Prime Minister in Bangladeshi history. However, the Awami League, headed by Sheikh Hasina, one of Mujib's surviving daughters, won the next election in 1996. It lost again to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 2001.

On 11 January 2007, following widespread political unrest, a caretaker government was appointed to administer the next general election. The country had suffered from extensive corruption,[26] disorder and political violence. The new caretaker government has made it a priority to root out corruption from all levels of government. To this end, many notable politicians and officials, along with large numbers of lesser officials and party members, have been arrested on corruption charges. The caretaker government held what observers described as a largely free and fair election on 29 December 2008.[27] Awami League's Sheikh Hasina won the elections with a landslide victory and took the oath of Prime Minister on 6 January 2009.[28]

Government and politics


Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban houses the Parliament of Bangladesh and is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world
National symbols of Bangladesh
Anthem Amar Shonar Bangla
Animal Royal Bengal Tiger
Bird Oriental Magpie Robin
Fish Hilsa
Flower White Water Lily
Fruit Jack fruit
Tree Mango Tree
Sport Hadudu
Calendar Bengali calendar

Bangladesh is a unitary state and parliamentary democracy.[29] Direct elections in which all citizens, aged 18 or over, can vote are held every five years for the unicameral parliament known as Jatiya Sangsad. The parliamentary building is known as the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban and was designed by architect Louis Kahn. Currently the parliament has 345 members including 45 reserved seats for women, elected from single-member constituencies. The Prime Minister, as the head of government, forms the cabinet and runs the day-to-day affairs of state. While the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President, he or she must be an MP who commands the confidence of the majority of parliament. The President is the head of state but mainly a ceremonial post elected by the parliament.[30]

However the President's powers are substantially expanded during the tenure of a caretaker government, which is responsible for the conduct of elections and transfer of power. The officers of the caretaker government must be non-partisan and are given three months to complete their task. This transitional arrangement is an innovation that was pioneered by Bangladesh in its 1991 election and then institutionalized in 1996 through its 13th constitutional amendment.[31]

The Constitution of Bangladesh was drafted in 1972 and has undergone 14 amendments.[31] The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court. Justices are appointed by the President. The judicial and law enforcement institutions are weak.[32] Separation of powers, judicial from executive was finally implemented on the 1st of November, 2007. It is expected that this separation will make the judiciary stronger and impartial. Laws are loosely based on English common law, but family laws such as marriage and inheritance are based on religious scripts, and therefore differ between religious communities.

Major parties in Bangladesh are the Bangladesh Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). BNP is led by Khaleda Zia and has traditionally been allied with Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and Islami Oikya Jot,[33] while Sheikh Hasina's Awami League aligns with leftist and secularist parties. Hasina and Zia are bitter rivals who have dominated politics for over 15 years; each is related to one of the leaders of the independence movement. Another important player is the Jatiya Party, headed by former military dictator Ershad. The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been bitter and punctuated by protests, violence and murder. Student politics is particularly strong in Bangladesh, a legacy from the liberation movement era. Almost all parties have highly active student wings, and student leaders have been elected to the Parliament.

Two radical terrorist organizations, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), were banned in February 2005. Several small-scale bomb attacks taking place since 1999 have been blamed on those groups, and dozens of suspected members have been detained in security operations, including the heads of those two parties in 2006. The masterminds were tried and executed. The Bangladesh government won praise from world leaders, including Western leaders, for its strong anti-terrorist stance.

The January 22, 2007 election was postponed indefinitely and emergency law declared on January 11, 2007 as the Army backed caretaker government of Fakhruddin Ahmed aimed to prepare a new voter list and crack down on corruption. They also assisted the interim Government of Bangladesh in a drive against corruption, which resulted in Bangladesh's position in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index changed from the very bottom, where they had been for 3 years in a row, to 147th in just 1 year.[34] A large alliance led by the Bangladesh Awami League won the December 29, 2008 poll, in a landslide victory. They got 230 seats among 300 seats in the parliament.[35]

Foreign policy and military

A BAF MiG-29

Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy that places heavy reliance on multinational diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. In 1974 Bangladesh joined both the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations and has since been elected to serve two terms on the Security Council in 1978–1979 and 2000–2001. In the 1980s, Bangladesh played a lead role in founding the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in order to expand relations with other South Asian states. Since the founding of SAARC 1985, a Bangladeshi has held the post of Secretary General on two occasions.

Bangladesh's most important and complex foreign relationship is with India. This relationship is informed by historical and cultural ties and forms an important part of the domestic political discourse. Bangladesh's relationship with India began on a positive note because of India's assistance in the independence war and reconstruction. Throughout the years, relations between both countries have fluctuated for a number of reasons.

A major source of tension between Bangladesh and India is the Farakka Dam.[36] In 1975, India constructed a dam on the Ganges River 11 miles (18 km) from the Bangladeshi border. Bangladesh alleges that the dam diverts much needed water from Bangladesh and adds a man-made disaster to the country already plagued by natural disasters. The dam also has terrible ecological consequences.[36] On the other hand, India has voiced concerns about anti-Indian separatists and Islamic militants allegedly being harboured across their 2,500-mile (4,000 km) border, as well as the flow of illegal migrants, and is building a fence along most of it.[37] But at the 2007 SAARC meeting both nations pledged to work cooperatively on security, economic and border issues.[38]

The current strength of the army is around 200,000 including reservists,[39] the air force 22,000,[39] and navy 14,950.[40] In addition to traditional defense roles, the military has been called on to provide support to civil authorities for disaster relief and internal security during periods of political unrest. Bangladesh is not currently active in any ongoing war, but it did contribute 2,300 troops to the coalition that fought in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and Bangladesh is consistently a top contributor to UN peacekeeping forces around the world. As of May 2007, Bangladesh had major deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Côte d'Ivoire.[41] Presently Bangladesh is the largest troop contributor country to the UN.[42]

Bangladesh enjoys relatively warm ties with the People's Republic of China which has, particularly in the past decade, increased economic cooperation with the South Asian nation. Between 2006 and 2007, trade between the two nations rose by 28.5% and there have been agreements to grant various Bangladeshi commodities tariff-free access to the Chinese market. Cooperation between the Military of Bangladesh and the People's Liberation Army is also increasing, with joint military agreements signed and Bangladesh procuring Chinese arms which range from small arms to large naval surface combatants such as the Chinese Type 053H1 Missile Frigate.

Divisions, Districts and Upazilas


Administrative divisions of Bangladesh. This map shows the highest level unit called a Division.

Bangladesh is divided into seven administrative divisions,[43][44] each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal (বরিশাল), Chittagong (চট্টগ্রাম), Dhaka (ঢাকা), Khulna (খুলনা), Rajshahi (রাজশাহী), Sylhet (সিলেট), and Rangpur (রংপুর).

Divisions are subdivided into districts (zila). There are 64 districts in Bangladesh, each further subdivided into upazila (subdistricts) or thana. The area within each police station, except for those in metropolitan areas, is divided into several unions, with each union consisting of multiple villages. In the metropolitan areas, police stations are divided into wards, which are further divided into mahallas. There are no elected officials at the divisional, district or upazila levels, and the administration is composed only of government officials. Direct elections are held for each union (or ward), electing a chairperson and a number of members. In 1997, a parliamentary act was passed to reserve three seats (out of 12) in every union for female candidates.[45]

Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. Other major cities include Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Bogra, Comilla, Mymensingh and Rangpur. These cities have mayoral elections, while other municipalities elect a chairperson. Mayors and chairpersons are elected for a span of five years.

City↓ City population (2008 estimate)[46]↓ Metro population (2008 estimate)[46]↓
Dhaka 7,000,940 12,797,394
Chittagong 2,579,107 3,858,093
Khulna 855,650 1,588,425
Rajshahi 472,775 775,496
Sylhet 463,198 -
Barisal 210,374 -
Rangpur 251,699 -

Geography and climate


Satellite image presenting physical features of Bangladesh

Boats are a major method of transportation in Bangladesh, a floodplain with more than 700 rivers.

Bangladesh lies between latitudes 20° and 27°N, and longitudes 88° and 93°E.

Bangladesh is in the low-lying GangesBrahmaputra River Delta or Ganges Delta. This delta is formed by the confluence of the Ganges (local name Padma or Pôdda), Brahmaputra (Jamuna or Jomuna also known as "Yamuna"), and Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal. The alluvial soil deposited by these rivers has created some of the most fertile plains in the world. Bangladesh has 57 trans-boundary rivers, making water issues politically complicated to resolve – in most cases as the lower riparian state to India.[47] Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 12 m (39.4 ft) above the sea level, and it is believed that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 m (3.28 ft).[48]

In south east Bangladesh experiments have been done since the sixties to 'build with nature'. By implementing cross dams, the natural accretion of silt has created new land. With Dutch funding, the Bangladeshi government began to help develop this new land in the late 1970s. The effort has since become a multiagency operation building roads, culverts, embankments, cyclone shelters, toilets and ponds, as well as distributing land to settlers. By fall 2010, the program will have allotted some 27,000 acres (10,927 ha) to 21,000 families.[49]

The highest point in Bangladesh is in Mowdok range at 1,052 m (3,451 ft) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the southeast of the country.[50] Cox's Bazar, south of the city of Chittagong, has a beach that stretches uninterrupted over 120 kilometres (75 mi).

Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Bangladeshi climate is tropical with a mild winter from October to March, a hot, humid summer from March to June. A warm and humid monsoon season lasts from June to October and supplies most of the country's rainfall. Natural calamities, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and tidal bores occur almost every year,[51] combined with the effects of deforestation, soil degradation and erosion. The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were particularly devastating. A cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991 killed some 140,000 people.[52]

In September 1998, Bangladesh saw the most severe flooding in modern world history. As the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and Meghna spilt over and swallowed 300,000 houses, 9,700 kilometres (6,027 mi) of road and 2,700 kilometres (1,678 mi) of embankment 1,000 people were killed and 30 million more were made homeless with 135,000 cattle killed, 50 square kilometres (19.3 sq mi) of land destroyed and 11,000 kilometres (6,835 mi) of roads damaged or destroyed. Two-thirds of the country was underwater. There were several reasons for the severity of the flooding. Firstly, there were unusually high monsoon rains. Secondly, the Himalayas shed off an equally unusually high amount of melt water that year. Thirdly, trees that usually would have intercept rain water had been cut down for firewood or to make space for animals.[53]

Bangladesh is now widely recognized to be one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Natural hazards that come from increased rainfall, rising sea levels, and tropical cyclones are expected to increase as climate change, each seriously affecting agriculture, water & food security, human health and shelter.[54] It is believed that in the coming decades the rising sea level alone will create more than 20 million[55] climate refugees.[56] Bangladeshi water is contaminated with arsenic frequently because of the high arsenic contents in the soil. Up to 77 million people are exposed to toxic arsenic from drinking water.[57][58] Bangladesh is among the countries most prone to natural floods, tornados and cyclones.[59][60]

Flora and fauna


Royal Bengal Tiger

A major part of the coastline comprises a marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to diverse flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger. In 1997, this region was declared endangered.[61] The Magpie Robin is the National Bird of Bangladesh and it is common and known as the Doyel or Doel (Bengali: দোয়েল). It is a widely used symbol in Bangladesh, appearing on currency notes and a landmark in the city of Dhaka is named as the Doyel Chatwar (meaning: Doyel Square).The national flower of the country is water lily, which is known as Shapla. The national fruit is jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), which in Bengali is known as Kathal. In late 2010, the Bangladeshi government selected the Mango tree as the national tree.[62]

Economy


Worker in a paddy field – a common scene throughout Bangladesh. Two thirds of the population works in the agricultural sector.

At April 2010, USA - based ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) awarded Bangladesh a BB- for a long term in credit rating which is below India and well over Pakistan and Sri Lanka in South Asia.[63] And, despite continuous domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a developing nation.[64] However, Bangladesh gradually decreased its dependency on foreign grant and loan from 85% (In 1988)[65] to 2% (In 2010) [66] for its annual development budget. Its per capita income in 2010 was US$641 compared to the world average of $8,985.[67] But, if purchasing power parity (PPP) is taken into account, Bangladesh's economy is the 44th largest in the world at US$257 billion according to the IMF.

Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its share of the world export market peaked in the Second World War and the late 1940s at 80%[68] and even in the early 1970s accounted for 70% of its export earnings. However, polypropylene products began to substitute for jute products worldwide and the jute industry started to decline. Bangladesh grows very significant quantities of rice, tea, potato, mango, onion and mustard. According to FAOSTAT, Bangladesh is one of world's largest producers of:[69] Rice (4th), Potato (11th), Mango (9th), Pineapple (16th), Fruit, Tropical (5th), Onion (16th), Banana (17th), Jute (2nd), Tea (11th).

Although two-thirds of Bangladeshis are farmers, more than three quarters of Bangladesh’s export earnings come from the garment industry,[70] which began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s due to cheap labour and low conversion cost. In 2009-10 fiscal year the industry exported US$ 12.6 billion[71] worth of products where in 2002 the exported amount was US$ 5 billion. Recently Bangladesh has been ranked as the 4th[72] largest clothing exporter by the WTO (The World Trade Organization) .[73] The industry now employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women.[74] A large part of foreign currency earnings also comes from the remittances sent by expatriates living in other countries.


Jamuna Bridge: one of the longest bridges in South Asia

Obstacles to growth include frequent cyclones and floods, inefficient state-owned enterprises, mismanaged port facilities, a growth in the labour force that has outpaced jobs, inefficient use of energy resources (such as natural gas), insufficient power supplies, slow implementation of economic reforms, political infighting and corruption. According to the World Bank, "among Bangladesh’s most significant obstacles to growth are poor governance and weak public institutions."[75] Despite these hurdles, the country has achieved an average annual growth rate of 5% since 1990, according to the World Bank.

Bangladesh has seen expansion of its middle class (world's Fifty Forth largest, just below of Singapore & Vietnam), and its consumer industry has also grown. In December 2005, four years after its report on the emerging "BRIC" economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), Goldman Sachs named Bangladesh one of the "Next Eleven",[76] along with Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam and seven other countries.

Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment. A number of multinational corporations and local big business houses such as Beximco, Square, Akij Group, Ispahani, Navana Group, Transcom Group, Habib Group, KDS Group, Dragon Group and multinationals such as Unocal Corporation and Chevron, have made major investments, with the natural gas sector being a priority. In December 2005, the Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around 6.5%.[77] In order to enhance economic growth, the government set up several export processing zones to attract foreign investment. These are managed by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority.

One significant contributor to the development of the economy has been the widespread propagation of microcredit by Muhammad Yunus (awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2006) through the Grameen Bank. By the late 1990s, Grameen Bank had 2.3 million members, along with 2.5 million members of other similar organisations.[78]

Demographics

Languages of Bangladesh map.svg

The population of Bangladesh at 15/03/2011 is 142.3 million (census 2011 results -this is a preliminary figure which has been disputed by the UN and now by Bangladesh themselves[79]), much less than Recent (2007–2010) estimates of Bangladesh's population range from 150 to 164 million and it is the 8th most populous nation in the world. In 1951, the population was 44 million.[80] It is also the most densely populated large country in the world, and it ranks 11th in population density, when very small countries and city-states are included.[81] A striking contrast is offered by Russia which has a slightly smaller population spread over a land area that is 120 times larger than Bangladesh. Bangladesh's population growth was among the highest in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, when the country swelled from 50 to 90 million. With the promotion of birth control in the 1980s, the growth rate has slowed. The population is relatively young, with 60% being 25 or younger and 3% being 63 or older. Life expectancy is 63 years for both males and females.[82]

The overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are ethnic Bengalis, comprising 98% of the population.[83] The remainder are mostly Biharis and indigenous tribal groups. There is also a small but growing population of Rohingya refugees from Burma around Cox's Bazaar, which Bangladesh seeks to repatriate to Burma. The indigenous tribal peoples are concentrated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast. There are 13 tribal groups located in this region, the largest being the Chakma. The Hill Tracts region has been a source of unrest and separatism since and before the inception of Bangladesh.[84] Outside the Hill Tracts, the largest tribal groups are the Santhals and Garos (Achiks), while smaller groups include the Kaibartta, Meitei, Mundas, Oraons, and Zomi.

Nearly all Bangladeshis speak Bangla as their mother tongue and it is the official language.[85] It is an Indo-Aryan language of Sanskrit origin with its own script. English is used as a second language among the middle and upper classes.[86] English is also widely used in higher education and the legal system. Historically, laws were written in English and translated into Bengali until 1987 when the procedure was reversed.[87] The Bihari population speaks Urdu, which was also the language associated with the government prior to separation from Pakistan.

Health and education

Health and education levels remain relatively low, although they have improved recently as poverty (31% at 2010[88]) levels have decreased. Most Bangladeshis continue to live on subsistence farming in rural villages. Health problems abound, springing from poor water quality and prevalence of infectious diseases. The water crisis is acute, with widespread bacterial contamination of surface water and arsenic contamination of groundwater.[89] Common diseases include malaria, leptospirosis and dengue. The literacy rate in Bangladesh rose to 53.5% in 2007.[90] There is gender disparity, though, as literacy rates are 50% among men and 31% among women, according to a 2004 UNICEF estimate.[90] Among the most successful literacy programs are the Food for education (FFE) introduced in 1993,[91] and a stipend program for women at the primary and secondary levels.[92]

Maternal and child healthcare

In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Bangladesh is 340. This is compared with 338.3 in 2008 and 724.4 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 55 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 57. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Bangladesh the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 8 and 1 in 110 shows us the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women. [93]

Religion

The main religion practiced in Bangladesh is Islam (89.7%), but a significant percentage of the population adheres to Hinduism (9.2%).[94] The majority of Muslims are Sunni. There is a small Shia and an even smaller Ahmadiyya community. Ethnic Biharis are predominantly Shia Muslims. Sufi influences in the region go back many centuries.[95] Other religious groups include Buddhists (0.7%, mostly Theravada), Christians (0.3%, mostly of the Roman Catholic denomination), and Animists (0.1%). Bangladesh has the fourth largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan, and India, with over 130 million. Bangladesh was founded as a secular state, but Islam was briefly made the state religion, before returning by decree of the High Court to the principles of its 1972 constitution.[96] The High Court also strengthened its stance against punishments by Islamic edict (fatwa), following complaints of brutal sentences carried out against women by extra-legal village courts.[97]

Culture


Celebrations of the Pohela Baishakh at Dhaka.

Reflecting the long history of the region, Bangladesh has a culture that encompasses elements both old and new. The Bengali language boasts a rich literary heritage, which Bangladesh shares with the Indian state of West Bengal. The earliest literary text in Bengali is the 8th century Charyapada. Medieval Bengali literature was often either religious (for example, Chandidas), or adapted from other languages (for example, Alaol). Bengali literature reached its full expression in the 19th century, with its greatest icons being poets Rabindranath Tagore, Michael Madhusudan Dutt and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Bangladesh also has a long tradition in folk literature, for example Maimansingha Gitika, Thakurmar Jhuli and stories related to Gopal Bhar, Birbal and Molla Nasiruddin.

The musical tradition of Bangladesh is lyrics-based (Baniprodhan), with minimal instrumental accompaniment. The Baul tradition is a distinctive element of Bengali folk music. Numerous other musical traditions exist including Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya, varying from one region to the next. Folk music is often accompanied by the ektara, an instrument with only one string. Other instruments include the dotara, dhol, flute and tabla. Bangladesh also has an active heritage in North Indian classical music. Similarly, Bangladeshi dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as the broader Indian dance tradition.[98]

Bangladesh produces about 80 films a year.[99] Mainstream Hindi films are also quite popular.[100] Around 200 daily newspapers are published in Bangladesh, along with more than 500 periodicals. However, regular readership is low at just under 15% of the population.[101] Bangladeshis listen to a variety of local and national radio programs like Bangladesh Betar. Four private FM radio stations named (Radio Foorti, ABC Radio, Radio Today, Radio Amar) are popular among urban youths. International Bengali language broadcasts include BBC Bangla and Voice of America. The dominant television channel is the state-owned Bangladesh Television, but in the last few years, privately owned channels have developed considerably.

The culinary tradition of Bangladesh has close relations to nearby North-East Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine as well as having its own unique traits. Rice, and fish are traditional favorites. Bangladeshis make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, some common ones being Rôshogolla, Rasmalai|Rôshomalai, chômchôm and kalojam.

The sari (shaŗi) is by far the most widely worn dress by Bangladeshi women. A guild of weavers in Dhaka is renowned for producing saris from exquisite Jamdani muslin. The salwar kameez (shaloar kamiz) is also quite popular, and in urban areas some women wear western attire. Among men, western attire is more widely adopted. Men also wear the kurta-paejama combination, often on religious occasions, and the lungi, a kind of long skirt for men.

Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, being the most important holidays in the Islamic calendar, are the subject of major festivals. The day before Eid ul-Fitr is called Chãd Rat (the night of the moon) and is often celebrated with firecrackers. Eid ul-Adha is celebrated in the memory of great sacrifice of Prophet Abraham. Major Hindu festivals are Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Saraswati Puja. Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, and Christmas, called Bôŗodin (Great day), are both national holidays. The most important secular festival is Pohela Baishakh or Bengali New Year, the beginning of the Bengali calendar. Other festivities include Nobanno, Poush parbon (festival of Poush) and observance of national days like Shohid Dibosh and Victory Day.

Education

The educational system in Bangladesh is three-tiered and highly subsidized. The government of Bangladesh operates many schools in the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels. It also subsidizes parts of the funding for many private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the government also funds more than 15 state universities through the University Grants Commission.

Primary (from grades 1 to 5), Secondary (from grades 6 to 10), Higher Secondary (from grades 11 to 12) and tertiary.[102] The five years of lower secondary education concludes with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of Higher Secondary or intermediate training, which culminate in a Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) Examination.[102] Education is mainly offered in Bangla, but English is also commonly taught and used. A large number of Muslim families send their children to attend part-time courses or even to pursue full-time religious education, which is imparted in Bangla and Arabic in madrasahs.[102]

Bangladesh conforms fully to the Education For All (EFA) objectives, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and international declarations. Article 17 of the Bangladesh Constitution provides that all children between the ages of six and ten years receive a basic education free of charge.

Universities in Bangladesh are mainly categorized into three different types: Public university (government owned and subsidized), Private University (private sector owned universities), and International University (operated and funded by international organizations )

Bangladesh has some thirty public and forty-five private universities. National University has the largest enrollment amongst them and University of Dhaka (estd.1921) is the oldest university of the country. Bangladeshi universities are accredited by and affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), a commission created according to the Presidential Order (P.O. No 10 of 1973) of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.[103]

Sports


The Bangladesh players pose with the trophy after beating New Zealand 4-0.

Cricket enjoys a passionate following in Bangladesh and it is the most popular sport followed by football (soccer). The national cricket team participated in their first World Cup in 1999, and the following year was granted elite Test cricket status. But they have struggled to date, recording only three Test match victories,one against Zimbabwe in 2005 and the other two in a series win of 2-0 against the West Indies in 2009.[104] In July, 2010, they celebrated their first ever win over England in any form of match. Later in 2010,they managed to whitewash New Zealand for the first time in history. In 2011, Bangladesh co-hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 with India and Sri Lanka.

They participated at the Asian Games 2010 in Guangzhou, defeating Afghanistan to claim their Gold Medal in the first ever cricket tournament held in the Asian Games. Hadudu (Kabaddi) is the national sport of Bangladesh. Other popular sports include field hockey, tennis, badminton, handball, basketball, volleyball, chess, shooting, angling and carrom. The Bangladesh Sports Control Board regulates 29 different sporting federations.

National Mosque of Bangladesh

Baitul Mukarram

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Baitul Mukarram

Baitul Mukarram (Dhaka) the National Mosque of Bangladesh. The structure resembles the Kaaba in Mecca

Coordinates: 23.4346°N 90.2444°ECoordinates: 23.4346°N 90.2444°E
Location Bangladesh Dhaka, Bangladesh
Established 1960
Branch/tradition Deobandi
Administration Islamic Foundation, Bangladesh
Ownership Government
Leadership Imam(s):
Professor Maulana Salahuddin
Architectural information
Architect(s) T Abdul Hussain Thariani
Style Islamic architecture
Capacity 40,000

Baitul Mukarram (Arabic: بيت المكرّم‎; Bengali: বায়তুল মোকাররম; The Holy House) is the national mosque of Bangladesh[1]. Located at the heart of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, the mosque was completed in 1968.[2] The mosque has a capacity of 30,000, giving it the respectable position of being the 10th biggest mosque in the world. However the mosque is constantly getting overcrowded. This especially occurs during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which has resulted in the Bangladeshi government having to add extensions to the mosque, thus increasing the capacity to at least 40,000.

Architecture

The mosque complex was designed by architect, T Abdul Hussain Thariani. The National Mosque of Bangladesh has several modern architectural features whilst at the same time it preserves the traditional principles of mosque architecture. Baitul Mukarram’s resemblance to the famous Ka'abah at Mecca makes this a unique mosque in Bangladesh.

Royal Bengal Tiger, The National Animal of Bangladesh


Bengal Tiger
Bengali: বাঘ
Hindi: बाघ

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. tigris
Subspecies: P. t. tigris
Trinomial name
Panthera tigris tigris
(Linnaeus, 1760)

The Bengal tiger, or Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), is a tiger subspecies native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, and has been classified as endangered by IUCN as the population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals with a decreasing trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal's tiger range are large enough to support an effective population size of 250.[1]

The Bengal tiger is the most numerous of the tiger subspecies — with populations estimated at 1,706 in India, 200 in Bangladesh, 155 in Nepal and 67–81 in Bhutan.[2][3][4][5]

The Bengal tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh. Panthera tigris is the national animal of India.[6]

 
A White Bengal Tiger at the Cougar Mountain Zoological Park.
Panthera tigris tigris

Its coat is a yellow to light orange, and the stripes range from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings. A mutation of the Bengal subspecies, the white tiger, has dark brown or reddish brown stripes on a white background, and some are entirely white. Black tigers have tawny, yellow or white stripes on a black background color. The skin of a black tiger, recovered from smugglers, measured 259 cm (102 in) and was displayed at the National Museum of Natural History, in New Delhi. The existence of black tigers without stripes has been reported but not substantiated.[7]

The total body length, including the tail, of males is 270 to 310 cm (110 to 120 in), while females are 240 to 265 cm (94 to 104 in).[8] The tail measures 85 to 110 cm (33 to 43 in), and the height at the shoulder is 90 to 110 cm (35 to 43 in).[9] The average weight of males is 221.2 kg (488 lb), while that of females is 139.7 kg (308 lb).[10]

Male Bengal tigers from the northern Indian subcontinent are as large as Siberian tigers with a greatest length of skulls of 332 to 376 mm (13.1 to 14.8 in).[11] In northern India and Nepal, males have an average weight of 235 kg (520 lb), and females 140 kg (310 lb).[12] Recent studies of body weights of the different tiger subspecies have shown that Bengal tigers are on average larger than Siberian tigers.[10]

The Bengal tiger's roar can be heard for up to 3 km (1.9 mi) away.[13]

Tiger records

A heavy male Bengal tiger weighing 258.6 kg (570 lb) was shot in Northern India in 1938.[14] In 1980 and 1984, scientists captured and tagged two male tigers (M105 and M026) in Nepal that weighed more than 270 kg (600 lb).[15] The largest known Bengal tiger was a male with a head and body length of 221 cm (87 in) measured between pegs, 150 cm (59 in) of chest girth, a shoulder height of 109 cm (43 in) and a tail of just 81 cm (32 in), perhaps bitten off by a rival male. This specimen could not be weighed, but it was calculated to weigh no less than 272 kg (600 lb).[16] Finally, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest tiger known was a huge male hunted in 1967, that measured 322 cm (127 in) in total length between pegs (338 cm (133 in) over curves), and weighed 388.7 kg (857 lb). This specimen was hunted in northern India by David Hasinger and is on exhibition in the Mammals Hall of the Smithsonian Institution.[17]

In the beginning of the 20th century, there were reports of big males measuring about 12 ft (3.7 m) in total length; however, there was not scientific corroboration in the field, and it is probable that this measurement was taken over the curves of the body.[18]

Genetic ancestry

Bengal tigers are defined by three distinct mitochondrial nucleotide sites and 12 unique microsatellite alleles. The pattern of genetic variation in the Bengal tiger corresponds to the premise that these tigers arrived in India approximately 12,000 years ago. This recent history of tigers in the Indian subcontinent is consistent with the lack of tiger fossils from India prior to the late Pleistocene and the absence of tigers from Sri Lanka, which was separated from the subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene.[19][20] However, a recent study of two independent fossil finds from Sri Lanka, one dated to approximately 16,500 years ago, tentatively classifies them as being a tiger.[21]

Behaviour and ecology

A male and female tiger in India interact with each other.

Tigers do not live in prides as lions do. They do not live as family units because the male plays no part in raising his offspring. Tigers mark their territory by spraying urine on a branch or leaves or bark of a tree, which leaves a particular scent behind. Tigers also spray urine to attract the opposite sex. When an outside individual comes into contact with the scent, it learns that the territory is occupied by another tiger. Hence, every tiger lives independently in its own territory.

Male Bengal tigers fiercely defend their territory from other tigers, often engaging in serious fighting. Female tigers are less territorial: occasionally a female will share her territory with other females. If a male happens to enter a female's territory, he will probably mate with her, if she is not already pregnant or has a litter. If she is pregnant or has a litter, he has no choice but to find himself a new territory and another potential mate. Similarly, females entering a male's territory are known to mate with him. Both males and females become independent of their mother around 18 months old, whereupon the cubs have to establish their own territories and fend for themselves. A male's territory is larger than a female's territory.

Reproduction and lifecycle

A male tiger with his cub at the Bandhavgarh National Park, in India.

Males reach maturity at 4–5 years of age, and females at 3–4 years. Mating can occur at any time, but is most prevalent between November and April. A tigress comes into heat at intervals of about 3–9 weeks, and is receptive for 3–6 days. After a gestation period of 104–106 days, 1–4 cubs are born in a shelter situated in tall grass, thick bush or in caves. Newborn cubs weigh 780–1600 g (2 lb) and they have a thick wooly fur that is shed after 3.5–5 months. Their eyes and ears are closed. Their milk teeth start to erupt at about 2–3 weeks after birth, and are slowly replaced by permanent dentition from 8.5–9.5 weeks of age onwards. They suckle for 3–6 months, and begin to eat small amounts of solid food at about 2 months of age. At this time, they follow their mother on her hunting expeditions and begin to take part in hunting at 5–6 months of age. At the age of 2–3 years, they slowly start to separate from the family group and become transient — looking out for an area, where they can establish their own territory. Young males move further away from their mother's territory than young females. Once the family group has split, the mother comes into heat again.[8]

Hunting and diet

Tigers are obligate carnivores. They prefer hunting large ungulates such as chital, sambar, gaur, and to a lesser extent also barasingha, water buffalo, nilgai, serow and takin. Among the medium-sized prey species they frequently kill wild boar, and occasionally hog deer, muntjac and Gray langur. Small prey species such as porcupines, hares and peafowl form a very small part in their diet. Due to the encroachment of humans onto their habitat, they also prey on domestic livestock.[22][23][24][25][26]

Bengal tigers have also been known to take other predators, such as leopards, wolves, jackals, foxes, crocodiles, Asiatic black bears, sloth bears, and dholes as prey, although these predators are not typically a part of the tiger's diet. Adult elephants and rhinoceroses are too large to be successfully tackled by tigers, but such extraordinarily rare events have been recorded. The Indian hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett described an incident in which two tigers fought and killed a large bull elephant. If injured, old or weak, or their normal prey is becoming scarce, they may even attack humans and become man-eaters.[27]

In most cases, tigers approach their victim from the side or behind from as close a distance as possible and grasp the prey's throat to kill it. Then they drag the carcass into cover, occasionally over several hundred meters, to consume it. The nature of the tiger's hunting method and prey availability results in a "feast or famine" feeding style: they often consume 18–40 kilograms (40–88 lb) of meat at one time.[8]

Population and distribution

A Bengal tigress with her cubs at the Bandhavgarh National Park, India

In 2010, the population of wild Bengal tigers in the Indian subcontinent is estimated to be fewer than 2,500. Of these, 1,165–1,657 are found in India, 200–419 in Bangladesh, mostly in the Sunderbans, 100–194 in Nepal and 67–81 in Bhutan. Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species' survival.[1] The extent of area occupied by tigers is estimated at less than 1,184,911 square kilometres (457,497 sq mi), a 41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s.[28]

India

An early silver coin of Uttama Chola found in Sri Lanka showing the Tiger emblem of the Cholas. In Grantha Tamil.[29][30]
The Shiva Pashupati, seal with tiger (broken) to right of the seated Shiva figure termed Pashupati

The Bengal tiger has been a national symbol of India since about the 25th century BCE when it was displayed on the Pashupati seal of the Indus Valley Civilisation. On the seal, the tiger, being the largest, represents the Yogi Shiva's people.[31] The tiger was later the symbol of the Chola Empire from 300 CE to 1279 CE and is now designated as the official animal of India.[32]

The Project Tiger initiative launched in 1972 initially reversed the population decline, the decline has resumed in recent years; India's tiger population decreased from 3,642 in the 1990s to just over 1,400 from 2002 to 2008.[33] Since then, the Indian government has undertaken several steps to reduce the destruction of the Bengal tiger's natural habitat in India.

In the past, Indian censuses of wild tigers relied on the individual identification of footprints known as pug marks — a method that has been criticized as inaccurate.[34] Using modern camera trap counting methods, the landmark 2008 national tiger census report estimates only 1,411 adult tigers in India, plus uncensused tigers in the Sundarbans delta mangrove forests.[2]

In May 2008, forest officials at the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India spotted 14 tiger cubs.[35] In June 2008, a tiger from Ranthambore was relocated to the Sariska Tiger Reserve, where all tigers had fallen victim to poachers and human encroachments since 2005.[36]

As of June 2009, tigers are found in 37 tiger reserves spread across 17 Indian states.[37]

Rivaling the Chitwan-Parsa-Valmiki Tiger Conservation Unit in Nepal for the title of the world's best tiger habitat is the Western Ghats forest complex in western South India, an area of 14,400 square miles (37,000 km2) stretching across several protected areas. The challenge here, as throughout most of Asia, is that people literally live on top of the wildlife. The Save the Tiger Fund Council estimates that 7,500 landless people live illegally inside the boundaries of the 386-square-mile (1,000 km2) Nagarhole National Park in southwestern India. A voluntary if controversial resettlement is underway with the aid of the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project led by K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

A 2007 report by UNESCO, "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage" has stated that an anthropogenic 45-cm rise in sea level, likely by the end of the 21st century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, combined with other forms of anthropogenic stress on the Sundarbans, could lead to the destruction of 75% of the Sundarbans mangroves.

The Forest Rights Act passed by the Indian government in 2006 grants some of India's most impoverished communities the right to own and live in the forests, which likely brings them into conflict with wildlife and under-resourced, under-trained, ill-equipped forest department staff. In the past, evidence showed that humans and tigers cannot co-exist.[38]

Bangladesh

In 2004, 200 tigers were estimated to live in Bangladesh, most of them in the Sundarbans, and a few in the eastern hilly part of the country.[3]

Nepal

The tiger population in the Terai of Nepal is split into three isolated and vulnerable subpopulations — inhabiting Chitwan National Park and the adjacent Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Bardia National Park and Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve. The number of adult tigers has reached 155 after a serious decline.[4] A survey conducted from December 2009 to March 2010 indicates that 125 adult tigers live in Chitwan National Park and its border areas covering 1,261 km2 (487 sq mi).[39]

Once a royal hunting reserve, Chitwan became a national park in 1973. New economic incentives give villagers a direct stake in this renowned tourist attraction, with more than a third of revenues from park entrance fees being returned to the 300,000 people living in 36 villages in the surrounding buffer zone. As a result, locals are now creating and managing tiger habitat and consider themselves guardians of their tigers.

Bhutan

In Bhutan, scientists have evidence of a richer tiger population than previously estimated. Camera traps snapped photos of a wild tiger high in the Himalayas, at the surprising elevation of 13,000 feet (4,000 m). This offers new possibilities for suitable tiger habitat.[7]

Threats

A Bengal tiger in the Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary

The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning centres. Buyers choose the skins from dealers or tanneries and smuggle them through a complex interlinking network to markets outside India, mainly in China.[40]

The illicit demand for bones and body parts from wild tigers for use in Traditional Chinese medicine is another reason for the unrelenting poaching pressure on tigers on the Indian subcontinent. For at least a thousand years, tiger bones have been an ingredient in traditional medicines that are prescribed as a muscle strengthener and treatment for rheumatism and body pain.[41]

Other factors contributing to their loss are urbanization and revenge killing. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and shoot them. Their skins and body parts may however become a part of the illegal trade.[40]

The Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) works with law enforcement agencies in India to apprehend tiger poachers and wildlife traders throughout India. WPSI investigates and verifies any seizure of tiger parts and unnatural tiger deaths that are brought to their notice. Between 1994 and 2009, WPSI has documented 893 cases of tigers killed in India, which is just a fraction of the actual poaching and trade in tiger parts during those years.[42] In 2007, police in Allahabad raided a meeting of suspected poachers, traders and couriers. One of the arrested persons was the biggest buyer of tiger parts in India who used to sell them off to the Chinese traditional medicinal market, using women from a nomadic tribe as couriers.[43]

In 2006, India's Sariska Tiger Reserve lost all of its 26 tigers, mostly to poaching.[44] In 2009, none of the 24 tigers residing in the Panna Tiger Reserve were left due to excessive poaching.[45]

Conservation efforts

A Bengal Tiger in a natural reserve in Karnataka, India. Following the revelation that only 1,411 Bengal tigers exist in the wild in India, down from 3,600 in 2003, the Indian government has decided to set up eight new tiger reserves.[46]

An area of special interest lies in the Terai Arc Landscape in the Himalayan foothills in northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas comprising dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. Nepal has developed a community-based tourism model, with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with locals and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.[47]

In India

A Bengal tiger roams around in Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India. Because of dwindling tiger numbers, the Indian government has pledged US$153 million to further fund the Project Tiger initiative, set-up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers, and fund the relocation of up to 200,000 villagers to minimize human-tiger interaction.[48]

The Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 enables government agencies to take strict measures so as to ensure the conservation of the Bengal tigers. The Wildlife Institute of India estimates showed that tiger numbers had fallen in Madhya Pradesh by 61%, Maharashtra by 57%, and Rajasthan by 40%. The government's first tiger census, conducted under the Project Tiger initiative begun in 1973, counted 1,827 tigers in the country that year. Using that methodology, the government observed a steady population increase, reaching 3,700 tigers in 2002. However, the use of more reliable and independent censusing technology (including camera traps) for the 2007–2008 all-India census has shown that the numbers were in fact less than half than originally claimed by the Forest Department.[49]

Tiger scientists in India, such as Raghu Chundawat and Ullas Karanth, have faced criticism from the forest department. Both these scientists have been for years calling for use of technology in the conservation efforts. Chundawat, in the past, had been involved with radio telemetry (collaring the tigers). While studying tigers in Panna tiger reserve, he repeatedly warned the FD authorities about the problem of tiger poaching in the reserve; they remained in denial, producing bogus numbers of tigers in their reports, and banned Chundawat from the reserve. Eventually, however, it was proven he was right, as in 2008. the authorities admitted that all tigers in Panna have been poached.[50] Karanth has been instrumental in using camera traps, radiotelemetry and prey counts. During the 1990s and early 2000s he also noticed that tiger numbers were significantly lower than the official figures; his insistence on using modern science in tiger conservation and uncompromising efforts to save tigers and their habitat have earned him many enemies.

The project to map all the forest reserves in India has not been completed yet, though the Ministry of Environment and Forests had sanctioned Rs. 13 million for the same in March 2004.

George Schaller wrote:[51]

"India has to decide whether it wants to keep the tiger or not. It has to decide if it is worthwhile to keep its National Symbol, its icon, representing wildlife. It has to decide if it wants to keep its natural heritage for future generations, a heritage more important than the cultural one, whether we speak of its temples, the Taj Mahal, or others, because once destroyed it cannot be replaced."

In January 2008, the Government of India launched a dedicated anti-poaching force composed of experts from Indian police, forest officials and various other environmental agencies.[52] Indian officials successfully started a project to reintroduce the tigers into the Sariska reserve.[53] The Ranthambore National Park is often cited as a major success by Indian officials against poaching.[54]

For the first time in several years, the tiger population in India increased in 2011. [55]

In Bangladesh

The Sundarbans tiger project is a Bangladesh Forest Department initiative that started its field activities in February 2005. The idea for creating such a project was first developed during a field survey in 2001, conducted by Md. Osman Gani, Ishtiaq U. Ahmad, James L. D. Smith and K. Ullas Karanth. They realized that the Sundarbans mangrove forest at the mouth of the Ganges River contained probably one of the largest populations of wild tigers left in the world. As such, there was an urgent need to start measures that would ensure the protection of this precious area. The Save the Tiger Fund and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service generously donated funds to support the initial phase of research that aimed to collect data on tiger ecology using telemetry, and study the tiger’s environment by assessing its habitat and prey. But management of a wilderness area needs more than just information on the species to be protected. Personnel with skills and resources to implement conservation strategies, and the general support of the country are also required. So from the research base, the project is evolving rapidly to also encompass capacity building and conservation awareness activities. It has been able to do so through the forward thinking approach to management taken by the Forest Department, and the incredible support of the Bangladeshi people. The project is administered by the Forest Department. At the field level, there is a team of 8 persons, made up of Forest Department personnel and one wildlife consultant from the University of Minnesota who advises on research strategies and trains staff.[56][57][58]

In Nepal

The government aims at doubling the country's tiger population by 2022, and in May 2010, decided to establish Banke National Park with a protected area of 550 square kilometres (210 sq mi), which bears good potential for tiger habitat.[59]

In captivity

Indian zoos have bred tigers since 1880, the first time being at the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata. The 1997 International Tiger Studbook lists the global captive population of Bengal tigers at 210 individuals that are all kept in Indian zoos, except for one female in North America. Completion of the Indian Bengal Tiger Studbook is a necessary prerequisite to establishing a captive management program for tigers in India.[60]

Relationship with humans

Genetic pollution

Tara, a hand-reared supposedly Bengal tigress acquired from Twycross Zoo in England in July 1976, was trained by Billy Arjan Singh and reintroduced to the wild in Dudhwa National Park, India, with the permission of India's then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in an attempt to prove that zoo-bred, hand-reared tigers can be released in the wild with success. In the 1990s, some tigers from Dudhwa were observed which had the typical appearance of Siberian tigers: white complexion, pale fur, large head and wide stripes. With recent advances in science, it was subsequently found that Siberian tigers' genes have polluted the otherwise pure Bengal tiger gene pool of Dudhwa National Park. It was proved later that Twycross Zoo had been irresponsible and maintained no breeding records and had given India a hybrid Siberian-Bengal tigress instead. Dudhwa tigers constitute about 1% of India's total wild population, but the possibility exists of this genetic pollution spreading to other tiger groups; at its worst, this could jeopardize the Bengal tiger as a distinct subspecies.[61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68]

Attacks on humans

Illustration from Sanderson's Thirteen years among the wild beasts of India : their haunts and habits from personal observation (1912)

Tigers are known to not like the presence of humans in their territory, since they like to be alone. Any human interference in tiger hunting or whilst nursing are met by the tiger unwelcomingly. There have been incidents where mother tigers have been separated from their cubs due to human interference. A well-known incident occurred in Bandhavgarh National Park, where a tigress known as Mohini was separated from her cubs while crossing the road, since some tourists blocked her road to the other side, resulting in losing her contact with her cubs, who had already crossed the road. Usually, tigers become man eaters when they grow old and have no strength to hunt.[original research?] At such times, if a human comes in contact with the tiger, he/she may be killed. But that is not the only reason why tigers become man eaters. If tigers do not have enough prey to feed upon, due to an imbalance in the food chain, they will often try to hunt humans. If a young tiger has injured teeth or paws, then it becomes difficult for him to tear apart his prey, which is also another reason for him to eat man.

Re-wilding project in South Africa

In 2000, the Bengal tiger re-wilding project Tiger Canyons was started by John Varty, who together with the zoologist Dave Salmoni trains captive-bred tiger cubs how to stalk, hunt, associate hunting with food and regain their predatory instincts. It is claimed that once the tigers prove that they can sustain themselves in the wild, they would be released into the wilderness of South-Africa to fend for themselves; and that two tigers have already been re-wilded, and two more are undergoing re-wilding training.

Two of the tigers were bred in the USA and hand-raised at Bowmanville Zoo in Canada, while the other two were bred in South Africa.[69] The four tigers involved in this project are not purebred Bengal tigers, should neither be used for breeding nor being released into the Karoo, which for them is unsuitable habitat.[70] These tigers have been confirmed to be crossbred Siberian–Bengal tigers. Tigers that are not genetically pure are not allowed to be released into the wild and will not be able to participate in the tiger Species Survival Plan, which aims to breed genetically pure tiger specimens.[71]

This project was featured by The Discovery Channel as a documentary Living With Tigers. Voted as one of the best Discovery Channel documentaries in 2003, the project has been proven to be a fraud in 2004. The tigers are unable to hunt, and the film crew chased the prey up against the fence and into the path of the tigers just for the sake of dramatic footage. Cory Meacham, a US-based environmental journalist, mentioned that "the film has about as much to do with tiger conservation as a Disney cartoon." In addition, the tigers have not been released, and indeed still reside in a small enclosure under constant watch and with frequent human contact. The Discovery documentary contains footage that its maker, John Varty, has admitted on affidavit to be false. Conservationists fear that the public will be misled in this cynical fashion.[72][73]

John Varty, in an attempt to cover up his continual breeding of tigers with no genetic value and the lack of genetic purity, suggested Andrew Kitchener's theory of Tiger Subspecies classification but was later debunk. It was a outdated argument, suggested in 1999 by animal researcher Andrew Kitchener. He proposed a theory to re-classify Tiger Subspecies based on Geographic location instead of DNA molecular studies, this theory will eventually be overturned and seen as a wrong step in the world of conservation. He argued that the historical range of some Tiger subspecies overlapped, and using that basis, he assumed that these tigers must be genetically identical. He wanted to re-classify Tigers into 3 subspecies, the Sunda Island tigers which consist of all island tigers, the Mainland Tigers which consists of all Tiger subspecies ranging in China, Southern Asia and India and the Caspian Tiger.[74] The argument was recorded in detail and published in Valmik Thapar's book, Tiger - The Ultimate Guide.

This argument was later overthrown by DNA Molecular studies, done in the year 2004. Kitchener's argument was flawed as it was based solely on geographical location, and not based on any DNA testing. The DNA research is a collaboration of the world's leading tiger experts, involving Melvin Sunquist, Ullas K Karanth, and Dale Miquelle. DNA testing was based off the latest genetic research based on blood, skin, hair, and/or skin biopsies of 134 tigers which known geographic origins. The study concludes that there are six subspecies of modern tigers alive today as we know today, the (1) Amur tiger; (2) northern Indochinese tiger; (3) South China tiger; (4) Malayan tiger; (5) Sumatran tiger; and (6) Bengal tiger P. t. tigris. Hence, according to the latest genetic studies, there are more than three subspecies of tiger. Therefore in conclusion, according to the latest genetic studies, more than three subspecies of tigers exist. Andrew Kitchner later accepted the research and went on to admitting that his theory was flawed. [75]

Even though the argument has been disproved, and Kitchener himself admitted it's flaws. However there are concerns that some zoos and private organisations will use the theory as an excuse to breed tigers with no genetic record and value. Conservationists fear that private organisations will continue breeding tigers which are not purebred and to use the flawed theory to support their cause and hence getting an opportunity to breed tigers with mixed ancestry, disguising as an act of conservation.[76]

Magpie(Doyel), The National Bird of Bangladesh

Oriental Magpie Robin
Male in Thailand

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Copsychus
Species: C. saularis
Binomial name
Copsychus saularis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered an Old World flycatcher. They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously. Distributed in many parts of tropical South and Southeast Asia, they are common birds in urban gardens as well as forests. They are particularly well known for their songs and were once popular as cagebirds.

Description

Female of the nominate race (India)
Juvenile in Sri Lanka

This species is 19 centimetres (7.5 in) long, including the long tail that is usually held cocked upright. It is similar in shape to the smaller European Robin, but is longer-tailed. The male has black upperparts, head and throat apart from a white shoulder patch. The underparts and the sides of the long tail are white. Females are greyish black above and greyish white. Young birds have scaly brown upperparts and head. It is the national bird of Bangladesh.

The nominate race is found on the Indian Subcontinent and the females of this race are the palest. The females of the Andamans race andamanensis are darker, heavier-billed and shorter-tailed. The Sri Lankan race ceylonensis (formerly included the Peninsular Indian populations south of the Kaveri River[2]) and southern nominate individuals have the females nearly identical to the males in shade. The eastern populations (Bhutan and Bangladesh) have more black on the tail and were formerly named erimelas.[3] The populations in Burma and further south are named as race musicus.[4] A number of other races have been named across the range including prosthopellus (Hong Kong), nesiotes, zacnecus, nesiarchus, masculus, pagiensis, javensis, problematicus, amoenus, adamsi, pluto, deuteronymus and mindanensis.[5] However many of these are not well marked and the status of some are disputed.[6] There is more geographic variation in the plumage of females than in that of the males.[7]

It is mostly seen close to the ground, hopping along branches or foraging in leaf-litter on the ground with cocked tail. Males sing loudly from the top of trees or other perch during the breeding season.[3]

Etymology

Illustration from John Ray's Synopsis methodicam avium & piscium (1713)

The Indian name of dhyal or dhayal has led to many confusions. It was first used by Eleazar Albin ("dialbird") in 1737 (Suppl. N. H. Birds, i. p. 17, pls. xvii. xviii.), and Levaillant (Ois. d'Afr. iii. p. 50) thought it referred to a sun dial and he called it Cadran. Thomas C. Jerdon wrote (B. India, ii. p. 1l6) that Linnaeus,[8] thinking it had some connection with a sun-dial, called it solaris, by lapsus pennae, saularis. This was however identified by Edward Blyth as an incorrect interpretation and that it was a Latinization of the Hindi word saulary. A male bird was sent with this Hindi name from Madras by surgeon Edward Buckley to James Petiver, who first described the species (Ray, Synops. Meth. Avium, p. 197).[9][10]

Distribution and habitat

This magpie-robin is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, interior India, Sri Lanka and eastern Pakistan east to Indonesia, Thailand, south China, Singapore and the Philippines.[3] They have been introduced to Australia.[11]

The Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations.

Behaviour and ecology

Male singing

Magpie Robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in Southeast Asia. The display of the male involves puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting.[2] They nest in tree hollows or niches in walls or building. The female is involved in most of the nest building that happens about a week before the eggs are laid. Four or five eggs are laid in intervals of 24 hours and these are oval and usually pale blue green with brownish speckles. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for 8 to 14 days.[12][13] The nests are said to have a characteristic odour.[14]

Females spend more effort on feeding the young than males. Males are quite aggressive in the breeding season and will defend their territory.[15] and respond to the singing of intruders and even their reflections.[16] Males spend more time on nest defense.[17] Studies of the bird song show dialects[18] with neighbours varying in their songs. The calls of many other species may be imitated as part of their song.[19] This may indicate that birds disperse and are not philopatric.[20] They appear to use elements of the calls of other birds in their own songs.[21] Females may sing briefly in the presence of male.[22] Apart from their song, they use a range of calls including territorial calls, emergence and roosting calls, threat calls, submissive calls, begging calls and distress calls.[23] The typical mobbing calls is a harsh hissing krshhh.[3][24]

The food of Magpie Robins is mainly insects and other invertebrates. They are known to occasionally take geckos,[25][26] leeches,[27] centipedes[28] and even fish.[29]

They are often active late at dusk.[3] They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.[30]

Status

This species is considered as one of "little concern" globally but in some areas the species is on the decline.

In Singapore and Hong Kong (Malay names Kampung/Cerang) they were common in the 1920s, but declined in the 1970s, presumably due to competition from introduced Common Mynas,[31] Poaching for the pet bird trade and habitat changes have also affected them and they are locally protected by law.[32]

This species has few avian predators. Several pathogens and parasites have been reported. Avian malaria parasites have been isolated from the species[33] while H4N3[34] and H5N1 infection has been noted in a few cases.[35] Parasitic nematodes of the eye have been described[36]

In culture

Doyel Chatwar, Dhaka

Magpie Robins were widely kept as cagebirds for their singing abilities and for fighting in India in the past.[37] They continue to be in the pet trade in parts of Southeast Asia.

The Magpie Robin is the National Bird of Bangladesh, where it is common and known as the Doyel or Doel (Bengali: দোয়েল). It is a widely used symbol in Bangladesh, appearing on currency notes, and a landmark in the city of Dhaka is named as the Doyel Chatwar (meaning: Doyel Square).

In Sri Lanka this bird is called Polkichcha.[38]

Bangladesh Liberation War

Bangladesh Liberation War
Part of Cold War
T-55 tanks in the Bangladesh Liberation War.jpg
Indian Army's T-55 tanks on their way to Dhaka. India's military intervention played a crucial role in turning the tide in favour of the Bangladeshi rebels.
Date 26 March – 16 December 1971
Location East Pakistan
Result • Indian and Mukti Bahini victory against Pakistan

• Subsequent independence of Bangladesh
• Eastern Military High Command collapse
• Disintegration of United Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Territorial
changes
East Pakistan secedes to become Bangladesh
Belligerents
Bangladesh East Pakistan

Mukti Bahini


India India (joins the war on 3 December 1971)[1]

Pakistan West Pakistan

Pakistan Defence Forces

Commanders and leaders
Bangladesh General M A G Osmany
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen. J.S. Aurora
Flag of Indian Army.svg FM Sam Manekshaw
Flag of Indian Army.svg Lt.Gen. Sagat Singh
Flag of Indian Army.svg Maj.Gen. JFR Jacob
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg LGen A.A.K. Niazi Surrendered
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg LGen Tikka Khan
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg RAdm M. Shariff Surrendered
Pakistani Air Force Ensign.svg Air-CDRE Enamul Huq
Strength
Bangladesh Forces: 175,000[2][3]
India
: 250,000[2]
Pakistan Combatant Forces: ~ 365,000[2]

Para Military: ~250,000[4]

Casualties and losses
Bangladesh Forces: 30,000
India:
1,426 KIA
3,611 Wounded (Official)
1,525 KIA
4,061 Wounded[5]
Pakistan

~8,000 KIA[citation needed]
~10,000 WIA[citation needed]
91,000 POWs
(56,694 Armed Forces
12,192 Paramilitary
rest civilians
)[5] [6]

Civilian death toll: 300,000–3,000,000 (estimates)[7][8]

The Bangladesh Liberation War(i) (Bengali: মুক্তিযুদ্ধ Muktijuddho) was an armed conflict pitting East Pakistan and India against West Pakistan. The war resulted in the secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh.

The war broke out on 26 March 1971 as army units directed by West Pakistan launched a military operation in East Pakistan against Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, and armed personnel who were demanding separation of the East from West Pakistan. Bengali military, paramilitary, and civilians formed the Mukti Bahini (Bengali: মুক্তি বাহিনী "Liberation Army") and used guerrilla warfare tactics to fight against the West Pakistan army. India provided economic, military and diplomatic support to the Mukti Bahini rebels, leading Pakistan to launch Operation Chengiz Khan, a pre-emptive attack on the western border of India which started the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

On 16 December 1971, the allied forces of the Indian army and the Mukti Bahini defeated the West Pakistani forces deployed in the East. The resulting surrender was the largest in number of prisoners of war since World War II.

 

Background

In August 1947, the Partition of British India gave birth to two new states; a secular state named India and an Islamic state named Pakistan. But Pakistan comprised two geographically and culturally separate areas to the east and the west of India. The western zone was popularly (and for a period of time, also officially) termed West Pakistan and the eastern zone (modern-day Bangladesh) was initially termed East Bengal and later, East Pakistan. Although the population of the two zones was close to equal, political power was concentrated in West Pakistan and it was widely perceived that East Pakistan was being exploited economically, leading to many grievances.

On 25 March 1971, rising political discontent and cultural nationalism in East Pakistan was met by brutal[9] suppressive force from the ruling elite of the West Pakistan establishment[10] in what came to be termed Operation Searchlight.[11]

The violent crackdown by West Pakistan forces[12] led to East Pakistan declaring its independence as the state of Bangladesh and to the start of civil war. The war led to a sea of refugees (estimated at the time to be about 10 million)[13][14] flooding into the eastern provinces of India.[13] Facing a mounting humanitarian and economic crisis, India started actively aiding and organising the Bangladeshi resistance army known as the Mukti Bahini.

East Pakistani grievances

Economic disparities

Although East Pakistan had a larger population, West Pakistan dominated the divided country politically and received more money from the common budget.

Year Spending on West Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees) Spending on East Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees) Amount spent on East as percentage of West
1950–55 11,290 5,240 46.4
1955–60 16,550 5,240 31.7
1960–65 33,550 14,040 41.8
1965–70 51,950 21,410 41.2
Total 113,340 45,930 40.5
Source: Reports of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 1970–75, Vol. I, published by the planning commission of Pakistan.

Political differences

Although East Pakistan accounted for a slight majority of the country's population,[15] political power remained firmly in the hands of West Pakistanis. Since a straightforward system of representation based on population would have concentrated political power in East Pakistan, the West Pakistani establishment came up with the "One Unit" scheme, where all of West Pakistan was considered one province. This was solely to counterbalance the East wing's votes.

After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan's first prime minister, in 1951, political power began to be devolved to the President of Pakistan, and eventually, the military. The nominal elected chief executive, the Prime Minister, was frequently sacked by the establishment, acting through the President.

East Pakistanis noticed that whenever one of them, such as Khawaja Nazimuddin, Muhammad Ali Bogra, or Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, he were swiftly deposed by the largely West Pakistani establishment. The military dictatorships of Ayub Khan (27 October 1958 – 25 March 1969) and Yahya Khan (25 March 1969 – 20 December 1971), both West Pakistanis, only heightened such feelings.

The situation reached a climax when in 1970 the Awami League, the largest East Pakistani political party, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a landslide victory in the national elections. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 313 seats in the National Assembly. This gave the Awami League the constitutional right to form a government. However, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (a Sindhi and former professor), the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, refused to allow Rahman to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.[16] Instead, he proposed the idea of having two Prime Ministers, one for each wing. The proposal elicited outrage in the east wing, already chafing under the other constitutional innovation, the "one unit scheme". Bhutto also refused to accept Rahman's Six Points. On 3 March 1971, the two leaders of the two wings along with the President General Yahya Khan met in Dhaka to decide the fate of the country. Talks failed and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for a nationwide strike. Bhutto feared a civil war, therefore, he sent his most trusted companion, dr. Mubashir Hassan.[16] A message was convened and Mujib decided to meet Bhutto.[16] Upon his arrival, Mujib met with Bhutto and both agreed to form a coalition government with Mujib as Premier and Bhutto as President.[16] However, these developments were unaware to military, and Bhutto increased his pressure on Mujib to reached a decision.[16]

On 7 March 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (soon to be the prime minister) delivered a speech at the Racecourse Ground (now called the Suhrawardy Udyan). In this speech he mentioned a further four-point condition to consider the National Assembly Meeting on 25 March:

  1. The immediate lifting of martial law.
  2. Immediate withdrawal of all military personnel to their barracks.
  3. An inquiry into the loss of life.
  4. Immediate transfer of power to the elected representative of the people before the assembly meeting 25 March.

He urged "his people" to turn every house into a fort of resistance. He closed his speech saying, "Our struggle is for our freedom. Our struggle is for our independence." This speech is considered the main event that inspired the nation to fight for its independence. General Tikka Khan was flown in to Dhaka to become Governor of East Bengal. East-Pakistani judges, including Justice Siddique, refused to swear him in.

Between 10 and 13 March, Pakistan International Airlines cancelled all their international routes to urgently fly "Government Passengers" to Dhaka. These "Government Passengers" were almost all Pakistani soldiers in civilian dress. MV Swat, a ship of the Pakistan Navy, carrying ammunition and soldiers, was harboured in Chittagong Port and the Bengali workers and sailors at the port refused to unload the ship. A unit of East Pakistan Rifles refused to obey commands to fire on Bengali demonstrators, beginning a mutiny of Bengali soldiers.

Military imbalance

Bengalis were underrepresented in the Pakistan military. Officers of Bengali origin in the different wings of the armed forces made up just 5% of overall force by 1965; of these, only a few were in command positions, with the majority in technical or administrative posts.[17] West Pakistanis believed that Bengalis were not "martially inclined" unlike Pashtuns and Punjabis; the "martial races" notion was dismissed as ridiculous and humiliating by Bengalis.[17] Moreover, despite huge defence spending, East Pakistan received none of the benefits, such as contracts, purchasing and military support jobs. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 over Kashmir also highlighted the sense of military insecurity among Bengalis as only an under-strength infantry division and 15 combat aircraft without tank support were in East Pakistan to thwart any Indian retaliations during the conflict.[18][19]

Language controversy

In 1948, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's first Governor-General, declared in Dhaka (then usually spelled Dacca in English) that "Urdu, and only Urdu" would be the common language for all of Pakistan.[20] This proved highly controversial, since Urdu was a language that was only spoken in the West by Muhajirs and in the East by Biharis, although the Urdu language had been promoted as the lingua franca of Indian Muslims by political and religious leaders such as Sir Khwaja Salimullah, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk and Maulvi Abdul Haq. The language was considered a vital element of the Islamic culture for Indian Muslims; Hindi and the Devanagari script were seen as fundamentals of Hindu culture. The majority groups in West Pakistan spoke Punjabi, while the Bengali language was spoken by the vast majority of East Pakistanis.[21] The language controversy eventually reached a point where East Pakistan revolted while the other part of Pakistan remained calm even though Punjabi was spoken by the majority groups of West Pakistan. Several students and civilians lost their lives in a police crackdown on 21 February 1952.[21] The day is revered in Bangladesh and in West Bengal as the Language Martyrs' Day. Later, in memory of the 1952 killings, UNESCO declared 21 February as the International Mother Language Day in 1999.[22]

In West Pakistan, the movement was seen as a sectional uprising against Pakistani national interests[23] and the founding ideology of Pakistan, the Two-Nation Theory.[24] West Pakistani politicians considered Urdu a product of Indian Islamic culture,[25] as Ayub Khan said, as late as 1967, "East Bengalis... still are under considerable Hindu culture and influence."[25] But, the deaths led to bitter feelings among East Pakistanis, and they were a major factor in the push for independence.[24][25]

Response to the 1970 cyclone

The 1970 Bhola cyclone made landfall on the East Pakistan coastline during the evening of 12 November, around the same time as a local high tide,[26] killing an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people. Though the exact death toll is not known, it is considered the deadliest tropical cyclone on record.[27] A week after the landfall, President Khan conceded that his government had made "slips" and "mistakes" in its handling of the relief efforts due to a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the disaster.[28]

A statement released by eleven political leaders in East Pakistan ten days after the cyclone hit charged the government with "gross neglect, callous and utter indifference". They also accused the president of playing down the magnitude of the problem in news coverage.[29] On 19 November, students held a march in Dhaka protesting the slowness of the government response.[30] Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani addressed a rally of 50,000 people on 24 November, where he accused the president of inefficiency and demanded his resignation.

As the conflict between East and West Pakistan developed in March, the Dhaka offices of the two government organisations directly involved in relief efforts were closed for at least two weeks, first by a general strike and then by a ban on government work in East Pakistan by the Awami League. With this increase in tension, foreign personnel were evacuated over fears of violence. Relief work continued in the field, but long-term planning was curtailed.[31] This conflict widened into the Bangladesh Liberation War in December and concluded with the creation of Bangladesh. This is one of the first times that a natural event helped to trigger a civil war.[32]

Operation Searchlight

A planned military pacification carried out by the Pakistan Army – codenamed Operation Searchlight – started on 25 March to curb the Bengali nationalist movement[33] by taking control of the major cities on 26 March, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military,[34] within one month. Before the beginning of the operation, all foreign journalists were systematically deported from East Pakistan.[35]

The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in mid-May. The operation also began the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. These systematic killings served only to enrage the Bengalis, which ultimately resulted in the secession of East Pakistan later in the same year. The international media and reference books in English have published casualty figures which vary greatly, from 5,000–35,000 in Dhaka, and 200,000–3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole,[7] and the atrocities have been referred to as acts of genocide. [36]

According to the Asia Times,[37]

At a meeting of the military top brass, Yahya Khan declared: "Kill 3 million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands." Accordingly, on the night of 25 March, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Searchlight to "crush" Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able-bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down.

Although the violence focused on the provincial capital, Dhaka, it also affected all parts of East Pakistan. Residential halls of the University of Dhaka were particularly targeted. The only Hindu residential hall – the Jagannath Hall – was destroyed by the Pakistani armed forces, and an estimated 600 to 700 of its residents were murdered. The Pakistani army denies any cold blooded killings at the university, though the Hamood-ur-Rehman commission in Pakistan concluded that overwhelming force was used at the university. This fact and the massacre at Jagannath Hall and nearby student dormitories of Dhaka University are corroborated by a videotape secretly filmed by Prof. Nurul Ullah of the East Pakistan Engineering University, whose residence was directly opposite the student dormitories.[38]

Hindu areas suffered particularly heavy blows. By midnight, Dhaka was burning,[citation needed] especially the Hindu dominated eastern part of the city. Time magazine reported on 2 August 1971, "The Hindus, who account for three-fourths of the refugees and a majority of the dead, have borne the brunt of the Pakistani military hatred."

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested by the Pakistani Army. Yahya Khan appointed Brigadier (later General) Rahimuddin Khan to preside over a special tribunal prosecuting Mujib with multiple charges. The tribunal's sentence was never made public, but Yahya caused the verdict to be held in abeyance in any case.[citation needed] Other Awami League leaders were arrested as well, while a few fled Dhaka to avoid arrest. The Awami League was banned by General Yahya Khan.[39]

Declaration of independence

The violence unleashed by the Pakistani forces on 25 March 1971, proved the last straw to the efforts to negotiate a settlement. Following these outrages, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman signed an official declaration that read:

Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dhaka. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between E.P.R. and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla.[40][41]

Sheikh Mujib also called upon the people to resist the occupation forces through a radio message.[42] Mujib was arrested on the night of 25–26 March 1971 at about 1:30 am (as per Radio Pakistan's news on 29 March 1971).

A telegram containing the text of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's declaration reached some students in Chittagong. The message was translated to Bangla by Dr. Manjula Anwar. The students failed to secure permission from higher authorities to broadcast the message from the nearby Agrabad Station of Radio Pakistan. They crossed Kalurghat Bridge into an area controlled by an East Bengal Regiment under Major Ziaur Rahman. Bengali soldiers guarded the station as engineers prepared for transmission. At 19:45 hrs on 27 March 1971, Major Ziaur Rahman broadcast the announcement of the declaration of independence on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur. On 28 March Major Ziaur Rahman made another announcement,which was as follows:

This is Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro. I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that the independent People's Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken command as the temporary Head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalis to rise against the attack by the West Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our Motherland. By the grace of Allah, victory is ours. Joy Bangla. Audio of Zia's announcement (interview – Belal Mohammed)

The Kalurghat Radio Station's transmission capability was limited. The message was picked up by a Japanese ship in Bay of Bengal. It was then re-transmitted by Radio Australia and later by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

M A Hannan, an Awami League leader from Chittagong, is said to have made the first announcement of the declaration of independence over the radio on 26 March 1971.[43] There is controversy now as to when Major Zia gave his speech. BNP sources maintain that it was 26 March, and there was no message regarding declaration of independence from Mujibur Rahman. Pakistani sources, like Siddiq Salik in Witness to Surrender had written that he heard about Mujibor Rahman's message on the Radio while Operation Searchlight was going on, and Maj. Gen. Hakeem A. Qureshi in his book The 1971 Indo-Pak War: A Soldier's Narrative, gives the date of Zia's speech as 27 March 1971.[44]

26 March 1971 is considered the official Independence Day of Bangladesh, and the name Bangladesh was in effect henceforth. In July 1971, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi openly referred to the former East Pakistan as Bangladesh.[45] Some Pakistani and Indian officials continued to use the name "East Pakistan" until 16 December 1971.

Liberation war

March to June

Leaflets and pamphlets played an important role in driving public opinion during the war.

At first resistance was spontaneous and disorganised, and was not expected to be prolonged.[46] But when the Pakistani Army cracked down upon the population, resistance grew. The Mukti Bahini became increasingly active. The Pakistani military sought to quell them, but increasing numbers of Bengali soldiers defected to the underground "Bangladesh army". These Bengali units slowly merged into the Mukti Bahini and bolstered their weaponry with supplies from India. Pakistan responded by airlifting in two infantry divisions and reorganising their forces. They also raised paramilitary forces of Razakars, Al-Badrs and Al-Shams (who were mostly members of the Muslim League, the then government party and other Islamist groups), as well as other Bengalis who opposed independence, and Bihari Muslims who had settled during the time of partition.

On 17 April 1971, a provisional government was formed in Meherpur district in western Bangladesh bordering India with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was in prison in Pakistan, as President, Syed Nazrul Islam as Acting President, Tajuddin Ahmed as Prime Minister, and General Mohammad Ataul Ghani Osmany as Commander-in-Chief, Bangladesh Forces. As fighting grew between the occupation army and the Bengali Mukti Bahini an estimated 10 million Bengalis, sought refuge in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.[47]

June – September

Bangladesh forces command was set up on 11 July, with Col. M A G Osmany as commander-in-chief (C-in-C) with the status of Cabinet Minister, Lt. Col. Abdur Rabb as chief of Staff (COS), Group Captain A K Khandker as Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) and Major A R Chowdhury as Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS). Bangladesh was divided into Eleven Sectors each with a commander chosen from defected officers of the Pakistani army who joined the Mukti Bahini to conduct guerrilla operations and train fighters. Most of their training camps were situated near the border area and were operated with assistance from India. The 10th Sector was directly placed under the Commander in Chief (C-in-C) General Osmany and included the Naval Commandos and C-in-C's special force.[48] Three brigades (11 Battalions) were raised for conventional warfare; a large guerrilla force (estimated at 100,000) was trained.[49]

Guerrilla operations, which slackened during the training phase, picked up after August. Economic and military targets in Dhaka were attacked. The major success story was Operation Jackpot, in which naval commandos mined and blew up berthed ships in Chittagong on 16 August 1971. Pakistani reprisals claimed lives of thousands of civilians.[citation needed] The Indian army took over supplying the Mukti Bahini from the BSF. They organised six sectors for supplying the Bangladesh forces.

October – December

Also See: Evolution of Pakistan Eastern Command plan, Bangladesh 1971: Opposing Plans, Pakistan Army Order of Battle December 1971 and Mitro Bahini Order of Battle December 1971
Bangladesh conventional forces attacked border outposts. Kamalpur, Belonia and Battle of Boyra are a few examples. 90 out of 370 BOPs fell to Bengali forces. Guerrilla attacks intensified, as did Pakistani and Razakar reprisals on civilian populations. Pakistani forces were reinforced by eight battalions from West Pakistan. The Bangladeshi independence fighters even managed to temporarily capture airstrips at Lalmonirhat and Shalutikar.[50] Both of these were used for flying in supplies and arms from India. Pakistan sent another 5 battalions from West Pakistan as reinforcements.

Indian involvement

Illustration showing military units and troop movements during the war.

Major battles

Wary of the growing involvement of India, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) launched a pre-emptive strike on Indian Air Force bases on 3 December 1971. The attack was modelled on the Israeli Air Force's Operation Focus during the Six-Day War, and intended to neutralize the Indian Air Force planes on the ground. However, the plan failed to achieve the desired success since India had anticipated such an action. The strike was however seen as an open act of unprovoked aggression by India. This marked the official start of the Indo-Pakistani War.

As a response to the attack, both India and Pakistan formally acknowledged the existence of a state of war between the two countries, even though neither government had formally issued a Declaration of War.[51]

Three Indian corps were involved in the invasion of East Pakistan. They were supported by nearly three brigades of Mukti Bahini fighting alongside them, and many more fighting irregularly. This was far superior to the Pakistani army of three divisions.[52] The Indians quickly overran the country, selectively engaging or bypassing heavily defended strongholds. Pakistani forces were unable to effectively counter the Indian attack, as they had been deployed in small units around the border to counter guerrilla attacks by the Mukti Bahini.[53] Unable to defend Dhaka, the Pakistanis surrendered on 16 December 1971.

The speed of the Indian strategy can be gauged by the fact that one of the regiments of Indian army (7 Punjab now 8 Mechanised Inf Regiment) fought the liberation war along the Jessore and Khulna axis. They were newly converted to a mechanised regiment and it took them just 1 week to reach Khulna after capturing Jessore. Their losses were limited to just 2 newly acquired APCs (SKOT) from the Russians.

India's external intelligence agency, the RAW, played a crucial role in providing logistic support to the Mukti Bahini during the initial stages of the war. RAW's operations, in then East Pakistan, was the largest covert operation in the history of South Asia.

Pakistani response

Pakistan launched a number of armoured thrusts along India's western front in attempts to force Indian troops away from East Pakistan. Pakistan tried to fight back and boost the sagging morale by incorporating the Special Services Group commandos in sabotage and rescue missions.

The air and naval war

The Indian Air Force carried out several sorties against Pakistan, and within a week, IAF aircraft dominated the skies of East Pakistan. It achieved near-total air supremacy by the end of the first week as the entire Pakistani air contingent in the east, PAF No.14 Squadron, was grounded because of Indian airstrikes at Tejgaon, Kurmitolla, Lal Munir Hat and Shamsher Nagar. Sea Hawks from INS Vikrant also struck Chittagong, Barisal and Cox's Bazar, destroying the eastern wing of the Pakistan Navy and effectively blockading the East Pakistan ports, thereby cutting off any escape routes for the stranded Pakistani soldiers. The nascent Bangladesh Navy (comprising officers and sailors who defected from the Pakistani Navy) aided the Indians in the marine warfare, carrying out attacks, most notably Operation Jackpot.

United Nations Security Council involvement

Though the United Nations condemned the human rights violations during and following Operation Searchlight, it failed to defuse the situation politically before the start of the war.

Following Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's declaration of independence in March 1971, India undertook a world-wide campaign to drum up political, democratic and humanitarian support for the people of Bangladesh for their liberation struggle. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made a whirlwind tour of a large number of countries in a bid to create awareness of the Pakistani atrocities against Bengalis. This effort was to prove vital later during the war, in framing the world's context of the war and to justify military action by India.[54] Also, following Pakistan's defeat, it ensured prompt recognition of the newly independent state of Bangladesh.

Following India's entry into the war, Pakistan fearing certain defeat, made urgent appeals to the United Nations to intervene and force India to agree to a cease fire. The UN Security Council assembled on 4 December 1971 to discuss the hostilities in South Asia. After lengthy discussions on 7 December, the United States made a resolution for "immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of troops." While supported by the majority, the USSR vetoed the resolution twice. In light of the Pakistani atrocities against Bengalis, the United Kingdom and France abstained on the resolution.[51][55]

On 12 December, with Pakistan facing imminent defeat, the United States requested that the Security Council be reconvened. Pakistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was rushed to New York City to make the case for a resolution on the cease fire. The council continued deliberations for four days. By the time proposals were finalised, Pakistan's forces in the East had surrendered and the war had ended, making the measures merely academic. Bhutto, frustrated by the failure of the resolution and the inaction of the United Nations, ripped up his speech and left the council.[55]

Most UN member nations were quick to recognize Bangladesh within months of its liberation.[54]

Surrender and aftermath

Indian Lt. Gen J.S. Aurora and Pakistani Lt. Gen A.A.K. Niazi's signatures on the Instrument of Surrender.

On 16 December 1971, Lt. Gen A. A. K. Niazi, CO of Pakistan Army forces located in East Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender. At the time of surrender only a few countries had provided diplomatic recognition to the new nation. Over 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the Indian forces making it the largest surrender since World War II. Bangladesh sought admission in the UN with most voting in its favour, but China vetoed this as Pakistan was its key ally.[56] The United States, also a key ally of Pakistan, was one of the last nations to accord Bangladesh recognition.[57] To ensure a smooth transition, in 1972 the Simla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. The treaty ensured that Pakistan recognised the independence of Bangladesh in exchange for the return of the Pakistani PoWs. India treated all the PoWs in strict accordance with the Geneva Convention, rule 1925.[58] It released more than 90,000 Pakistani PoWs in five months.[59]

Further, as a gesture of goodwill, nearly 200 soldiers who were sought for war crimes by Bengalis were also pardoned by India. The accord also gave back more than 13,000 km² of land that Indian troops had seized in West Pakistan during the war, though India retained a few strategic areas;[60] most notably Kargil (which would in turn again be the focal point for a war between the two nations in 1999). This was done as a measure of promoting "lasting peace" and was acknowledged by many observers as a sign of maturity by India. But some in India felt that the treaty had been too lenient to Bhutto, who had pleaded for leniency, arguing that the fragile democracy in Pakistan would crumble if the accord was perceived as being overly harsh by Pakistanis.

Reaction in West Pakistan to the war

Reaction to the defeat and dismemberment of half the nation was a shocking loss to top military and civilians alike. No one had expected that they would lose the formal war in under a fortnight and there was also anger at what was perceived as a meek surrender of the army in East Pakistan. Yahya Khan's dictatorship collapsed and gave way to Bhutto who took the opportunity to rise to power. General Niazi, who surrendered along with 93,000 troops, was viewed with suspicion and hatred upon his return to Pakistan. He was shunned and branded a traitor. The war also exposed the shortcomings of Pakistan's declared strategic doctrine that the "defence of East Pakistan lay in West Pakistan".[61] Pakistan also failed to gather international support, and found itself fighting a lone battle with only the USA providing any external help. This further embittered the Pakistanis who had faced the worst military defeat of an army in decades.

The debacle immediately prompted an enquiry headed by Justice Hamoodur Rahman. Called the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, it was initially suppressed by Bhutto as it put the military in a poor light. When it was declassified, it showed many failings from the strategic to the tactical levels. It also condemned the atrocities and the war crimes committed by the armed forces. It confirmed the looting, rapes and the killings by the Pakistan Army and their local agents although the figures are far lower than the ones quoted by Bangladesh. According to Bangladeshi sources, 200,000 women were raped and over 3 million people were killed, while the Rahman Commission report in Pakistan claimed 26,000 died and the rapes were in the hundreds. However, the army's role in splintering Pakistan after its greatest military debacle was largely ignored by successive Pakistani governments.[citation needed]

Atrocities

Rayerbazar killing field photographed immediately after the war, showing dead bodies of intellectuals (Image courtesy: Rashid Talukdar, 1971)

During the war there were widespread killings and other atrocities – including the displacement of civilians in Bangladesh (East Pakistan at the time) and widespread violations of human rights – carried out by the Pakistan Army with support from political and religious militias, beginning with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971. Bangladeshi authorities claim that three million people were killed,[7] while the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, an official Pakistan Government investigation, put the figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties.[62] The international media and reference books in English have also published figures which vary greatly from 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole.[7] A further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek safety in India.[63]

A large section of the intellectual community of Bangladesh were murdered, mostly by the Al-Shams and Al-Badr forces,[64] at the instruction of the Pakistani Army.[65] Just 2 days before the surrender, on 14 December 1971, Pakistan Army and Razakar militia (local collaborators) picked up at least 100 physicians, professors, writers and engineers in Dhaka, and murdered them, leaving the dead bodies in a mass grave.[66] There are many mass graves in Bangladesh, and as years pass, more are being discovered (such as one in an old well near a mosque in Dhaka, located in the non-Bengali region of the city, which was discovered in August 1999).[67] The first night of war on Bengalis, which is documented in telegrams from the American Consulate in Dhaka to the United States State Department, saw indiscriminate killings of students of Dhaka University and other civilians.[68] Numerous women were tortured, raped and killed during the war; the exact numbers are not known and are a subject of debate. Bangladeshi sources cite a figure of 200,000 women raped, giving birth to thousands of war babies. The Pakistan Army also kept numerous Bengali women as sex-slaves inside the Dhaka Cantonment. Most of the girls were captured from Dhaka University and private homes.[69] There was significant sectarian violence not only perpetrated and encouraged by the Pakistani army,[70] but also by Bengali nationalists against non-Bengali minorities, especially Biharis.[71]

On 16 December 2002, the George Washington University's National Security Archive published a collection of declassified documents, consisting mostly of communications between US embassy officials and United States Information Service centres in Dhaka and India, and officials in Washington DC.[72] These documents show that US officials working in diplomatic institutions within Bangladesh used the terms selective genocide[73] and genocide (see The Blood Telegram) to describe events they had knowledge of at the time. Genocide is the term that is still used to describe the event in almost every major publication and newspaper in Bangladesh,[74][75] although elsewhere, particularly in Pakistan, the actual death toll, motives, extent, and destructive impact of the actions of the Pakistani forces are disputed.

Foreign reaction

USA and USSR

The United States supported Pakistan both politically and materially. U.S. President Richard Nixon denied getting involved in the situation, saying that it was an internal matter of Pakistan. But when Pakistan's defeat seemed certain, Nixon sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal, a move deemed by the Indians as a nuclear threat. Enterprise arrived on station on 11 December 1971. On 6 and 13 December, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of ships, armed with nuclear missiles, from Vladivostok; they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 in the Indian Ocean from 18 December until 7 January 1972.

The Nixon administration provided support to Pakistan President Yahya Khan during the turmoil.

Nixon and Henry Kissinger feared Soviet expansion into South and Southeast Asia. Pakistan was a close ally of the People's Republic of China, with whom Nixon had been negotiating a rapprochement and which he intended to visit in February 1972. Nixon feared that an Indian invasion of West Pakistan would mean total Soviet domination of the region, and that it would seriously undermine the global position of the United States and the regional position of America's new tacit ally, China. In order to demonstrate to China the bona fides of the United States as an ally, and in direct violation of the US Congress-imposed sanctions on Pakistan, Nixon sent military supplies to Pakistan and routed them through Jordan and Iran,[76] while also encouraging China to increase its arms supplies to Pakistan.

The Nixon administration also ignored reports it received of the genocidal activities of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, most notably the Blood telegram.

The Soviet Union supported Bangladesh and Indian armies, as well as the Mukti Bahini during the war, recognising that the independence of Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals – the United States and China. It gave assurances to India that if a confrontation with the United States or China developed, the USSR would take countermeasures. This was enshrined in the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty signed in August 1971. The Soviets also sent a nuclear submarine to ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise in the Indian Ocean.

At the end of the war, the Warsaw Pact countries were among the first to recognize Bangladesh. The Soviet Union accorded recognition to Bangladesh on 25 January 1972. The United States delayed recognition for some months, before according it in April 1972.

China

As a long-standing ally of Pakistan, the People's Republic of China reacted with alarm to the evolving situation in East Pakistan and the prospect of India invading West Pakistan and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Believing that just such an Indian attack was imminent, Nixon encouraged China to mobilise its armed forces along its border with India to discourage it. The Chinese did not, however, respond to this encouragement, because unlike the 1962 Sino-Indian War when India was caught entirely unawares, this time the Indian Army was prepared and had deployed eight mountain divisions to the Sino-Indian border to guard against such an eventuality.[51] China instead threw its weight behind demands for an immediate ceasefire.

China was also among the last countries to recognize independent Bangladesh, refusing to do so until 8 October 1975.

Jatiyo Smriti Soudho

Jatiyo Sriti Soudho at Savar, a tribute to the martyrs of the Bangladesh Liberation War

Jatiyo Sriti Soudho (Bengali: জাতীয় স্মৃতি সৌধ Jatio Sriti Shoudho) or National Martyrs' Memorial is a monument in Bangladesh. It is the symbol of the valour and the sacrifice of those killed in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which brought the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistani rule. The monument is located in Savar, about 35km north-west of the capital, Dhaka.[1] It was designed by Syed Mainul Hossain.

History

Plans for the monument were initiated right after the independence, in 1972. Following the site selection, road and land development, a nation-wide design competition was held in June, 1978. Following evaluation of the 57 submissions, Syed Mainul Hossain's design was chosen. The main structure and the artificial lake and other facilities were completed in 1982.

Structure

The monument is composed of 7 isosceles triangular pyramid shaped structures, with the middle one being the tallest. The highest point of the monument is 150 feet. There is an artificial lake, and several mass graves in front of the main monument.National Martyrs' Memorial situated at Savar, about 35 km north-west of Dhaka, symbolises the valour and sacrifice of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Bangladesh. A national competition was held for the design of the project in June 1978. Among the fifty-seven competitors Architect Syed Moinul Hossain's design proposal was selected. The main monument is composed of seven isosceles triangular planes each varying in size in its height and base. The highest one has the smallest base while the broadest base has the lowest height. The planes are folded at the middle and placed one after another. The highest point of the structure reaches 150 feet. This unique arrangement of the planes has created a structure that seems to change its configuration when viewed from different angles. The architect has used concrete for the monument while all the other structures and pavements of the complex are made of red bricks. Use of different materials has added to the gravity of the monument.

The whole complex is spread over an area of 34 hectares (84 acres) which is again wrapped around by a green belt of 10 hectares (24.7 acre). Several mass-graves and a reflection water body are placed in front of the monument. Once one enters the complex through the main gate he or she can see the monument axially but to reach it one has to walk through different ups and downs of pavements and cross an artificial lake by a bridge-all these represent the struggle for independence.

The project was constructed in three phases. The first one, began in 1972, involved in acquiring land and constructing road for the project at a cos t of Tk 26 lacs. During the second phase, 1974 - 1982, Tk 3.77 crores were spent in order to build the mass-graves, helipad, parking space, pavements etc. In the third phase, began in August 1982, the main structure was built apart from the artificial lake, green belt, cafeteria, housing etc. The third phase required Tk 848.65 lacs. The Public Works Department of the Government of Bangladesh supervised the construction of the project. [Md Shahidul Amin and M Zakiul Islam]

Jatiyae Sangsad Bhaban

Jatiyae Sangsad Bhaban
General information
Type National Assembly Building
Architectural style Modern
Location Dhaka, Bangladesh
Construction started 1961
Completed 1982
Cost Tk 1.29 billion (US$15 million)
Technical details
Structural system Reinforced concrete
Design and construction
Architect Louis Kahn

Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban (Bengali: জাতীয় সংসদ ভবন Jatio Shôngshod Bhôbon) is the National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, located in the capital Dhaka. It was created by architect Louis Kahn and is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world. It houses all parliamentary activities of Bangladesh.

Historical information

There have been nine national elections in Bangladesh. The first and second Parliaments used the Old Shangshad Bhaban, which currently serves as the Prime Minister's Office.

Construction of the Jatiya Shangshad Bhaban began in 1961 by the Government of Pakistan as a permanent building for the federal legislature of both West and East Pakistan. However, it was the eighth (and last) session of the second parliament of Bangladesh that first used it on 15 February 1982 after its construction was completed on 28 January of the same year. The Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban has been in operation and has acted as the sole complex used as the National Assembly ever since.

Jatiya Shangshad was designed by Louis Kahn. First, Muzharul Islam was given to design Jatiya Shangshad Bhaban by the government. But, Islam brought his teacher Louis Kahn into the project to do a significant work for future generation. But, Muzharul Islam assisted Kahn at the project. According to Robert McCarter, author of Louis I. Kahn, it "is one of the twentieth century's greatest architectural monuments, and is without question Kahn's magnum opus."[1]

Data

The parliament building at night
  • Beginning of construction: 1961
  • Cost of construction and design: Tk. 129 crore or 1.29 billion (=1,290,000,000)
  • Inauguration: 28 January 1982
  • Architect: Louis I. Kahn
  • Total area: 200 acres (800,000 m²)
  • Location: Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Number of Parliaments: 7 (seven)
  • GIS coordinates: 23.762465°,90.378545°

History of use by Parliament

Seven Parliaments, including the current one led by Sheikh Hasina as the Prime Minister, have used the Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban as the assembly building:

  1. Second Parliament: 2 years 11 months (2 April 1979 - 24 March 1982)
  2. Third Parliament: 1 year 5 months (10 July 1986 - 6 December 1987)
  3. Fourth Parliament: 2 years 7 months (15 April 1988 - 6 December 1990)
  4. Fifth Parliament: 4 years 8 months (5 April 1991 - 24 November 1995)
  5. Sixth Parliament: 12 days (19 March 1996 - 30 March 1996)
  6. Seventh Parliament: 5 years (14 July 1996 - 13 July 2001)
  7. Eighth Parliament: 5 years (28 October 2001 - 27 October 2006)

Architecture and design


Close view of the building

Louis Kahn designed the entire Jatiyo Sangsad complex, which includes lawns, lake and residences for the Members of the Parliament (MPs).

Location and basic layout

The enclave, situated in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, is bounded by four major streets:

  • Lake Road to the North;
  • Rokeya Sarani to the East;
  • Manik Mia Avenue to the South; and
  • Mirpur Road to the West.

The main building (the Bhaban) is divided into three parts:

  1. The Main Plaza: 823,000 square feet (76,000 m²)
  2. South Plaza: 223,000 square feet (21,000 m²)
  3. Presidential Plaza: 65,000 square feet (6,000 m²)

The main building is at the center of the complex. The outer parts of the complex include the MP hostel. An intricately designed lake surrounds the main building.

Design philosophy

Kahn's key design philosophy optimizes the use of space while representing Bangladeshi heritage and culture. External lines are deeply recessed by porticoes with huge openings of regular geometric shapes on their exterior, shaping the building's overall visual impact.

In the architect Louis Kahn's own words:

In the assembly I have introduced a light-giving element to the interior of the plan. If you see a series of columns you can say that the choice of columns is a choice in light. The columns as solids frame the spaces of light. Now think of it just in reverse and think that the columns are hollow and much bigger and that their walls can themselves give light, then the voids are rooms, and the column is the maker of light and can take on complex shapes and be the supporter of spaces and give light to spaces. I am working to develop the element to such an extent that it becomes a poetic entity which has its own beauty outside of its place in the composition. In this way it becomes analogous to the solid column I mentioned above as a giver of light.

It was not belief, not design, not pattern, but the essence from which an institution could emerge...

Source: Louis I. Kahn. from Heinz Ronner, with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. p236, 238.

The lake on three sides of the Bhaban, extending up to the Members' hostel adds to site's aesthetics and also portrays the riverine beauty of Bangladesh.

The assembly building received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.

The Bhaban (Main Building) design

The Bhaban consists of nine individual blocks: the eight peripheral blocks rise to a height of 110' while the central octagonal block rises to a height of 155'. All nine blocks include different groups of functional spaces and have different levels, inter-linked horizontally and vertically by corridors, lifts, stairs, light courts, and circular areas. The entire structure is designed to blend into one single, non-differentiable unit, that appears from the exterior to be a single story.

The main committee rooms are located at level two in one of the peripheral blocks. All parliamentary functionaries, including Ministers and chairpersons of some of the Standing Committees, have offices in the Bhaban. The Parliament Secretariat also occupies offices in the same building.

The Main Plaza

Parliament5.jpg

The most important part of the Main Plaza is the Parliament Chamber, which can house up to 354 members during sessions. There are also two podiums and two galleries for VIP visitors. The Chamber has a maximum height of 117' with a parabolic shell roof. The roof was designed with a clearance of a single story to let in daylight. Daylight, reflecting from the surrounding walls and octagonal drum, filters into the Parliament Chamber. The efficient and aesthetic use of light was a strong architectural capability of Louis Kahn.

The artificial lighting system has been carefully devised to provide zero obstruction to the entry of daylight. A composite chandelier is suspended from parabolic shell roof. This chandelier in turn consists of a metallic web, spanning the entire chamber, that supports the individual light fixtures.

Upper levels of the block (that contains the Chamber) contain the visitor and press galleries, as well as communication booths, all of which overlook the Parliament Chamber. The block also contains:

  • at level one, a library;
  • at level three, MPs’ lounges; and
  • at the upper level, party rooms.

The South Plaza

The South Plaza faces the Manik Mia Avenue. It gradually rises to a 20' height and serves as a beautiful exterior as well as the main entrance (used by members during sessions) to the Parliament Building. It contains:

  • controlling gates;
  • a driveway;
  • a main mechanical plant room;
  • a large car parking space;
  • a telephone exchange;
  • offices of maintenance engineers;
  • equipment stores; and
  • an open plaza with steps and ramps leading directly to the main building.

Presidential Plaza

The Presidential Plaza lies to the North and faces the Lake Road. It functions as an intimate plaza for the MPs and other dignitaries. It contains marble steps, a gallery and an open pavement.

Tourism and accessibility

Although entrance to the Bhaban, the Main Building, is limited to authorized members of Parliament and staff, the Jatiyo Sangshad complex is open to visitors. On the North of complex, across the Lake Road, is Crescent Lake and Zia Uddan (also called Chondrima Uddan). The two complexes together form a major attraction for tourists in Dhaka. The complexes are popular among joggers and skaters of Dhaka. The official Prime Minister's Residence is on the North West corner of the Mirpur Road and Lake Road crossing and is a five minute walk from the Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban. The area is one of the higher security zones of Dhaka.

The Complex can be accessed using any of the four roads surrounding it, however, the Manik Mia Avenue and Lake Road are the easiest approaches.

National Museum of Bangladesh

Present Bangladesh National Museum (1983) is the successor to the Dhaka Museum. Lord Carmichael, the Governor of Bengal inaugurated the Dhaka Museum on 7th August 1913. Mr. M. Bonhamcarter and Nicholas D. Beatson Bell played a very significant role in establishing this museum. Dr. Nalini Kanta Bhattasali, a young historian of immense potentiality, was made the first curator of the museum in 1914 and he served the museum in that capacity till his death in 1947. An acclaimed scholar, dedicated organizer and a professional of untiring missionary zeal Dr. Bhattasali made this Museum a very solid one in this part of the world. Since inception, its collection has grown enormously covering a wide range of objects.

History of  National Museum:
     

 History
Present Bangladesh National Museum (1983) is the successor to the Dhaka Museum. Lord Carmichael, the Governor of Bengal inaugurated the Dhaka Museum on 7th August 1913. Mr. M. Bonhamcarter and Nicholas D. Beatson Bell played a very significant role in establishing this museum. Dr. Nalini Kanta Bhattasali, a young historian of immense potentiality, was made the first curator of the museum in 1914 and he served the museum in that capacity till his death in 1947. An acclaimed scholar, dedicated organizer and a professional of untiring missionary zeal Dr. Bhattasali made this Museum a very solid one in this part of the world. Since inception, its collection has grown enormously covering a wide range of objects.On 20th September, 1983 Bangladesh Jatiya Jadughar (National Museum) ordinance came into operation and the Dhaka Museum Board of Trustees ordinance 22nd April, 1970 was repealed. Bangladesh National Museum was shifted to its present premises at Shahbag near Dhaka University in 1983.

A four-storied building with a total exhibition area of more than 20,000 sqm. and 44 galleries. The Bangladesh National Museum is one of the largest museum in South Asia. The Museum building comprises three auditoriums for holding seminars and cultural functions and a temporary exhibition hall for arranging special exhibitions. The Museum has a rich Library, an Audio-visual section, a Conservation Laboratory and a Photographic section.

Buddhist and Brahminical stone sculptures, architectural pieces, Arabic and Persian inscriptions and pieces of calligraph are the most significant objects of this museum from the point of view of artistic value and iconographic importance. The coin cabinet of the National Museum is especially rich for the study of history and numismatics of medieval Eastern India.

 The Museum has a good collection of Sanskrit and Bengali manuscripts, written on hand-made paper, palm leaf. Among the terracotta objects in the museum plaques, figures, stamped and inscribed slabs, votive seals, moulded and decorated brick representing the different phases of this art of Bengal.The Persian documents. Paintings in the museum collection range in date from 17th century. They include lacquer painted wooden manuscript covers, late Mughal miniature, water color drawings of Eid and Muharram processions of Dhaka. With a gallery of Shilpachariya Zainul Abedin's painting, the contemporary art gallery is rich with paintings, sculptures and tapestries of famous artists of Bangladesh.

Besides these, medieval arms and weapons, porcelain, metal work, specimens of famous filigree work of Dhaka, exquisite embroidered quilts, outlandish pieces of ivory works, superb wooden furniture, a rare piece of world famous Dhaka Muslin, dioramas of folk and tribal life, model of boats of Bangladesh, tribal and folk arts and crafts are displayed in the galleries. Collection of natural history specimens includes flora and fauna, fossils, rocks and minerals of Bangladesh and some impressive dioramas depicting the forest life and sundarbans milieu. The galleries of liberation war (1971), mementos of martyred intellectuals (1971) and Language Movement (1952) have added a proper dimension to Bangladesh National Museum. At present, Bangladesh National Museum has, in its possession, more than 85 thousand objects representing Hindu-Buddhist civilization of olden times, Islamic heritage of Bengal, and life, culture and society of contemporary Bangladesh.