Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bangladesh, Industrialisation

As the historian R.C.Dutt wrote that the people of Bengal had been used to tyrrany , but had never under oppression so far reaching in its effects, extending to every village market and every manufacturer's loom. They had been used to arbitrary acts from men in power, but had never suffered from a system which touched their trades, their occupations , their lives so closely. The springs of their industry were stopped, the sources of their wealth dried up.The plunder of Bengal directly contributed to the industrial revolution in England. The capital amassed in Bengal was invested in the nascent British industries.Lack of capital and fall of demand, on the other hand, resulted in de-industrialisation in the Bangladesh region. The muslin industry virtually disappeared in the wake of the British rule.
The British rule in Bengal promoted simultaneously the forces of unity and division in the society. The city based Hindu middle classes became the fiery champions of all India based rationalism. The same time, the British rule brought to surface the rivalry between the Hindus and Muslims which lay dormant during the five hundred years of Muslim rule. The class conflct between Muslim peasantry and Hindu intermediaries during the Muslim rule was diffused by the fact that those intermediaries themselves were agents of the Muslim rulers . Furthermore, the scope of exploitation was limited in the subsistence economy of pre-British Bengal.
The conflict between Muslim peasants and Hindu landlords was reinforced by the rivalry between Hindu and Muslim middle classes for the patronage of the imperial rulers.In the nineteenth century, both Hindu and Muslim middle classes expanded significantly. The Muslim middle class did not remain confined to traditional aristocracy which consisted primarily of immigrants from other Muslim countries. The British rule in Bengal contributed to the emergence of a vernacular elite from among locally converted Muslims in the second half of the nineteenth century.This was facilitatedby a significant expansion of jute jute cultivation in the Bangladesh region. The increase in jute exports benefited the surplus farmers in the lower Bengal where the Muslims were in majority.The economic affluence of surplus farmers encouraged the expansion of secular education among local Muslims. For example, the number of Muslim students in Bengal increased by 74 %between 1882-83 and 1912-13.
The communal politics of confrontation and violence which erupted during the partition of Bengal was interupted by a brief honey-moon during the non-cooperation movement led by the Indian National Congress and Khilafat movement of the Muslims in the second decade of twentieth century.Bengal witnessed in the twenties the emergence of the charismatic leadership of Cittaranjan Das who had the foresight to appreciate the alienation of the Muslim middle classes. In 1923, Das signed a pact with Fazlul Huq, Suhrawardy and other Muslim leadters. The pact which was known as the Bengal Pact provided guarantees for the representation of Muslims in politics anfd administration.The spirit of Hindu-Muslim rapproachement evaporated with the death of C.R.Das in 1925. However even if Das were alive he might not have succeededin containing the communal backlash. The communal problem was not unique to Bengal, it became the main issue in all Indian politics.As the communal tension mounted in the 1930s, the Muslim ashraf in Bengal which had close ties with the Muslim leadership in other parts of the sub-continent pursued a policy of communal confrontation.