* Bangladesh


Figure 1.--Here we see three Muslim children in Bangladesh about 2008. Note the mixture of traditional and Western garments.

Bangladesh is a modern creation, but Bengal has a long history and was the center of a rich, prosperous econmy as a result of fertile, well watered soil and a warm climate. The area of modern Bangladesh was included in a succession of Indian empires. During this era there was struggle for religious dominance between Hinduism and Buddhism. Eventually Islam became the dominant religion. Bangladesh was part of the British Raj. It separated from India at the time of independence (1946). Predomionantly Muslim areas in the northeast and northwest became Pakistan. Resent gradually grew in Bangladesh because the government was largely controlled by authorities in West Pakistan. Bangladesh separated from the West Pakistan as a result of a bloody civil war (1971). HBC still has very little information about boys clothing trends in Bangladesh. we suspect that they are similar to India. Bangladesh merchants have inquired about purchasing used American clothing. We also see boys wearing Muslim styles also worn in Pakistan. Bangladesh is a very poor country whichof course affects clothing trends. The tropical climate is another factor.


Banglesh is located in southern Asia. It borders the Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal) between Burma and India. The country is basically centered on the Delta of the Ganges/Padma) from the west and Brahmaputra/Jamuna from the east Rivers. Here in the the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, the huge flow of the two great rivrrs fed by the Himalayan Mountains creates a massive delta with plentiful water abd rich soil. Combined with a tropical climnate, it is one of the most productube agricultural areason earth. It has thus been sescribed as a riverine country. And as a result was and contunues to be one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Bangaldesh is the eastern portion of the historical region of Bengal. The western portion is now the Indian state of West Bengal, the province of Bengal during the British Raj. The population is largly Muslim and as a result became part of Pakistan with the independence and partition of India (1947). East and West Pakistan were separated by 1,000 miles. East Pakistan as a result of war and revolt became indeoendent (1971). The capital is Dhaka located in the Delta. .


Bangledesh is a modern creation, but Bengal has a long history. The area of modern Bangladesh was included in a succession of Indian empires. During this era there was struggle for religious dominance between Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam reached northern India (late-12th century). Mohammed Bakhtiar Khalzhi from Turkistan captured Bengal with only 20 men (1199). Northeastern India was was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent up till the 16th century. The area was ruled by Mughal viceroys. During the Nughal era, the arts flourished and overland trade expanded. The Portuguese reached India (15th century). This opened Bengal to maritime trade. This would slowky undermine Mughal power. Europeans began to establish trading posts. The Bengals ousted the Portuguese (1633). The British East India Company negotiated the right to build a fortified trading post in Calcutta (1690). As Mughal power wained, provincial autonomy increased. A virtually independent dynasty of the Nengal nawabs roise to power. One of those nawabs attacked the British enclave in Calcutta and cramed the British he was able to seize in an airless underground cellar--the Black Hole of Calcutta. The British retook Calcutta a year later and the British Government replaced the East India Company following the Indian Mutiny (1857). East India Company clerk Robert Clive found himself effectively ruling Bengal. When Briritain gave India its independence, Muslims wanted a separate stte. Bengal became East Pakistan in political union with West Pakistan (1946). Gradually Bengali nationalism exerted itself, especialy when politically dominant West Pakistan attemoted to make Urdu the national language. The Pakistani Army attemoted to reverse an election won by Bengali nationalists. A horific 11-day war ensued in which the Indian Army intervened. The result was an independent Bangladesh (1971).


Bangladesh is today one of the poorest countries in the world. Interestingly This was not the case not only in ancuent times, but as recently as the 18th centyry. When the Europeans first arrived in India (16th century) it was one of the richest ecomoes on earth. The Mugal Empire was a center of emense manufactured and was rival in power only by the Ming Empire in China. The economy as with other countries was still based on agriculture. And the richest part of the Mughal Empire even as it declined was Beghal. [Dalrymple, p. xxvi-iii.] It is not that the farmers of Benghal have become less productiv. The land and climate that made Nenghal so productive still exist. What has changed is technology. Industrial advances have nean that natural resources and lamd productibity no longer are central in economic productivity. The majority of the Bengali populatiom till work in agriculture. Some progress has been made increasing harvests. Income is very low, largely because of the many small land holdings. The service industries have been expanding and now account for over half of the country'd GDP. The poverty is largely attributed to weak institutions, poverty, and too much government involvement in the economy, make extensive corruption possible. This all makes economic development difficult as well as fueling social and political unrest. Interestingly while Islamists commonly demonstrate against the West on which they blame the country's emense difficulties. Bangladesh receives relatively large inflows of remittances from foreign countries where people have emigrated to for jobs, primarily to the Middle Eastern oil countries. Remitences from the United States alone amount to about $100 million annually. Islamist groups threaten Bangladesh´┐Żs fragile democracy and pluralist traditions inherited from the British Raj. The current government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, is attempting to curtail Islamicist influences. The economy of neigboring India hasbeen thrust forward by market (socialist) reforms. The same has not yet occurred in Bangladesh.


Poverty is a country affecting clothing trends. The tropical climate is another factor. HBC still has very little information about boys clothing trends in Bangladesh. we suspect that they are similar to India. Bangladesh merchants have inquired about purchasing used American clothing. We also see boys wearing Muslim styles also worn in Pakistan.


We have begun to collect information on activities in which Bebgli boys participate. There seem to be much less involvement in the arts. Here both Islam and poverty are factors. There was a struggle for religious dominance between Hinduism and Buddhism. Eventually Islam became the dominant religion. And religion is an important aspect of the lives of many boys. We have very limited information on Bangladesh schools. The British left Bangladesh the foundation of a mobern secilar education system. This had been eroded over time by the country's poverty has impaired the country's ability to adequately support a quality education system. Another problem has been the growth of Islamic extremism. Islamic fundamentalist do not attach great importance to secular education. The Bengal economy is still largely agricultural. And thus farm animals are important in the lives of children. Affording pets is aporoblem, but the children do get involved with farm animals. We also know little about Banglasdash sports. Football apears to be the most popular sport as it is in most countries. Cricket is also popular, but more limited because of the grounds and equipment needed.


The two major minorities in Bangladesh are the Biharis ad the tribal hill people. Biharis, who are not ethnic Bangalees, are Urdu-speaking Muslim refugees from Bihar and other parts of northern India. They numbered about 1 million when Banladesh was created (1971), but hasve decreased to obly about 0.6 million people. They dominated the upper levels of the society and supported Pakistan during the 1971 war. A aesult, Hundreds of thousands of Biharis were repatriated to Pakistan after the war. Tribal people msake up less than 1 percent of the total population. They are concentrated in the Chittagong Hills and in the regions of Mymensingh, Sylhet, and Rajshahi. The tribal people are found priarily n rural areas. They differ from the general populstion inm social organization, marriage customs, birth and death rites, food, and religion. Very few of the tribal people are Muslims. They speak Tibeto-Burman languages.

Blasfemy Laws

Bangladesh is one of several countries around the world that have blasfemy laws. Most are Muslim countries. Even Muslim countries with secular goverments commonly have blasfemy laws. The Bengal blasfemy laws have become an issue after the tragic factory collapse north-west of Dhaka, where the death toll has risen to 610 victims. The Hefazat-e-Islam party, a conservative Muslim party, has demanded stronger blasphemy law with provision for the death penalty. Hefazat-e-Islam has mobilized in adherets to shit down Dakhar's main business hub Motijheel until the government accepts their demands (May 2003). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed has maintains that existing laws already have sufficient safeguards to address the protesters' concerns. She vowed that the government "will not allow any chaos in the name of Islam, a religion of peace." The Islamists are demanding mandatory religious education and the end to what they described as an "anti-Islam" policy that calls for gender equality. The protestors are pushing a 13-point list of demands which also include a ban on men and women mixing freely together and the restoration of pledges to Allah in the constitution. ["Bangladesh clashes ,,,] It is interesting to note that countries with Blasfemy Laws tend not only to be poor countries (excluding the oil countries) and countries which have added virtually nothing to modern life in the way of inventions, technology, medicines, and medical procedures. While railing against the West, they rely on inventors, scientists, and doctors for the technology that makes modern life possible. We also find it a basic dotrinal questgion fascinating: if Allah is so all powerful as the Islamists say, why he needs their efforts to protect him. One might think that Allah is capable of protecting himself.


"Bangladesh clashes rage over blasphemy law: At least 14 dead and dozens injured in battles in Dhaka streets between supporters of Hifazat-e-Islam and police." Aljazeera (May 6, 2013)


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Created: 11:55 PM 1/6/2010
Last updated: 7:40 AM 4/1/2012