Independence Day

Posted in history by jrahman on March 25, 2009

Today we observe the 38th birth anniversary of our People’s Republic.  This post marks this occassion in two ways.

First, it notes ten milestone events in the preceding half century to that got us to 26 March 1971.  History does not begin with the speeches and declarations of that month.  Our Liberation War didn’t happen overnight, in a vacuum. We do ourselves an immense disservice if we fail to mark those events.

Then it updates a 2-year old list by Rumi Ahmed.  The list compiles achievements that, written from the vantage point of a quarter century ago, would seem fantastically optimistic.  And yet, everything in that list is true.  We have beaten the odds many times.  And we will continue to do so.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

10 seminal events of the half century to 1971, in chronological order.

1. 1 July 1921 – Dhaka University founded.

2. 16 December 1923 – CR Das, leader of the Bengal Congress Party, formulates Bengal Pact. It was an agreement between Hindu and Muslim leaders of Bengal to institute majority rule and affirmative actions for Muslims. The pact failed, largely because of the foot dragging by the Congress after Das died.

3. 1 April 1937 – Fazlul Huq becomes the first Prime Minister of Bengal after his Krishak Praja Party wins a plurality of seats in general election.

4. 14-15 August 1947 – It was our tryst with destiny too, and we too felt the pains of partition.

5. 21 February 1952. 6. 7 October 1958 – Isqander Mirza and Ayub Khan declare martial law to ’save the country from misrules of corrupt politicians’. Hopefully we will never see another such rescue mission.

7. April-May 1961 – Pakistan government’s attempts to ban Bangla Naba Barsha and Tagore’s 100th birthday spark a cultural rennaissance.

8. September 1965 – India-Pakistan War, our taxes pay for their war while we are left undefended.

9. January 1969 – the revolution that we have forgotten. Hundreds of thousands of people marches to the cantoment where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was being tried for the Agartala Conspiracy Case. Asad’s bloodstained shirt becomes an instant icon.

10. December 1970 – Awami League wins as clear a mandate as possible in a democratic election.

And 10 events that would have seemed impossible in the early 1980s, and yet came true.

1. Doubling of per capita income in a generation.

2. Bangladesh trying to reach the semifinals of world cup cricket.

3. Nearly 50% of adult population carrying a mobile phone device and will actively SMS each other from most of the remotest villages.

4. The majority of urban middle class owning a family motor vehicle.

5. A majority of youngsters with access to internet.

6. A dozen or more private TV and radio channels, all beaming 24 hour of quality news and entertainment.

7. Bangladesh being one of the countries with highest number of vernacular newspapers published online. Bangladeshis all over the world will be hooked to 24 hours of live programming and online newspapers.

8. Bangladeshis being one of the fastest growing immigrant communities in North America, Europe, and Australia. One is hardly able to walk a New York / Toronto / London / Rome / Sydney street without bumping into a Bangladeshi.

9. Military forcing a change in government only to go back to barrack, accepting the results of a democratic election.

10. He (and we) would be what he is (we are) now.

(Crossposted at UV)

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