Ancient and classical Bengal
Humans have been present in the Greater Bengal area for more than 20,000 years, according to Stone Age artifacts discovered there. Copper Age villages have been discovered dating back 4,000 years.
In waves of migration, Austroasiatics, Tibeto-Burmans, Dravidians, and Indo-Aryans inhabited ancient Bengal. When the Northern Black Polished Wareculture was established on the Indian subcontinent during the Iron Age around the middle of the first millennium BC., the major urban centers were founded. Sir Alexander Cunningham recognized the remains of Mahasthangarh as Pundranagara, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Pundra described in the Rigveda, in 1879.
Archaeologists believe the Wari-Bateshwar remains to be the capital of an ancient janapada, one of the subcontinent’s earliest city-states. An indigenous currency with silver perforations dated between 600 BC and 400 AD was discovered on the site. Glass beads discovered during excavations indicate that the city had trade ties to Southeast Asia and the Roman world.
The ancient Gangaridai Kingdom’s Greek and Roman records are connected to the fortified city of Wari-Bateshwar, which legend has it repelled Alexander the Great’s assault. The location is also linked to the flourishing trade town of Souanagoura, which appears on Ptolemy’s globe map. The presence of a big and significant port in southeast Bengal, which corresponds to the present area of Chittagong, was recorded by Roman geographers.
The Mahabharata Indian epic, which includes the area of Bangladesh, mentions the mythical Kingdom of Vanga. It was characterized as a South Asian seaworthy country. The Bengali prince Vijaya, according to Sinhalese legend, launched a naval expedition to Sri Lanka, conquered the island, and founded his first recorded kingdom. The Bengali people also colonized Southeast Asia, encompassing what is now Malaysia and Indonesia.
In the 3rd and 2nd century BC, the Maurya Empire governed Bengal. The Mauryans established the first geographically large Iron Age kingdom in ancient India with its bastions in Bengal and Bihar (together known as Magadha). They advocated for Buddhism and Jainism. Emperor Ashoka led the empire to its pinnacle. The Gupta Empire eventually overtook them in the third century. The Gupta dynasty began in Bangladesh’s Varendra area, which corresponds to the present divisions of Rajshahi and Rangpur, according to historian H. C. Roychowdhury. Chess, the idea of zero, the conception of Earth in orbit around the Sun, the study of solar and lunar eclipses, and the blossoming of Sanskrit literature and theatre all occurred during the Gupta period.
Bengal was split into many kingdoms in ancient antiquity. The Pala was the most powerful Bengali kingdom in ancient history, with an empire that spanned much of the northern Indian subcontinent at its height in the ninth century. The Palas were Mahayana Buddhists to the core. They strongly promoted art, architecture, and education, establishing the Pala School of Painting and Sculptural Art, the Somapura Mahavihara, and the Nalanda and Vikramshila universities. Under the Pala realm, the Proto-Bengali language arose. The resurgent Hindu Sena dynasty rose to prominence in the eleventh century. The Senas were ardent supporters of Brahmanic Hinduism and helped to establish Bengali Hinduism. They descended with their own Hindu art school, influenced by their forefathers. Bengal’s caste structure was reinforced by Senas.
Bengal served as a crossroads for the Southwestern Silk Road.
At the end of the first millennium, missionaries, Sufis, and traders from the Middle East introduced Islam to the beaches of Bengal. Some scholars believe that early Muslims, such as Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (the Prophet Muhammad’s uncle), utilized Bengal as a transit station on the South Silk Road to go to China. The discovery of Abbasid caliph coins in Bangladesh suggests a significant economic network existed during the Baghdad Era of the House of Wisdom, when Arab scholars assimilated prehistoric discoveries made by Indians and Greeks. This gave rise to the Indo-Arabic numbering system. Al-Idrisi observed a bustling boarding route between Chittagong and Basra when he wrote in 1154.
The following Muslim invasion incorporated the Bengali pre-Islamic civilization’s culture and accomplishments into the new Islamic polity. Muslims absorbed local traditions and practices, such as dress, cuisine, and manner of life. This featured Muslim women’s usage of the sari, bindu, and bangles, as well as music, dance, and theater. Mosques, madrasas, and Sufis Khanqahs were built under Muslim control to aid conversion.
In 1204 the Sultanate of Delhi’s Bakhtiar Khilji invaded the north and west of Bengal, beginning the Islamic invasion of Bengal. During the next century, the Sultanate of Delhi progressively conquered all of Bengal. An autonomous Sultanate of Bengal was founded in the 14th century. The Turkic Ilyas Shahi dynasty constructed South Asia’s biggest mosque and maintained strong diplomatic and economic relations with Ming China.
The first Bengali convert to the throne was Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah. The cultural diversity of the Sultanate of Bengal stood out. Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists established a civic-military service together. Hussain Shahi’s sultans encouraged the growth of Bengali literature. For 100 years, he had Arakan under his control.
Numerous global adventurers, including Niccol de’Conti of Venice, Ibn Battuta of Morocco, and Admiral Zheng He of China, paid visits to the sultanate. The Sultanate of Bengal, on the other hand, started to collapse in the sixteenth century. In 1532, the South Empire conquered Bengal and constructed the Grand Trunk Road. Much of the territory was taken over by Hindu Rajas and Baro-Bhuyanzamindars, particularly in the rich Bhati area. Isa Khan was the Rajput chief of the Sonargaon-based Baro-Bhuyans.
After the Battle of Tukaroi, in which he destroyed the last rulers of the Sultanate of Bengal, the Karrani dynasty, the Mughal Empire, headed by Akbar the Great, started to conquer the Bengal Delta in the late sixteenth century. In 1608 Mughal founded Dhaka as the province capital. The Mughals encountered strong opposition from the Baro-Bhuyans, Afghan warlords, and zamindars, but they ultimately conquered Bengal in 1666, when the Portuguese and arabesques were driven from Chittagong. Economic prosperity, agricultural reform, and burgeoning international commerce, particularly in muslin and silk fabrics, began with the Mughal administration. The Mughal viceroys encouraged agricultural development, transforming Bengal into the Indian subcontinent’s rice bowl. Sufis were more popular. The Mughal administration also saw the birth of the Baul movement, which was influenced by Sufism. During this time, Bengali ethnic identity solidified even more, and the people of the area were allowed enough liberty to develop their own traditions and literature. The whole area was governed in a steady manner for a long time.
The Suba of Bengal comprised the kingdoms of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa in the eighteenth century. It was the subcontinent’s wealthiest region. It accounted for half of the Mughal’s GDP. Eurasian merchants flocked to its cities and villages. Dhaka became to be an important Mughal administrative hub. In 1717, the Nawabs of Bengal created an autonomous principality with Murshidabad as its capital. The Nawabs gave European commercial powers further concessions. The situation reached a peak in 1757, when Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah seized the British stronghold at Fort William in an attempt to limit the East India Company’s increasing power. On June 23, 1757, Siraj-ud-general Daulah’s Mir Jafar betrayed him by assisting Robert Clive in defeating the last independent Nawab in the Battle of Plassey.
The Battle of Placis marked the beginning of the British East Indies administration in 1757, when the last independent Nabaw from Bengal was defeated. During the Bengal Rule, the British ousted the Muslim class. Calcutta was the capital city of the Bengal Presidency, which was established in 1765. The permanent establishment established a feudal regime that was oppressive. The region has been struck by a rash of deadly smooths.
With significant Bengal armed insurgencies in Dhaka, Calcutta, and Chittagong, the 1857 revolt started in the Bengal presidency. Hadji Shariatoulla’s Pharisees’ Movement, Titumir’s actions, the assault on Chittagong’s arsenal, and revolutionary organizations like Anushihan Samite have all occurred in East Bengal. The Bengal Renaissance flourishes thanks to the establishment of educational and cultural institutions throughout the area, particularly in East Bengal and Calcutta, the imperial colonial capital. The presidency of Bengal has become a birthplace for South Asia’s current political and cultural expression. Raja Mohammed Roy, Mish Moharaf Hossain, Ishwar Chandra Vidisassar, Sir Sid Ahmed Khan, Jagadis Chandra Bose, Can Bahadur Ascalahal, Rabindranhath Tagore, Michael Maddusdan Dutt, Kazi Nazrom Islam, and Begum Roka all made significant contributions. “What Bengal thinks now, India thinks tomorrow,” Gopal Krishna Gocle, Mahatma Gandhi’s tutor, said.
East Bengal developed a plantation economy centered on jute and tea cultivation under the British administration. In the early twentieth century, his share of global jute production peaked at more than 80%. The East Bengal railway line and the Bengal Assam Railway Station functioned as major commercial channels linking Chittagong’s seaport with the rest of the country.
The British split Bengal in 1905 to create the administrative divisions of East Bengal and Assam in response to the increasing educational development needs in East Bengal. The new province encompasses most of the northeastern sub-continent and is based in Dhaka, with Shilong as the summer capital and Chittagong as the major port. The Muslim League of India was founded in Dakha in 1906 and has since become the national banner of Muslims in India. Hindu nationalists and anti-British Muslims were upset by the partition of Bengal, which sparked the Suadzhihi movement within the Indian National Congress. After a lengthy campaign of public resistance, the outcome was annulled in 1911. The rise in the Bengal area, particularly the constitutional fight for the rights of Muslim minority, has helped India’s Independence Movement.
In Dhaka University, the Intellectual Freedom Movement is flourishing. In the 1930s, the emerging Bengali middle class was represented by the Krisak Praga party, headed by AK Fazlul Huq, and the Swaraj Party, led by C. R. Dascame. In 1937, Hook was elected Prime Minister of Bengall. Rad Hook joined the Muslim League in 1940 to deliver the Lahore resolution, which contained autonomous republics in the eastern and northwest subcontinents, when the British broke up Hindu-Muslim unity.
In 1942, the Japanese Air Force conducted extensive air attacks in Chittagong, displacing thousands of civilians. Over a million people died as a result of the Bengal famine, which was brought on by the war in 1943. To assist the Burmese war, Allied troops were stationed in East Bengal. Axis ally Chandra Bose also had tremendous success in East Bengal.
In Bengal, the Muslim League established a legislative administration in 1943, with Prime Ministers Sir Khavah Namibuddin and subsequently USShauwraidis. The Muslim League’s overwhelming win in the provincial elections in India in 1946 resulted in the partition of British India and the creation of the Dominion of Pakistan on August 14, 1947. To enable Sylhet to speak Bengali, Assam was split. East Bengal is looking for new members. A failed effort to unify Bengal was also made. The Radcliffe line separates Bengal for religious grounds, subdivides the bulk of industrial districts into Indian territory, and places the majority of Muslim regions in Pakistan’s eastern wing.
Eastern wing of Pakistan
East Bengal, with Dhaka as its capital, was the most densely inhabited province of the nascent Pakistani republic, which was led by Governor General Mohammed Ali Ginah in 1947. While Pakistan was founded as a country for Muslims from the erstwhile British province of Rang, East Bengal is Pakistan’s most multicultural province, welcoming people of all faiths, ethnicities, and ethnic groups. The agricultural reform in East Bengal began in 1950, with the elimination of the permanent colony and the establishment of the zamindari feminist system.
The triumph of the Bengali movement in 1952 marked the beginning of tensions with West Pakistan. In 1955, the One Unit concept renamed the province in eastern Pakistan. The Awami League rose to prominence as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking people, and its leader, HS Suhraward, became Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 1956. After just a year in power, he was ousted owing to conflicts in West Pakistan’s establishment and bureaucracy.
With Queen Elizabeth II as the country’s final monarch, the 1956 constitution put an end to the state of dominance. The central government’s discontent has grown as a result of economic and cultural issues. For separating, the province government of AK Fuzhou Hook was dismissed. Mubana Bhashani, a strong left-wing populist, predicted that Pakistan’s eastern wing will abandon the country in 1957.
The dictatorship of Abu Dhabi begins with the first military coup in Pakistan. Due to the waning of Bengal political nationalism, Dhaka was chosen as Pakistan’s legislative capital in 1962. The Khan administration also constructed the Kaptai Dam, which has displaced a disproportionate number of Chakma people from their ancestral lands in Chittagong Hill. Despite significant support in eastern Pakistan, Fatima Gina was unable to beat Marshal Ayub Kahn in the presidential election of 1965.
Pakistan has imposed significant economic discrimination against the eastern wing, according to the World Bank’s international bureaucrats, including increased government spending in western Pakistan, financial transfers from east to west, and the use of foreign exchange surpluses to finance Western imports. This is despite the fact that jute and tea exports from East Pakistan account for 70% of Pakistan’s total export profits. East Pakistani intellectuals have formulated six principles that advocate for more regional autonomy, free trade, and economic independence. In 1966, the Awami Sheikh Mudjibur Rahman League Chairman supported the six principles, which led to his imprisonment by Marshal President Ahmed Khan’s administration on charges of treachery. Rahman was freed after the populist revolt that brought President Khan to office in 1969.
In Pakistan’s civilian and military forces, where Bengalis were underrepresented, ethnic and linguistic prejudice was rampant. Only 15% of the positions in Pakistan’s central government were held by East Chinese. They make up just 10% of the military. Cultural prejudice is also prevalent, prompting the eastern wing to forge a distinct political identity. Pakistani official media have outlawed Bengali literature and music, including Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. A massive storm wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s eastern coast in 1970, killing half a million people. The federal government was chastised for its ineffective reaction. Bangladesh’s demands for independence became louder after the December 1970 elections.
Genocide and war of independence
The Bengali people’s anger was heightened when Sheikh Mujjibur Rahman’s Awami League, which had gained a majority in parliament in the 1970 election, was prevented from assuming power. Extreme civil disobedience and outright demands for independence erupted throughout eastern Pakistan. On March 7, 1971, Sheikh Mudjibur Rahman hosted a major independence celebration in Dhaka. On March 23, 1971, the Pakistani republic’s birthday, the Bangladesh flag was hoisted for the first time.
The Pakistani military junta, headed by Yahya Kahn, began Operation Searchlight, a long-term military campaign against East Pakistan, on March 26, 1971, and imprisoned the prime minister. During the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistani army murdered Bengali students, intellectuals, politicians, government workers, and military captives with the help of militias. Several million people have fled to India, which is only over the border. The number of people died during the conflict is estimated to be between 300,000 and 3 million.
As well-known political and cultural leaders in the West, including as Ted Kennedy, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Joan Bise, Victoria Ocampo, and Andre Maluru, backed the Bangladesh cause, global public opinion swung against Pakistan. The Bangladesh Concert was held at Madison Square Garden in New York to collect money for Bangladeshi refugees. The Beatles’ George Harrison and Indian Bengal musician Ravi Shankar staged the first big charity performance in history.
Bengal nationalists proclaimed independence and established Muki Bahini during the Liberation War (the National Liberation Army in Bangladesh). Bangladesh’s Interim Government is headquartered in Calcutta, India. Mukti Bahini seized Bengal province during the war and launched large-scale partisan operations against Pakistani troops, led by General MA Osmani and eleven sector commanders. On December 3, 1971, neighboring India and its leader, Indira Gandhi, a long-time foe of Pakistan, provided crucial assistance to the troops in Bangladesh and intervened in favor of the temporary government. Naval troops from the Soviet Union and the United States were sent to the Bay of Bengal. The Indo-Pakistani War spawned the Cold War. The conflict concluded nine months later, on December 16, 1971, when Pakistani troops were handed up to Allied forces in Bangladesh, India. Pakistan freed Mujjib from jail on January 8, 1972, in response to international pressure, and he flew from the Royal Air Force to a million-strong home in Dhaka. The Indian soldiers did not leave the country until March 12, 1972, three months after the conflict ended.
Bangladesh’s struggle for self-determination is well-known throughout the globe. 86 nations recognized the fledgling state until it was admitted to the United Nations in August 1972. After considerable pressure from the Muslim world, Pakistan recognized Bangladesh in 1974.
Bangladesh has become a secular democracy and a republic within the British community since its declaration of independence. At the time, the world’s seventh biggest country had been ravaged by terrible wars and severe poverty, necessitating large-scale international aid. In 1973, it joined the Unrelated Movement and the OIS, followed by the United Nations in 1974. The Western and Eastern bloc countries courted the Mudjib government, which inked a 25-year friendship pact with India. During the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1973, Bangladesh showed significant support for the Arab nations by sending medical teams to Egypt and Syria. Left-wing organizations, particularly the National Socialist Party, increased their political agitation against the Mujjib administration. MP Lara, a Chakma politician, criticizes the new constitution’s lack of respect for indigenous minorities in Chittagong Hill Tract. To preserve law and order, Mujivi announces a state of emergency.
In 1973, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh signed a tripartite pact for the subcontinent’s peace and stability. A famine struck the nation in 1974. Mogjib established a Party Socialist administration in the beginning of 1975. Mujjib and the majority of his family were murdered by middle army officers following a military takeover on August 15, 1975. Hander Mushak Ahmed, Mudzhib’s vice president, declared himself president, while the majority of Mudzhib’s cabinet remained intact. Bangladesh has been declared a state of emergency.
Four senior Mudzhib allies, including Bangladesh’s first prime minister, Tajudin Ahmad, were detained by Mushtak. On the 3rd and 7th of November 1975, two armed uprisings resulted in a power restructuring. Between the two coups, army soldiers murdered the four Awami League leaders who were imprisoned in Dhaka Central Dungeon. As the three Armed Forces commanders became administrators of martial rule, Mushtak was succeeded by President Abu Sayem. A technocratic government was formed, with Moudud Ahmed as Deputy Prime Minister. Following the departure of US troops, Bangladesh was one of the first nations to recognize the temporary revolutionary government of South Vietnam.
When Judge Sayem resigned in 1977, Lieutenant General Ziaur Rahman was appointed to the position. President Zia reinstated multi-party politics and civilian governance in 1979. He was a proponent of free markets and the founder of the nationalism movement (BNP). Bangladesh’s foreign policy is being reoriented by Zia, who is moving away from Awamiya’s strong relations with India and the Soviet Union in favor of stronger ties with the West. He was an outspoken opponent of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Inside, Zia fended off 21 coup attempts.
Due to the indigenous people’s aspirations for autonomy, rebellions began in Chittagong Hill. The army of Bangladesh has been accused of persecuting different ethnic minorities in the region. Zia also supports the concept of a South Asian regional community, which was influenced by ASEAN’s formation. The military operations against Rohingyas in neighboring Burma resulted in the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to Bangladesh’s southeast. In 1981, Zia’s reign came to an end when he was assassinated by members of the military. Abdus Satar, who served in the government for less than a year, was his successor.
Lieutenant-General Hussein Mohammad Ershad was Bangladesh’s second significant dictator. Ershad is implementing administrative changes as president, including a power transfer that splits the nation into 64 districts and five divisions. In 1985, Ershad hosted the SAARC summit in Dakar, which brought together seven South Asian nations: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. It also improved the country’s transportation network and began major projects like the Jamuna Bridge. Ershad re-established civilian authority in 1986 and formed the Jatiya Party. Elections were held in 1986 and 1988. At King Fahd’s request, Ershad sent Banland soldiers to join the US-led coalition in the Gulf War. In 1990, Ershad was forced to retire after rioting by opposition parties and the general population, which he blamed on Western funders’ demand for democratic changes. Shahabuddin Ahmed was given the authority of justice by him. Ershad was later prosecuted with and found guilty of corruption. Bangladesh reverted to parliamentary democracy in 1991. Khalidja Zia, the former first lady of Bangladesh, led the nationalist party to victory in the 1991 general election and became the country’s first female prime minister. Finance Minister Zia Saifur Rahman implemented a series of economic reforms aiming at liberalizing Bangladesh’s economy, comparable to Manmohan Singh’s efforts in India in 1991. The opposition pushed Prime Minister Zia to adopt the constitution in 1996.
The Awami League, led by Sheikh Hassina, one of Mudzhib’s surviving daughters, is set to return to power in 1996, after a 21-year absence. After reaching a peaceful deal with the PCJSS rebels, Hassina put a stop to the Hittag’s Hill insurgents. It also reached an agreement with India to share Ganges water. In 1999, Hasina hosted a trilateral economic conference with India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, as well as assisting Turkey in forming the D8 Group. With the depletion of foreign currency reserves, the economy began to deteriorate. Despite significant investment offers from foreign oil corporations, Hasina also refuses to export natural gas to Bangladesh. In the 2001 election, the Awami League was voted out of power as Bangladesh’s nationalist party for the second time. Khalidja Zia signed a military cooperation pact with China during his second term as Prime Minister.
The economy has been gradually growing since 2003, with a 6% increase in GDP in 2005. Zia was chastised for his affiliation with Jamaat-e-Islami, which was convicted for war crimes in 1971, and for accusations of corruption against her son Tarik Rahman. After trying to murder former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Aviva League launched a series of strikes against the government. After the BNP’s mandate expired at the end of October 2006, there was widespread political instability. The state, led by BNP President Ayaddin Ahmed, is trying to get parties into elections within the necessary ninety days, but opposition parties have accused the state of prejudice. The Awami League declared a boycott of the election at the last minute.
Bangladesh’s military forces intervened on January 11, 2007, to support a state of emergency and a continuing but neutral government service under newly appointed chief councilor Fahruddin Ahmed, the former governor of Bangladesh Bank. More than 160 individuals, including politicians, public officials, businesspeople, and two of Khalid Zia’s sons, were arrested when Ahmed reinforced the Anti-Corruption Commission and launched anti-graft operations. In the 2008 general election, the Awami League achieved a landslide victory. Due to Sheikh Hassina’s abolishment of the government system, the BNP boycotted the general election in 2014.
Bangladesh decreased poverty substantially after gaining independence, with the poverty rate falling from 57 percent in 1990 to 25.6 percent in 2014. When compared to 1975, per capita income rose by more than double. Bangladesh has made significant progress in human development, including having a greater life expectancy than India. Instability in policy, climate change, religious fanaticism, and inequality continue to plague the nation.