Malay Archipelago (Maritime Southeast Asia): ° Bangladesh ° India ° Indonesia ° Malacca Strait ° Malaysia ° Maldives ° Myanmar (Burma) ° Pakistan ° Philippines ° Riau Islands ° Singapore ° Sri Lanka ° Thailand ° Timor
The area which is now Bangladesh has a rich historical and cultural past, the product of the repeated influx of varied peoples, bringing with them the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Mongol-Mughul, Arab, Persian, Turkic, and European cultures. About 1200 A.D., Muslim invaders under Sufi influence, supplanted Hindu and Buddhist dynasties, and converted most of the population of the eastern areas of Bengal to Islam. Since then, Islam has played a crucial role in the region's history and politics.
In the 16th century, Bengal was absorbed into the Mughul Empire.
Portuguese traders and missionaries reached Bengal in the latter part of the 15th century. They were followed by representatives of the Dutch, the French, and the British East India Companies.
Eventually the area known as Bengal, primarily Hindu in the western section and mostly Muslim in the eastern half, became part of British India.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Muslim and Hindu leaders began to press for a greater degree of independence. At the movement's forefront was the largely Hindu Indian National Congress. Growing concern about Hindu domination of the movement led Muslim leaders to form the All-India Muslim League in 1906. In 1913, the League formally adopted the same goal as the Indian National Congress: self-government for India within the British Empire. The Congress and the League were unable, however, to agree on a formula to ensure the protection of Muslim religious, economic, and political rights. Over the next two decades, mounting tension between Hindus and Muslims led to a series of bitter intercommunal conflicts.
December 8, 1890, Daily Alta California, San Francsico, California, U.S.A.
Coal Mines of India
An official statement has just been published showing the output of Coal in the different provinces of India last year and also the progress made in the Coal-mining industry in that country during the last decade. In 1889 the production of Coal in all India was 2,045,359 tons, and of this Bengal contributed 1,041,354 tons and Assam 116.676 tons, the Central Provinces 144,165 tons and the Nizam's territory 59,646 tons. Thus Bengal supplies four-fifths of the total output, the Increase in production since 1880 amounting to 100 per cent. In the latter year the total production was 1,019,793 tons, almost wholly in Bengal; in 1883 it was 1,315,976 tons, in 1886 1,338,487 tons, and in 1888 1,708,818 tons. In 1880 the only sources of supply were Bengal and the Central Provinces. The latter yielded 31,928 tons in that year, against 144,465 tons in 1889. The Assam Coal-fields were first worked in 1884, when they gave 16,493 tons, and 116,676 tons in 1889. The Central Indian Coal measures were also first worked in 1884, the production being 2100 tons, against 52,956 tons last year.
Coal was first worked in the Punjab in 1887 and last year the yield in that province was 22,835 tons. The Central Indian Coal-field was first worked in 1885 and in 1869 it yielded 56,956 tons, while the Kizam's territory, which gave only 3259 tons in 1887, gave 59,646 tons last year. At the commencement of 1880 the only fields worked were those ot Bengal and the Central Provinces; at the end of the decade there were mines in addition in four other provinces and territories.
October 28, 1897, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
A Cyclone Raging Along the Indian Coasts
Calcutta, India, October 27. -- A dispatch from Chittagong, capital of the division of the same name, Eastern Bengal, says that a cyclone has raged in the Chittagong division and along the northeast coast of the Bay of Bengal for eight hours, causing terrible havoc.
Seven ships have gone ashore; all the houses in the district are more or less damaged. Several natives have been kiiled and large numbers rendered homeless. The port commissioners' buildings at Chittagong have been wrecked and the Bullock Bros, railroad office unroofed.
Partition in 1947 resulted in an eastern wing of Pakistan in the Muslim-majority area, which became East Pakistan. Calls for greater autonomy and animosity between the eastern and western wings of Pakistan led to a Bengali independence movement. That movement, led by the Awami League (AL), won independence for Bangladesh in 1971, with India's assistance and after the death of at least 300,000 civilians.
The post-independence, AL government faced daunting challenges and in 1975 was overthrown by the military, triggering a series of military coups that resulted in a military-backed government and subsequent creation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). That government also ended in a coup in 1981, followed by military-backed rule until democratic elections in 1991. The BNP and AL have alternated in power since then, with the exception of a military-backed, emergency caretaker regime that suspended parliamentary elections planned for January 2007 in an effort to reform the political system and root out corruption.
That government returned the country to fully democratic rule in December 2008 with the election of the AL and Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA. With the help of international development assistance, Bangladesh has made great progress in food security since independence, and the economy has grown at an average of about 6 percent over the last two decades.
A History of Bangladesh
Willem van Schendel
Bangladesh is a new name for an old land whose history is little known to the wider world. A country chiefly famous in the West for media images of poverty, underdevelopment, and natural disasters, Bangladesh did not exist as an independent state until 1971. Willem van Schendel's history reveals the country's vibrant, colourful past and its diverse culture as it navigates the extraordinary twists and turns that have created modern Bangladesh. The story begins with the early geological history of the delta which has decisively shaped Bangladesh society. The narrative then moves chronologically through the era of colonial rule, the partition of Bengal, the war with Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh as an independent state. In so doing, it reveals the forces that have made Bangladesh what it is today. This is an eloquent introduction to a fascinating country and its resilient and inventive people.
Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Patwant Singh
Ranjit Singh was one of the most powerful and charismatic Indian rulers of his age, but has been largely forgotten by recent Western historians. Yet his achievements have had a lasting impact. He unified the warring chiefdoms of the Punjab in a northern Empire of the Sikhs, built up a formidable modern army, kept the British in check to the south, and closed the Khyber Pass through which plunderers had for centuries poured into India. He was also humane and just in his victories, giving employment to defeated foes, and honored religious faiths other than his own. This biography uses a variety of eye-witness accounts from Indian and European sources to chronicle his life and the controversial period of the Anglo-Sikh Wars following his death.