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History and Wealth of Nations

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Submitted by Mahfooz-ur Rahman (Bangladesh), Sep 27, 2007 at 14:55

"Dhimmi wrote in her usual poor English full of mistakes:

" i only balme[sic] the Brits for dividing mother India and creating this basket case called Bangledesh [sic]."

Though this statement is an expression of extreme anger and frustration, quite irrelevant to the context, if there is one, and deserving no response, I shall continue with my short history lesson in the faint hope that somehow, someday, this person will rely on facts and not resort to cheap snide, not only at an individual but at an entire nation.

It is so very easy to abuse and insult a country and a people, for it takes no knowledge, no civility, not to speak of manners and acceptable norms of conduct in order to do so, especially when one hides behind a pseudo name and never discloses one's identity. Most of all, it betrays inferiority complex and insecurity for it is only the weak and the insecure who abuse and insult others, the strong and the secure do not need to do so.

The so called ‘basket case' of Bengal was the most prosperous country scarcely 250 years ago, when it was a thriving seat of commerce with unique products that found markets all over the world. I quote: "...substantial quantities of treasure were imported in exchange of goods locally produced [in Bengal]. As early as 1415 we hear of Chinese trade missions bringing in gold and silver into the delta.. A decade later we hear another Chinese visitor remarked that long distance merchants of Bengal settled their accounts in tankas [pure silver rupee coins of Independent Bengal Sultanates. The Bengal Mohur (gold coin) and tankas were readily acceptable currency all over Asia and Europe as standard currency of the era indicting the high integrity of Bengal's monetary system.] The pattern continued throughout the next century. ‘Silver and gold' wrote the Venetian traveller Cesare Federici in 1569, ‘from Pegu [Burma] they carrie to Bengala, and no other kind of merchandize....' Marco Polo noted the commercial importance of Bengal textiles....in 1345 Ibn Batuta admired the fine muslin he found there.. in 1415 and 1432 Chinese diplomats wrote of Bengal's production of fine cotton cloths.. A century later, Ludovico di Varthema who was in Gaur [capital of Bengal under Sultan Ala al Din Husain Shah] between 1503 to 1506 noted ‘ Fifty ships are laden every year in this place with cotton, silk, spices and stuff ....for Turkey, through Syria, through Persia, through Arabia Felix, through Ethiopia, and through all of India..' A few years later Tome Pires described the export of cotton textiles from Bengal to ports in the eastern half of Indian Ocean. Clearly, Bengal had become a major centre of Asian trade and manufacture..´ Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, Oxford University Press, PP 96-97.

The pattern continued till the mid 18th Century. Even when central authority of the Mogul Empire declined at the imperial centre of Delhi, Bengal prospered as newer areas were brought under the plough and people settled in those areas adding to the revenue of the Nawabs of Bengal. Meantime, the trading posts of European Powers were actively engaged in trade, the balance of which was heavily in favour of Bengal. A recent study by the noted historian Muntasir Mamun found that the Dhaka Post of East India Company posted a trade imbalance of 58,000 sterling pounds in the year 1751. Since there were many other such posts, the flow of gold into Bengal from Europe was enormous. No wonder, the European Powers were desperate to grab political power by fair means or foul. As Marx noted, the engine of movement of human history is money and greed thereof. So was it for wealthy but peaceful Bengal, which now experienced almost two centuries of ruthless colonial exploitation till the people, at long last, and at great sacrifices, finally won back their freedom.

The struggle for Indian independence stated long ago, gained momentum with the First War of Independence of 1857 [The Sepoy Mutiny in British history books] and continued, spearheaded by Indian National Congress, where a large number of Muslims participated. The All India Muslim League was formed in 1906 in Dhaka, now Capital of Bangladesh, in order to safeguard Muslim interests. The demand and struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of India came much later, the reasons for which may be found in any standard history book and thus need not be recouped here. The European Imperial Powers, after colonising and exploiting most of Asia, Africa and Latin America, turned to themselves that resulted in the First and the Second World Wars. The destruction and blood bath of these imperial wars waged in the interests of these powers were unprecedented in scale, cruelty and magnitude. It is ironic, incidentally, that the worst genocides of history in the destruction of Inca and Maya civilisations of South America, the blood baths of First and the Second World Wars and the holocaust and dropping of atomic bomb on civilian population were all perpetuated by the nominal followers of Joshua of Nazareth (revered Prophet Isa of Islam), the apostle of peace and love for mankind! The British, however, as a major participant in these wars of the 39th century, were exhausted and weakened in such a way that they could no longer hope to hold India against her will. So, she had to relinquish hold on the ‘jewel on the crown' and partition India as per the wishes of the Muslims of India. Bangladesh came into being in this long process of independence struggle of the peoples of Hindustan. As she was many times in the past centuries, Bengal,[ Bengal, Banga, Bangal, Bangala, as she is called in many languages, now named Bangaldesh] once again is independent. Thus, 190 years of occupation by a foreign power that in the perspective of two thousand years of recorded history of the region, is but a drop in the ocean of time, had finally ended, never to be repeated as the new millennia dawns with newer promises and newer hopes and aspirations for her people.

Incidentally, in the new century, textile from Bangladesh is once again finding markets in the European and African countries, and across the Atlantic. Export of textile products once again is the largest export earning item on her trade. Once again, people of this ancient land is looking forward to a new era of prosperity by export of textiles, the quantum of which is third in the world currently, only after India and China, as it always was for centuries, before illegal occupation by an exploitative foreign power ruined her indigenous industries.

Dear Dhimmi, do not blame the British for the genesis of our country. It was always there, it always existed for millennia, mostly as an independent entity. The British occupation of our country was a quirk of history, an aberration that is best consigned to history text books. And she won she freedom back, no one gave it to her people. Freedom is a right to be wrestled from a usurper, it's never granted as a charity. As to relative poverty or wealth of a nation, it's so very temporary. One has only to only look at China and present day India to see how things change and how old order changes yielding places to the new.

That is the lesson of history that no one, least of all, an ill mannered ignorant, can change, however much that he/she may regret the facts in his/her hateful mind.

Best wishes



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