Bangladesh History and Culture
Bangladesh until the beginning of the 20th century
The region of the mouth delta of the two rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra looks back on a long history. There is written evidence of the Bengali, the inhabitants of this area, which date back to the 4th century. In the Middle Ages the region became the rulership of Muslim princes and later became a province of the Indian Empire with the capital Dhaka. The Mughal Empire fell apart in 1707 and Bengal was independent. This independence was not to last long, because the British came and ruled the entire region from 1757 to 1947, including what is now India and Pakistan. As early as 1905 attempts were made to divide the country: the West should become a Hindu oneand the east become a Muslim province.
The Bangladesh War
Until 1947, Bangladesh, like India and Pakistan, belonged to British India. In that year the country was released from its dependence on Great Britain and initially two states were formed: India and Pakistan. While Pakistan became a Muslim state, mainly people of the Hindu religion live in India. However, India is a secular state. This means that state and religion are separate. East and West Pakistan formed the newly created state of Pakistan. In 1970 violent unrest broke out, as East Pakistani representatives had a majority in the National Assemblyachieved. So the West Pakistani government began to intervene and oppress the people of East Pakistan. As a result, millions of people had to flee. Most of them fled to India. This conflict is also known as the Bangladesh War.
End and effects of the war
On March 16, 1971, East Pakistan gained independence and from then on called itself “Bangladesh”. But that did not end the fighting; instead, further violent armed conflicts broke out. India intervened and supported the Bengalis in their efforts for freedom against Pakistan. According to information from the Bengali government, three million people were killed during the fighting for the country’s independence. In addition, a great many fled to India. Some believe that it was primarily the 20 million refugees who came to India from the war zone that triggered India’s intervention.
After the war
After Bangladesh proclaimed its independence, the country became a parliamentary democracy for the first time. When problems such as famine increased in the country as a result of the severe destruction caused by the war, several military coups followed. Parliamentary democracy could not be established again until 1990, which was achieved through a popular uprising. This political system still exists in Bangladesh today.
Sheikh Hasina Wajed as Prime Minister in Bangladesh
Sheikh Hasina Wajed became Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the first time in 2009 and for the second time in 2014. In 2018, she was able to prevail again, with serious clashes between supporters and critics of the government in the election, which was accused of fraud. The head of government is increasingly authoritarian and often cracks down on her critics.
The echo quickly faded away
The response all over the world was great. All promised improvement and, above all, better working conditions for the workers. It was decided to set up better controls and improve occupational safety. The workers should also work under better conditions and receive higher wages. On October 14, 2014, an alliance was founded that wanted to improve the social, economic and ecological conditions on site in Bangladesh. But the big, well-known retail chains, where especially young people shop – simply because they offer low prices – got out beforehand. They feared lower profits.
Lucy met Milon:
Suddenly in Dhaka
I recently met Milon in Bangladesh. He lives here in the capital Dhaka as a street child. But he did not come to Dhaka voluntarily. When he was seven, he ran away from his stepfather, who beat him, and worked as a dock worker. There he was supposed to load a ship and was taken along without intention. He was stranded in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. This is a huge city with a lot of noise and dirt and here Milon somehow had to get by without parents and without help.
Life on the street
With no family or friends, Milon was completely alone in the overcrowded city of Dhaka and had nothing at all. In an emergency he begged on the street. But there was never enough to eat that his stomach always growled. There are many begging children in Bangladesh who often get just enough to get through another day.
At night Milon slept on the hard stone floors somewhere in an underpass. Really deep sleep was almost never an option here, he always had to be afraid. He had bad dreams and kept thinking of people who would hit him, as his stepfather had once done. Many children in Bangladesh shared his fate then and still do today. Warm meals, a warm bed and people who are there for you – none of this can be taken for granted.
Hope for Milon
But then he found a friend named Abdullah who helped him. He showed him a place of refuge, namely the center for street children. Not only can Milon sleep here, he goes to school from there and has made friends. All children who live in the center run by UNICEF are given food, can wash there and feel safe. Milon hopes for a better future, for an apprenticeship and at some point for a job from which he can live well.
Eating in Bangladesh
Diverse cuisine – just not for everyone
Although Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world according to programingplease, there is a diverse cuisine. But some people are just too poor to be able to afford the ingredients. In Bangladesh, those who are very poor eat mainly rice. It is unseasoned and doesn’t taste particularly good, but often it’s just about filling yourself up somehow. There is also not always clean drinking water.
As in many other Asian countries, the most important food is rice. But pulses are also popular because they are healthy and nutritious. There are 60 different types alone and they are processed in different ways. Spices and herbs make the food varied. Garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and, if you like, hot chili are used. These spices are similar to Indian and Pakistani cuisine. That is hardly surprising, since all three countries have a common history. The cuisine of Bangladesh is also influenced by the cuisine of India. However, less meat is served in India. Rice with chicken or lamb are usually very spicy.
There is also fish and sweets!
Depending on where you live, the menu changes too. In the south, for example, which borders the Bay of Bengal, fish from the sea are common. Fish is also dried and then placed on the table as shutki. The fish can be kept longer in the dried form. In the northeast there is then fish from the rivers of the country. People love sweets too, but they are very sweet.