Bangla History Links
A Primer On History of Bengal
IIAS: Bengal Studies
Exploring Bengali Women's History
On Partition of Bengal

Netaji Subhash Bose - Introduction
Bose - The True Leader of Free India
Vivekananda - the NationalistBENGALI

"We do not belong to the past dawns but to the noon of the future."

- Sri Aurobindo

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The Divided Land

B A N G L A   H I S T O R Y

Bengal was a province of the undivided British India. It's here that the English rulers won and lost India. The division of Bengal was first proposed in 1905. It was not until 1947 that the partition was effected under the supervision of the British rulers. Eastern half of the land, where the majority of people were muslims, became independent as a part of Pakistan. Hindu majority West Bengal continued to remain under the Indian Flag.

The division of Bengal dealt a severe blow to the Bengalees both politically and culturally. In Pakistan, Urdu speaking West Pakistani rullers began to dominate national affairs. Tide in politics soon transformed into cultural, econmic and social imperialism and oppression. Urdu was made compulsory at primary schools in East Pakistan. Urdu was declared as the national language despite the fact that Bengalees outnumbered Urdu speaking population. A bloody campaign in 1952 restored Bengali as the second 'national langage' of Pakistan. Succession of millitary juntas systematically presided over a slow and sure decline of economic and political influences of East Pakistan. In 1971 in a successful Liberation War declared by Shaikh Mujibur Rahman with active intervention of India, Bangladesh was born as a free Bengali State.

In India, West Bengal too is going through a similar albeit slower rate of decline. It is not quite clear whether the famous cliche, 'what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow' is as equally true as it was half a century ago. In its hay day Bengal not only provided India with leadership in the field of social reform, in fabricating its moral, philosphical and religious superstructure and in literature and fine arts, Bengalees played a major role in the Indian independence movement. The golden womb of Bengal gave India its famous sons - political and social leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, C. R. Das and Netaji Subhas Bose. But today, some half a century after India's independence, one can easily percieve that Bengali influence in Indian affairs is minimal.

Maybe, they do not breed Bengali writers, poets, film makers, social workers, politicians and philosophers as our forefathers did. Economically too we are lagging behind the rest of India. Why? No political separation is being suggested here, nor is it intended. But political and economic power sharing for development must be an immediate concern for, and should become an objective of, Bengalees in West Bengal.