Bangladesh : a country study

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  • area handbook series

    Bangladesha country study

  • Bangladesha country study

    Federal Research Division

    Library of Congress

    Edited by

    James Heitzman

    and Robert L. WordenResearch Completed

    September 1988

  • On the cover: Sailing boats on the Padma

    Second Edition, 1989; First Printing, 1989.

    Copyright 1989 United States Government as represented bythe Secretary of the Army. All rights reserved.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Bangladesh: A Country Study

    Area handbook series, DA Pam. 550-175Supt. of Docs. No.: D 101.22:550-175/990Research completed September 1988.

    Bibliography: pp. 263-288.

    Includes index.

    1. Bangladesh. I. Heitzman, James, 1950-

    II. Worden, Robert L., 1945- . III. Federal Research Division,Library of Congress. IV. Area Handbook for Bangladesh. V. Series:DA Pam. 550-175.

    DS393.4.B372 1989 954.92dc20 89-600298

    Headquarters, Department of the ArmyDA Pam 550-175

    For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office

    Washington, D.C. 20402

  • Foreword

    This volume is one in a continuing series of books now beingprepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Con-gress under the Country StudiesArea Handbook Program. Thelast page of this book lists the other published studies.

    Most books in the series deal with a particular foreign country,describing and analyzing its political, economic, social, and national

    security systems and institutions, and examining the interrelation-

    ships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by culturalfactors. Each study is written by a multidisciplinary team of socialscientists. The authors seek to provide a basic understanding ofthe observed society, striving for a dynamic rather than a staticportrayal. Particular attention is devoted to the people who makeup the society, their origins, dominant beliefs and values, their com-mon interests and the issues on which they are divided, the natureand extent of their involvement with national institutions, and their

    attitudes toward each other and toward their social system andpolitical order.

    The books represent the analysis of the authors and should notbe construed as an expression of an official United States govern-

    ment position, policy, or decision. The authors have sought toadhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity. Corrections,

    additions, and suggestions for changes from readers will be wel-

    comed for use in future editions.

    Louis R. MortimerActing Chief

    Federal Research Division

    Library of Congress

    Washington, D.C. 20540


  • Acknowledgments

    This edition supersedes the Area Handbook for Bangladesh,

    coauthored by Richard F. Nyrop, et alia, in 1975. Some parts ofthat edition have been used in the preparation of the current book,

    and the authors of Bangladesh: A Country Study are grateful for theseminal work done by the earlier edition's authors.

    Several individuals provided timely insight and assistance to the

    authors. They included Lieutenant Colonel Russell Olson, UnitedStates Army; Major James A. Dunn, Jr., United States Army;former diplomat Archer Kent Blood; and Professor Harry W. Blair.The authors also wish to thank various members of the staff of theEmbassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh in Washington,D.C., especially Brigadier Sharifuddin Ahmed, M. Tajul Islam,Mohammed Nazimuddin, and Obaedul Huq, for useful commentsand primary-source research materials. Bazlur Rahim and JoyceL. Rahim provided and tabulated key statistical information, respec-tively. Additionally, the staffs of the United States Embassy inDhaka, the Department of State, and the World Bank providedtimely economic data. Labanya Borra of the Library of CongressDescriptive Cataloging Division assisted with some of the Bangla-language materials.

    Various members of the staff of the Federal Research Divisionof the Library of Congress assisted in the preparation of the book.

    Elizabeth Park prepared the telecommunications sections in chap-

    ters 3 and 4. Carolina E. Forrester checked the content of all of

    the maps used in the book and reviewed the text of the section ongeography. Thomas Collelo provided substantive review of partsof the book. Tracy M. Coleman performed numerous essentialtasks, ranging from assistance on research for the text, tables, andmaps to word processing and proofreading. Andrea Matles Savadareviewed the Bibliography and helped proofread parts of the textand statistical tables. David P. Cabitto, Sandra K. Cotugno, andKimberly A. Lord prepared the graphics. Harriett R. Blood assistedin the preparation of the maps. Helpful suggestions were made byRichard F. Nyrop during his review of all parts of the book. NoelleB. Beatty, Vincent Ercolano, Martha E. Hopkins, Marilyn L.Majeska, Ruth Nieland, Evan A. Raynes, and Gage Ricardedited portions of the manuscript. Izella Watson and BarbaraEdgerton performed word processing. Martha E. Hopkins managedediting and production of the book. Andrea T. Merrill performedthe final prepublication editorial review, and Shirley Kessel of

  • Communicators Connection prepared the index. Sheryle O. Shears

    of the Library of Congress Composing Unit prepared camera-readycopy, under the direction of Peggy Pixley. Those who providedphotographs and other illustrations have been acknowledged in the

    illustration captions.


  • Contents


    Foreword iii

    Acknowledgments v

    Preface xiii

    Country Profile xix

    Introduction xxvii

    Chapter 1. Historical Setting 1Peter R. Blood


    Early Settlements 6

    The British Raj 7

    THE UPRISING OF 1857 10A Great Divide in South Asian History 10Reappraisal of British Policy 10


    The Division of Bengal, 1905-12 12

    Development of the Muslim League, 1906-20 14

    Two Nations Concept, 1930-47 16PAKISTAN PERIOD, 1947-71 19

    Transition to Nationhood, 1947-58 19

    The "Revolution" of Ayub Khan, 1958-66 25Emerging Discontent, 1966-70 27

    The War for Bangladeshi Independence, 1971 30BIRTH OF BANGLADESH 31

    Early Independence Period, 1971-72 31

    Fall of the Bangabandhu, 1972-75 32

    Restoration of Military Rule, 1975-77 36

    The Zia Regime and Its Aftermath, 1977-82 37

    Chapter 2. The Society and Its Environment .... 43Enayetur Rahim

    GEOGRAPHY 46The Land 46


  • Climate 47

    River Systems 49

    POPULATION 53Population Structure and Settlement Patterns 53

    Migration 55

    Population Control 57

    Ethnicity and Linguistic Diversity 58

    SOCIAL SYSTEM 60Transition to a New Social Order 60Rural Society 61

    Urban Society 62Family, Household, and Kinship 62

    Women's Role in Society 65Social Classes and Stratification 66

    RELIGION 68Religion and Society 68

    Islam 69

    Hinduism 78

    Buddhism 82

    Christianity 83

    EDUCATION 84The British Legacy 84

    Education System 84

    Religious Education 88

    Role of English and Arabic in Education 89

    Education Planning and Policy 89

    HEALTH 90Disease and Disease Control 90

    Health Care Facilities 92

    Medical Education and Training 94

    Medicinal Drugs and Drug Policy 95

    Chapter 3. The Economy 97Lawrence B. Lesser

    THE ECONOMIC CONTEXT 100Historical Perspective



    Economic Reconstruction after Independence 101

    MANAGING THE ECONOMY 102Economic Policy and Planning 102

    Government Budget Process 104

    Joint Ventures and Foreign Investment 106

    Bilateral Investment 108

    Money and Banking 108


  • FOREIGN ASSISTANCE 112Test Case for Development 112

    Aid Dependence 114

    AGRICULTURE 117Structure of Agricultural Production 117

    Food Crops 121

    Industrial Crops 123

    Fisheries 128

    INDUSTRY 129Traditional Sectors 129

    Ready-made Garments 130

    Other Industries 131

    Mineral Development 131

    Technological Advances 135

    FOREIGN TRADE 135Export Sectors 135

    Balance and Terms of Trade 138

    TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS 140Inland Waterways and Ports 140

    Road Transportation 143Railroads 144

    Civil Aviation 145

    Telecommunications 146

    Tourism 146


    Chapter 4. Government and Politics 149James Heitzman

    STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT 152Constitution 152

    Legislature 154

    Executive 156

    Judiciary 158

    Civil Service 160

    Local Administration 162

    THE ERSHAD PERIOD 165Achieving Stability, 1982-83 165

    Emerging Opposition, 1983-86 167

    Relaxation of Martial Law, 1986-87 169

    More Opposition Pressure 171POLITICAL DYNAMICS 174

    Local Elites 174

    The National Party 176Party Politics 178



    South and Southeast Asia 188

    China and Other Asian Nations 193

    The Islamic World 194

    The Superpowers 195

    Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and

    New Zealand 197International Organizations 197

    Chapter 5. National Security 201Douglas C. Makeig

    ARMED FORCES AND SOCIETY 204Colonial Origins 204

    Pakistan Era 206

    The Liberation War 208Postindependence Period 211


    Recruitment 218

    Mission 219

    Security Environment 222

    Defense Spending 224

    Foreign Acquisitions and Ties 225

    THE THREE SERVICES 227Army 227Navy 231

    Air Force 234

    AUXILIARY FORCES 236Bangladesh Rifles 236

    Ansars 237

    Police 237

    Village Defence Party 240

    PUBLIC ORDER AND INTERNAL SECURITY 240Violence and Crime 240

    Insurgency in the Chittagong Hills 241

    Criminal Justice 242


    Appendix. Tables 247

    Bibliography 263

    Glossary 289

    Index 293


  • List of Figures

    1 Administrative Divisions of Bangladesh, 1988 xxvi

    2 Bengal: 1772, 1856, 1945, and 1947 8

    3 Typical Rainfall, Temperature, and Pressure at Dhaka .... 504 Flood and Cyclone Vulnerability, 1960-80 52

    5 Topography and Drainage, 1988 54

    6 Population Distribution, 1988 56

    7 Age-Sex Distribution, 1981 Census 58

    8 Agriculture and Land Use, 1988 124

    9 Economic Activity, 1988 134

    10 Transportation System, 1988 ... . 142

    11 Structure of the Government, 1988 156

    12 Growth of the Armed Forces, 1973-87 22813 Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1988 232

    14 Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1988 233


  • Preface

    Bangladesh: A Country Study supersedes the 1975 Area HandbookforBangladesh. Although much of what characterizes Bangladesh itsstatus as one of the world's largest but poorest countries and itscorresponding need for international aid, its susceptibility to severe

    natural disasters, and the optimism of its peoplehas not changedin the years between publication of these two books, a considerable

    number of major developments have occurred. Just before the AreaHandbookfor Bangladesh went to press in 1975, the founding fatherof Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), and severalmembers of his family were assassinated. The ensuing years broughttwo periods of transitional political instability, each followed byrelative stability under long-term military regimes. More than ayear passed after Mujib' s death before Bangladesh Army chief ofstaff Ziaur Rahman (Zia) emerged as chief martial law adminis-trator in November 1976. Zia assumed the presidency in April 1977,but he, too, became the victim of an assassination plot in May 1981


    Army chief of staff Hussain Muhammad Ershad, after consider-able hesitation, assumed the position of chief martial law adminis-trator following a bloodless coup in March 1982 and becamepresident in December 1983. By 1986 martial law had been relaxed,and civilian control gradually replaced military rule throughoutall sectors of society. In 1988 Ershad continued to consolidate his

    role as civilian ruler of Bangladesh by calling for parliamentaryelections and establishment of Islam as the state religion of Ban-gladesh. Continual pressure from opposition political forces shook

    the Ershad regime as the 1980s continued.The authors of the 1975 work were examining a nation only

    slightly more than three years old. In contrast, the authors of thenew edition have aimed to show the maturity Bangladesh hasattained over nearly twenty years of development. Despite the

    continual adversity faced by Bangladeshis as they confront theirhistorical development, difficult climate, burgeoning population,and fractious political forces, a national identity has emerged (seetable A). Although the nation has much to accomplish in orderto meet the basic needs of its people, much has been achieved inthe 1970s and 1980s. Economic achievements have been made. Per-sistent demands by the people for basic freedoms and politicalexpression have moved the country toward democratic rule. Ininternational forums, Bangladesh's representatives had taken strongstands against injustice and in defense of their nation's sovereigntyand territorial integrity.


  • The transliteration of Banglathe national languagevarieswidely among Bangladeshi and foreign scholars. Common familynames may be transliterated in several ways, for example, Chou-dhury, Chaudri, Chowdhury, and several other variants. Whereit is known, the authors have followed the spelling used by theindividual. In other instances, the authors have followed the form

    used by the Bangladesh government; for example, the word nationalis transliterated asjatiyo, although many American sources use theless phonetically accuratejatiya. To the extent possible, the authorshave used the place-names established by the United States Boardon Geographic Names, e.g., Dhaka instead of Dacca.

    Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion tableis provided to assist readers who want to convert measurementsfrom metric (see table 1 , Appendix). A bibliography of works usedin researching the book is included. Whereas major sources of infor-

    mation are published in English, the readers of this book, after refer-

    ring to the English- and other Western-language sources cited in

    the bibliography, may want to consult Bangla-language sources,such as the daily newspapers Azad (Free), Ittefaq (Unity), Sangbad

    (News), or Dainik Bangla (Daily Bangla); periodicals, such as the

    weekly Bichitra (Variety), Rahbar (Guide), or Sachitra Sandhani (Seeing

    Through Pictures); or the armed forces journal Senani (Army).


  • Table A. Chronology of Important Events

    Period Description

    Ancient Empiresca. 1000 B.C Settlement of Bengal (see Glossary) by

    Dravidian-speaking peoples

    ca. 550-486 B.C Life of Siddartha Gautamathe Buddha;founding of Buddhism

    ca. 320-180 B.C Mauryan Empire; reign of Asoka (273-232B.C.); spread of Buddhism

    A.D. ca. 319-ca. 540 Gupta Empire; Classical Age in northern India606-47 North Indian empire of Harsha

    750-1150 Pala Dynasty

    1150-1202 Sena Dynasty

    Coming of Islam1001-1030 Turkish armies led by Mahmud of Ghazni raid

    into Indian subcontinent

    1202 Turkish conquerors defeat Sena Dynasty and

    overrun Bengal

    1206 Establishment of Delhi Sultanate

    1341 Bengal achieves independence from Delhi;

    Dhaka established as capital

    The Mughal Period1526-30 Babur lays foundation of Mughal Empire1 556- 1 605 Akbar the Great expands and reforms the empire

    1576 Bengal conquered by Mughals1605-27 Reign ofJahangir; British East India Company

    opens first trading post in 1612

    1658-1707 Reign of Aurangzeb, last great Mughal ruler1704 Capital of Bengal moved from Dhaka to

    Murshidabad1707-1858 Lesser emperors; decline of the Mughal Empire

    British Period

    Company Rule



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