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NNAATTUURREE AANNDD IIMMPPAACCTT OOFF DDEEMMOOGGRRAAPPHHIICCCCHHAANNGGEESS IINN WWEESSTT BBEENNGGAALL
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A change in the demographic pattern in a country is an obvious resultant effect of migrationwhich is as old as human civilization, but if the change is significantly high in a short span oftime it is bound to cause a serious social concern for the country experiencing this phenomenon.No people of a country accept migratory people with open arms and when this migration ofpeople belonging to a separate religion takes the shape of a design the question of acceptancealmost vanishes giving rise to social unrest and tension. Significantly, however, there has beenmarked departure from this hypothesis so far as migration/infiltration from EastPakistan/Bangladesh to West Bengal is concerned. The Hindus who were uprooted from theirhearth and home in East Pakistan due to religious persecution and measures or lack of them,taken by the successive Governments in Bangladesh after partition in 1947 were accepted asrefugees by the Government of India and her people, not of course without grudge, and were
given shelter, citizenship and were gradually absorbed in the mainstream of Indian people,particularly that of West Bengal. This was quite understandable. But what happened after thebirth of Bangladesh w3hen it was the declared policy of the Government of India not to grantcitizenship to any people (even if they were Hindus and were forced to leave Bangladesh asrefugees after 1971? In what way the migratory trend post 1971 was different from the earliertrends? How were hordes of Muslims able to settle in the border districts of West Bengal withoutmuch notice and commotion? How was this silent demographic invasion possible? Was there anyhistorical perspective behind this large scale infiltration or a well thought out design of ourneighboring country? What change this invasion has brought up in the demographic pattern ofborder districts as well as interior districts of West Bengal? These are the queries I have tried toaddress in this book.
I would like to make it clear that no extraneous facts except that are borne out of the data
available from the Census reports have been considered for determining the change in thedemographic pattern and the author has been swayed by reason to spell out some of its falloutsand possible danger to the polity of West Bengal socio politically as well as economically. Onedoes not have to be communal or for that matter secular in ones attempt to pin point a socialchange which is part of history and history does not have any conscience of what is good or whatis evil but its grand design provides some clues in finding out ways and means to mend ourmistakes committed in the past in order to sustain a decent life for the present and the future,socio-politically and economically.
I leave it to the judgment of the readers of this book about its validity of perception, though Istrongly believe that those who disagree cannot wish it away as a non-event.
I would be failing in my duty if I do not express my heartfelt gratuitude to Professor JayantaKumar Ray who had kindly consented to edit this book. In this connection I also express my
sincere thanks to my colleagues Shri P.N. Mukherjee, Smt. Munmum Ganguly and Shri SusantaMondal for their active cooperation and help in my venture to write this book.Bimal Pramanik
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NATURE AND IMPACT OF DEMOGRAPHIC CNANGES
IN WEST BENGAL 1951-2001
It is fair to affirm that the vast demographic changes in the eastern and north-eastern States ofIndia are deniable. Yet there is ample scope for an analysis of facts and factors behind suchdemographic changes. Moreover, the nature, the pattern and even the motives are to be broughtinto proper focus, if one is to understand the totality of phenomenal demographic changes thathave occurred.
Migration from one country to another has been a persistent and significant socio-economicand socio-political phenomenon over the whole world. The concept of migration is not alien tothe Indian people also. In fact, as an inevitable consequence of Partition of India in 1947, massmigration to West Bengal became ceaseless and large-scale. There was a continuous flow of theHindu minority population from erstwhile East Bengal/East Pakistan, which was attributedmainly to the communal enmity of the Muslim majority population. The rate of this continuousmigration from East Bengal to West Bengal, however, fluctuated, till 1971, depending on amultitude of socio-political and socio-religious factors.
A novel outcome of demographic pressures became more and more prominent over the yearsamong the Bangladeshi migrants setting in Indias border region. Amazingly, this has gonelargely unnoticed, even though it reflects significant changes in the daily life style and affects thevery root of the civil society. We have gone into some details in this study of such unanticipatedfallout of the demographic changes.
I have tried to analyze the negative impact of gigantic immigration fro Bangladesh uponIndias attempts to preserve secular harmony as well as national security. We do not intend tooverrate the military potential of Bangladesh while assessing the impact of Bangladeshiimmigrants upon Indias national security in north eastern and eastern States, but we can hardlyunderrate the significance of their disturbing and distorting impact on the ethos of secularharmony that India stands for, and has been practicing unabatedly since independence, despitePartition on religious grounds.
The sordid impact of Bangladeshi immigration upon India is but a logical consequence of thestark failure of Bangladesh to evolve as a secular multicultural polity. The ruling circle of presentday Bangladesh is determined not only to broaden and deepen the Islamisation of Bangladesh, butalso to use Islam to incite separatist or secessionist forces in eastern/north-eastern Indiabyextensive support to a protracted arms struggle, if necessary. It is an open secret that inBangladesh many international terrorist outfits with aggressive fundamentalist agendas aremaking all efforts to envelop Bangladeshs socio-cultural fabrics with new Islamic prints anddesignsthough at the cost of the liberal tenets of Islam.
The religio-cultural aspects of social harmony and the political-economic aspects of nationalsecurity have been taken up in an integrated fashion in this study. This will enable us to assesstruly the potential menace casting its shadow on the relations between India and Bangladesh.
Following the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the eastern and north eastern region ofIndia faced a novel political and social challenge. At one time, critics and analysts complacentlycharacterized it to be a migration flow. But later on, a series of political events proved that thiswas nothing but a kind of infiltration flow. As a corollary, it is equally imperative to understand
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the changing responses of the political parties and their leaders in this great drama of incessantdemographic change, creating a menace to social harmony and national security.
This threat to our national security and social harmony will not be clearly understood unlesswe analyze the role of Bangladesh in this regard. Since the days of Partition, the Muslim psychein both the parts of Pakistan has been suffering from a sense of injury about losing half of Bengaland Assam. They have been ruthlessly pursuing the policy of lebensraum since the days of
partition. Acting, perhaps, on the philosophy of the great Italian, Machiavelli, who observed inthe 16th century that Sending immigrants is the most effective way to colonize countries becauseit is less offensive than to send military expeditions and much less expensive. Bangladesh with asingle minded devotion has been following this policy, and, t say the least, it has been quitesuccessful in this endeavor.
There was, however, not much concern about Muslim infiltration from erstwhile East Pakistanto India in the pre-1971 period. For, an extensive migration of Hindu population into India wasregarded as a natural fall-out of Partition.
If we look back to the history of political development of East Pakistan, especially in thephase of 1966 to 1971, we can easily identify the new features and directions of the strongBengali nationalist sentiment to encourage and enthuse Bengali masses, irrespective of religion,against the political leadership of the military junta of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was able
to articulate step by step the aggrieved Bengali psyche by mooting an alternative scheme ofsharing power at the center of Pakistans power structure. The central political power structure inPakistan failed to comprehend anything beyond their selfish design of perpetuating the status ofeastern Pakistan as a subservient region of the West Pakistani heartland. Obviously, on the otherside of the barricade, Mujibs Bengal started resenting a colonial treatment.
When Mujib and his Bengal were fast assuming a posture of defiance against Pakistanpolitical leadership, the Muslim population in North-East and Eastern India regionally, and inIndia as a whole, were suffering from a kind of nervousness at any prospect of politicalweakening of Pakistan, in case Mujib could triumph, and thereby justify his complaint aboutPakistani colonial domination over eastern Pakistan. Obviously, Hindus, by and large, whether ineast Pakistan or outside, were increasingly amused and gradually enthused about a