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Bangladesh:. Development and political economy Link to map. Recap:Turning points in History. 1952 – Language revolution 1971 march – Beginning of the Liberation War

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Development and

political economy

Link to map

recap turning points in history
Recap:Turning points in History
  • 1952 – Language revolution
  • 1971 march – Beginning of the Liberation War
  • 1971 - Sheikh Mujib arrested and taken to West Pakistan. In exile, Awami League leaders proclaim the independence of the province of East Pakistan on 26th March. The new country is called Bangladesh. Just under 10 million Bangladeshis flee to India as troops from West Pakistan are defeated with Indian assistance
  • Dec 16 1971: Surrender of the Pakistan Army (termed Victory Day)
birth of bangladesh
Birth of Bangladesh
  • Internal colonialism
  • Challenge of facing both a state apparatus and a political community
  • Disarray of civil bureaucracy and the military
  • Schism between ‘collaborators’ and ‘patriots’
  • Continuing militancy
  • Debates over the constitution – extent of political power of the Prime Minister
  • Mujibbad – Mujibism – nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism
  • Supposed to correct the deficiencies of communism and capitalism (the third way)
bangladesh timeline
Bangladesh timeline

1971-5: The Mujib era. This is the formative period, associated with a strong nationalist and statist fervour, with Mujibur Rahman and his party Awami League in power;

1977-81: The Zia regime. This is the beginning of military rule in Bangladesh, marked by the adoption of Islam in the constitution;

1982-91:The Ershad regime. Military rule, and declaration of Islam as state religion;

1991-6: the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) regime, with Khaleda Zia as Prime Minister;

1996-2000: The second Awami League regime, with Sheik Hasina as leader;

2001-6: Coalition government headed by the BNP

2006-9: Caretaker government, postponement of elections, declaration of a state of Emergency and political violence

2009: The third Awami League regime, with Sheik Hasina as leader

the story of bangladesh stunning ironies
The story of Bangladesh: stunning ironies

On the one hand, it affirms the power of popular discontent and the eventual vulnerability of a minority elite, however powerful, to such discontent.

On the other hand, it suggests the irony that states may well reproduce processes of exclusion which they themselves are born out of.

  • In 1971 Bangladesh inherited an economy with a high external dependence on food, inequity, and landlessness. The Liberation War caused large-scale death and displacement, along with the withdrawal of the Pakistani industrial classes from the productive economy. The immediate problem was to rehabilitate ten million refugees – a task for which foreign aid became the only feasible option.
dependent development
Dependent development
  • The very premises of autonomy and self-sufficiency on which the liberation struggle was based became marginalized, as state power became directed towards a strategy of dependent development
  • It offered certain classes legitimate instruments to institutionalize their monopoly over domestic and external resources, in particular the state.
dependent development two elements
Dependent development:two elements
  • the strategy of promoting a local capitalist class through state patronage;
  • and a systematic dependence on foreign aid. As elsewhere in the Third World, the process engendered a rather unhealthy symbiosis between the bureaucracy and the emergent indigenous capitalist class. What evolved was therefore a predatory state par excellence, couple with a distorted and primitive form of capitalism.
proto capitalism
“Proto capitalism”
  • The political-economy that evolved in Bangladesh has been labeled in various ways. Broadly speaking, it has had the character of petty mercantilism and has often been referred to as “proto capitalism” or “shopkeeper capitalism”. Various kinds of ‘rents’ emanating from state patronage, price manipulation and overt exploitation of workers became the hallmark of this structure of predation
recent insertion into the global economy
Recent insertion into the global economy
  • myriad forms of oppressive social relations drawn from different types of social formations – ranging from feudalism to flexible accumulation – exist quite comfortably in synergy with one another.
  • The extraordinary development of the textile sector in Bangladesh. This new ‘growth sector’ is the lifeline of today’s Bangladesh. It has drawn millions of Bangladeshi women into the orbit of factory production, generating profound and often irreconcilable contradictions in social relationships at the level of the family, the community, the workplace, and the nation-state
from womanmachine
From “Womanmachine”
  • “Both economically, and in literal terms, workers feel trapped by their machines –the operators of machines experience the machine operating them at multiple levels…. In the eyes of many workers, they are part of a machine that men are in control of…. It is men who throw on the switches to turn the giant on, men who guard its products, and of course, men who own it. Moreover, the promise of empowerment through paid labor is belied by the knowledge of workers’ entrapment in the labor market. It is not only that women are perceived as inhabiting the space of men – certainly the factory is an archetypically masculine site. Of critical import here, however, is the specific conditions under which women come to ‘displace’ male labor. Since women’s access to the factory occurs in the context of inequality and severe male unemployment, female garment workers have come to represent a socially disruptive labor force. … “
chittagong hill tracts chts
Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs)
  • Inhabited by indigenous communities who inhabit the south-eastern region of the country and comprise less than 1 per cent of the population. The conflict between the Bangladeshi state and the indigenous communities continues to result in much violence and destruction.
the people of cht
The people of CHT
  • The people of CHT belong to thirteen different indigenous tribes primarily of Sino-Tibetan descent. A majority of them are Buddhists or Hindus. Bengali, which is the language spoken by the majority of Bangladeshis, is not their language. They speak a variety of languages and are governed by different legal, social and cultural customs What explains the intensely conflictual relationship
  • It appears to be a conflict between two fundamentally opposite understandings of justice and ‘development’ and of the relationship between the state and its people. The state took recourse to violence to resolve these oppositions, unleashing an armed conflict in response.
  • During British colonialism, the CHT region enjoyed a special status and limited self-government. Migration into the region was strictly prohibited during colonial rule, and the local populace was allowed to live by its distinctive cultural and economic practices with relatively limited interference from the state. The special status was lost in 1963 as a result of an amendment to the constitution of Pakistan. With this amendment began two processes of enduring impact on the region: the in-migration of Bengalis from other parts of Bangladesh, and the initiation of large-scale development projects. Approximately 54,000 acres of settled cultivable land, mostly farmed by the Chakma tribe, were lost as a result of these processes. Some 100,000 people lost their homes and livelihoods, leading to a fairly large out-migration of Chakma tribals into India. The Government of Pakistan also embarked on a policy to encourage poor Bengali families to settle in the region, a policy that the government of independent Bangladesh decided to continue and expand.
structural inequality
Structural inequality

Structural inequality does not affect people as individuals but as collective entities who share similar structural locations that similarly condition their opportunities and life-chances and their ability to act as agents. It is in this sense we argue that collectivities such as gender, race, ethnicity or class are best understood as structural. The structural locations shared by these collectivities are engendered through historical processes and reflect the intersection of the realms of economics, politics, culture and knowledge.

origins of structural inequality
Origins of structural inequality

intermingling of several distinct historical forms:

  • different varieties of proto capitalism;
  • predatory and rentier states and associated patterns of governance;
  • the dominance of religion in the cultural and political realms;
  • the pervasive patterns of subordination of women, etc.