Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Partition Center Journal 2016

ISPaD Partition  Center
Journal  2016
ISSN 2377-7567

 Editor: Sachi G. Dastidar, Ph.D.
Published by
Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project (ISPaD)
New York
Jamaica, Queens, New York City
The Table of Contents
2015 Conference Report                                                                Shuvo G Dastidar            Page 1
First Person Narrative: My Childhood Memories of Partition       Pratip Dasgupta                  3
First Person Narrative: Death of Mahatma Gandhi and Alibeg Prisoners       Bal Gupta        6
Partition and Dislocation of Ethnic Groups: Telugus in Bangladesh! Forgotten by Mainstream Andhras and Telugu Speakers of India                                                                   Dr. Akkaraju Sarma 8
Pre-Partition Colonial Era: British Colonials Starved to Death 60 million-plus Indians, But, Why?
                                                                                                                               Ramtanu Maitra 11
Partition and Politics of Identity and Extremism: A Debacle In Pakistan, A Lesson For Bangladesh
                                                                                                                                Dr. Taj Hashmi 18
Reestablishing one’s Identity: National and Ethnic Minorities of Poland on the European Background
                                                                                           Roman Chojnacki & Kamila Zarębska 20
Issues of Identity : Roma Triumph & Reality of Assimilation in Europe, America and India
                                                                                                                            Sachi G. Dastidar 21

Sponsors:         26-42
Cover Picture: Refugees fleeing ancestral homeland after a pogrom. (File picture)

© ISPaD Project Inc. NY
Date: October 2016
Editor:  Dr. Sachi G. Dastidar
ISPaD Office, 85-60 Parsons Blvd, Ist Floor, Jamaica, NY 11432
Phone: 917-524-0035
Email: Ispad1947@gmail.com  
Web: www.ispad1947.org 

Editorial Board: Dr. Sachi G. Dastidar, New York; Dr. Tom Lilly Jr., Long Island;  Dr. Anil Kumar Saha, New York; Dr. Ratna Karmakar, New Jersey; Dr. Caroline Sawyer, Wisconsin; Dr. Syed Abu Hasnath, Massachusetts
Price: $5 Dollars; $7.50 by mail
Synopsis of the ISPaD Partition    Center’s 2015 Conference

Shuvo G. Dastidar**
Partition Center Project Coordinator

  The 2015 Partition Studies Conference was held on Saturday, October 3, 2015 was an accomplishment despite the uncomfortable weather: strong wind and freezing rain. To the participants and supporters it was indeed a true testament to the interest growing in ISPaD: The Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project's efforts. Interest in Partition in 1947 and 1971 in the Indian Subcontinent with the loss of life and displacement from ancestral lands may have been “overlooked” and/or “forgotten” by governments and individuals – but not the affected peoples, writers and researchers. The Partition Center conferences focus include areas, such as, 1947 Indian Partition and aftermath; divisions around-the-world, reconciliation and forgiveness, unity, identity, narratives of refugees, survivors and protectors, minority issues in divided lands; effects of displaced peoples on host population, nationalism, extremism, music, literature and more.

Dr. Arvin Ghosh giving Keynote Speech
The conference opened with welcome by Conference Chair Dr. Sachi G. Dastidar of Partition Center and Old Westbury who introduced the focus and format of the conference, the sponsors of the conference and that of the 2015 Partition Center Journal followed by Dr. Wayne Edwards, vice President, and Usama Shiekh, Associate Vice President of Old Wesybury who welcomed on behalf of the State University of New York College. Each of ISPaD Board Members – Mr. Pratip Dasgupta, Mr. Ramen Nandi, Dr. Tom Lilly and Dr. Shefali S. Dasstidar – spoke introducing various projects of Partition Center, and asked participants for a vigorous debate that is to follow. Dr. Larry Krause, Chair of the Politics, Economics and Law Department of Old Westbury while welcoming the delegates shared his thoughts as to the support of the Partition Center conference by the department. The Board then invited Dr. Arvin Ghosh, a noted author of dozens of books and a professor of economics and business and Conference Keynote Speaker, released the 2015 Partition Center Journal to Partition Center Project Coordinator Mr. Shuvo G. Dastidar.

  Keynote Speech: Keynote Speaker Dr. Ghosh was introduced by Dr. Banani Nandi, an economist with the Bell Lab in New Jersey. Dr. Nandi could only mention a part of Dr. Ghosh’s long accomplishment and awards received. Theme of the keynote speech was “My Partitioned Bengal: East and West” where Dr. Ghosh mentioned his growing up in Barisal District, eastern Bengal Province of British India, and how his learned family moved to West Bengal State – part of the former Bengal Province – in newly independent Hindu-majority India from Muslim-majority Islamic East Pakistan – the new name for eastern Bengal of Bengal Province. Dr. Ghosh told the participants how he as a young boy got involved with Indian independence movement before 1947 Partition of India and emergence of India and Pakistan. He told the story of Indian independence struggle of various Indian leaders in colonial British India. This was followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Dr. Nandi.

After a brief tea break the first session – Division, Dislocation and Demographic Change – began moderated by Dr. Caroline Sawyer, Chair of the History and Philosophy Department of Old Westbury. First to speak was Mr. Pratip Dasgupta of New York who presented “The Forgotten Peoples of Bangladesh,” highlighting the plight of minority non-Muslim tribes in Bangladesh. He cited numerous statistics and victimization of the tribes, the glaring of them is the forced colonization of Chittagong Hill Tracts which was 98% non-Muslim and non-Bengali in 1947 as well as in 1971 at the time of Bangladesh’s independence but is barely 50% tribal now after importing Bengali Muslim peasants from the plains by the Bangladesh government. This was followed by Mr. Anish Gupta of Delhi University and a columnist for a Delhi English daily, presented “Minority Population in Bangladesh and BBS Projections” whereby he cited manipulation by Bangladesh Government agencies to hide the true loss of Bangladeshi minority Hindu population whereby contradicting themselves. 

Ms. Pryanka, a graduate student of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote a paper entitled “The truth of Bangladeshi Infiltration in West Bengal,” compared fertility rates of Bangladeshi women of various religious faiths and its effects on illegal migration in India, especially of east and northeast India. Ms. Priyanka’s paper was presented by Professor Gupta of Delhi. Q&A followed their presentation.

From left: Session chair Caroline Sawyer, presenters Pratip Dasgupta and Anish Gupta

 Next session “Partition, Population and Identity,” was chaired by Dr. Edislav Manetovic, a political scientist of Old Westbury’s Politics, Economics and Law Department. First to speak was Mr. Youngsoo Kong, a doctoral candidate in India, on “Christians and Refugee Relief during Partition of India and Korean War.” He highlighted the long-lasting effects of relief by Christians in Korea while in the war between Muslim League Party and Congress Party, and between Hindu-Sikhs and Muslims the neutral Christians quietly provided relief in India and Pakistan by Christians who came from traditionally oppressed “dalit” community, though barely known in the Subcontinent. This was followed by Dr. Caroline Sawyer’s presentation, “’Maptivism’ for Human Rights” whereby she described the new trend of mapping human rights issues in maps using social media and Google, as well as tools available to locate minority institutions through social media and how it will help many communities, especially minorities. Q&A followed their presentation.
 Concluding remarks were given by Dr. Dilip Nath, an ISPaD Board Member from New York City.
The newly released 2015 Partition Center Journal contained 10 articles authored by S. Dastidar, Khasru, Kong, Siddique, Gupta, Chatterjee, S. G. Dastidar,  Karanth, Angotti and Lilly. Articles cover India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Korea, Palestine and the U.S. The 60-page Journal is made available for $5 (plus $2.50 if sent by mail) through www.ispad1947.org via PayPal or through check to Ispad Office, 85-60 Parsons Blvd, 1st Floor, Jamaica, NY 11432; phone 917-524-0035. Donation to Ispad is tax-deductible.

Dr. Caroline Sawyer and Youngsoo Kong at Session 2
At the end of the sessions guests were invited to an Indian lunch prepared by Mrs. Dipa Nath, Dr. Banani Nandi and Mrs. Sumedha Dastidar, where networking followed for a long time.

**Shuvo G. Dastidar, co-edits both Probini Digest and Partition Center Newsletter where he writes columns on a regular basis, and writes in social media.
First Person Narrative
My Childhood Memories of Partition
Pratip Dasgupta
Social Activist, New York

   Some of my memories and experiences of the 1947 partition of the Indian Subcontinent are still vivid in my mind.  My family members on both sides – Hindu Bengali – were originally from East Bengal, now Bangladesh.  My father Bhupendra Nath Dasgupta was born in Comilla, now eastern Bangladesh, and had moved to western Bengal of colonial India with his parents when he was a child. He attended the famous school Ishwar Pathshala which I visited years later.   My grandfather Muralidhar used to work for the Bengal Government of British India.  All the other members of the extended family stayed on in what was East Pakistan and later Bangladesh, after the 1947 Partition of India and Bengal.  My great-uncle Bhudhar was a well known Public Prosecutor and he spent the rest of his life with one of his sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Comilla, now Bangladesh.  Between 1947 Partition of India and 1971 Bangladesh Independence and associated war and mass killing, almost all of them as well as other relatives moved to India.  One of my cousins Ashok was a Freedom Fighter in 1971 Bangladesh war of Independence.  The same year his brother Rana was murdered by the Pakistan Army soldiers aided by the collaborating Bengali Islamist Razakar killers.  His wife was kidnapped and when she was rescued and brought home, she was found to suffer badly from this experience and eventually she lost her mind.  She never recovered.  Ashok still lives in Bangladesh capital Dhaka with his family and Rana's children.  They are well established, but aware of possible dangers in the future because of the uncertain conditions in the country.

  My maternal grandmother's brothers  used to live in Dhaka.  They had a large house and owned the Ayurveda Pharmacy.  In 1944, on the way back from Comilla we spent a week visiting them.  After 1947 this family also moved to India, settling in Hazaribagh, eastern Bihar State of India, now Jharkhand State.  Later some of the members of the family settled in Kolkata and Delhi both in India.  I had other relatives in Noakhali and Barisal of Bangladesh who too migrated to India.   

  On the other side of the Subcontinent my mother's grandmother, uncles and aunts who used to live in Lahore since the 1920s also were forced to leave in 1947 with very little of their possessions. My mother's paternal grandfather was the famous nationalist-poet Rajanikanta Sen whose ancestral home was in Bhangabari, Pabna, but they had moved to Rajshahi, both in north Bengal, now Bangladesh.   One of my great-uncles Sachindra Nath Sen had worked for the Indian Railways and he and his wife were able to ship what they had to Kolkata after Indian partition.  His brother Shailen used to work for an insurance company in Lahore, now Punjab Province, Pakistan.  They settled in Kolkata in West Bengal State as a refugee and had to start a new life after a lot of struggle.  My grandmother's widowed cousin (nickname Khushi) who had lived in Taxila, British Punjab Province, now Pakistan, with her children for many years went to Delhi as refugees in 1947.  For a year they lived in tents where I visited them.  As a child I found it fascinating that they were in the Tent City.  Later I realized how hard their life was.  It was supposed to be temporary, but it took a long time for the Government to re-house the family.  Fortunately, most of my relatives were able to pick up their lives and became successful.  But their sufferings were indescribable and many of them were reluctant to mention them.  The refugees from West Pakistan had better luck than the ones from East Pakistan since the rehabilitation program for the former was better planned.  (Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, Nehru and Ali, respectively signed a treaty whereby Hindu refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were ineligible for rehabilitation and exchange of assets, unlike those from the Pakistan.)

 Although personally I didn't experience any of these, I clearly remember the so called Direct Action Day of the Muslim  League on August 14, 1946.  Since then Muslim-Hindu riots continued sporadically until the eve of independence.  The markets were often closed, causing severe food shortage.  During the summer of 1947 I was visiting my maternal grandparents in Shimla, north India, now Uttarkhand State of India, where my grandfather used to work.  My mother wanted to show my new born sister Purabi to her parents.  It was my summer vacation in school and we planned to spend two months, but because there were riots in the city we were stuck for some time.  During the riots a few times we had to move with others temporarily for safety when Muslim mobs were about to attack.  We used to be ready to leave with a few clothes and some jewelry. As a child I found it both scary and fascinating. We had to dress in black in order to escape easily in the darkness.  Shimla at that time was very different, there were few electric light posts on the streets. No traffic was allowed in most of the streets of this summer capital of British India.  Only the Viceroy and the British officials would drive their cars. Buses and trucks could use only one road.  When we were ready to return to Kolkata, we had to post-pone our departure as I was sick. My illness saved the lives of my mother and me.  We learned later that train arrived in Kolkata with all dead passengers and only the crew were alive.  Because of his work as a lawyer my father had stayed in Kolkata.

Both in Shimla ad Kolkata I had heard the slogan "Allah Ho Akbar" (God is Great! in Arabic) chanted by the Muslim gangs many times.  Even today I shudder when I hear the words.  It is a prayer in Arabic meaning "God is Great" and should have a religious significance.  Yet in my mind the words are associated with violence.  It may actually be unfair and irrational, but it hasn't helped me.  It is not that my family had any bad experiences with Muslims.  My grandfathers had Muslim colleagues who visited us with their families and we had a cordial relationship with them.  In college in Kolkata, India there were Muslim students and we were friendly.  One of them, Manzur Majumdar came from Assam and stayed in the Muslim Students' Hostel in Kolkata.  Flying was unimaginable for even middle class people and during school vacations poor Manzur had to travel for four days by train and ferry to his home in Assam - there was no bridge on the Ganga at that time.         
  It hurts me to think that these personal relationships meant nothing with the horrors of partition.  The loss of lives and property and even the homeland for tens of millions has been unprecedented in history.  The genocide of the Indian subcontinent is no less tragic than the Holocaust and the other massacres in the world and yet much less known.  Although both Muslims and Hindus have been victims, but West Pakistan (now Pakistan) is now almost devoid of Hindus and other non- Muslims, and in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) the non-Muslim minority population has dwindled from 30% to less than 10%.  On the other hand, the percentage of Muslims has steadily increased from 13% to 14%  in India from 1947 to 2016 even with the influx of tens of millions of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Christian and Buddhist refugees.      
  The terrible memories will always stay with me.  I can only hope and pray that there is no repetition in the future, although the events of 1971 leading to the independence of Bangladesh show that peace in the subcontinent is still a dream.

Literature Search
Ali, Anwar, “Fear, threats trigger adverse displacement, “ Daily Star,  Dhaka, January 21, 2015
Azad, Salam, Contribution of India in the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, Ankur Prakashani, Dhaka, 2003
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council of USA, A Portrait of Covert Genocide, New York 2003
Blood, Archer K, The Cruel Birth of Bangladesh: Memoirs of an American Diplomat, The University Press, Dhaka, 2000
Chittagong Hill Tract Commission, Life is  not Ours, An Update of the May 1991 Report, Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 1992
Dasgupta, Pratip, “Forgotten Peoples of Bangladesh,” Presentation at ISPAD Partition Center Conference, October 2015
Dastidar, Sachi, Mukti: Free to be Born Again, Partitions of the Indian Subcontinent, Islamism, Hinduism, Leftism and the Liberation of the Faithful, Author House, Bloomington, IN, 2015
_____, Empire's Last Casualty: Indian Subcontinent's Vanishing minorities, Firma KLM Private Limited, Calcutta,2008
Dastidar, Sachi and Shefali Sengupta, Memoirs of Homeland: Refugees of 1947 Bengal Partition in India, Firma KLM Private Limited.  Calcutta 2015
Imam, Jahanara, Of Blood and Fire, Sterling, New Delhi 1989
Khasru, B.Z., Myths and Facts: Bangladesh Liberation War.  How India, China and the USSR Shaped the Outcome, Rupa Publications Private Limited India, 2010    
Khisa, Mukur Kanti, All That Glisters.  Minerva Press, London 1997
Nasrin, Taslima, Lajja (Shame) translated from Bengali by Tutul Gupta, Penguin, New Delhi 1994

Dasgupta, Rana, Abyahata Deshatyag: Jatiya Samasya (Continued exodus: a national problem,) Dasgupta Publishers, Chittagong 1994
Ghosh Dastidar, Sabyasachi, Ai Bangla Oi Bangla (This Bengal That Bengal), Firma KLM Private Limited, Calcutta 2012
Kabir, Shahriyar, Bangladeshir Sampradiytar Chalchitra (Portrait of communalism in Bangladesh) Pallab Publishers, Dhaka 1993
Singha, Kankar, Sampradaikata ebong sangkhaloghu Sampradai (Communalism and minority communty), Ananya, Dhaka 1999

 First Person NarrativeDeath of Mahatma Gandhi and Alibeg Prisoners
 Bal Gupta**Refugee, Survivor and Author

Historic Building, Kashmir (Courtesy Pakistan Kashmir Tourism)

  On January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in New Delhi (India).  On that horrible day, I was 10 years old and held prisoner in Alibeg concentration camp of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK).  Following are excerpts from my book Forgotten Atrocities: Memoirs of a Survivor of 1947 Partition of India.  Hope that those senseless killings are not repeated again.

“On November 25, 1947, there were nearly twenty five thousand Hindus and Sikhs living in Mirpur (Kashmir, then Pakistan just took over that part of Kashmir, which later Pakistan called Azad [Free] Jammu & Kashmir or AJK). During the city’s capture by Pakistanis and Pathans, close to twenty five hundred were killed in the infernos that erupted due to Pakistani artillery fire. Another twenty five hundred escaped with the retreating Jammu and Kashmir (Maharaja’s) army. The remaining twenty thousand were arrested by the invading Pakistani army and the Pathans, and marched in a procession towards Alibeg. Along the way, the Pakistanis and Pathans killed about ten thousand of the captured Hindu and Sikh men and kidnapped over five thousand girls and young women. About five thousand Hindus and Sikhs who survived the twenty-mile trek by foot  were  imprisoned in Alibeg (Pakistan-controlled Kashmir).

The Alibeg prison was located about two miles from Pakistan’s border (with India.) It was originally a large Sikh Gurudwara (temple) that was converted into a prison by the Pakistani army to detain Hindu and Sikh prisoners. It was outrageous that a Sikh holy shrine was converted into a human slaughterhouse. By the end of December, the Pakistani guards  had murdered about two thousand Hindu and Sikh young men. More than one thousand sick prisoners, particularly children and the elderly died of illness, food poisoning, or malnutrition. On average, the death rate was between fifteen to twenty prisoners per day  until January 1948, when the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived at the Alibeg prison and helped stop the killing.

Back in New Delhi (India), Mahatma Gandhi was trying to stop the massacre of Muslims by Hindu and Sikh refugees who had arrived in India from Pakistan. These refugees were retaliating at the senseless killing and rapes, which they had suffered at the hands of Pakistani Muslims. Mahatma Gandhi had gone on a fast until death if the Hindus and Sikhs did not stop killing Indian Muslims. Hindu and Sikh leaders and refugees listened to the Mahatma’s call and stopped killing Muslims in India. Consequently, Mahatma Gandhi broke his fast.

On January, 27, 1948 a delegation of Mirpur refugees in Delhi met Mahatma Gandhi to liberate Hindu prisoners from Alibeg. This delegation was led by Sardar Lal Singh Kakkar, a Sikh whose brother was killed in Alibeg prison, along with many Hindu refugees from Mirpur.  Pandit Nehru, Indian Prime Minister, was also present in this meeting. They told Mahatma Gandhi about the killing of Hindus and Sikhs in Mirpur and Alibeg and asked them to send army to liberate Alibeg prisoners.  But Mahatma Gandhi told them that it was difficult for Indian army to go forward in those areas because of snow covered roads.  Sardar Kakkar explained to the Mahatma that it never snowed in Alibeg and areas around Mirpur.   Pandit Nehru, Indian Prime Minister, only listened and did not make any comment.  In the evening prayer meeting, Mahatma Gandhi made an appeal to Hindus and Muslims of the subcontinent in to stop killing of Hindus (in Pakistan) and Muslims (in India). This meeting did not bring any military action to liberate Alibeg prisoners.  The delegation did not get a second chance for a follow up meetings with the Mahatma to press Alibeg prisoners’ case more forcefully. Unfortunately, on January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

In Alibeg prison, Pakistani soldiers and prison guards broke the news of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination to the Hindu and Sikh prisoners. We felt sorrow on the tragic death of the Mahatma but did not have the liberty for a condolence meeting. We did not know the full details of Mahatma Gandhi’s death because we had been cut off from the rest of the outside world. The Pakistani soldiers placed the entire blame of the assassination on the RSS — Rashtriya Swaamsevak Sangh (National Self-service Organization), a Hindu nationalist organization. The Hindus and Sikhs in the prison were very sad to know that the killer of Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu. The only news we ever got was from the discarded Pakistani Urdu newspapers that we  picked up from the Muslim grocery stores of Alibeg.” (1)
(1) Published in Daily Excelsior, Jammu (Kashmir), 1-30-2016, ww.dailyexcelsior.com

**Bal K. Gupta is a retired Professional Engineer living in USA and has M.S. degree from NYU Polytechnic. He was one of the surviving 1,600 prisoners liberated in 1948 by Red Cross. He is the author of Forgotten Atrocities: Memoirs of A Survivor of the 1947 Partition of India, 2014.  Besides his book, he has published about a dozen articles on Kashmir and the 1947 Partition of India. His book has been translated into Hindi in India and, in Urdu in England.

 Partition and Dislocation of Ethnic Groups
Telugus in Bangladesh! Forgotten by Mainstream Andhras and Telugu Speakers of India

Dr. Akkaraju Sarma**.
Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient 2016; Photos by Khairul Kuader

One of the legacies of Colonial Empire with unfortunate consequences has been the practice of “indentured laborers.”  In a nutshell, British recruited a batch of Indian citizens, based on a typical rural structure based on local traditions based on jati (ethnic, caste, tribe or linguistic community.)  This subject has been well written on with an overall picture of thriving fellow citizens, whether it be Fiji (with half the nation is Indian Origin), much of South African legendary success of Asians (with business acumen) and of course since 1965 of remarkable achievements of Indians – otherwise known as Non-Resident Indians or NRI’s – in the continental United States. Leaving this aside for the moment, did you know that about 1,200 or so of Telugu speakers have been struggling in Bangladesh? Some may know, but for others, this is a Muslim or “moslem” nation that was East Pakistan till 1971 when Sheikh Mujibur Rehman established the new nation, Bangladesh, that broke away from Pakistan. Since that time Bangladeshi relationship to Pakistan has been lukewarm while it is warmer with India. The country major language is Bengali. English is widely understood. An enterprising Bangladeshi Muslim Scholar-Investigative Photo Journalist Mr. Khamin Cu, (aka Khairul Kuadar, a PhD Student in Epidemiology in Dhaka) has documented in 1970s the highlights of the small pocket of Telugus. They were living in a colony for methors, Bengali equivalent of low social status of sweepers/cleaners. Some live in Ishwardi. Being familiar with Bangla and Odiya, the spoken language of this group being so different that investigations lead to Telugu! When they migrated chronologically and at what time is unclear at this time. While many Bangladesh communities were identified and given recognition, Telugus remain an “invisible” community, denied of rights of a Bangladeshi citizen unable to franchise their rights. Telugus live on and struggling thru their misery. Yet, they celebrate Hindu functions,  for example: Naga Panchami. Food includes Gutti Vankaya Koora. Familiar use of voni and langa. Marriages in community hall with a diluted version of marriage rites. They have a community location which has a large signboard entrance in Bangla which  phonetically reads  “Telugu Community Hall” maintained by Dacca City Corporation, euphemistically called Colony (for  Methors). Methors in Bengali means cleaners at the lowest social class.  Just for interest, is that the balance of signboard script is in Bengali. Below is a photo of the community hall.   

Picture1: Bengali Script Reads: Line 1: Telugu Community Colony Line 2: In English Line 3: Dhaka City Corporation Staff Quarter (Bangla Script English Language) Line 4:  14 No. Ward, Mampadi. Dacca 1204. Outfall no.14, (Ponchaashi number ward) Ward no. 85, Shaakhabari, Dhaka 1204 (Shaakhabari, Dhaka, baaroshochaar)
Their activities of daily living is very similar to many in rural Indian subcontinent. Below the activities at the village well.

Pic 2: Bangladeshi Telugus at a well for water for washing and showering needs.

The impact of other religious elements are not far off in these areas as is elsewhere, in a Hindu Telugu Community in a Muslim milieu is Christianity who have taken efforts to render the signboard in Bangla in Telugu Phonetics.

Pic 3: A Photo of Church the Bengali Script and English Script are phonetically same. Role of church: An example seen in Bangladesh Telugu Hindu Community Areas.

The small community has a Wari Samaaj Kalyana Sangham  (Wari [area] social improvement society) and here their social functions take place. Interestingly, the write up is in Bangla and phonetics is Telugu. And a part of the signboard is all in Bangla and a phonetics are provided here.  

Pic 4: Line 1: Shikkha (Shikkha; Education) Shaanti (Peace), Oikyo (Aikya; Unity), Progoti (Pragati; Progress) Line 2: Wari Telugu Samaaj Kalayan Sangha Line 3: Wari City Kleenar (sic) Colony Line 4: No. 47/48   (Number Shaatchollish by aatchollish) Line 5: Dayaganj Natun (New) Sarak (Road), Daak-Sadar, Thaana  (Police Station) Pedariya, Ward Number 40 (Ward Number Chollish), Line 6: Dhaka 1100 (Dhaka egarosho).     Stapith (established): 1985

Just as many of us celebrate an auspicious event with a ceremonial bath, here we have a Telugu mother giving bath to her child.    

Pic 5: Bangladeshi-Telugu Mother giving bath on a ceremonial occasion.

And life cycle events go forwards and here an elderly male rites are being followed.  

Pic 6: A Telugu Bangladeshi Family in Mourning. 

A Plea here: Both Seemandhra and Telangana States of India leadership must take steps to help Bangladeshi Telugu citizens and being few in number has to be found a home to join their rest of the brothers and sisters.  Many of the photos are in public domain for many years (since 1971). An article was published in Daily Sun a newspaper in Dhaka by Khairul Kuader. His insightful work is fully acknowledged and we are all thankful for informing us about this.  Unfortunately very few in mainstream Telugu communities know of this. In presenting this material, for Bengali phonetic translations help is gratefully acknowledged from Hari Namboodiri, PhD., a Keralite who grew up in Kolkata and Shuktara Das Gupta, PhD., a native Bengali from Kolkata. 
Notes and References:

The literature on indentured laborers is vast. The literature on Bangladeshi Telugus (methors) is evolving.
The initial brief report came from Mr.Khairul Kuader, a photojournalist initially reported in English and Bengali print media, “Khamin” 2012, in Dhaka that remained dormant. 
With my interests in Telugu Language and Culture in U.S. Diaspora, continue to be involved which starting of Telugu Language Group in USA (see www.tana. org) from 1967, since then setting up the Pennsylvania Telugu Association in1972-‘73 (TAGDV.com). These organizations are now internationally recognized. They all do extensive charitable and humanitarian work not only in USA but also in Indian Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states.

My interests here is to encourage relief to this methor group thru Telugu language resources.
Methors are victims of huge plans of English, who set up a new system of export of Indian laborers overseas from 1830 to 1920 (documented that way but well before that), as a time bound slavery. They could not get out of now Bangladesh and yet have kept some of the important Telugu Cultural activities.
The most relevant chronicler in “Indentured Slavery” is Hugh Tinker (A New System of Slavery, Oxford University Press, London; 1974), who was a British Civil Servant giving legitimacy to this human exploitation without any Indian ethnocentrism.
An extensive source of information is accessible from Caste in Overseas Indian Communities, 1967, xxii, 350 pp., Edited by Barton Schwartz, Chandler Publishing Company, CA.
East Indians in the Caribbean, Colonialism and the struggle for Identity, by Millwood, 1982, Kraus International Publications, NY gives you the picture from Caribbean.
Lal Brij V, 2006, in Passage Across the Sea, Indentured Laborers to Fiji and Solomon Islands in Doug Munro and Brij Lal (Editors), Honolulu, Univ. of Hawaii Press. Pp. 166-177. Also Same author’s article “Girmit: A Journey thru Indian Indenture” in Man in India, 92(2) pp. 215-224 is insightful.
The recent distributions of Telugu, which a Dravidian language, speakers has been completed by Suresh Kolichala who provided the linguistic map and I thank him.  This map shows where Dravidian Language speakers are normally resident.  His book “Dravidian: The Languages and Linguistics of South Asia: A Comprehensive Guide” published 2015, by www.academia.edu.

**Dr. Sarma, MD, FAAFP, has long interest in Telugu Language and Culture being involved with the beginnings of Telugu Diaspora in USA. He has professional interests in anthropology. Mrs. Akkaraju (nee Dhurjati) Kameswari and Akkaraju Sarma are US Residents from mid-1960s. He has authored articles for Telugu Association of North America journals.

Pre-Partition Colonial Era
British Colonials Starved to Death 60 million-plus Indians, But, Why?*

Ramtanu Maitra**
Engineer, Author & Researcher
July 3, 2015

The chronic want of food and water, the lack of sanitation and medical help,  the neglect of means of communication, the poverty of educational provision, the all-pervading spirit of depression that I have myself seen to prevail in our villages after over a hundred years of British rule make me despair of its beneficence. — Rabindranath Tagore
If the history of British rule in India were to be condensed to a single fact, it is this: there was no increase in India’s per-capita income from 1757 to 1947.[1]
Churchill, explaining why he defended the stockpiling of food within Britain, while millions died of starvation in Bengal, told his private secretary that “the Hindus were a foul race, protected by their mere pullulation from the doom that is their due.”[2]

During its 190 years of looting and pillaging, the Indian Subcontininent as a whole underwent at least two dozen major famines, which collectively killed millions of Indians throughout the length and breadth of the land. How many millions succumbed to the famines cannot be fully ascertained. However, colonial rulers’ official numbers indicate it could be 60 million deaths. In reality, it could be significantly higher.
British colonial analysts cited droughts as the cause of fallen agricultural production that led to these famines, but that is a lie. British rulers, fighting wars in Europe and elsewhere, and colonizing parts of Africa, were exporting grains from India to keep up their colonial conquests—while famines were raging. People in the famine affected areas, resembling skeletons covered by skin only, were wandering around, huddling in corners and dying by the millions. The Satanic nature of these British rulers cannot be overstated.

A Systematic Depopulation Policy

Although no accurate census figure is available, in the year 1750 India’s population was close to 155 million. At the time British colonial rule ended in 1947, undivided India’s population reached close to 390 million. In other words, during these 190 years of colonial looting and organized famines, India’s population rose by 240 million. Since 1947, during the next 68-year period, Indian Subcontinent's population, including those of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, has grown to close to 1.6 billion. Thus, despite poverty and economic depravity in the post-independent Indian Subcontinent, during those 68 years population has grown by almost 1.2 billion.

Records show that during the post-independence period, the Subcontinent has undergone drought conditions in parts of the land from time to time, but there was no famine, although thousands still die in the Subcontinent annually due to the lack of adequate amount of food, a poor food distribution system, and lack of sufficient nourishment. It is also to be noted that before the British colonials’ jackboots got firmly planted in India, famines had occurred but with much less frequency—maybe once in a century.

 There was indeed no reason for these famines to occur They occurred only because The Empire engineered them, intending to strengthen the Empire by ruthless looting and adoption of an unstated policy to depopulate India. This, they believed would bring down the Empire’s cost of sustaining India.

Take, for instance, the case of Bengal, which is in the eastern part of the Subcontinent where the British East India Company (HEIC, Honorable East India Company, according to Elizabeth I’s charter) had first planted its jackboots in 1757. The rapacious looters, under the leadership of Robert Clive—a degenerate and opium addict, who blew his brains out in 1774 in the London Berkley Square residence he had procured with the benefits of his looting—got control of what is now West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, and Odisha (earlier, Orissa), in 1765. At the time, historical records indicate India represented close to 25% of the world’s GDP, second only to China, while Britain had a paltry 2%. Bengal was the richest of the Indian provinces.

Following his securing control of Bengal by ousting the Nawab in a devious battle at Plassey (Palashi), Clive placed a puppet on the throne, paid him off, and negotiated an agreement with him for the HEIC to become the sole tax collector, while leaving the nominal responsibility for government to his puppet. That arrangement lasted for a century, as more and more Indian states were bankrupted to facilitate future famines. The tax money went into British coffers, while millions were starved to death in Bengal and Bihar.

Clive, who was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1768 and whose statue stands near the British Empire’s evil center, Whitehall, near the Cabinet War Room, had this to say in his defense when the British Parliament, playing “fair,” accused him of looting and other abuses in India:
Consider the situation which the Victory of Plassey had placed on me. A great Prince was dependent upon my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! By God, Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation.
However, Clive was not the only murderous British colonial ruler. The British Empire had sent one butcher after another to India, all of whom engineered looting and its consequent depopulation.

By 1770, when the first great famine occurred in Bengal, the province had been looted to the core. What followed was sheer horror. Here is how John Fiske in his American Philosopher in the Unseen World depicted the Bengal famine:

All through the stifling summer of 1770 the people went on dying. The husbandmen sold their cattle; they sold their implements of agriculture; they devoured their seed-grain; they sold their sons and daughters, till at length no buyer of children could be found; they ate the leaves of trees and the grass of the field. . . . The streets were blocked up with promiscuous heaps of the dying and dead. Interment could not do its work quick enough; even the dogs and jackals, the public scavengers of the East, became unable to accomplish their revolting work, and the multitude of mangled and festering corpses at length threatened the existence of the citizens…. [3]

Was there any reason for the famine to occur? Not if the British had not wanted it. Bengal, then, as now, harvested three crops a year. It is located in the delta of the Gangetic plain where water is more than plentiful. Even if drought occurs, it does not destroy all three crops. Moreover, as was prevalent during the Moghul days, and in earlier time, the surplus grain was stored to tide the population over if there were one or two bad crops.

But the looting of grains carried out by Clive, and his gang of bandits and killers, drained grain from Bengal and resulted in 10 million deaths in the great famine, eliminating one-third of Bengal’s population.

It should be noted that Britain’s much-touted industrial revolution began in 1770, the very same year people were dying all over Bengal. The Boston Tea Party that triggered the American Revolution had taken place in 1773. The Boston Tea Party made the Empire realize that its days in America were numbered, and led Britain to concentrate even more on organizing the looting of India.

Why Famines Became So Prevalent During the British Raj Days?

The prime reason why these devastating famines took place at a regular intervals, and were allowed to continue for years, was the British Empire’s policy of depopulating its colonies. If these famines had not occurred, India’s population would have reached a billion people long before the Twentieth Century arrived. That, the British Empire saw as a disaster.

To begin with, a larger Indian population would mean larger consumption by the locals, and deprive the British Raj to a greater amount of loot. The logical way to deal with the problem was to develop India’s agricultural infrastructure. But that would not only force Britain to spend more money to run its colonial and bestial empire; it would also develop a healthy population which could rise up to get rid of the abomination called the British Raj. These massive famines also succeeded in weakening the social structure and backbone of the Indians, making rebellions against the colonial forces less likely. In order to perpetuate famines, and thus depopulate the “heathen” and “dark” Indians, the British imperialists launched a systematic propaganda campaign. They propped up the fraudster Parson Thomas Malthus and promoted his non-scientific gobbledygook, “The Essay on Population.” There he claimed:
This natural inequality of the two powers of population and of production in the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that to me appears insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society. All other arguments are of slight and subordinate consideration in comparison of this. I see no way by which man can escape from the weight of this law which pervades all animated nature.

Although Malthus was ordained in the Anglican Church, British Empire made him a paid “economist” of the British East India Company, which, with the charter from Queen Elizabeth I under its belt, monopolized trade in Asia, colonizing vast tracts of the continent using its well-armed militia fighting under the English flag of St. George.

   Malthus was picked up at the Haileybury and Imperial Service College, which was also the recruiting ground of some of the worst colonial criminals. This college was where the makers of British Empire’s murderous policies in India were trained. Some prominent alumni of Haileybury include Sir John Lawrence (Viceroy of India from 1864-68) and Sir Richard Temple (Lt. Governor of Bengal and later, Governor of Bombay presidency).

While Parson Malthus was putting forward his sinister “scientific theory” to justify depopulation as a natural and necessary process, The British Empire collected a whole bunch of other “economists” who wrote about the necessity of free trade. Free trade played a major role in pushing through the Empire’s genocidal depopulation of India, through the British Raj’s efforts. In fact, free trade is the other side of the Malthus’ population-control coin.

By the time the great famine of 1876 arrived, Britain had already built some railroads in India. The railroads, which were touted as institutional safeguards against famines, were instead used by merchants to ship grain inventories from outlying drought-stricken districts to central depots for hoarding. In addition, free traders’ opposition to price control ushered in a frenzy of grain speculation. As a result, capital was raised to import grains from drought-stricken areas, and further the calamity. The rise of price of grain was spectacularly rapid, and grain was taken from where it was most needed, to be stored in warehouses until the prices rose even higher.

The British Raj knew or should have known. Even if the British rulers did not openly encourage this process, they were fully aware of it, and they were perfectly comfortable in promoting free trade at the expense of millions of lives. This is how Mike Davis described what happened:
The rise [of prices] was so extraordinary, and the available supply, as compared with well-known requirements, so scanty that merchants and dealers, hopeful of enormous future gains, appeared determined to hold their stocks for some indefinite time and not to part with the article which was becoming of such unwonted value. It was apparent to the Government that facilities for moving grain by the rail were rapidly raising prices everywhere, and that the activity of apparent importation and railway transit, did not indicate any addition to the food stocks of the Presidency . …retail trade up-country was almost at a standstill. Either prices were asked which were beyond the means of the multitude to pay, or shops remained entirely closed.

At the time, Lord Lytton, a favorite poet of Queen Victoria who is known as a “butcher” to many Indians, was the Viceroy. He wholeheartedly opposed all efforts to stockpile grain to feed the famine-stricken population because that would interfere with market forces. In the autumn of 1876, while the monsoon crop was withering in the fields of southern India, Lytton was absorbed in organizing the immense Imperial Assemblage in Delhi to proclaim Victoria Empress of India.

  How did Lytton justify this? He was an avowed admirer and follower of Adam Smith. Author Mike Davis writes that Smith a century earlier in The Wealth of Nations had asserted (vis-à-vis the terrible Bengal drought/famine of 1770) that famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconvenience of dearth, Lytton was implementing what Smith had taught him and other believers of free trade. Smith’s injunction against state attempts to regulate the price of grain during the  1770 famine had been taught for years in the East India Company’s famous college at Haileybury.[4]

Lytton issued strict orders that “there is to be no interference of any kind on the part of Government with the object of reducing the price of food,” and “in his letters home to the India Office and to politicians of both parties, he denounced ‘humanitarian hysterics’.” By official diktat, India, like Ireland before it, had become a Utilitarian laboratory where millions of lives were gambled, pursuant to dogmatic faith in omnipotent markets overcoming the “inconvenience of dearth.”[5]

The Great Famines

Depicting the two dozen famines that killed more than 60 million Indians would require a lot of space, so I limit myself here to those that killed more than one million:
The Bengal Famine of 1770: This catastrophic famine occurred between 1769 and 1773, and affected the lower Gangetic plain of India. The territory, then ruled by the British East India Company, included modern West Bengal, Bangladesh, and parts of Assam, Orissa, Bihar, and Jharkhand. The famine is supposed to have caused the deaths of an estimated 10 million people, approximately one-third of the population at the time.
The Chalisa Famine of 1783-84: The Chalisa famine affected many parts of North India, especially the Delhi territories, present-day Uttar Pradesh, Eastern Punjab, Rajputana (now named, Rajasthan), and Kashmir, then all ruled by different Indian rulers. The Chalisa was preceded by a famine in the previous year, 1782-83, in South India, including Madras City (now named Chennai) and surrounding areas (under British East India Company rule), and in the extended Kingdom of Mysore. Together, these two famines had taken at least 11 million lives, reports indicate.

The Doji Bara Famine (or Skull Famine) of 1791- 92: This famine caused widespread mortality in Hyderabad, Southern Maratha Kingdom, Deccan, Gujarat, and Marwar (also called Jodhpur region in Rajasthan). The British policy of diverting food to Europe, of pricing the remaining grain out of reach of native Indians, and adopting agriculture policy that destroyed food production, was responsible for this one. The British had surplus supplies of grain, which was not distributed to the very people that had grown it. As a result, about 11 million died between 1789-92 of starvation and accompanying epidemics that followed.

The Upper Doab Famine of 1860-61: The 1860-61 famine occurred in the British-controlled Ganga-Yamuna Doab (two waters, or two rivers) area engulfing large parts of Rohilkhand and Ayodhya, and the Delhi and Hissar divisions of the then-Punjab. Eastern part of the princely state of Rajputana. According to “official” British reports, about two million people were killed by this famine.

The Orissa Famine of 1866: Although it affected Orissa the most, this famine affected India’s east coast along the Bay of Bengal stretching down south to Madras, covering a vast area. One million died, according to the British “official” version.

The Rajputana famine of 1869: The Rajputana famine of 1869 affected an area of close to 300,000 square miles which belonged mostly to the princely states and the British territory of Ajmer. This famine, according to “official” British claim, killed 1.5 million.

The Great Famine of 1876-78: This famine killed untold numbers of Indians in the southern part and raged for about four years. It affected Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad and Bombay (now called, Mumbai). The famine also subsequently visited Central Province (now called, Madhya Pradesh) and parts of undivided Punjab. The death toll from this famine was in the range of 5.5 million people. Some other figures indicate the number of deaths could be as high as 11 million.

Indian famine of 1896-97 and 1899-1900: This one affected Madras, Bombay, Deccan, Bengal, United Provinces (now called, Uttar Pradesh), Central Provinces, Northern and eastern Rajputana, parts of Central India, and Hyderabad: six million reportedly died in British territory during these two famines. The number of deaths occurred in the princely states is not known.

The Bengal Famine of 1943-44: This Churchill-orchestrated famine in Bengal in 1943-1944 killed an estimated 3.5 to 5 million people.

Relief Camps, or Concentration camps:
There were several policy-arrows which Adolf Hitler might have borrowed from the British quiver to kill millions, but one that he borrowed for certain in setting up his death camps, was how the British ran the camps to provide “relief” to the starving millions. Anyone who entered these relief camps, did not exit alive.

Take the actions of Viceroy Lytton’s deputy, Richard Temple, another Haileybury product imbued with the doctrine of depopulation as the necessary means to keep the Empire strong and vigorous. Temple was under orders from Lytton to make sure there was no “unnecessary” expenditure on relief works.

According to some analysts, Temple’s camps were not very different from Nazi concentration camps. People already half-dead from starvation had to walk hundreds of miles to reach these relief camps. Additionally, he instituted a food ration for starving people working in the camps, which was less than that was given to the inmates of Nazi concentration camps.

The British refused to provide adequate relief for famine victims on the grounds that this would encourage indolence. Sir Richard Temple, who was selected to organize famine relief efforts in 1877, set the food allotment for starving Indians at 16 ounces of rice per day—less than the diet for inmates at the Buchenwald concentration camp for the Jews in Hitler’s Germany. British disinclination to respond with urgency and vigor to food deficits resulted in a succession of about two dozen appalling famines during the British occupation of India. These swept away tens of millions of people. The frequency of famine showed a disconcerting increase in the nineteenth century.[6]

It was deliberate then, and it’s deliberate now.

1. Davis, Mike. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, London, Verso Books, 2001.
2. Madhusree Mukerjee, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, New York: Basic Books.
3. Davis, op. cit.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid
6. Bhatia, B.M., Famines in India, A Study in Some Aspects of the Economic History of India, 1860-1945, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1963.
**Mr. Maitra is a graduate of Calcutta University, India. has been living and working in the U.S. for decades.  His current interests include Indian history, British Colonialism, nationalism and more.
* Reprinted with author’s permission.

Partition and Politics of Identity and Extremism

A Debacle In Pakistan, A Lesson For Bangladesh*

Taj Hashmi**
Professor and Writer, Tennessee

What Indian nationalist Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) once quipped, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow” is no longer applicable to what is left of Bengal today, Bangladesh and the Indian state of Paschim Banga. Bangladesh in particular is at the receiving end of all traits of culture – material or immaterial. While most of the acquired behaviour is benign, some are infested with debilitating “flesh-eating” bacteria, which have already infected the body politic of Bangladesh without being considered dangerous by many.

The rapid, mindless adoption of alien culture is reflected in the language, literature, music, attire, manners, social etiquette, food habit, and most importantly, in politics and political culture of Bangladesh. As the quarter-century of Pakistani hegemony substantially moulded the political culture, so has expatriate workers’ exposure to Arab culture since the 1970s profoundly impacted the popular culture in Bangladesh. Thus, civil-military authoritarianism; state-sponsored and hypocritical Islamization programmes; and persecution of freethinkers, women, and minorities have almost become normative across the country.

The Pakistani “debacle” I’m referring to is state-sponsorship of Wahhabism, pre-modern Sharia code, and the infringement of human rights, especially of minorities and women. Thanks to its unabated growth, political Islam has already destabilized the country, and has spilled over beyond its borders. It’s no exaggeration that the country’s criminal justice system – to a large extent – has broken down, and its leftover is comparable to what prevails in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the age-old tribal honour system, “blood money”, and the so-called Blasphemy Law reign supreme.

  Am I an alarmist for believing elements of the Pakistani “debacle” might eventually trickle down to Bangladesh? I don’t think so. Before I elaborate why I think the Pakistani “debacle” is potentially dangerous to Bangladesh, I cite just one example from Pakistan, in this regard. Recently, the whole world witnessed mammoth mass protests by tens of thousands of Pakistanis in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, a convicted killer of Salman Taseer, a former Governor of the Pakistani province of Punjab. Qadri, the Governor’s bodyguard, gunned him down in January 2011 for his public sympathy for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian  woman, convicted to death in 2010 for allegedly committing blasphemy against the Prophet of Islam. Interestingly, Qadri didn’t belong to any Islamist extremist group but a Sufi order.

Are the killing of Governor Taseer and people’s support for his killer among millions of Pakistanis relevant to Bangladesh? Possibly yes. Bangladesh has already adopted the soft version of Blasphemy Law to placate extremists who have terrorized secular writers and intellectuals, and have already killed scores of them for their alleged blasphemous writings against Islam. Ominously, there are people and groups in the country who favour killing for blasphemy. Some of them are persistently asking for the Blasphemy Law – with the provision of death penalty for blasphemers – proscription of “anti-Islamic” books, organizations, and declaration of the tiny Ahmadiyya Muslim community “non-Muslim,” a la Pakistan.

As an eyewitness to the metamorphosis of the relatively liberal and secular Bangladeshi society into an illiberal, dogmatic and intolerant one during the last four decades, I think the complacent people and Government are collectively responsible for the rot. What was once unthinkable, is a reality today; and what we think will never happen in this country, might be in the pipeline, will give us an unpleasant surprise, one day! What our rulers once considered harmless or even necessary – trading secularism with Islamism – have become a big liability and threat to secular democracy in Bangladesh. I refer to the unwise rehabilitation of Islam-oriented political parties, and very similar to Pakistan, the quixotic decision to make Islam as the “State Religion” in Bangladesh.
Since Pakistan and what is Bangladesh today started their postcolonial journey together in 1947, and have inherited the state-sponsored “soft” Islamism introduced by the first Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1949, they have a common legacy with regard to the Islamization process. Very similar to General Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan, two successive military rulers of Bangladesh – Ziaur Rahman and H.M. Ershad – also legitimized political Islam in their own ways. Meanwhile, thanks to state patronage, ruling elite’s political expediency and hypocrisy, and pressure from Islamist parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami, “soft” Islamism has become crystallized, and posing a threat to liberal democracy and secularism in both Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Ever since the (1971) Liberation, the fate of civility, democracy and secularism in Bangladesh is in a state of entropy. While the gradual decline of order into disorder has become the norm, unless democracy and secularism get a breathing space, the re-staging of the Pakistani tragedy remains a not-so-distant possibility in Bangladesh. I know Bangladeshi analysts, scholars, and politicians might disagree with me. “Bangladesh is very different from Pakistan” – albeit hyperbolic and hollow – has been the common thread of their argument. I wish the argument were convincing!

The reality in Bangladesh is somewhat very different from the elite perception. Despite the Supreme Court decision of August 1, 2013, which declared the registration of the Jamaat-e-Islami illegal, ruling that the party was unfit to contest national polls, the Islamist party is yet to be officially proscribed. And despite what we got from media reports early this month that Bangladesh Supreme Court could drop Islam as the country’s State Religion following a string of attacks on minority communities, one has reasons to believe no executive decision is in the offing, in concurrence with the judiciary. Once the genie is out, it’s almost impossible to put it back into the bottle.

 Islamist extremism does not drop from the heavens or sprout up from the ground. Secular leaders – over the years – prepare the groundwork for Islamist takeover, terrorism, or insurgency through corruption, despotism, hypocrisy and opportunism. This has happened in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Bangladesh can’t remain immune to Islamist extremism, for an indefinite period. Since Islamism is an ideology-driven extremist ideology – not a law-and-order-problem – even highly efficient police and military are no match for Islamist extremism. Pakistan’s experience should be an eye-opener. Bangladesh must realize neither opportunistic politics nor political hypocrisy, but democracy and the rule of law are the only anti-dotes to Islamist extremism.

**12 March, 2016, Countercurrents.org
The writer teaches security studies at Austin Peay State University. He is the author of several books, including Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year War Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan (Sage, 2014).
* Reprinted from http://www. countercurrents.org/  with permission from the author.

Reestablishing one’s Identity
National and Ethnic Minorities of Poland on the European Background*

Roman Chojnacki & Kamila Zarębska
Chojnacki, President and Zarębska, Secretary, both of Polish Roma Union, Szczecinek, Poland

From September 15 – 17, 2015 there has taken place the International Scientific Conference in Lublin, (Poland.) It took place on the occasion of the 5 years of the Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and the Regional Language being in force in Poland. The Conference was organized with the support of the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Administration, The Maria Curie – Skłodowska University of Lublin, The Central Statistic Office of Poland, The City of Lublin and the Voyevoda and the Marshall of The Lubelskie Voievodship. Choosing Lublin as the important on a domestic and international level Conference’s venue was not casual, since it was Lublin where in the middle of 1990’s rose the first conceptions of the abovementioned Act, which authors were well known Polish politician Jacek Kuroń and the representative of scientific society Prof. Grzegorz Janusz. The main points of the Conference’s first day were speeches by the delegates of the Central Statistic Office of Poland on the General Census of the Population and the way, how it will take into account the issue of national and ethnic minorities, taking place in the building of the Department of Political Sciences of the Maria Curie Skłodowska University and the subsequent meetings of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland Commission of the National and Ethnic Minorities and the Common Government and National and Ethnic Minorities Commission which took place in the building of the Lubelskie Voievodship Office. After both meetings were finished there took place a Plenary Session concentrating around the issue of the situation of national and ethnic minorities in Poland presently and in the past. The crucial speeches were by the Secretary of State in the Ministry of the Interior Affairs and Administration – Tomasz Siemoniak and the Members of Parliament from the Parliament of the Republic of Poland Commission of the National and Ethnic Minorities with Kazimierz Kutz at the top and by the representative of the Federal Union of Ethnic Groups – Jan Diedrichsen. They all emphasized a very good quality and working of the Polish Act on Minorities as well as the agreement between the main Polish political parties in this area. The representatives of minorities criticized the grants–based system of financing actions in favor of minorities and they suggested a model of several years of financing of the tasks being realized periodically. The second and the third day of the Conference were devoted on the works of topical sessions and “round tables”. One of was destined for discussion on the situation of Romani minority in Poland and the “Programme for the Roma Community in Poland.” The representatives of Roma were skeptical to the fact that some task of the Governmental program and the Operational Program of Human Capacity doubled each other. The representatives of the Ministry of Interior explained, that the tasks of the Governmental program are different from the tasks of the Romani Content and that those remarks would be taken into consideration while preparing next initiatives in favor of Romani Community in the future. Some delegates of Roma were against the attempts of codification and registration of Romani language in which they were supported by the representatives of other minorities, who shared their fears that turning their mother language into one of the fields of science might reduce the extent of identification with national identity among the young generation. On the last day of the Conference its participants discussed on changes in the status of minorities, which could be introduced in Poland after considering various models existing in Europe. There were also discussion of analysis of solutions accepted in various countries and its traditional practices. The PhD student of the Jagiellonian University of Cracow – Dagmara Mrozowska -- presented her paper on Romani Community of Poland. The Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek was represented on that Conference by the President and the Member of the Common Government and National and Ethnic Minorities Commission – Roman Chojnacki as well as the by the Vice Director and the Secretary of the Institute of Romani Heritage and Memory and Holocaust Victims’ of Szczecinek – Stanisław Stankiewicz and Mateusz Babicki.

*Reprinted from monthly journal of Romam Atmo, a Polish journal published from Poland which is trying to uphold surviving Roma (or Gipsy)-Polish-Indian identity;
Submitted by the Polish Roma Union.  

Issues of Identity

Roma Triumph & Reality of Assimilation in Europe, America, and India*

Sachi G. Dastidar**
Professor & Writer

Picture 1: Treblinka Memorial field

(The issue of ethnic persecution and identity existed as long as human civilization existed. It existed/exists in the New World as well as in the Old. It took an extreme genocidal form in Europe during Nazi rule with extermination campaigns against Jews and Roma [Gypsies]. During a 2015 summer trip to Poland my wife Shefali and I came in contact with a Roma employee at the Treblinka Extermination Camp Museum who presented us with copies of Polish Roma journal, and finally through that with the Polish Roma Union, an association of surviving Roma of Poland. At their request the article was written for their Journal. Interestingly many Roma in Europe are increasingly identifying with India and Indian culture, teaching Hindi in school, adapting Indian outfit on joyous occasions, and for Polish Roma flag it has resemblances with Indian tricolor of a chakra [a spiked-wheel] in the center as in the Indian flag’s Ashok Chakra.)
Picture 2: Romano Atmo

  The infamous Treblinka Nazi Death Camp is a 2-plus hour drive northwest of the capital Warsaw. In the midst of the sorrowful atrocity we witnessed several examples of hope and generosity. Busloads of Jews – young and old – from faraway places were walking miles after miles though the remains of the sprawling Camp. They were placing flowers and stones at memorials to the families with whom they share only their faith. Gauging the suffering in Treblinka is impossible now. Yet it is praiseworthy for their sincere effort. One visiting Jewish couple who was spending three weeks going from village to village where large numbers of Polish Jews lived before Holocaust. Seeing us in our Indian outfit that couple asked, “Are you Indian?” “Hindu?”
  We replied yes to both.

  Then they asked, “What are you doing here?”

  We replied, “Like you we too have come to pay respect to the fallen and ask Mother Goddess for nirvana of their soul. Now we are also praying for return of black Mother Kali, the demon killer, on Earth to destroy the demons forever.” We added “weren’t there Indians called Roma or Gipsy who were murdered here too?”

  They replied, “Of course. Please go that area for more memorials.”
Picture 3: Sachi and Shefali Dastidar at the Treblinka Memorial

  We walked for hours through the camp, which in size is like a small town, in that 100+F hot summer day, finally entering the Museum. We were inspired by the museum as we are trying to establish a Partition Documentation Museum on the effects of British-inspired, Muslim League Party-proposed and Congress Party-agreed Indian partition of 1947 resulting in the creation of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Subcontinent was further partitioned in 1971 when the majority of Muslim Pakistan, the Bengalis, who revolted against oppression by the minority Punjabis of then West Pakistan. Three  million Bengalis – mostly from the minority Hindu community and the rest secular Muslims – were killed in nine months by the Army of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its Bengali Islamist allies giving birth to Bangladesh. As we were going through the Roma items at the Treblinka Museum one lady handed us a copy of the “Romano Atmo” journal. Hesitatingly we picked up a journal of which the pictures attracted our eyes as we didn’t understand Polish language. Soon we picked up a second and a third issue. We were exceedingly impressed by the small, oppressed, poor, minority Roma in its effort to preserve their Indian heritage. It was reveling to us, even the Roma flag had symbolism of the tricolored Indian National Flag, along with the wheel of Buddhist King Asoka, and they are trying to revive some of the traditional festivities just as “Indians” are doing in America and the West.
Picture 4: Tradition Continues: Baul Folk Music at New York Partition Center Office   

  Tolerance in America, Europe and India:

  One can argue that the struggle for ethnic identity – especially of linguistic, cultural, religious identity – was lost in Europe especially after the two World Wars. Even before that for almost 800 years European kings, monarchs, nobilities and popes had waged war on each other till the area they ruled became almost linguistically and/or religiously homogeneous. Realizing this one often wonders if monotheism and institutional religion is able to coexist with diversity. Till Reformation and Enlightenment Europe too was not welcoming to diversity. For centuries Roma suffered for that reason as well as the Jews, often considered “outsiders” even after speaking the same language or adopting Christianity, yet not someone who migrated distances within a national area. 

Picture 5: Durga Puja: Celebration of Mother Goddess Killing Demon in New York

  In the history of mankind the experiment called America is new. It is the first time in history a group of people would be considered equal, respect each other’s culture and religion, be secular, and above all, governed by themselves. That is experiment is still continuing. Yet theory and practice would prove many contradictions even today. One can argue the fate of our original inhabitants, the Native Americans, have not been much different from the Roma and the Jews of Europe. In America one group after another faced difficulty either in assimilation or keeping alive their identity, starting with indigenous Native Americans. Then there were African-Americans, Catholics, Irish, Jews, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, Indians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and more. Nevertheless, because of the Constitutional framework and secular ideals all the once-oppressed groups always felt that there is hope in the future. It seems democracy has not  succeeded perfectly as peoples’ rule has foundered with arrival of new groups, at times hard to assimilate. May be it is the weakness of democracy that at election time people identify with individuals running for office with one’s own ethnicity, religion or bias. In the U.S. Native American culture is practically finished and remains alive almost as objects in museums as they have dwindled to a very small number. Still there are efforts to save their culture and religion. But the struggle for preserving identity and economic equality for blacks or African-Americans is far from being realized. They have become a permanent underclass like Roma in many European countries. Yet the hope is democracy and what I call “the idea of tolerance” remains a strong faith in people’s mind. Democracy cannot survive without tolerance. Thus I can argue that democracy didn’t flourish in Europe as long as religion – in that case fundamentalist Christianity – was unchallenged or the rules of kings or monarchs or dictators were the final word. It only took roots after World War I and WW II when all the European nations went through total destruction. Even in that part of Europe where democracy took hold before WW II were monarchies like the U.K. or North Europe which otherwise is contrary to the ideas of democracy. Onslaught on linguistic and religious minorities continued for centuries with the dreadful culmination of Nazism with attempts of complete annihilation of Roma and Jewish identities.

Picture 6: Model of the Extermination Camp 

  India, the largest democracy in the world, survives with democratic principles because of its deep roots of tolerance embedded through pluralistic Hindu faith, long before the idea of democracy appeared in political science literature. India is the only post-WW II decolonized large country that maintained its democratic polity from the very beginning in spite of being partitioned in 1947 and dismemberment of its Muslim-majority areas (Pakistan and Bangladesh), and subsequent ethnic cleansing of practically all non-Muslim minority Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian population from Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh, formerly parts of India. On the contrary, very small number of Muslims left Hindu-majority India to go to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Bangladesh, although those areas were promoted before 1947 partition as “homeland for Muslims.” This tolerant tradition is not new. India and Hinduism have absorbed Greek, Persian, Hun (Chinese), Central Asian cultures as their own through absorption and assimilation. They became part of India and parts of pluralistic Hinduism. Many of their deities were adopted as part of Hindu’s own. After Arab Muslims invaded non-Muslim Persia (Iran) 1300 years ago and started destroying their temples, shrines and culture. Persians (Iranians) fled to India’s western Gujarat coast to save their religion and culture. And now everyone thinks Zoroastrianism (Parsee) is a religion of India not Persia. They – the Parsees – have been able to assimilate in India yet maintain their identity through name, religion and language for 1300 years. They learned and adopted Gujarati language but created a distinctiveness Parsee strain of Gujarati language. Parsees became one more diversity in incredibly diverse India and Hinduism. The same is true with the Christians. It is believed that Saint Thomas came to preach in India in 52 AD. Thus old Southern Indian Christians follow a ritual distinguished by her Christian faith overlapped with Hindu customs. India is the place where Jews lived for centuries and was never oppressed. They were able to maintain their identity of religion, language and tradition.

Picture 7: Objects found at the Camp

  The arrival of Roma centuries ago in Europe is unique in many ways. What Roma brought was an oral tradition from India, yet in unwelcoming monotheistic Christian tradition. Without a common written language, religion or ritual it is extremely difficult to maintain one’s faith and identity beyond a few generations. Monotheism by nature is unable to accept diversity and deviance from religious-political dogma. (This is true of some monotheistic dogmas, religion or dictatorship.)

Picture 8: Remains of a Camp Building

  Oral traditions and rituals are hard to maintain in the absence of written instructions. In successive generations traditions change as instructed by the elders. And unlike jet-age of today for Roma of centuries ago it was difficult to maintain connection to the motherland allowing people to maintain their traditions. The Roma has a great tradition of culture, music and dance. However, centuries after centuries of persecution in almost everywhere in Europe including the Final Extermination Campaign of the Nazis it is a tribute to their struggle that they have persevered. I am impressed by Roma groups who are now trying to connect with each other in diverse nations, in many cases teaching Hindi and Indian culture to their children. This is remarkable. With the new migration of Indians in Europe many Roma will be able to connect with newly arriving Indians enriching Indian and Roma cultures in Europe just as Hindus and Guyanese, Trinidadian of South America and the Caribbean and Fijian Indians of the Pacific Islands have been able to enrich Indian cultures in the U.S. and vice versa. There is a lot to learn from the Roma experience in Europe.
Picture 8: Tradition Continues in the U.S.: Annaprasan or Baby’s First Rice Eating Ceremony in New York

**Distinguished Service Professor, State University of New York, Old Westbury; and Chair, ISPaD: Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project, New York

* With modification, reprinted from Romano Atmo  
Wishing a Successful

 Partition Center Conference and Journal

October 1, 2016

 Milita Chanda
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 Partition Center Conference and Journal
October 1, 2016

Shuvo G. & Sumedha J. Dastidar
New York

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October 1, 2016

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New York
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 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
 Amitabha & Keoly Chattterjee, New Jersey
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 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
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 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal

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October 1, 2016

 Dr. Tom & Teresa Lilly
Long Island

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 Partition Center Conference and Journal
October 1, 2016
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Congratulations to ISPaD
The Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project (Of course to all the Board Members, Volunteers, and Supporters as well!)

For your commitment & contribution in documenting our Partition-era (South Asian) previously undocumented history. Thanks to ISPaD's novel & unique efforts at documentation, you all have been working to ensure a crucial segment of global history does not vanish.   

Best Wishes for
The 2016 Partition Center Conference

Dr. Dilip & Dipa Nath
New York
Wishing a Successful
 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
 Seshadri Gupta, New York City
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2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal

Jay Hyman, ACSW, Registered Social Worker, 718-207-7101
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 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
 Prabir Roy, & Roy Cole & Speranza CPAS
Queens, New York City, 718-956-0801
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 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
Asok Chakrabarti, New Jersey
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  2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
 Laura Healey & Linda Reenie, Long Island
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 2016 Partition Center Conference and Journal
 Jagan Pahuja, M.D.
Long Island
Wishing a Successful

Partition Center Conference and Journal

October 1, 2016

Sachi G. & Shefali S. Dastidar
New York
Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project Inc.
ISPaD      Needs     Help    from    Y O U
  Several Bengali-Americans in New York, individuals whose families were victims of partition of the Indian Subcontinent – especially of former British-Indian Bengal – formed a partition documentation project called ISPaD or Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project Inc. to save the history and experiences of lost and displaced individuals and families, their villages, their life, and of survivors and that of protectors.

The Project has received not-for-profit status from the Departments of Education and State of New York State and a 503-C tax-exempt status from the I.R.S. (of the U.S. Government). ISPaD is open to all.

The purposes of the project are:  

  a) Document information from the people affected by the partition;
  b) Collect historical records;
  c) Study and document demographic and social changes caused by the partition;
  d) Create a center to disseminate and share the information with the public and civic groups and rights organizations engaged globally in such activities;
  e) Interact with the concerned governments and international bodies to raise awareness about the plight of the victims of ethnic cleansing and support the needy; 
  f) Organize meetings, seminars, conduct scholarly research, and publish journals and books.
  g) Solicit funds to support the above activities.
Ispad is looking for individual and family stories, documents, pictures, narratives, deeds, artifacts, books, family history, stories of refugees, survivors, protectors and that of the lost ones, tapes, films, videos of Bengal and Indian partitions – from 1947 through the present.
 I’m pleased to help Partition Documentation! Here’s my gift!
Please make checks payable to ISPaD: The Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project Inc.
Donation Amount $______ [ ] One time; [ ] Yearly _________ ; [ ] Monthly _______ (Approx. Date)
Name _______________________________________________________________________
Phone ___________________________________     __________________________________

Mail to: ISPaD, 85-60 Parsins Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11342;
Phone: 917-524-0035; www.ispad1947.org;  ISPaD: Indian Subcontinent Partition Documentation Project Inc. and Check on YouTube Ispad1947, Channel; email: ispad1947@gmail.com

  Board of Directors:  Dr. Sachi G. Dastidar (Distinguished Professor & Author, NY);  Mr. Pratip Dasgupta, (Social Advocate; NY); Mr. Ramen Nandi (Engineer; NJ;)  Dr. Dilip Nath, (IT Specialist & Activist; NYC); Dr. Tom Lilly (Attorney & Professor; Long Island); Dr. Shefali S. Dastidar, (City Planner, NYC); Dr. Rudra Nath Talukdar (Physician, Texas);   Project Coordinator — Shuvo G. Dastidar


Wishing a Successful
2016 Journal & Conference

Rudra Nath Talukdar, M.D.


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