Bangladesh came to today's shape through a long history of political evolution. Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent up till the 16th century. The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. All of this was just a prelude to the unstoppable tide of Islam which washed over northern India at the end of the 12th century. Mohammed Bakhtiar Khalzhi from Turkistan captured Bengal in 1199 with only 20 men.
Under the Mughal viceroys, art and literature flourished, overland trade expanded and Bengal was opened to world maritime trade - the latter marking the death knell of Mughal power as Europeans began to establish themselves in the region. The Portuguese arrived as early as the 15th century but were ousted in 1633 by local opposition. The East India Company negotiated terms to establish a fortified trading post in Calcutta in 1690.
The Britons established an organizational and social structure unparalleled in Bengal, and Calcutta became one of the most important centres for commerce, education and culture in the subcontinent.
However, many Bangladeshi historians blame the British dictatorial agricultural policies and promotion of the semi-feudal zamindari system for draining the region of its wealth and damaging its social fabric. The British presence was a relief to the minority Hindus but a catastrophe for the Muslims. The Hindus cooperated with the Brits, entering British educational institutions and studying the English language, but the Muslims refused to cooperate, and rioted whenever crops failed or another local product was rendered unprofitable by government policy.
At the closure of World War II it was clear that European colonialism had run its course and Indian independence was inevitable. Independence was attained in 1947 but the struggle was bitter and divisive, especially in Bengal where the fight for self-government was complicated by internal religious conflict. The British, realizing any agreement between the Muslims and Hindus was impossible, decided to partition the subcontinent. That Bengal and Punjab, the two overwhelmingly Muslim regions, lay on opposite sides of India was only one stumbling block. The situation was complicated in Bengal where the major cash crop, jute, was produced in the Muslim-dominated east, but processed and shipped from the Hindu-dominated city of Calcutta in the west.
Boundaries of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a country in South Asia. It is bordered by India to its west, north and east. Burma to its southeast and separated from Nepal and Bhutan by the Chicken’s Neck corridor. To its south, it faces the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh is the world's eighth-most populous country, with over 160 million people, and among the most densely populated countries. It forms part of the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal, along with the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.
Inequalities between the two regions i.e. East and West Pakistan soon stirred up a sense of Bengali nationalism that had not been reckoned with during the push for Muslim independence. When the Pakistan government declared that 'Urdu and only Urdu' would be the national language, the Bangla speaking Bengalis decided it was time to assert their cultural identity. The present-day borders of Bangladesh took shape during the Partition of Bengal and British India in 1947, when the region used to be known as East Pakistan, as a part of the newly formed state of Pakistan. It was separated from West Pakistan by 1,400 km of Indian Territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination and economic neglect by the politically dominant western wing, nationalism, popular agitation and civil disobedience led to the Bangladesh Liberation War and independence in 1971.
India and Bangladesh boundary line:
Country Line between India and Bangladesh (Haridashpur-Benapole). In a landmark judgment, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Attribution (PCA) has awarded Bangladesh an area of 19,467 sq km, four-fifth of the total area of 25,602 sq km disputed maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal with India. The UN Tribunal’s award has clearly delineated the course of maritime boundary line between India and Bangladesh in the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles (nm). Now, Bangladesh’s maritime boundary has been extended by 118,813 sq comprising 12 nm of territorial sea and an EEZ extending up to 200 nm into the high seas.
In the early 1980s thousands of Bangladeshis illegally moved to neighbouring Indian states in search of land and employment. By 1982 the steady influx of Bangla speakers sparked a major ethnic backlash in the Indian state of Assam, leading to the slaughter of thousands of non-Assamese.
In order to placate Assamese public opinion, the governments of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi promised to stem illegal immigration, and in order to do so India constructed barbed-wire fencing along the Indo-Bangladeshi border in the area.
The Indian side of the Indo-Bangladesh border passes through West Bengal (2216.7 Km), Assam (263 Km), Meghalaya (443 Km), Tripura (856 Km) and Mizoram (318 Km). The entire stretch consists of plain, riverside, hilly/jungle and with hardly any natural obstacles. The area is heavily populated, and the cultivation is carried out till the last inch of the border.
The Chhit-Mahals or enclaves are outlying and detached tracks of land situated inside Rangpur district of Bangladesh. Similarly, there are Bangladeshi Chhit-Mahals located inside Cooch Behar district. There are 111 Indian Chhit-Mahals located in Bangladesh having 17158.13 acres of land with an approximate population of 1,50,000 where as there are 51 Bangladeshi Chhit-Mahals located inside the Indian Territory having 7110.02 acres of land. The given details of enclaves were jointly compared and reconciled with records held by India and Bangladesh during the Indo-Bangladesh Boundary Conference held at Kolkata from 9th to 12th October, 1996 as well as during filed inspection at Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) - Pachagarh (Bangladesh Sector) from 21st to 24th November, 1996.
River and Drainage System of Bangladesh
The rivers of Bangladesh mark both the physiography of the nation and the life of the people. About 700 in number, these rivers generally flow south. The larger rivers serve as the main source of water for cultivation and as the principal arteries of commercial transportation. Rivers also provide fish, an important source of protein. Flooding of the rivers during the monsoon season causes enormous hardship and hinders development, but fresh deposits of rich silt replenish the fertile but overworked soil. The rivers also drain excess monsoon rainfall into the Bay of Bengal. Thus, the great river system is at the same time the country's principal resource and its greatest hazard.
The profusion of rivers can be divided into five major networks. The Jamuna-Brahmaputra is 292 kilometres long and extends from northern Bangladesh to its confluence with the Padma. Originating as the Yarlung Zangbo Jiang in China's Xizang Autonomous Region (Tibet) and flowing through India's state of Arunachal Pradesh, where it becomes known as the Brahmaputra ("Son of Brahma"), it receives waters from five major tributaries that total some 740 kilometres in length.
At the point where the Brahmaputra meets the Tista River in Bangladesh, it becomes known as the Jamuna. The Jamuna is notorious for its shifting sub channels and for the formation of fertile silt islands (chars). No permanent settlements can exist along its banks.
The second system is the Padma-Ganges, which is divided into two sections: a 258-kilometer segment, the Ganges, which extends from the western border with India to its confluence with the Jamuna some 72 kilometres west of Dhaka, and a 126-kilometer segment, the Padma, which runs from the Ganges-Jamuna confluence to where it joins the Meghan River at Chandpur. The Padma-Ganges is the central part of a deltaic river system with hundreds of rivers and streams some 2,100 kilometres in length-flowing generally east or west into the Padma.
The third network is the Surma-Meghna system, which courses from the north-eastern border with India to Chandpur, where it joins the Padma. The Surma-Meghna, at 669 kilometres by itself the longest river in Bangladesh, is formed by the union of six lesser rivers. Below the city of Kalipur it is known as the Meghna. When the Padma and Meghna join together, they form the fourth river system the Padma-Meghna which flows 145 kilometres to the Bay of Bengal.
This mighty network of four river systems flowing through the Bangladesh Plain drains an area of some 1.5 million square kilometres.
The numerous channels of the Padma-Meghna, its distributaries, and smaller parallel rivers that flow into the Bay of Bengal are referred to as the Mouths of the Ganges. Like the Jamuna, the Padma-Meghna and other estuaries on the Bay of Bengal are also known for their many chars.
A fifth river system, unconnected to the other four, is the Karnaphuli. Flowing through the region of Chittagong and the Chittagong Hills, it cuts across the hills and runs rapidly downhill to the west and southwest and then to the sea. The Feni, Karnaphuli, Sangu, and Matamuhari an aggregate of some 420 kilometres are the main rivers in the region. The port of Chittagong is situated on the banks of the Karnaphuli. The Karnaphuli Reservoir and Karnaphuli Dam are located in this area. The dam impounds the Karnaphuli River's waters in the reservoir for the generation of hydroelectric power.
During the annual monsoon period, the rivers of Bangladesh flow at about 140,000 cubic meters per second, but during the dry period they diminish to 7,000 cubic meters per second. Because water is so vital to agriculture, more than 60 percent of the net arable land, some 9.1 million hectares, is cultivated in the rainy season despite the possibility of severe flooding, and nearly 40 percent of the land is cultivated during the dry winter months.
Water resources development has responded to this "dual water regime" by providing flood protection, drainage to prevent over flooding and water logging, and irrigation facilities for the expansion of winter cultivation. Major water control projects have been developed by the national government to provide irrigation, flood control, drainage facilities, aids to river navigation and road construction, and hydroelectric power. In addition, thousands of tube wells and electric pumps are used for local irrigation. Despite severe resource constraints, the government of Bangladesh has made it a policy to try to bring additional areas under irrigation without salinity intrusion.
Climate the average condition of the atmosphere near the earth’s surface over a long period of time, taking into account temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind, cloud, barometric pressure, etc. Geographical location and physical settings govern the climate of any country. Bangladesh extends from 20o 34'N to 26o 38'N latitude and from 88o 01'E to 92o 41'E longitude. Except the hilly southeast, most of the country is a low-lying plain land. It is surrounded by the Assam Hills in the east, the Meghalaya Plateau in the north, the lofty Himalayas lying farther to the north. To its south lies the Bay of Bengal, and to the west lie the plain land of West Bengal and the vast tract of the Gangetic Plain.
Bangladesh is located in the tropical monsoon region and its climate is characterised by high temperature, heavy rainfall, often excessive humidity, and fairly marked seasonal variations. The most striking feature of its climate is the reversal of the wind circulation between summer and winter, which is an integral part of the circulation system of the South Asian subcontinent. From the climatic point of view, three distinct seasons can be recognised in Bangladesh - the cool dry season from November through February, the pre-monsoon hot season from March through May, and the rainy monsoon season which lasts from June through October. The month of March may also be considered as the spring season, and the period from mid-October through mid-November may be called the autumn season.
The dry season begins first in the west-central part of the country by mid-December, where its duration is about four months, and it advances toward east and south, reaching the eastern and southern margins of the country by mid-March where its duration is about one month.
The pre-monsoon hot season is characterised by high temperatures and the occurrence of thunderstorms. April is the hottest month when mean temperatures range from 27oC in the east and south to 31oC in the west-central part of the country. In the western part, summer temperature sometimes reaches upto 40oC.