Colonial experience of Bengali nation: A story of Legacy

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Colonialism, the takeover of ruling power by overseas nation for aiming of exploitation in terms of economic, political and cultural sphere. The Bengali nation, having experienced with long decades of colonial regime, impressively maintained their distinctive lingual and cultural feature. The Maurya empire had onset this long procession of overseas domination and later it went through with the tastes of different empires. The chronological experience of Bengali regime has given bellow in here. Maurya empire launched the journey of Bengali under imperial regime that erected by Chandra Gupta Maurya who instructed by great strategician, Kautilya. Gupta empire was founded by Sri-Gupta. Fa-hien the great traveler came in here during that time. Kalidas, the renowned poet for his ‘Meghdut’ epic had been framed also under patronization of that empire.

Then it went under the regime of Ghuri Dynasty. Later the regime had been transformed through various dynasties such Mumluk, Tughlok and later under the Mughal. In 1757 the British subdued the Mughal and assumed the power. It had exploited this nation for long over the two centuries. In 1947, the Bengali nation at first got the taste of freedom. But the unfortunate reality under the Pakistani regime, it had experienced with a new era of suppression within the framework of inter colonialism. Inter-colonialism sought the exposition of freedom in physical structure and internally exploited the regime that is similar with colonial suppression. It internally extracted the blood of Bengali people in forms of various discriminations in economy, politics and cultural sphere. Eventually in 1971, the Bengali had gained their independence through heroic struggle. With the emergence of Bangladesh, a small nation, it had terminated its long colonial experience.

Basically, whenever I go to the colonial story of Bengali under scrutiny that I find such remarkable events, significant values and sprit of patriotism. It also witnessed with unprecedented passion and inclination to its nation, national heritages, lingual ingredients and its long prevailed Bengali culture. Many nations with Persian, Arabian, English, Turkish and so on came here and imposed their culture. But astonishing efforts had been made by inhabitants of this region in defending it’s own distinctive feature. It thwarted the cultural infiltration of British colonial culture and forceful indoctrination attempt by Pakistani inter-colonial regime. It had frequently diverted to reshape it’s identity across the cultural line and lingual heritages. That’s for Bengali Nationalism had been outreached.

It’s great attention had also paid to garnering nation’s emancipation from colonial suppression and political subjugation. That evidenced with Sepoy Mutiny, partition of Bengal’s Swadeshi movement, language movement. It proved it’s exceptional footsteps in exposing heroic effort for garnering it’s freedom, self determination and self governance. It had witnessed with patriotic Titumir, Shariatullah, Surya Sen, Pritilata, Isha kha and many other heroic warriors, who didn’t care to throw their life for aiming emancipation of nation. Colonial impact on political governance and administration sectors evidenced until present. Arabian introduced the modern administration and governance in dealing and facilitating it’s various aspects and complexities of rules. With making harmony with Arabian rules in other world, Arabian built city and towns that inaugurated the citizen life in this area. Arabian shaped the subject oriented taxation policy that was followed in British period and until present also. Later British launched bureaucratic system that evidenced its shopistication until ever. We also followed British parliamentary democracy and governance system.

Colonialism had also impacted on it’s economy, living style and it’s production system. Arabian stress on exportable commodities that ignited the local people to cultivate spicy products. They also initiate the policy of patron local arts and entreprenuers. Muslin, Reshmi, Jamdani, and different traditional attires as well as Pottery, and different commodities that unique over the rest were the pride and heritages of this region. But in this, British took rivers step to ruin and discourage the locally produced goods and commodities. It improverished this locality which once upon was flourished by Bengali’s traditional economic engine and production system. British intend to introduce it as the hub of their raw materials, that destroy it’s local distinctive production system. Forcefully Neil cultivation, industrialization attempts were some of that.

Ishwar Chandra Bidya Sagor, Raja Rammohon Roy, Nawab Abdul Latif, Begum Rockeya, Sayed Amir Ali, Sayed Ahmed were the torchbearer of education and social reformer also constructor of this Bengali society. British initiated several attempts of social reforms such prohibition of child marriage, flame of wife with husband (shotidah) and introduce widow marriage. Expansion education initiation was inherited from Arabian, Turkey, and Afghan regime. Therefore british era added dynamism in this approach and promoted English education with harmonizing their home method.

Eventually all of the experiences have made the Bengali as the integrated, culturally indoctrinated and politically vigilant nation. It had bore its colonial legacy in all of forms although had paid a great activism to preserve its distinctiveness.

Muhammad Tanbirul islam
Joint Secretary,
Dhaka University Research Society (DURS)