April 30, 2005


Philip Browning has written an excellent article in the International Herald Tribune about . Few excerpts:

Is Bangladesh a successful low-income democracy or a failing state? A secular Muslim exemplar or a fundamentalist seedbed? A liberal society, or one beset by corruption and political violence? A crucial component of South Asian geopolitics, or a weak and irrelevant adjunct to India?

All these descriptions contain elements of truth - except irrelevance. Bangladesh matters not just because it has 130 million people, mostly Muslim, or because it is the most densely populated country on earth, but because its Bengali identity makes it the most homogenous nation on the subcontinent.

It is all too easy, however, to overemphasize the dangers of radical Islam here. As in India, there is little history of Islamic violence - more of leftist violence and general political thuggery. The bedrock identity of Bangladesh is being Bengali first, Muslim second.

The bottom line is that Bangladesh remains, with some blemishes, a plural, secular, open and democratic nation whose virtues are seldom credited and whose problems stem in part from the electoral arithmetic and financing needs of party politics.

I wouldn't agree more. But read the whole article. Its rocking.


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