There could be no Hindus in Islamic Bangladesh in 30 years.

The disappearing Hindus in Islamic Bangladesh…

(An interview of Prof. Abul Barkat of Dhaka University with Pinaki Chakraborty of TOI).

Abul Barkat is a professor of economics at Dhaka University. He has written books on migration and financial advancement of Bangladesh. Taking out time from his busy agenda ahid of the funds, Barkat talks concerning the recent state of affairs of minorities, the economic system and the rising Islamization of his nation. Pinaki Chakraborty took the interview of Prof Barkat for Times of India which used to be printed on June 6, 2022 in the beginning.

Abul Barkat

Q: What is the share of minorities in Bangladesh?

A: Ninety in line with cent of the inhabitants are Muslims, in step with the 2011 Census. Hindus are 8.9% and 1% are Buddhists, Christians and others.

In 1941, there have been nearly 31.9% Hindus, which dropped to 18.4% in 1961. In 1965 there used to be the India-Pakistan conflict and the Enemy Property Act used to be introduced in. [This law allowed the authorities to take over land and buildings of Hindus who migrated to India.]

There have been 3 elements that resulted in this [falling population of Hindus], First communal riots, 2nd India-Pakistan conflict in 1965 and remaining the Enemy Property Act after which the continuation of the similar act by way of some other identify, the vested Property Act, which got here into being after 1971.

When the act used to be enforced in 1965, the query that used to be intended to be requested used to be: “Who was the enemy?”

According to the unique act, the enemy used to be discussed as Hindustan; so Hindus dwelling any place, in step with that act, have been considered enemy. The act used to be acceptable to each West and East Pakistan [before liberation in 1971, Bangladesh was part of Pakistan and was called East Pakistan],

Q: Why have been the Hindus discussed as enemies within the act?

A: After 1947, Pakistan attempted to push in the course of the discourse that Bengalis intended Bengali Muslims. Those who have been Hindus weren’t Bengalis however Hindustanis. The Pakistani executive sought after to do no matter it might power the Bengali Hindus out of East Pakistan and produce Muslims to East Pakistan. In the method, the federal government introduced Biharis from Dhanbad and different spaces like Kolkata and Asansol.

Q: When used to be this?

A: Just after 1947. Communal riots have been on. Hindus have been leaving, no longer the distinguished ones. When they have been leaving, a couple of landgrabber – Muslims have been taking on their houses.

The Enemy Property Act permits the state takes over a belongings, it does no longer transform its proprietor however its custodian.

So, on every occasion you return, the state should again the valuables. But, it did not paintings. And because it did not paintings for years, the valuables modified arms. Now it has transform difficult.

From what I perceive, in 2001, the prevailing executive sought after to promulgate the Vested Property Repeal Act, giving again the valuables. But that too did not paintings.

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Q: Reports quote you as announcing that there could be no minorities (Hindus) in Bangladesh within the subsequent 30 years

A: Yes, I’ve stated that

Q: Where are some of these minorities migrating to?

A: A majority of Hindu migrants pass to India.

Between 1971 and 1981, 621 other folks migrated in line with day. Betwwen 1981 and 1991, 438 Hindus moved out and between 1991 and 2011, the quantity used to be 767.

The in line with day quantity has no longer higher after that.

Q: Have the works of Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and Sunil Ganguly been got rid of from curriculum?

A: Yes. After the 1971 conflict after we received independence, we stated we might be secular and a socialist economic system. However, secularism used to be by no means displayed in public by way of any of the events that got here to energy.

In 1975, Sheikh Mujibar Rahaman [Banglades’s founding father, president and later prime minister] used to be killed. The army took the facility. The autocratic regime led by way of General Ziaur Rahaman put “Bismillah-ar-Rahaman-ar-Rahim” [an Islamic phrase meaning In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful] within the preamble of the Constitution. The strategy of Islamization persisted. In 1988. General Ershad declared Islam because the state faith, which used to be engraved in to the Constitution.

The roots of Islam in Bangladesh lies in Sufism. If you have a look at Islam in Bengal and that during Middle East, it’s utterly other.

Bangladeshi Muslims are spiritual, however they don’t seem to be lovers. However, the distance between religiosity and fanaticism isn’t a lot. If inequality rises- like source of revenue inequality, wealth inequality, well being inequality, training inequality- the radicalisation would build up and it will be a blunder which we might no longer have the ability to set proper within the subsequent 200 years.

Q: What are the stairs governments in Bangladesh have taken to give protection to minority rights?

A: In essence –not anything. There is vandalism and killing nearly on a daily basis. Recently, a trainer Jiten Ghosh used to be killed in Cox’s Bazaar as he stood for his ideas.

There is a guide referred to as The Political Economy of Madrassa Education in Bangladesh, It used to be printed after 5 years of study. It says that each 3rd scholar is a madrasa scholar within the nation. The determine used to be one in 10 in 1972-74.

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Q: Why?

A: The state has been not able to offer elementary training freed from value, which Article 17 of the Constitution promised. The non-state actor got here in as soon as the state failed.

There are two sorts of madrasas in Bangladesh – the aliyah [government-rum madrasas] and qaumi [private-run madrasas].Out of 100 scholars in madrasas, 67 are qaumis and lots of are a breeding flooring of spiritual fundamentalism.

There could also be the political economic system of fundamentalism. We have a mainstream economic system and inside it there’s an economic system of spiritual fundamentalism. In India as an example, there’s an RSS economic system inside the principle economic system.

In Bangladesh, in case you discuss political celebration having exhausting ideology, there is only one political celebration and that’s Jamaat-e-Islam. Others are simply platforms like Amazon.

During the conflict of liberation we mentioned secularism. Today if there’s no image of a skull-cap-wearing Muslim on a political poster. It is extremely possible that the candidate might not be elected.

Q: Is migration a serious problem for Bangladesh?

A: It is an issue and in addition no longer an issue. If you have a look at remittances and income, it’s not. There is 3 sorts of migration: one is from rural to city which is urbanization, and is equated to modernization, which on the other hand is equated with advancement. I do not consider on this.

Bangladesh has noticed opposite migration 3 times in 400 years from city to rural spaces. First used to be long ago right through the commercial revolution. 2nd as soon as in 1971 and 3rd right through Covid in 2020 the place 10 million other folks went to their villages.

The 3rd sort is spiritual migration. In Bangladesh it’s the majority from the minority – ie Hindus- are leaving.

Migration is just right when it occurs naturally. If it’s compelled, it does no longer subject. The skilled hard work migration is usually everlasting whilst the migration of low ability hard work drive is transitory. It is shape rural Bangladesh to the Middle East.

The Social have an effect on of migration is neglected by way of economists. Imagine a migrant hard work who’s married, who has a child and isn’t in a position to look for 4-5 years. What is the price of this?

Q: What belief does it create for Bangladesh with minorities shifting out?

A: The West’s belief of Bangladesh began getting sure after August 15, 1975 when Mujib used to be killed. The reason why is unassuming. All successive governments followed neoliberal ideology and financial prescriptions, which used to be mainly to privateise the whole thing liberalise the whole thing. Minimize executive’s intervention [make government a mere night watchman], The concept being loose marketplace is the panacea, while loose marketplace is rarely loose and no longer deficient pleasant.

We followed insurance policies which can be totally contradictory to our Constitution. Article 13 obviously states that implies manufacturing, possession of the approach of manufacturing on the subject of precedence will probably be as follows 1) state possession 2) cooperative possession and three) non-public possession with caps.

Third was the primary. If privatization solves the whole thing, why do not you privatise the ministry, the army?

Q: Everyone is speaking concerning the Bangladesh Economy. They are speaking about other fashions. What concerning the fashion of Islamic fundamentalism? What about Islamization of information?

A: In the previous 5 years, the Gini coefficient [a measure that represents inequality] has risen from 0.48 to 0.65. It is without doubt one of the very best on the earth.

The Palma ratio [another measure to show inequality-income of top 10% as times of bottom 40%] formally it used to be 2.49, if it crosses 2.5 it is regarded as a threat stage. It is 7.83 in Bangladesh.

The major downside is Bangladesh is inequality, multidimensional poverty… If Bangladesh remains like this for the following 5-10 years, the mullahs will seize the state energy.

That is as a result of they’re essentially the most arranged drive and they’ve their very own financial undertaking with a imaginative and prescient.

Their system is to seize state energy subsidized by way of economics of fundamentalism the use of faith as pretext. They have already got an economic system inside the mainstream economic system., executive inside the executive, and state inside the state. Moreover. The charge of expansion of economics of fundamentalism is upper than the mainstream economic system.

Q: Bangladesh economic system is doing neatly….

A: Around 20-25 years again when politicians or the developmental economists sought after to grasp social-development signs, we used to discuss two economics. One is Kerala and the opposite is Sri Lanka on the subject of social signs corresponding to training, well being and different measures.

So, if you are taking those signs to eulogise Bangladeshi economic system, then you’re incorrect.

The GDP has higher 300 occasions in actual phrases in comparison to 1972. Our current-account steadiness is destructive, we import greater than we export…

Today we’ve 12 mega initiatives within the nation. The handiest one among which from our personal cash is a bridge over the Padma. Others are all loans.

In 2024, we will be able to get started repaying the hobby for the primary mission. By 2027, we will be able to have to start out repaying loans and pursuits for the 5 different initiatives at a time.

In 2032, the pursuits for all of the loans will mature. So do not be proud of Bangladesh. It isn’t THE fashion economic system.

So yearly we’ve a $5bn fiscal deficit, after 5 years, it’s going to be $25 billion. How do we pay off that debt with foreign currencies? Isn’t, in essence, conceivable Sri Lankanisation of Bangladesh economic system?

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Q: Where are some of these minorities migrating to?

A: A majority of Hindu migrants pass to India.

Q: How are you drawing this conclusion?

A: I’m drawing the belief according to extrapolation of inhabitants census knowledge. I sought after to look what would had been the dimensions of the Hindu inhabitants had there been no out migration.

In 1961 the census reported the overall Hindu inhabitants as 18.4 million. If there were no migration, there could be 22.8 million Hindus as of late. So 11.4 million is lacking inhabitants of Hindus or those that migrated.

Between 1964 and 2001, the estimated selection of lacking Hindus who migrated used to be 8.1 million which means that 218,919 other folks in line with 12 months. Divided that by way of 365 it will be 600 other folks in line with day. So I attempted to determine the Hindus who migrated from 1964-1971. It labored out 600 in line with day.

Between 1971 and 1981, 621 other folks migrated in line with day. Between 1981 and 1991, 438 Hindus moved out and between 1991 and 2011, the quantity used to be 767.

The in line with day quantity has no longer higher after that.


The interview used to be first printed in TOI on June 6, 2022.

Courtesy: Source of TOI and others.

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