Under British rule, Calcutta became a huge port that
greatly benefited the economic situation in the region, including
Bangladesh, as the Indian city sits on the Bengali-Indian border. Under
this foreign rule, Bangladesh was just one of many provinces that were a part of
British India. Bangladesh though was a very significant and
powerful province, partially due to its location next to the British capital city
Although Bangladesh prospered in many ways under
British rule, the people sought independence as did many of their neighboring
Indians. Throughout British India (which included present
day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan), independence movements
arose during the late 1800s and continued into the 1900s.
Independence demands by the people of British India were divided.
Some sought a single country once free, while others wanted a number of countries
determined by religion, most notably the Muslims, who feared Hindu domination in
a shared state. In 1947 the country was given independence in the form of India
and Pakistan, with modern day Bangladesh
making up a part of Pakistan, then called "East Pakistan."
From the time of independence few issues seemed to be resolved as disagreements
were rampant among the people of Bangladesh as well as
issues with the central Pakistan government, which was
incredibly far away. Among these issues, the central Pakistan government wouldn't
recognize Bengali as an official language (with the Pakistani language of Urdu being
the only official language at the time). This, among numerous other cultural-political
issues led to the Bengalis demanding independence from Pakistan.
In 1970, after gaining nearly full local support for independence,
Pakistan still refused to grant Bangladesh independence,
leading to the presence of more Pakistani troops in Bangladesh to prevent violence
and war, while the Bengalis escalated their independence demands in the form of
speeches, rallies, and acts of defiance. India stepped in
in December of 1971 in order to assist the Bengalis, as they had strained relations
with Pakistan's central government. With this assistance, Bangladesh gained
independence in 1971.
Immediately after independence little progress took place in
Bangladesh as the economy struggled and the government was riddled with
coups or assassinations through the early 1980s, when the military took control
of the government. After they nominally released this power politics settled, although
corruption in these elections seemed to continue as many opposition parties claimed
that the military still ruled the country.
Since this time numerous parties have regularly boycotted elections with the belief
that they are unfair and rigged, but in 1996 international observers claimed the
elections, for the first time in Bangladesh were free and fair. This led to greater
political involvement, but protests and election boycotts by numerous parties has
continued to the present.
Since about 2000 Islamic extremists have also made headway in
Bangladesh, but with little support. This has only encouraged more political
instability in the country, which still seems to undergo a coup or protest annually.