• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

Bangladesh independent from the start

Ricardolindo

Well-known member
Location
Portugal
Suppose that during the partition of India, someone came to the patently obvious conclusion that placing East Bengal as part of Pakistan was absurd, and it, instead, became independent as Bangladesh? It would still face a lot of problems due to overpopulation and lack of industry but it would have been better off than in our timeline, without more than 20 years of being neglected by the distant Pakistani government.
 

lerk

;-;7
If Bangladesh were to become independent at the start, it wouldn't be Bangladesh, but rather it will be Bengal, and comprise of both OTL Bangladesh + the state of West Bengal and maybe the Rohingya parts of Burma, so basically something like this:beng.png

Some thoughts:

  • This would be a nation which is around ~65% Muslim and ~35% Hindu. The Muslims would dominate politically (assuming it remains a democracy). Judging from how communal relations are in OTL Bangladesh, perhaps we can figure out how they would be in this Bengal. Hindus would be sizable enough to prevent any large amount of discrimination, but nevertheless communal tensions will persist. Jamaat-e-Islami and the RSS will probably have their remnants set up shop in Bengal, and garner a sizable minority of support among the Muslim and Hindu populations respectively. If a dictatorship were to emerge in this Bengal, I imagine it would probably be secular in nature and would try to crack down on religious parties.

  • Bengal would cut through Northeast India. Here, I don't know what the arrangement would be. Maybe they will all become separate independent countries, or maybe just one independent country (which will, at best, look like Ethiopia, and at worst look like Yugoslavia). But I don't know how India will govern this area with Bengal cutting through. China might take Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

  • Communism was a popular ideology in West Bengal. For example, they had a communist Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu, control the state for nearly 25 years, and the Naxalites have some support in W Bengal as well. But it never really took root in Bangladesh. It is worth noting that Muslims made up most of the landed gentry in Bengal. Perhaps we might see an arrangement where the communists are supposedly secular, but their support base is just 80-90% Hindu. Conversely, the US state department may take interest in a country with a relatively stronger communist party, and as the review these facts, they might conclude that the best way to combat the Communist Party would be through aiding Hindutva parties to cut through the Hindu support base along with the governing Muslim gentry.

  • I suppose this Bengal *could* be better than OTL Bangladesh. It would not had gone through partition, two decades of Pakistani exploitation, and a genocide. Whether or not it will be a developed country is another story, but I imagine it will be around India or Indonesia's level.

  • As for outside effects: Pakistan IOTL had a lot of political development stymied by the fact that the ruling West Pakistani government refused to make Bangla (which was the majority language at the time of independence) an official language at first. When the military took over in 1958, they refused any new elections because they knew that the Bengali majority would vote them out. Without the East Pakistan problem, perhaps Pakistan would be a more politically mature country than it is IOTL. As far as India goes, well, the problem of Northeast India aside, without a military victory in 1971 Indira Gandhi and the Indian National Congress is a lot more weak going into the Emergency, and she will probably try to overcompensate for the less support she has, and this in turn will probably lead to a bigger anti-Congress backlash when the Emergency ends, probably ending her career for good. Bengal taking the Rohingya parts means no Rohingya genocide, which will be a good thing.
 

d32123

פּאַרטיזאַנער
Location
Seattle
Pronouns
he/him
If unified Bengal independence is anything like Indian, Pakistani, or Burmese independence I expect there to be large scale religious violence and ethnic cleansing. I can also see India aiming to break off the Hindu parts, which would probably push Bengal even more into the American camp.
 

lerk

;-;7
Come to think of it, the Hindus in Bengal would probably rally around the Communist Party, because if they want to secure Hindu interests, it would have to find sympathetic Muslims as well, seeing as how Hindus would be in the minority, and the Communist Party would be one of the few secular forces out there which can unite both Hindus and Muslims (Muslim dominance in the gentry and in the overall population ensures that Muslims end up controlling the military as well, and so the military would want to protect Muslim interests, so any possibility of a secular nationalist military dictatorship like in Turkey or Egypt would be pretty difficult unless you get one idealistic general who does believe in secular Bengali nationalism to somehow take total control of the country, like how IOTL the Pakistani military in the 1970s was fairly secular, yet all it took was one Islamist general, Zia ul Haq, to change the total structure of the Pakistani military and Pakistan altogether. I don't know who that general would be, considering the fact the Bangladesh's OTL military dictators, Ziaur Rahman and Hussain Ershad, have all been friendly towards political Islam in one way or another, with the former adding ""Bismillahir-Rahmaanir-Rahim" to the preamble of the Bangladeshi constitution and the latter declaring Islam to be the state religion of Bangladesh).

religious violence
Religious violence only happened in the Indian and Pakistani independence because the countries were based off of religion (well, Pakistan was anyway) and as such the Hindus and Muslims who found themselves living on the wrong side on the border had to move, and throughout the process there was plenty of violence. With unified Bengal there is no incentive for Hindus and Muslims to move, the Bengal province would just change in political structure, lower the British flag and raise the Bengali flag (btw, how would a flag for unified Bengal look like? The OTL Bangladesh flag was made by separatists in the East Pakistan era, and since that doesn't happen ITTL the Bengal flag will probably look different).

I can also see India aiming to break off the Hindu parts
India was never really a country looking to unify all of the Hindus. If it did, it would've annexed Nepal, and laid claim to the Hindu Tamil parts of Sri Lanka, the Sindhi Hindu parts of Pakistan, and the Bangladeshi Hindu areas. If the Muslims end up getting too arrogant with their position in Bengal and begin abusing the Hindu population, then I imagine that there would be a Hindu separatist movement (there was one IOTL), but of course that's a pretty big "if" because the Hindus, too, have a sizable share of political power, so I can imagine that the most Muslims will do is try to secure the privileges they already have and not to do anything which might improve the position of Hindus, rather than actively trying to oppress and hurt Hindus.
 
Last edited:

Ricardolindo

Well-known member
Location
Portugal
If Bangladesh were to become independent at the start, it wouldn't be Bangladesh, but rather it will be Bengal, and comprise of both OTL Bangladesh + the state of West Bengal and maybe the Rohingya parts of Burma, so basically something like this:View attachment 25135

Some thoughts:

  • This would be a nation which is around ~65% Muslim and ~35% Hindu. The Muslims would dominate politically (assuming it remains a democracy). Judging from how communal relations are in OTL Bangladesh, perhaps we can figure out how they would be in this Bengal. Hindus would be sizable enough to prevent any large amount of discrimination, but nevertheless communal tensions will persist. Jamaat-e-Islami and the RSS will probably have their remnants set up shop in Bengal, and garner a sizable minority of support among the Muslim and Hindu populations respectively. If a dictatorship were to emerge in this Bengal, I imagine it would probably be secular in nature and would try to crack down on religious parties.

  • Bengal would cut through Northeast India. Here, I don't know what the arrangement would be. Maybe they will all become separate independent countries, or maybe just one independent country (which will, at best, look like Ethiopia, and at worst look like Yugoslavia). But I don't know how India will govern this area with Bengal cutting through. China might take Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

  • Communism was a popular ideology in West Bengal. For example, they had a communist Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu, control the state for nearly 25 years, and the Naxalites have some support in W Bengal as well. But it never really took root in Bangladesh. It is worth noting that Muslims made up most of the landed gentry in Bengal. Perhaps we might see an arrangement where the communists are supposedly secular, but their support base is just 80-90% Hindu. Conversely, the US state department may take interest in a country with a relatively stronger communist party, and as the review these facts, they might conclude that the best way to combat the Communist Party would be through aiding Hindutva parties to cut through the Hindu support base along with the governing Muslim gentry.

  • I suppose this Bengal *could* be better than OTL Bangladesh. It would not had gone through partition, two decades of Pakistani exploitation, and a genocide. Whether or not it will be a developed country is another story, but I imagine it will be around India or Indonesia's level.

  • As for outside effects: Pakistan IOTL had a lot of political development stymied by the fact that the ruling West Pakistani government refused to make Bangla (which was the majority language at the time of independence) an official language at first. When the military took over in 1958, they refused any new elections because they knew that the Bengali majority would vote them out. Without the East Pakistan problem, perhaps Pakistan would be a more politically mature country than it is IOTL. As far as India goes, well, the problem of Northeast India aside, without a military victory in 1971 Indira Gandhi and the Indian National Congress is a lot more weak going into the Emergency, and she will probably try to overcompensate for the less support she has, and this in turn will probably lead to a bigger anti-Congress backlash when the Emergency ends, probably ending her career for good. Bengal taking the Rohingya parts means no Rohingya genocide, which will be a good thing.
Is it, really, impossible to get East Bengal, by itself, becoming independent?
Regardless, an United Bengal would certainly be more developed than Bangladesh. All the industries were in West Bengal and Calcutta was the only port.
As for the Northeast, it would probably be given to Burma. It has historically been connected to it. However, I can see Bengal getting Tripura. Also, do they have any chances of getting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
 

lerk

;-;7
Is it, really, impossible to get East Bengal, by itself, becoming independent?
I suppose Bangladesh could've been made independent earlier had the Pakistani government made a lot more missteps early on, but when people recognized the fact that the Muslim parts of Bengal were situated away from the Muslim parts of northwest India, they just thought it'd be best to make Bengal independent, instead of partitioning it. It isn't impossible but there wasn't much support for partitioning Bengal without the Muslim parts become a part of Pakistan.

As for the Northeast, it would probably be given to Burma. It has historically been connected to it.
Someone on AH.com told me that there was, indeed, a proposal for the northeast to be made a part of Burma, but I haven't seen much proof that such a proposal existed. Really, in my view they would all just become independent separate countries, and I doubt Burma would want any more ethnicities than what they already have.

However, I can see Bengal getting Tripura
Tripura only became Bengali majority because of the Bengali Hindu refugees which settled there. No Bengal partition, no Bengali Hindu refugees, means that Tripura keeps its Christian Tribal majority.

Also, do they have any chances of getting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
I don't think so. The Andamans were never a part of Bengal, and was pretty much isolated from most of India until the arrival of the colonizers. One interesting scenario I've seen is that the Andamans become a nation for Anglo-Indians, but the Andamans becoming independent isn't contingent on Bengal being independent and I don't see the scenario being likely regardless.
 

Ricardolindo

Well-known member
Location
Portugal
I suppose Bangladesh could've been made independent earlier had the Pakistani government made a lot more missteps early on, but when people recognized the fact that the Muslim parts of Bengal were situated away from the Muslim parts of northwest India, they just thought it'd be best to make Bengal independent, instead of partitioning it. It isn't impossible but there wasn't much support for partitioning Bengal without the Muslim parts become a part of Pakistan.



Someone on AH.com told me that there was, indeed, a proposal for the northeast to be made a part of Burma, but I haven't seen much proof that such a proposal existed. Really, in my view they would all just become independent separate countries, and I doubt Burma would want any more ethnicities than what they already have.



Tripura only became Bengali majority because of the Bengali Hindu refugees which settled there. No Bengal partition, no Bengali Hindu refugees, means that Tripura keeps its Christian Tribal majority.



I don't think so. The Andamans were never a part of Bengal, and was pretty much isolated from most of India until the arrival of the colonizers. One interesting scenario I've seen is that the Andamans become a nation for Anglo-Indians, but the Andamans becoming independent isn't contingent on Bengal being independent and I don't see the scenario being likely regardless.
Sorry for the late reply, but while the Andaman Islands had little to do with Bengal, they also had little to do with India. I find it possible they could get them if they were interested.
 

Sylvanus

Member
I suppose Bangladesh could've been made independent earlier had the Pakistani government made a lot more missteps early on, but when people recognized the fact that the Muslim parts of Bengal were situated away from the Muslim parts of northwest India, they just thought it'd be best to make Bengal independent, instead of partitioning it. It isn't impossible but there wasn't much support for partitioning Bengal without the Muslim parts become a part of Pakistan.
What would Bengali Hindus have preferred--to live under Bengali Muslim rule or to live under non-Bengali Hindu rule?
 
Top