Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: Decline of Hindu Population in Bangladesh

Book Review:
Decline of Hindu Population in Bangladesh
Bimal Pramanik,
CRIBR, Kolkata, India (2005)
“Truth is always unnerving. It strikes like a blitzkrieg and often catches us unawares,” wrote the great Mexican poet and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz in his poem “The ruins of Aztec”. It is also said that falsehood oft repeated achieves the veneer of truth and some are sure to swallow it.
Bimal Pramanik has mastered that art of falsehood to distort facts. His book 'Decline of Hindu Population in Bangladesh’ is published by the Centre for Research in Indo-Bangla Relations (CRIBR), Jodhpur Park , Kolkata, which is long known for its anti-Bangladesh bias and anti-Muslim agenda gravitating extremist Hindus for the Hindutvadi cause.

In his book, Pramanik presents a highly inaccurate image of Bangladesh. It falsely claimed that Bangladesh had become a theocratic state where the lives of Hindu minorities are threatened. No, they are not, and never have been since the emergence of Bangladesh.

Pramanik tries to sell the concocted theory that the decline of Hindu population in Bangladesh has everything to do with discrimination and harassment of Hindus. The facts are quite different. As I have noted in my blog, the decline in Hindu population owes to several factors. All Hindus were opposed to the idea of Pakistan and many chose to immigrate to India after the partition in 1947. On the other hand many Muslims - Bengali and Urdu speaking - migrated from India to East Pakistan, which in 1971 became Bangladesh. The population growth rate amongst Hindu Bengalis has always been lower than the Muslims for a plethora of reasons. In the pre-Partition (1947) days, the annual growth rate of Bengali Muslims was 1.86% while that of Bengali Hindus was 1.61% (see the British Census 1931-41). Many educated and well-to-do Hindus continue to find better jobs in the Middle East and western world and many have chosen to settle in India for religious and social affinity.
It does not take an Einstein to do the math and see why the Hindu population now stands at below 10% in Bangladesh. Contrary to false claims of the author, Hindus don't face any discrimination in any job. Their representation in government jobs is almost three times their proportionate share of the population. Some half a million illegal Indians (mostly Hindus) also have been working in various sectors within Bangladesh remitting nearly $4 billion to India.

But truth is obviously not the objective of Bimal Pramanik but creating doubt and falsehood is. As a hateful provocateur he is in the business of selling hatred and poison pills to further divide our humanity into hateful camps. I can't recommend his book.

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