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Outcome of Partition Faultlines


Eric Gonsalves

THE EMERGENCE OF BANGLADESH: CLASS STRUGGLES IN EAST PAKISTAN (1947-1958)
By Badruddin Umar
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2004, pp. 389, Rs. 695.00

VOLUME XXVIII NUMBER 5-6 May/June 2004

The division of the British Indian Empire into India and Pakistan was the result of the interaction of many complex processes within India itself, in Britain as well as the global situation after World War II. Among them according to Marxist analysts was the Congress acceptance of Partition because this gave Hindu capitalists their goal of unrivalled dominance, while Jinnah too was a tool in the hands of their Muslim brethren. Badruddin Umar in his book on the Emergence of Bangladesh makes this his underlying thesis. He goes further to castigate the Communist Party of India for faulty reading of the political situation and their reluctance to use the tools of class struggle properly. He even indicts the international Communist leadership for its inability to give correct guidance. It may still be too early to attempt an objective historical analysis, but other factors must be taken into account and perhaps given higher priority. Yunus Samad’s A Nation in Turmoil gives an analysis of Muslim politics in the subcontinent that provides a complementary picture of the same period.      The book traverses in great detail the political scene in East Pakistan from 1947 to 1958, when Pakistan was placed under martial law for the first time. Unfortunately it is rather sketchy in providing sufficient background of the political processes from 1917 to independence in the Bengal Presidency. Also although one can foresee the climax of 1971, it stops half way. To be left without sufficient background and to be denied the final denouement might leave the average reader somewhat disoriented. This is the more so as the book is intended for the serious student who would already be acquainted with the broad trends. Historians do tend to go into such detail that their product has to be delivered in instalments. In this case however it may have been better to have given the saga of the entire existence of East Pakistan in one volume. The first version of the book was published in a journal in over 80 instalments. That format has carried over into the book with specific chapters devoted to various aspects of the class struggle. It does not appear as if the various groups really attempted to combine together into a concerted effort. Perhaps that was the weakness of the leftist political leadership. Certainly in India too the trade unions and most other workers and peasants organizations work under the umbrella of a ...


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