A Country Called Bangladesh

finding bangladeshIn the chronicles of the world, 1971 was an ordinary year. Few ripples here and there and that’s it. The world population rose by 2.1%, the highest increase in any single year. After years of negotiation between the industry and the government, the United States finally banned cigarette advertisements on radio and television. Seabed Treaty, a pact that outlawed nuclear weapons on the floors of oceans was agreed and signed by the three giants US, UK and USSR. San Francisco saw 125,000 people, while Washington, DC, witnessed 500,000 people protesting against the Vietnam War. Awards were given, lives were taken, peace was preached and science was terrorized. And for many who refused to be bothered-a country was fetched into existence.

Bangladesh, a typical ‘eastern’ country with little space and abundant people, came into being following years of neglect and discrimination on several terrains, predominantly political, economic, linguistic and ethnic. 1971 was thus the outcome of more blood and less sweat soaked hard work that had taken the form of popular agitation, widespread hullabaloo and soaring civil disobedience.

The birth of any great nation demands that people’s desire for a better future has enough strength to surpass all hardship and bloodshed that goes in the process. But perhaps what is more important is the need to recognize that liberation marks the mere beginning of a long and arduous journey. Only half the battle is won with the liberation of a country.

And so was the case with Bangladesh. The liberation war of Bangladesh came to an end with lofty hopes of a new beginning. 1971, that same year, hosted The Concert for Bangladesh, a charity concert in the New York City that entertained 40,000 people and thus reflected the hopes and aspirations that had engulfed the people wedding themselves to this newly born country. In the words of Ravi Shankar, co-organizer and performer: “In one day, the whole world knew the name of Bangladesh. It was a fantastic occasion…”

A lot has changed since that not so eventful year in Earth’s history. The world has come closer, people have drifted afar. And for Bangladesh, hope has played its own trumpet. For years the name of Bangladesh was visible in news only to highlight another failed attempt, another slow growth, another forgotten promise. After years of poverty, famine and political upheaval, the restoration of democracy in 1991 restored with it people’s faith in their country and through it, perhaps the faith in each other.

Today Bangladesh is much more than another densely populated country with frequent floods and famine. It is a country with a treasure trove of monuments, a sprawling history and a prestigious heritage. It is a small country that is home to three UNESCO world heritage sites including the world famous Mosque City of Bagerhat which houses more than 50 Islamic monuments and has got its citation in the Forbes magazine as one of the 15 lost cities of the world.

Identified as belonging to the Next Eleven Economies, Bangladesh holds the potential to become one of the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. 2010 saw the United Nations recognizing it as a major hub of progress in numerous spheres. This includes education, gender parity, energy production and employment amongst several others. Today Bangladesh is a country with an ambitious band of youth that is working hard towards achieving peace as is reflected from its role as the world’s largest contributor to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. A dazzling centre of cultural activities, it was the home of renowned poets like Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam which also adds to the reason why the world admires it for its impeccable reservoir in literature, arts, music, theatre, etc.

Now, with the established growth and the infantile lifespan, Bangladesh has put to question many previous doubts and misconceptions with accompanying indications towards all the grandeur that it is so determined to conquer.

Finding Bangladesh (documentary)
I think it was Jawaharlal Nehru, architect of modern India, who preached that citizenship consists in the service for the country. Kennedy reflected this in his words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. Although today’s globalized village might not be a breeding ground for sentimental values like this, a handful of young Bangladeshis are allured to exhibit to the world and perhaps to themselves that Bangladesh is much more than political unrest and poverty. It is a country with a timeless history and a majestic inheritance. “Finding Bangladesh is a documentary series to spread awareness regarding Bangladesh’s rich heritage, mesmerizing histories and perplexing mythologies.”

“We grumble and we complain; but life is so audaciously simple and marvelous that we often loose grasp of it. The life of Bangladesh is no different. We just have to make it grow.” –Adnan M. S. Fakir (director, Finding Bangladesh)

After producing an award-winning debut documentary the crew of Finding Bangladesh has gathered again to yield a second sequel. A bigger, better and a much thought-provoking documentary. However they need your help and support in this endeavor. Finding Bangladesh 2 which is all set to release in April 2014 will soon go live on Kickstarter and would need your hand to become reality. A great idea, a mammoth task and some rebellious people; the combination is perfect, now all they lack is your support!

-Megha Kalra

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