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Historical Origins Of Poverty In Bangladesh

1179 words - 5 pages

Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971 marked the beginning of a new era of history for the Bangali nation. Modernization will prove especially difficult because of the high level of poverty, population, and illiteracy caused by centuries of foreign rule and oppression (O’Donnell 1). To better understand the socioeconomic factors complicating modernization, an in-depth analysis of Bangladesh history in relation to geography, culture, and economics might prove beneficial. This essay will also synthesize information from various sources and provide an ethical discussion of societal injustice caused by British and Pakistani colonization.
The long history of Bangladesh can be divided ...view middle of the document...

As a result, the British reign was rife with political unrest and contempt of foreign control. Eventually, after much complicated political discourse, two separate states were granted independence from Britain in 1947: India and Pakistan. Bengal was split between the two nations (O’Donnell, 45).
Present day Bangladesh was so desirable for conquest because of its plentiful agricultural resources able to provide sustenance to a large army. The mouths of the Megnha, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra rivers are home to one of the largest river basins in the world. It is this lush, tropical landscape that allows Bangladesh to produce varied crops such as rice and jute (Novak, 17). Two thirds of the country, or approximately 22.5 million acres, is under cultivation and employs 45% of the country’s labor force. (O’Donnell, 14). The weather heavily influences what crops are grown and where. Three main seasons correspond to rainfall incidence and are widely recognized in the region. The rabi season is the driest, starting at the end of October and going into March or April. Commonly grown crops include wheat, vegetables, and tobacco. The bhadoi season, or the rainy season, is where aus paddy and jute are cultivated. However, it is in the final season, the Aghani, where the most important crop is grown of all: rice. Little else is grown in this season besides rice, making its success crucial to the country’s agricultural welfare (Johnson, 32).
Even with the vast agricultural resources available to the Bangladesh people, poverty, nutrient deficiencies, and undernutrition are widespread. Bangladesh has one of the highest population densities in the world, making per capita cultivated area very low – only 0.15 acres/person. Cereal grains, like rice and wheat, make up most of agricultural production. As a result, protein deficiencies can become severe and lead to kwashiorkor (Shrestha, 213). Strong family ties and a sense of community can mediate the ill effects of famine. However, in recent decades the population explosion has placed great strain on the extended family and made it impossible to bear the burden of its unemployed members (O’Donnell 17). If the United States were to have the same population density as Bangladesh, we would have to support and feed over four billion people. A life expectancy of 70.3 years is rather short compared to other westernized nations, indicating that poverty and hunger have a significant influence on overall health and wellbeing (Demographics; O’Donnell, 21) .
Economic disparity is also of concern in Bangladesh, since its roots stem from a long history of British and Pakistan control. Pakistan was split into East and West after its independence from Britain in 1945. East...

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