The New Horizon

A new world explored with a rational view

An Indian’s view of Bangladesh : part 1

with 41 comments

I had a chance to visit Bangladesh in the last month. What I am writing are only my personal views and opinions, not a generic one. I will write up all those in a few parts.

From my childhood I had a wish to see the country where from my father is. Also, I had a lot of questions, especially about the major differences between West Bengal and Bangladesh. I got the chance to fulfill the dream last month. Despite political problems, I had gathered sufficient view about Bangladesh and most of those are positive in my judgment.

The Initial Clearance
The journey started with a few stumbles as Bangladesh Embassy first refused to grant me the Visa till I personally meet them. It was almost impossible for me since I was at Hyderabad and somebody has to get it on behalf of me to save a valuable day. The reason was not clear to me, but after a little persuasion, we got it. Next, the GMG Airlines booked tickets for us without informing us that the flight was going via Chittagong and will take a couple of hours. We discovered it only after looking at the tickets.

The Journey to Dhaka
I, along with my wife chose to fly to Dhaka with a GMG Airlines flight. When our flight left Kolkata airport for Chittagong, I had no idea even how Bangladesh looks like from the flight. The experience with the flight was not that great except the delicious foods. The air-hostess welcomed us with “Salam Alaikum … Allah-hu-Akbar”, something that signified that I am entering a different country. The bird’s eye view of the country from 1500m is of a lash green field, disconnected by muddy water rivers. You can see all possible curves of rivers in Bangladesh and all possible shapes of deltas from the sky. The place where Meghna river flows into the Bay of Bengal is so huge that it took around 10 minutes to fly pass that. After the calmest sea shore, a thin beach, and a few poor houses, we landed into Chittagong International Airport. After landing it was tough for me to believe that it is an International Airport. Our small flight of GMG Airlines having 10 passengers was the only one present in the huge area allocated to the airport. A small transit lounge with Bengali speaking guards welcomed us in the airport.

After watching the ICC Champions’ Trophy match between England and Australia for about 10 minutes, we moved on to the Dhaka bound flight along with 25 odd passengers. Before landing to Dhaka, I possibly realized the first truth about Bangladesh – it is a Dhaka-centric country. Looking at the skyscrapers and the roads, Dhaka is comparable to any other international city. Dhaka is certainly comparable to, or may be even better than all four metro cities of India in terms of concrete buildings and roads. Dhaka Airport is huge, and is bigger than most (may be all) of the Indian Airports. I wish all major Indian cities will have a better second airport than this – let’s hope for the best for Shamsabad(Hyderabad) Airport to come in 2007-08.

The difference between Dhaka and Chittagong is really pathetic, and asked me a question – if such is the difference between the country’s first and second major cities – what can be the differences between the rich and the poor and also the urban and the rural people? Isn’t a decentralized mechanism should be in place for a country that’s trying to eradicate the poverty? Six different divisions with six assemblies and autonomies to the divisions to some extent might have produced less number of skyscrapers in Dhaka, but a few more in other cities. Developing a few more cities parallel to Dhaka should be critical to Bangladesh’s people. Let me leave this debate to my Bangladeshi friends and proceed further.

A few days later when my parents along with my sister came to Dhaka, they came via direct flight and hence were overwhelmed by Dhaka. It seemed to me, that a hopping flight via Chittagong gave me better insights of the country and I thanked GMG Airways for that.

First Sight
The Dhaka Airport gave me an impression that it’s not at all an alien land. Everything is written in Bengali and everybody is speaking in Bengali – may be in a different dialect – is really nice to watch. The day I reached, was the last Saturday before the Eid, at the time of Iftaar. There were several people having their Namaaz on the floor of the lounge – the only difference visible in an Indian eye. The lounges are big compared to the Indian Airports, where we almost have to jostle our way. The human traffic was also very low compared to Indian ones. The air-traffic in India picked up during last few years thanks to the cheap domestic airlines in India.

On the Roads
Busy roads of Dhaka were very similar to those of Indian cities. The last weekend of Eid had drawn less crowd on the roads. The roads of Dhaka are broad, but fail to take the huge crowd who come from all over Bangladesh. A few days later, during the Eid, the crowds almost vanished. It showed up, unlike Indian cities, Dhaka has much less urban-mined people. And most of the inhabitants are first or second generation urban dwellers. Having a strong tie with the village home, most of them get back to meet their kins to the village during Eid. In India the scenario is quite different. For example, during Makara Sankranti/Ugaadi, most of Telugu speaking people of Hyderabad go back to their villages but the non-Telugu people stay back to keep the traffic alive. Bangladesh, unlike India, is a homogeneous country and most of the people follow the same outfit, religion, language and most of other cultural parameters, except the deeply polarized political attitude.

The influx of villagers towards Dhaka is also something similar in India, although there has been a improved situation in South India. I remember both Nehru and Gandhi were very eager for rural development since it would allow cities to develop and stop villagers to take shelter in cities for every second reason. It seems, Bangladesh, along with India, failed to achieve it miserably. In my view, rural development is the need of an hour for Bangladesh because of the high percentage of village or semi-urban people in the country.

What’s Next
Next I would write up something about the culture, tv programs and common people.

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Written by Diganta

November 6, 2006 at 9:08 am

Posted in Bangladesh, Travel

41 Responses

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  1. You are right on the Dhaka centric developments. As a pure Dhakaia I enjoy the period of Eid holidays most, when the traffic is the least.

    Dhaka simply cannot take the pressure of so many people. Its high time the government should take steps like transferring the governing capital to a nearby city e.g. Gazipur or Savar thus shifting a lot of people.

    Rezwan

    November 7, 2006 at 4:40 pm

  2. I think I was talking about zonal decetralization and not about expanding Dhaka – please spend a few minutes on this.

    Diganta

    November 8, 2006 at 6:54 am

  3. Hi, Greetings. Great insights, are you going to post some pics as well? Looking forward for your “What’s Next” section.

    rebel

    November 18, 2006 at 5:04 am

  4. can we see some photos of Dhaka?

    Anonymous

    February 15, 2007 at 9:48 pm

  5. diganta we all need indian/bengali friends like u who actually are ready to see the both sides of the coin, not like just many indian and our newspapers who just are creating more misunderstanding between us.

    anyway, i also follow the indian perception about bangladesh and sometimes find it funny. come on mate, you already visited bangladesh and probably already know that we are not terrorists, not economically far behind indians as the indian media is trying to potray us.

    Anonymous

    February 25, 2007 at 2:54 am

  6. for photos of dhaka visit skyscrapercity-asian skyscraper-asia general.
    regards, sayem

    Anonymous

    February 25, 2007 at 2:55 am

  7. It is good to read about your time in Dhaka.

    About your views on Chittagong, I think you are not in the best position to judge the city just from the impression you have obtained during your transit at the airport and the aerial views from the aircraft. If you ask around, people would tell you chittagong is a city that is hundred times better than dhaka in terms of pollution, population and greenery, whilst at the same time having broad roads, beauitful beaches and being as modern as dhaka in all respects. Chittagong does not have as many skyscrapers as dhaka does, but unfortunately that is changing, as new buildings are popping up everywhere, which is going to damage the beauty of ctg in the long run unfortunately. From traditional bengali eateires to American cafes, from Indian to Thai, from golf resorts to tennis camps, from beaches to lush green hills, Chittagong is possibly the best city of Bangladesh, with the urban flair of any developing city yet having the mystical beauty of rural Bangladesh.

    I do hope you shall personally visit Ctg one day and have a look for yourself. I certainly shall soon enough!

    Anonymous

    June 23, 2007 at 12:21 pm

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    yunus

    October 14, 2007 at 10:50 pm

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    October 21, 2007 at 9:52 pm

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    Janice Serrano

    April 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm

  11. You think if bangladesh ‘ll ever be ready to rejoin the Union Of India?I think it would be best for all of us if such a thing happens.

    Ashawadi

    August 18, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    • We feel proud to become Bangladeshi as an independent nation in the world. There is point to join India.

      Dinar

      June 28, 2011 at 7:21 am

  12. I don’t think it’d be good. So, let’s refrain from thinking what’s imaginary. Also, I believe we can try to merge the whole world to be a single country. Why don’t we push for that?

    Diganta

    August 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm

  13. you indian bengalis should join bangladesh and try to create a secular nation based on language and culture.Whats the matter with you guys you have been brain washed by the so called indianists.

    JOY

    October 24, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    • I am a kolkata bengali.. i agree with this. A country should be formed on the basis of language and culture. If this happens at all , at any time in distant future, then it will be one thing that is bound to shake india for good. These b###rd congress party always divide bengalis. Still now they are trying to agitate gorkhaland, cochbehar issues to create divide. The thing is indian central leadership dont want bengalis to unite, coz they know if this happens then Bengalis will be the most powerfull race in this world.

      ” JOY BANGLA ” !!!!

      Angshuk Nag

      September 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

      • u must be a freaky communal bengali mullah i think..go to hell with those overpopulated regions..in bengal food demands r met by fci..bengal is not capable to feed his own people..& u talking about most powerful race in world..what a joke……………….

        jogi

        November 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        • You hear that both Bengals?

          This Indian paan-wala thinks you guys can’t handle the stakes! He’s saying that if Bangladesh organized a Commonwealth Games, it would be even worse than the 2010 one!

          Are you guys just going to listen to that and take it?

          BoroLokh

          November 30, 2013 at 11:17 pm

  14. I feel bad when I found that the outside world knows so less about our beloved city. Dhaka is my heart.

    ashik

    April 28, 2009 at 9:01 am

  15. JOY, did you know that the Indian independence movement was spearheaded by Subashchandra Bose, a proud Bengali? West Bengali people are proud to be an integral and one of the major parts of the Indian nation.

    West Bengalis dont hate Bangladesh but we are weary of illegal immigrants from your country – they are causing problems in our economy and live in destitute conditions.

    So to conclude, I prefer the status quo. If you understood, you would too. Bangladesh was always part of India in history and the Libyan leader Mr Gadaffi said you should unify with us to save your people from flooded areas. However, I disagree with him. The migratory problems would be huge.

    PS: Diganta – Bangladesh isn’t entirely homogenous. In Sylhet, the Sylheti language is spoken and various mixes of languages such as Chakma are spoken in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

    Shanth

    July 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    • My point is it is much more homogeneous than India and probably than West Bengal too.

      Diganta

      July 23, 2010 at 7:46 pm

  16. Mr. Diganta, Have you observed peoples mentality between the two country. The great difference between Bangladeshi and Indian people is the mentality- Bangladesh people are broad minded but most of the Indians are very narrow minded (kripon). Bangladesh people are hos-pitiable and spend luxurious life more than Indians.
    Dhaka is beautiful more than any other city in India.

    Dinar

    June 28, 2011 at 7:17 am

    • It’s nice to see that you love your country and city. However, it would have been nicer if you would have refrained from stereotyping others. India is a billion people country and even if you spend a minute to understand one, you won’t be able to finish within your lifetime.

      Diganta

      June 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

      • ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
        Diganta posted: ☛ …it would have been nicer if you would have refrained from stereotyping others. India is a billion people country and even if you spend a minute to understand one, you won’t be able to finish within your lifetime.
        ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

        Dinar was talking about averages. Ultimately, we can only go by what we see. If every Indian we meet runs up and down the street, jumping around making chimp noises, we will think that Indians are monkeys. This does not mean, of course, that all Indians are monkeys. It’s a generalization based on observed behaviours. That’s where stereotypes come from.

        Similarly, if the vast majority of Indians we interact with behave like kripons, then that’s the general impression we will get of them.

        Zubal

        December 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm

        • Then I am sure you haven’t interacted with enough Indians :).

          Diganta

          May 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    • @Dinar Don’t be Judgmental. People like you are the curse of any nation because the way you approach people it would certainly create more hostile people than friends and what is the point of making enemies if you can have an opportunity to make friends and live in peace? The author of this article is a gentleman that is why he has said much of the good stuff about Dhaka. Indians commit far less corruption than BD peeps get that straight ok? Be humble towards all and this is what you will get in return. I am a proud Bangladeshi.

      web ranking results

      March 3, 2012 at 6:53 am

    • You are correct sir that Indian people are kripons. But you are wrong in holding that against them. A man can only know as much as he has been taught ▬ and if he is taught little, then that means he knows that much less, too.

      Instead of being harsh, you should enlighten people [namely, these murkho Indian kripons] with your greater Bangladeshi sensibility. You should not bemoan Indian kripons. You should be celebrating your opportunities at educating them.

      No doubt, this will prove an immense task, at first. A thick armour is difficult to penetrate. The armoured wall of ignorance especially so. But penetrate you must. For that is the only way to set mental slaves free. Like Pavlov’s puppies, the best way to approach this initially will be to learn by association. For that, they require an appropriate master.

      The question is ▬ Are you up to the challenge, Dinar?

      BoroLokh

      November 30, 2013 at 11:28 pm

  17. Great article. 🙂

    Bollywood Chat

    November 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

  18. Dhaka is beautiful.

  19. Nice article! As a Bangladeshi, I hope one day our countries will set aside politics and just be friendly. I have many many close friends in Houston from India and the funny thing is the moment you leave your country all the stereotyping and hatred goes away. We should have stronger ties with India specially with West Bengal since we are both same ethnic type and same people who shares the love for Hilsha 🙂

    Mustafa, Houston, TX, USA

    April 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    • I am a bangladeshi, but India is a better country, people are more tolerant, there is more security than dhaka

      hasan

      May 24, 2012 at 7:05 am

      • Then why r you in BD. just go to India, your fatherland. You do not deserve Bangladesh.

        asif

        April 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm

        • Hahahahahahaha!

          BoroLokh

          November 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm

        • He just expressed an opinion and you proved his point of India being more tolerant.

          Jareen

          April 1, 2015 at 6:39 pm

  20. Where’s the next portion of this?

    cryptic

    November 30, 2013 at 5:27 am

    • With the response I got, I didn’t think of writing any more. I’ll write more as I make my third visit.

      Diganta

      May 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm

  21. hello, i couldnt find your name.
    you wrote a nice piece of your experience and its all true. but I was really looking for a details on how indians think about bangladeshis. you wrote that its your personal view, but I hardly found critic about the whole observation . its may be you are a kind man who cant just write anything that is judged without wisdom and goodness inside. though I will request you to write sonething about Bangladeshis attitude, thingking, positive or negative sides. it will help learning why Indians usually hate us.

    Md.Maidul Islam

    May 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    • That would be a good project. There are fundamentally three kinds of “hate” among Indians –
      1) Because they are Muslims (predominantly all over India), corollary – they are the second Pakistan.
      2) Because they are Big brothers (predominantly in North East)
      3) We were with them once and that was not a happy relationship (West Bengal).

      On top of this, there are some Political agenda and lack of knowledge/exposure plays a big part in it too. The whole “illegal immigrants” thing being posted all over Indian political campaigns does much of value/truth. The “second Pakistan” has little truth in it and most of the Bangladeshi population has nothing in similarity with a Pakistani, nor they like Pakistanis as much as a typical Indian think.

      The only valid point an Indian can raise is that India or Indian contribution in 1971 is not largely recognized in Bangladesh. But the other side of this picture doesn’t look well also.

      Interestingly these three would probably also figure in top three reasons why Bangladeshis hate India as well.

      Diganta

      May 12, 2014 at 9:23 pm

  22. If Bangladesh is Dhaka centric I can say India is Mumbai-Delhi-Bangalore-Chennai-Kolkata centric. Have you ever though that Indian population is roughly 9 times the size of BD and the country area is mpre than 20 times bigger. So obviously India is dependant on 5- 6 big cities for its commerce. With in Bd is no different. Have you been to London cenric UK Moscow centric Russia or Istanbul centric Turkey? No you have not

    Axia

    November 11, 2014 at 5:00 am

    • Oh lord, its not like he was judging! he was just pointing something out. I am from Dhaka and it is defiantly Dhaka centric and that okay, but we also need to look at developing other cities.

      Jareen

      April 1, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    • I’m not sure if there’s something wrong to be Dhaka-centric. It’s absolutely fine if people are happy with it. Getting things done is more important than how it’s been done.

      Diganta

      April 6, 2015 at 8:56 pm


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