The Barua Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims as inversions?

By Razib Khan 9 Comments
Barua Temple

The Barua Buddhists of Bengal are often said to be indigenous and continuous practitioners of the Buddhist religion among ethnic Bengalis. That is, they descend from the Buddhist communities of Bengali that flourished during the Pala period, and went into decline during the Muslim period, to disappear on the whole. The claim here is to indigenous status.

The Rohingya, in contrast, often make assertions that they are deeply rooted in Arakan. And, they disavow identification as Bengalis. Their language is clearly closely related to that of Chittagong, and it is not usually written in the Bengali alphabet.

Though I am open to being disproven, over the years in my research on the “Barua”, it seems that in the vast majority of cases these “Bengali Buddhists” descend from Tibeto-Burman people who adopted the Bengali language (or a Bengali-related dialect) and settled in and around Bengalis. They are concentrated in the far Southeast of Bangladesh, and often the boundary between themselves as the Theravada Buddhist Chakma, who retain tribal identity but now mostly speak Bengali, is fluid. The Barua are now Theravada Buddhists, which is the tradition of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and not ancient Bengal.

So basically what I’m saying is this: Buddhist tribal people from the east have assimilated into a Bengali identity, and claimed indigeneity through asserting affiliation with the small Barua ethno-religious group. Meanwhile, in Arakan, peasants who migrated over the last few hundred years from southeast Bengal, have rejected assimilation into the Bengali identity, unified around the standard high culture dialect, and created something distinct.

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Citizenship Amendment Act – the straw that broke the camel’s back

By GauravL 141 Comments

Since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which culminated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, nothing has polarized Indian politics and society as much the Citizenship Amendment Act. On its own, its fair to assume that CAA is not  a particularly insidious piece of legislature, but when it gets combined with National Register of Citizens (NRC) as explained by Amit Shah below, it becomes some to be vary of.

As Amit Shah stated, CAB(A) will be applied before carrying out the process of NRC. In his own words, the refugees(non Muslim migrants) will be granted citizenship and the infiltrators (Muslim migrants – he also referred to them as termites at one instance) will be thrown out or prosecuted (there was some talk of throwing them into the Bay of Bengal).

Its clear to conclude that by refugees – he means Bangladeshi Muslims who reside illegally in India as almost no Muslims from Pakistan and Afghanistan come to India illegally with an intention a  better life. (When they do cross the LOC illegally, they’re treated as enemy combatants or terrorists)

The ACT: 

The instrumental part of the act reads

any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act

While this amendment to the ACT is seen as problematic, one must point out that large portions of the existing ACT are also extremely problematic – most of which were added after 1955 under various governments at various times. In particular the 1986 amendment (under Rajiv Gandhi) – which meant children born to both illegal immigrants wouldn’t get citizenship. This is seen as a contradiction with the Birthright naturalization (Jus soli ) principle of the Constitution. The 2003 amendment (under Vajpayee) further restricted citizenship to children, when either of their parents is an illegal immigrant.

The 2003 amendment also prevented illegal immigrants from claiming naturalization by some other legal means. So in short with the CAA 2019, this particular amendment (2003) has been annulled for Non Muslims who have come to Indian sovereign land from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In other words, the CAA facilitates the imagination of India as the natural homeland of subcontinental Non-Muslims (but not a Hindu Rashtra or Hindu State).

Objective Reasons for opposing the CAA:

Continue reading “Citizenship Amendment Act – the straw that broke the camel’s back”

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Why did so many BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) voted Tory? (a)

By AnAn 4 Comments

This is a follow up to:

Why did so many BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) voted Tory?

It appears that Jews, Indian and African Britons abandoned Labour in droves and voted for other political parties. Would be curious to learn who they voted for. Suspect many voted for the Liberal Democrats.

As described by Veedu Vidz in the above previous Brown Pundit post, moderate muslims also appear to have abandoned Labour en mass. Who did moderate muslims vote for?

Are there any English exit polls? [Updated with this exit poll hat trip Ali Choudhury.] Do we know how Pakistani Britons, Bangladeshi Britons, Indian musiim Britons, muslim Britons in general voted?

In the above conversation it was implied that minorities and people of color in USA vote Democrat. My response is that in America Asian Americans and Latino Americans are “swing voters” not wedded to either party. Black African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat. However, I think President Trump will likely do a lot better with the Black African American vote in 2020 than he did in 2016.

From page 26 of the exit poll provided by Ali Choudhury, we can see the following:

  • Labour lost only nine percentage points of the BAME vote
  • Conservative Tories gained only one percentage point in additional BAME voters
  • Liberal Democrats gained only six percentage point in additional BAME voters
  • Other political parties gained two percentage points of additional BAME voters

Labour–if these exit polls are not contradicted by other exit polls–did FAR better in 2019 among BAME voters than I thought (and that many political commentators thought). To my surprise the Liberal Democrats only gained six percentage points of BAME voters (for 12% total) and the Conservative Tories only gained one percentage point in additional BAME voters.

My new question is why did the overwhelming vast majority of BAME Britons vote for Jeremy Corbyn? Why did so few BAME Britons vote Liberal Democrat?

Did the moderate muslim Britons almost universally vote for Jeremy Corbyn? If so, why? Would love to hear from Veedu Vidz and Rakib Ehsan.

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Why did so many BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) voted Tory?

By AnAn 49 Comments

Another amazing podcast from Veedu Vidz–heartthrob of England. {Sisters, he is already owned by Mimzy and unavailable. Sorry.}

Start watching from 25 minutes in. Some take-aways:

  • Chinese earn the most per hour of any group in Britain.
  • Indians earn the second most of any group in Britain. {Chinese continue to economically outperform Indians globally and in Britain.}
    • Do Chinese and Indians really earn more per hour than English Jews? I am skeptical. What is beyond all doubt is that British caucasians are massively academically and socio-economically under performing Jews, Chinese and Indians.
  • The sample sizes for Chinese and Indian Britons is too small to know how they voted for certain. But it is possible that Chinese, Indian, Sikh Buddhist Hindu and moderate muslim Indians voted against Jeremy Corbyn in part because of Corbyn’s close alliance with conservative Sunni and Islamist groups.
  • Before 2019, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Britons  use to heavily vote for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour.
    • Brown Pundit favorite Sajid Javid has received a lot of abuse for being a muslim Tory.
  • Tory Priti Patel (who I just heard about for the first time) has also received a lot of abuse.
    • (Is part of the English anger at Priti Patel jealousy over the socio-economic success of Indians? Given how many Indian Britons vote Tory, how can it be because of that?)
    • Priti Patel wants a point based (merit based) immigration system. (Why is this controversial among caucasian English people?)
  • There is a great deal of diversity among the British muslim population
  • Veedu Vidz says that Boris Johnson is anti everyone who is not Boris Johnson.
  • 38 minutes in discusses deep anti Jewish bigotry on the part of English caucasians, the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn.
    • comes from the far left
    • comes from the far right
    • need to focus a lot more on muslim anti Jewish bigotry
  • 43 minutes in, many working class caucasian and BAME voters probably are voting Tory in part because they are so scared of being accused of racism by their representatives for asking questions.
  • 46 minutes in, Labour has lost its moral legitimacy on racism, bigotry and sectarianism. Labour and the BMP are the only two parties in English history to be investigated by the Equality and Human Rights commission for misconduct.
  • 58 minutes in, many poor and working class caucasian britons have suffered from globalization and have no privilege at all. Labour should stop accusing them of having non-existent privilege.
  • 60 minutes, many Labour try to blame the world’s social ills on Britain. (I am stunned that this still happens. England has been falling apart for generations and is in many ways more backwards than many of her former colonies. Talk about delusions of grandeur.)
  • 63 minutes in Veedu asks if Hindus have an advantage over muslims in Britain.

My questions:

  • I get why many Britons felt they could not vote for Corbyn and Labour. Why didn’t more vote Liberal Democrat?
  • Can anyone send me an exit poll with granular detail on 2019 UK voting patterns?

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Update 1:

Maajid Nawaz Gob-smacks Corbyn and says Corbyn beat Corbyn.

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Update 2:

Katie Hopkins is a Member of the Tory party and is trying hard to create an alliance between the UK and India (and presumably the Dharmic world more generally). The alliance would focus on resisting:

  • Globalism (which she mostly defines as post modernist wokeness, perhaps combined with pro business free markets to a lesser degree)
  • Islamism
  • Feminism (by which I think she means third wave woke post modernist intersectional femnism)

To simplify, I think she mostly means post modernism and Islamism. She appears to think the Europe will divide into Islamist hamlets and non Islamist hamlets. And that Europe and the world as a whole needs India’s and America’s help to survive.

Could the UK government pursue an alliance with India focused on post modernism and Islamism? Could this end any remaining Indian sensitivity about being colonized by the UK? Is this being facilitated by Indian Britons and perhaps muslim Indian Britons leaving the Labour party?

Sham Sharma has speculated that Indian Americans could wholesale flip to the Republican Party similar to the flip of Indian Britons between 2017 and 2019? Could this really happen?

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Update 3:

It is possible that British Asian, African, ethnic minority, poor and lower middle class European ancestry voters were scared about anti Jewish bigotry:

As a side note, the UK has very different issues than the USA. For example UK students perform far better in math than Americans. 13% scored 5 or higher in the 2018 OECD PISA test, compared to 8% of Americans.  Immigrants appear to slightly academically underperform non-immigrant Brits across reading, science and math, although mathematical performance  was not provided. The definition of “disadvantaged students” in the report was unclear.  Between 2009 and 2018 the number of immigrant students has risen from 11% to 20%. One third of immigrant students are “disadvantaged students.” Math results for England have been rising over time and girls sharply outscored boys in mathematics, science and reading.

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Update 4:

According to Nimco Ali (patriotic Briton who happens to have Somali muslim ancestry) most African Britons vote Tory. She is a leading campaigner against female genetic mutilation and says that Tory leaders, Tory moderate muslims and Tory Indians (Priti Patel ) are backing her. Nimco also fights for muslim woman to have the right not to wear the hijab, and again says that she gets support from many Tory leaders, Tory moderate muslims and Tory Indians (Priti Patel ). She is very aspirational. She says that in Britain the aspirational BAME are African Britons and Indian Britons. Both back the Tories. The less aspirational Britons are Pakistanis and they tend to support Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. I am guessing that Bangladeshis are in the middle.

I wonder why more African Britons don’t vote Liberal Democrat. My main man Maajid Nawaz is Liberal Democrat. I get why African Britons don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

Nimco Ali says that Briton has recently prosecuted several muslim Britons for female genetic mutilation of children. Until recently no Briton was prosecuted for female genetic mutilation. About a tenth of mothers giving birth to children in many British hospitals have had FGM. Kudos to Boris Johnson, Brown Pundit favorite Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and other Britons for trying to end FGM!

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DoubleQuoting Myanmar and Assam..

By Charles Cameron 1 Comment

It’s the first quote that carries the implication of genocide, but what of the rest?

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It’s not a joke, is it? Myanmar..

The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention warns of certain indicators that “provide an environment conducive to the commission of atrocity crimes,” including “increased politicization of identity” and discriminatory “measures or legislation” targeting protected groups. In addition to certain prohibited acts, such as killing members of a group, genocidal States often use legal and administrative tools to facilitate the destruction of a targeted group “in whole or in part.”

In Myanmar, successive governments have implemented measures and legislation to erase Rohingya Muslims’ identity and rights, creating an enabling environment for genocide.

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It’s not a joke, is it? Assam..

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today expressed his concern over the publication of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that may put large numbers of people in India’s north-eastern state of Assam at risk of becoming stateless.

It is too early to say what the nationality status of those left off the National Register, some 1.9 million according to the authorities, may ultimately be. UNHCR is concerned, however, that many are at risk of statelessness if they do not possess another nationality.

**

That’s a DoubleQuote — but it’s also pattern recognition, and the start of a possible concatenation of such quotes — a mala of urgencies.

BTW, it’s more than possible, as Myanmar >> Bangladesh migration illustrates, that mass migration across national borders may be a pragmatic alternative to genocide — but that threatens national sovereignty, doesn’t it?

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Back to Bangladesh after five years- Part 2

By Shafiq R 12 Comments

In this part I write about some of the interesting changes I saw in the villages of Bangladesh during my stay there. I wrote this as an op-ed in a local daily.

[I am very interested to know from Brown Pundit readers of other South Asian countries about changes in rural society and economy from direct experiences. Particularly interesting would be to know if there are variations among countries]

 

Earlier this year, I came back to Bangladesh after an absence of more than five years, and stayed for more than a month.

During the stay, I had the opportunity to visit rural and small-town parts of the country in two forays out of Dhaka. A visit to my ancestral home in the northern parts and another to the southwestern parts. These visits were my first into rural Bangladesh after more than a decade. Therefore, they provided very stark experiences of the rapid but gradual change that has been occurring for several decades.

The first thing that caught my eye was how drastically the utilization of resources has increased over the last decade. A decade or so ago, in Northern parts, you would mostly see cultivated fields expanding miles to the distant horizon. Now, people have planted so many trees everywhere that it almost gave me a claustrophobic feel.

Every pond is utilized for fish production and every square metre of the land is cultivated for year-round value addition. Bangladesh is, reputedly, among the leading developing countries with the fastest agricultural productivity growth in the last two decades. The dramatic physical transformation of the village landscape is clearly strong evidence of that growth.

I saw yet another striking change in the transportation scene. A decade ago, manually driven rickshaws and rickshaw-vans were ubiquitous. Now I could mostly see electric and mechanized transports. It seemed to me that people in the village were now looking down upon manual transports as archaic. Also, I rarely saw buffaloes and oxen traditionally used for plowing the fields — tractors and power-tillers had taken over that role.

What are the reasons for such remarkable growth in rural productivity and economy? Undoubtedly government policies and infrastructure development played important roles, but I believe that one of the biggest drivers of this change is unappreciated but right before our eyes. In the villages, I saw everybody with mobile phones and phone-related service shops everywhere.

Economists in the last decade have begun to appreciate the transformative role mobile phones and the internet have been playing in the developing world. Unlike previous models, where heavy government investment in communications infrastructure was critical in economic development, mobile infrastructures grew almost entirely because of the private sector, and brought far greater connectivity with far fewer costs.

Developing countries went from less than 1-2 landlines per hundred people to 70-80 mobile connections per hundred in just 20 years. The poorest people in villages are now able to talk with anybody in the country, but also send and receive payments and access the internet and government services through mobile phones.

People in villages are using phones to be constantly updated about prices of agricultural inputs and outputs and get the best deals possible in the market. The increased competition and undercutting of middlemen have increased efficiency greatly. Coordinating all kinds of complex tasks, like contracting day labourers for planting or harvesting, have become much easier.

But there is a flip side to agricultural productivity growth that has taken place all over the world. Prices of easily tradable products like grains, consumer oil, milk products have been low for more than a decade and that low price has hit small farmers the hardest.

Like everywhere in the world, small farmers of bulk products like rice in Bangladesh can only be economically sustainable by massive government support. However, unlike India and other developing democracies, farmers in Bangladesh have little political power, as there are no competitive elections. I do not think the government in Bangladesh is as sensitive about rural unrest as it is about urban discontent.

Paradoxically, in spite of the economic and productive growth, I found the villages to be much less populated than they were 10 years ago. Like everywhere in the world, I think Bangladesh also is experiencing rural depopulation, and this will only accelerate in the future. I think the main reason is that people are reluctant to live in actual villages. Like everywhere, people aspire to live in more complex societies with more modern services.

Those who are able, move to upazilla towns where there are schools, banks, hospitals, police stations. More better-offs move to zilla cities, and the most propertied go to Dhaka and Chittagong. Village girls probably also think that working in a mind-numbing factory job for subsistence wage in a big city is preferable to the daily monotony of a village household.

Finally, one of the most inspiring sights I saw in villages was young girls riding huge motorbikes as part of their daily commute to work or study, a sight you rarely see even in America. I think that the prospect of Islamization of Bangladesh society is exaggerated. People of Bangladesh are very religious, and religious identity is very important for them. However, they are also very aware that religious and secular activities belong to different spheres, and they are not letting religion dictate their economic life.

The pragmatic and opportunistic nature of Bangladeshi people has been the saving grace of a country facing immense structural hurdles right from its birth. Nowhere is this more evident than its rapidly changing villages.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/op-ed/2019/06/07/how-the-landscape-has-changed

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Back to Bangladesh after five years- Part 1

By Shafiq R 45 Comments

I went to visit Bangladesh from early April to mid-May after more than five years. For five years I have written about Bangladesh from secondary sources and secondary experiences. At long last I can write about my fist-hand experience.

I stayed most of the time in the capital city Dhaka. In recent years South Asian megalopolises like Dhaka, Delhi, Karachi, Mumbai have earned reputations as the cities with worst air pollutions in the world. Living in Dhaka’s unbearable pre-Monsoon heat, humidity, dust and particles thick air, I can well understand what do those pollution measures mean for the people. For the bulk of masses who are not fortunate to live in air-conditioned houses, work in air-conditioned offices and commute in air-conditioned cars, buses, Dhaka is truly an urban hell-scape. There is a popular saying among Dhaka’s suffering commuters stuck for hours in oven hot roads; citizens of Dhaka will be forgiven the dreaded ‘Adhab-al qabr’ or punishment of the grave that is supposed to be fate of all persons from death till Qyiamat, the day of judgement. Dhakaites suffer so much that the Adhab pales in comparison.

Although air pollution has become much worse, city roads and walkways have become cleaner and more well maintained. Parts of the massive revenue collection by both city corporation and government are really being used to maintain the infrastructure. Trash collection has become more organized . Piles of rotting garbage and constant stench are no longer ubiquitous.

Mercifully powercuts in electricity, so common in Bangladesh until 8-10 years ago, seem to be very rare now. Diesel generators reverberating throughout the city, a very common sight and sound of yesteryears, are rarely seen and heard now.  In fact, a recent news report said that Bangladesh installed so much power generation capacity in the recent years that capacity has outstripped demand substantially. Experts are recommending that no new power plants be initiated in the next few years. Uninterrupted power supply has made the industries, particularly Garments industries, very happy.

However, the top 10% Dhakaites are living very differently than the rest. Fantastic high-rise apartments and office buildings have sprouted all over the cities. Glass and steel clad apartments and offices remind people more of the spotless splendor of Singapore than traditional dirt of South Asia. New BMWs, Lexus, Toyota cars and SUVs clog the city streets. However, apart from home, office, cars and eateries, there is very little things to do socially in Dhaka for the upper class. That’s why they escape to foreign spots like Bangkok, Bali, Malayasia, Singapore, Dubai, Sri Lanka, India etc several times a year. Bangladesh is the supplier of highest number of tourists in India. Bangladeshi shoppers are significant boosters of Kolkata economy. Several Bangladeshi tourists were among the dead and wounded in the recent Sri Lanka terrorist attack.

The top businesspeople, professionals and government employees are doing great in Bangladesh. Their income has soared in the last decade. Signs of their affluence is everywhere in the cities. People working in banks and finance, telecommunication sectors are doing OK. The middle class is not doing so great. Shockingly, I found that private sector salaries have barely changed in the last ten years but house rent, essential prices have increased at least 100% in the last ten years. Economists say that a living wage in Dhaka, minimum wage for a two person family to keep their body and soul together under a roof, is 17000 Taka or about 200 dollars per month. Starting salaries for college, university graduates not working in choice sectors like banks or telecom are still below the living wage. Garments workers earn 80 to 150 dollars, from starting to experienced. It’s hard to imagine the life of the lower-middle and working class in Dhaka.

In the second part, I will discuss my very startling experience of change and prosperity in the rural areas. In the third part, I will talk about my impression of the state of economy and politics.

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From basket-case to garment superpower

By Razib Khan 40 Comments

This article seems to use Bangladesh as a prop to beat Pakistan’s governing class over the head, Beg, borrow, repeat: Pakistan’s IMF addiction continues even as its finance minister leaves. It’s a pretty strange thing in 2019. In the 20th-century Bangladesh was known for the early 1970s famine, as well as periodic catastrophic floods.

A minimal amount of research will show that it’s not all roses in Bangladesh. There are huge governance issues, overreliance on textiles is probably not a good long-term optimum, and human capital accumulation may not keep up with the shifts toward a high-technology 21st-century economy (most of the world’s population will have to face this though).

So here is the weird thing I want to note: this blog gets about 10x more traffic from Pakistan than Bangladesh. And, it gets 100x more traffic from India than Bangladesh. This blog gets more readers from Singapore than Bangladesh!

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