Vol. 5 Num 1104 Mon. July 09, 2007  
Letters to Editor

A foreign ruler?

I carefully read the informative piece "The Battle of Palashi" by Faruque Hasan on June 24, 2007. I thank the writer for providing us with valuable information. However, his conclusion is based on a fundamentally wrong premise.

A foreign ruler is not necessarily the one who has a foreign origin. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian born who rules California now. Americans aren't calling him a foreign ruler just because he was born outside America. Nicolas Sarkozy, son of a Hungarian fleeing the communism state, is now the French president. French voters did not consider him a foreign ruler. When Sonia Gandhi of Italian origin was about to become the prime minister of India, Indians did not consider her as a foreign ruler, except for the ultra zealous Hindu fanatics.

Defining someone as a foreign ruler because of ethnic origin is racial thinking at best.

So what defines foreign rulers? "It's the economy stupid". Despite having foreign origins Sarkozy, Schwarzenegger, Sonia Gandhi pledged their allegiance to their adopted countries. They don't serve any masters in the countries of their origin; they are not systematically draining massive wealth from these countries. As a ruler of "Sube Bangla" Sirajuddaulah was born in Patna, Bihar, a city in Sube Bangla. He was neither foreign-born nor a foreign ruler of "Sube Bangla". The Nawab had his treasury in Murshidabad and never drained massive wealth to a foreign land. On the contrary, East India Company systematically drained massive wealth from Bengal to England, their masters were in England. A section of Hindus termed Siraj cruel, inexperienced, unworthy and another foreign ruler as long as they were in the fallacy that British were serving their economic interests against Muslims. The widespread famine and poverty caused by colossal drainage of wealth gave birth to massive anti-British movements. Consequently, Bengali Hindus looked for a different hero (Siraj) against the British villains.

On the other hand, native rulers can be foreign too when they serve foreign masters and drain enormous wealth from the country. Following the battle of Palashi and gaining control over "Sube Bangla" Clive and his men looted the treasury and sent shiploads of wealth to England. After winning the 2001 election, the BNP leaders plundered the country and transferred planeloads of wealth and billions of dollars to foreign countries. (Please check "The dark age of development since 2001" The Daily Star, Point-Counterpoint, January 09, 2007). Just as many died from famine during the two centuries of British rule, hunger has forced Dipali and Manjuara to commit suicide following a few years of BNP-Jamaat rule. They are the East India Company of 21st century!

Nawab Siraj was a native ruler who cared for the natives and not for the foreign masters. On the contrary, Clive and his men were serving a British company and cared to serve the company at the cost of the natives. The Battle of Palashi was fought for forceful transfer of proprietary rights over Bengal, from the native ruler to a foreign ruler. In independent Bangladesh, we have enough reason to be emotional about the Battle of Palashi. We have got enough reason to consider Sirajuddaulah as a symbol of independent Bengal against the British colonial forces and their native collaborators.