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Bangladesh - Glossary Index
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook

      GLOSSARY -- Bangladesh

      Awami League (People's League)
      Political party of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Founded in 1949; won absolute majority in putative Pakistan Constituent Assembly in 1970, an event leading to 1971 civil war and Bangladesh independence.
      Official language of Bangladesh; often referred to as Bengali before 1971. An Indo-European language.
      Bangladesh National Party
      Political party of Ziaur Rahman (Zia). Founded in 1978 and became majority party during Zia's presidency.
      Formerly province of British India, now encompasses India's state of West Bengal and all of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan- -q.v.) During Mughal period (1526-1858) a province, later governed by a president of the British East India company, and during the British Raj (q.v.), a state.
      Bengali calendar
      Year begins on April 15 of the Gregorian calendar; based on Muslim, or hijra (q.v.) calendar and used widely in religious life.
      British Raj
      Period of British colonial rule (1858-1947) over India, including those parts of British India that were to become Pakistan (on August 15, 1947) and Bangladesh (on December 16, 1971).
      Chittagong Hill Tracts
      Commonly used name for area comprising Rangamati, Khagrachari, and Bandarban regions in southeastern Bangladesh.
      In Bangladesh, as elsewhere in South Asia, large numerical units are usually expressed in crores; a crore is 10 million.
      Delhi Sultanate
      period of early Indian-based Islamic rule of Bengal (1206- 1341). The Delhi Sultanate continued in India proper until 1526.
      zila in Bangla (q.v.). One of major administrative subdivisions in Bangladesh; an average of three districts make up each of the twenty-one regions of Bangladesh. In 1988 there were sixty-four districts in Bangladesh.
      East Bengal
      Eastern part or East Wing of Pakistan from August 15, 1947, to December 16, 1971. Another name for East Pakistan (q.v.).
      East Pakistan
      From August 15, 1947, to December 16, 1971, the eastern part, or East Wing, of united Pakistan. Seceded in 1971 to become Bangladesh.
      East Wing
      See East Pakistan.
      fiscal year (FY)
      July 1 through June 30.
      freedom fighters
      See Mukti Bahini.
      gross domestic product (GDP)
      A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only output values of goods for final consumption and investment are included because the values of primary and intermediate production are assumed to be included in final prices. GDP is sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these have been eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have not been made. See also gross national product.
      gross national product (GNP)
      Gross domestic product (q.v.) plus the net income or loss stemming from transactions with foreign countries. GNP is the broadest measurement of the output of goods and services of an economy. It can be calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes and subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only transfer payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost by removing indirect taxes and subsidies.
      Tradition, based on the precedent of the Prophet Muhammad's nondivinely revealed deeds and words, that serves as one of the sources of Islamic law (sharia--q.v.).
      Literally, to migrate, to sever relations, to leave one's tribe. Throughout the Muslim world, hijra refers to the migration of Muhammad and his followers to Medina in A.D. 622, marking the start of the Muslim era. In this sense, the word has come into European languages as "hegira" and is usually and somewhat misleadingly translated as "flight."
      In general use, means the leader of congregational prayers, implying no ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education to carry out this function. The word is also used figuratively by many Sunni Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shia Muslims, it indicates the particular descendant of the House of Ali who is believed to have been God's designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of ascertaining his identity have been the major issues causing divisions among the Shias (q.v.).
      International Monetary Fund (IMF)
      Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
      Jatiyo Party
      Political party of Hussain Muhammed Ershad. Established in 1985 and won majority control of Parliament in 1986 and 1988 elections.
      The struggle to establish the law of God on earth, often interpreted to mean "holy war."
      Mukti Bahini
      Literally, liberation force, frequently taken to mean freedom fighters; the pro-Awami League (q.v.) military forces that led civil war against the Pakistani Army in 1971.
      Islamic law.
      Shia (or Shiite, from Shiat Ali, the Party of Ali)
      A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. The Shias support the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and on this issue they remain divided from the Sunnis (q.v.). Shias revere twelve imams, the last of whom is believed to be hidden from view.
      See Shia.
      South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
      comprises the seven nations of South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; founded at a meeting of foreign ministers in New Delhi on August 1-2, 1983; inaugural meeting of heads of state and government in Dhaka on December 7-8, 1986. The goal is to effect economic, technical, and cultural cooperation and to provide a forum for discussion of South Asian political problems.
      upazila in Bangla (q.v.). A rural administrative subdivision of a district (q.v.). In 1988 there were 460 subdistricts in Bangladesh.
      Comes from suf, the Arabic word for "wool." The term derives from the practice of wearing a woolen robe, a sign of dedicating oneself to the mystical life, known in Islam as becoming a Sufi. Sufis seek mystical union with God and were condemned by some Sunni (q.v.) legal schools.
      See Sufi.
      Come from sunna meaning "custom" and giving connotation of orthodoxy. A member of the larger of the two great divisions of Islam. The Sunnis supported the traditional method of election to the caliphate and accepted the Umayyad line. On this issue they divided from the Shias (q.v.) in the first great schism within Islam.
      Sunni Islam
      See Sunni. Sometimes given as Sunnite Islam.
      Bangladesh's unit of currency adopted in 1971, derives from the word tonka, the Iranian coinage used during the Delhi Sultanate (q.v.). In September 1988, the official exchange rate was US$1 equals Tk34.20. One hundred paisas constitute 1 taka; there are 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, and 100-paisa coins and banknotes in 1-, 10-, 20-, 50-, 100-, and 500-taka denominations. Ten million takas equals 1 crore (q.v.) takas.
      Man trained in Islamic theology.
      A rural administrative unit, subdivision of a subdistrict (upazila--q.v.). In 1988 there were 4,401 unions in Bangladesh.
      See subdistrict.
      World Bank
      Informal name used to designate a group of three affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance designed specifically to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The three institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).
      Landlord, but particularly of the group of landlords and the zamindar system that emerged after the British Permanent Settlement (Landlease) Act of 1793. In essence, the former tax collectors of the Mughal period (1526-1858) became landlords under the British. Zamindar tenure was abolished in 1950.
      See district.

    NOTE: The information regarding Bangladesh on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Bangladesh Glossary information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Bangladesh Glossary should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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