The Enduring Significance of Bangladesh's War of Independence: An Analysis of Economic Costs and Consequences

The Bangladesh War of Independence, in terms of its human and economic experience, lasted only nine months. Still, it forever changed the character, pace and prospects of economic life in Bangladesh. When it ended, the economy was left prostrate; fortunes had been swept away and much of the capital stock was destroyed or in disrepair. This paper provides a systematic accounting of all these direct and indirect costs, as well as their impact on post-war economic life. Even the most modest assumptions place the direct and indirect cost estimates at $9.53 billion and $14.08 billion respectively, far greater than the $200 million claimed by the United Nations Relief Operations Survey. In short, the war was not a minor event either by absolute or relative measures. It was many folds greater than the magnitude of effort implied by the secessionist's first call to arms. The warring parties may have expected a large conflict; what they failed to anticipate was a cataclysm.

Saud Choudhry
Syed Basher
College of Business, Tennessee State University, The Journal of Developing Areas Vol. 36, No. 1 (Autumn, 2002), pp. 41-55 (15 pages)