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Change of Fortune
India, in 1963, was a country still developing and would remain so, a primarily agricultural power that could not compete with the booming West and the self-sufficient East. The country was still a valuable cultural heartland and its goods were still bought, keeping it from economic collapse. However, mass-immigration and low-quality products kept it from making a mark on the world stage.
However, in the turbulent years of the 60s and 70s, India took crucial steps which set it up for become a major diplomatic and regional power. In 1961, it helped found the Non-Aligned Movement. Although not being able to provide investment to the countries, it did offer counseling and advice to many member states of NAM after Europe began to boom again due to the events post-Braking Day.
However, in 1965, war between India and Pakistan began over skirmishes in the Kasmir region of both countries. Both countries made significant progress into each other's territories, and gaining many passes. The Pakistanis counter-attacked the Indians in Operation Grand Slam but were forced back when the Indians called upon their air force. The Pakistanis responded, but India opened a new front in Pakistani Punjab, forcing the Pakistanis to divert troops. Both sides lost some land but eventually the UN mediated a ceasefire and return to the status quo.
The Indians soon shut their border with East Pakistan after the war so no more Pakistani refugees and migrators could enter the country and put more strain on the economy. India returned to advising countries in the NAM, and began to gain some respect in the eyes of those countries. Many, like Ethiopia, put India's advise to good use and began to slowly free up their economy to foreign investment and aid (in the form of medical supplies and support staff to build wells and dams for the country's clean water problem).
Diplomacy of the 70s
By 1970, India's economy was growing at a good rate. Yet, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi watched neighbouring East Pakistan with caution. There was a surge in the support for an independent Bangladesh, and the only thing keeping millions of Bangladeshi's entering India was the closed border policy. Due to the closed border, the country had found more of its own employed and the economy had started fairing better.
Yet, things changed in 1971. When the Awami League won a simple majority in Bangladesh, they claimed the right to form a government. This was denied by the West Pakistanis, who deployed troops to suppress dissent. However, the Bengalis did not co-operate and much of the Awami League escaped to India.
What happened next would change to direction of events on the subcontinent. Although the borders was closed, the government sympathised with the Bengalis. When General Tikka Khan began his campaign of mass murder and rape, directed mainly at the minority Hindus, Indira Gandhi could not sit back and watch. She appealed to the international community - but they were too busy with the Aash'n, so decided to take matters into her own hands. Opening the border between East Pakistan and India, refugees entered by the millions. They were given refuge and food, and it is said it was in these camps where a small movement of Budrahekism started, where the Aash'n worked with the Indians to provide aid for those needing food, medicine and shelter. Many began to view the Aash'n as saviours due to their hard work in trying to help provide for the refugees, helping the establishing of Budrahekism.
India soon funded the creation of the Mukti Bahini, a move completely supported by the exiled Awami League, to launch an insurgency in East Pakistan and topple West Pakistani control. They were trained in infantry and guerrilla warfare and were made ready for the future campaign, thought inevitable by the Indians. Pakistan realised they had to act now, and sent in 50 aircraft to knock out western India's air defences. These did not have the desired effect, only a small number of military installations were put out - and that too for some hours (days at most). However, this provided India with the spark it needed. War was declared, and the country immediately invaded East Pakistan. Flying sorties against the west, its aim was to ensure that no movement was made into Indian territory, while India moved in to liberate the East.
The campaign in the east was fast and quick. Although American and British fleets were steaming toward India in a bid to show their support for Pakistan and even intervene, the Soviets were alerted and sent their own fleet to counter the threat - allowing the Indians to proceed with their plans on the Indian sub-continent. Many of the Pakistani forces were quickly routed and within a fortnight, the East had come under the control of India. With the liberating Indian army, the local populace had seen many Aash'n observers accompanying the Indians. All this did was to speed the growth of Budrahekism, a religious movement which had started in the refugee camps in India, where the Aash'n were revered. The Aash'n often stayed back and helped to lead reconstruction efforts as well as efforts to help provide medicine for those injured and ill. On the western front, Pakistani assaults were repelled, and India committed to offensives in the Pakistani Kashmiri region, almost completely capturing it by war's end. Here too, Budrahekism took hold, although how it grew so quickly is still a matter of debate within India to this day.
By the 16th of December, 1971 - the Pakistani Armed Forces had surrendered. Due to Soviet sympathies for Bangladesh (and India), Aash'n observers had arrived in the country pre-war to see how the war went. They had been impressed with the Indians and their desire not to overlook atrocities committed in its neighbouring countries, and expressed their desire to stay on in the country to see the closing agreements of the war. Many of the Aash'n had also gotten involved in relief efforts and although many were initially scared of them, they came to be seen as kind and hard-working as they tried to help survivors and those affected by the war.
After the war, there was a need to make official the changes in land on paper. Therefore both sides met in Shima, and the Shimla Agreement was signed between both parties of the war on April 4th, 1972. It promised the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan and Indian "support" (in the form of occupation) to the government of Bangladesh until it was able to decide on its own matters. Indian troops would remain in the nation until it would be seen fit to remove them and let Bangladesh handle its own affairs.
The second agreement was to be India would return the territories captured in Kashmir back to Pakistan - as a gesture of goodwill. However, Aash'n observers advised the Indians not to do so, as it would result in more warfare in the future as Kashmir became a greater contention point between the two nations. This was changed before the conference, and was amended to read "Pakistan will now have to recognise Indian holdings in Kashmir in return for the 100,000 or so prisoners of war in India".
The Shimla Agreement was seen as a humiliating defeat for Pakistan, who had to agree to the loss of almost all control of Kashmir in return for over 100,000 prisoners of war which had been captured by India in their successful war of Bengali liberation. The agreement also gave India control over the majority of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and allowed India to strengthenen the strategic influence it held in the region.
Growth of Budrahekism
The remainder of the decade saw the Indians on consolidating their new holdings in Kashmir by beginning huge infrastructure projects to link up the new territories with the remainder of the country. The newly gained areas of Kashmir and the temporarily occupied Bangladesh also began so see a huge growth of the followers of Budrahekism, with many beginning to believe the teachings of the religion after seeing the Aash'n with the Indian Army, thinking that the Aash'n were supporting them due to their hard work (which was not exactly true). Many Aash'n had also taken up the mantle of aid donation and reconstruction help and their kind attitude towards the locals had won many hearts and had lead to the growth of Budrahekism in many remote regions of the nation.
This new faith grew very quickly, and from Bangladesh, it spread to the Middle East (specifically the UAE) - where too it began to grow rapidly. The faith did not take hold in mainland India so much as many aspects of Hinduism (the most important one being Karma), already had most of the elements of Budrahekism in them, yet it did not lose sway either and many temples were built for the followers for the new religion all around the nation.
Meanwhile, in Bangladesh itself, India found itself investing in the infrastructure and farms of the country it had just helped to give independence to. The Awami League did form a government, but with more and more money being pumped in by India, the condition and living standards of the country was improving without the Bangladeshi government having passed a single act on the issue of rebuilding and infrastructure improvement. The Indians tried to get as many Bengalis employed in Bangladesh itself, so they would not add to the strain of the already large workforce in India itself, and this was largely successful with much income generated in the nation staying in the nation and helping the Bangladeshi economy grow.
With the Indians returned many of the administrators of former East Bengal who were on the Indian side of Bengal. They soon took up key positions within the government and began to run events in the city and country. Their arrival benefited the country hugely as it finally gave the country an administrative backbone who spoke Bengali, not Urdu, making them popular with the Bengalis who were more interested in retaining their Bengali heritage rather than their religious differences.
Wildlife conservation projects and building of water run-off points also began in Bangladesh to protect it from poaching and enable the growth of the endangered Bengali Tiger. Many Indian businessmen began setting up industry and businesses in the country, and began to earn good money. When they paid taxes, the money earned by the government was pumped back into the system, helping to keep growth levels steady and high.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the Indians in the region was the establishment of secularism and the freedom of religion, which lead to peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Hindus and the growing population of Budrahkists.
The Bengali Decision
By 1979, the population of Bangladesh was content with their way of life. The Awami League, having given the Bengalis independence from the Pakistanis, had lost their sway with the Bengalis as the Bengali people got the focus and attention of India. Many intellectuals travelled to West Bengal and took part in discussions. However, the League still wanted an independent Bangladesh, and while India had promised liberty - they did not want to lose a part of the subcontinent they had helped rebuild.
The only option left was that of a referendum. So, on the 21st of May 1979, a referendum was held by the Government of India about the future of the country. The voting was allowed to be open to all adults, men and women over the age of 18. The voting was one of the most heavily protected ones ever seen, with army men standing outside voting booths to ensure no vote-rigging was carried out. The three options of the voting were: sticking to the status quo, creation of Bangladesh as an independent nation, or admission of Bangladesh into India as the state of East Bengal.
By August of 1979, the results were announced. A whopping 87% turnout had ensured that voting booths had to remain open for days for people to be able to vote, with the results being one of the closest ever seen in the region. The results were as follows:
- Admission as East Bengal: 54.3%
- Establishment as Bangladesh: 41.5%
- Remaining to the Status quo: 4.2%
The results sealed the fate of Bangladesh. It was decided that the country would be incorporated into India as the state of East Bengal in early 1980, and the Awami League (provided they did not fund some rebel movements) would be allowed to take part in elections as a legitimate party.
Beginning of a Boom: the 80s
In March 1980, the state of East Bengal was finally admitted into the Union of India. Bengali was made an official language of the state, and Dhaka the capital of the state. However, not everyone was happy with this, some extremist members of the Awami League formed their own party, the Bengali Mukti Fauj. However, not much attention was given to them.