Bangladesh is slowly beginning to emerge from its rear-facing progress and is preparing itself to welcome a measure of development and prosperity. Despite having to live next door to Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal, the government of Sheik Hasina – who might not be perfect but is better than anybody else her benighted country has to offer – is proving herself amenable to change and development. The railway between India and Bangladesh is now freely open; cross-border trade and diplomacy, with the investment and economic expansion that will flow from it as part of Modi’s evolving South Asia free-trade area, will eventually transform the fortunes of former East Pakistan (West Pakistan take note). That is why Hasina is playing ball with India. But not everyone in Bangladesh is happy about it.
The problem with development and change is that it disrupts an existing system. Cybernetics and family therapy made the point decades ago that if just one element of a system, such as a member of a family, decides to alter their role or act differently it radically changes the positions and outlooks of everybody else (for example, an insecure teenage girl turns anorexic and instantly becomes the star of the family). Systems are organisms where each part is interrelated to the others and has an interest in maintaining not only its current state, but that of every other one. So change provokes resistance.