Composition : The Ethnic People of Our Country

The Ethnic People of Our Country

Ethnic groups or ethnic groups are used in the same sense in anthropology. Generally, no distinction is made between ethnic groups and races.

The word ethnic comes from ethnicity derived from the Greek word ethnos which means "race". Now the term refers to people who are of common descent and possess a distinct culture. So, in short, ethnic people refer to people of the same nationality but of different cities, cultures, traditions and religions. They basically live as their own in certain places in a state.

According to R. T. Schaefer,
"racial or ethnic group refers to a group of people who are different from others because of their physical differences."

There are many ethnic groups in our country and most of them live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Chakma, Marma, Chak, Mro, Mring, Santal and Tripura are well known ethnic groups of Bangladesh. They live mainly in the hills though most of them have settled in the plains. Next to CHT, there are a few more ethnic groups scattered in different parts of Bangladesh such as Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Patuakhali and some people live in Jessore. The ethnic people of Bangladesh are mainly Buddhists but there are some Christians, Hindus and even Muslims.

The ethnic groups living in CHT are mainly dependent on agriculture. However, their cultivation methods are different from the plains. They farmed in the hills opal which is known as jam cultivation, and once they were known as Jumma because of their jam cultivation. Other ethnic groups depend on forest for hunting, raising livestock, and gathering food and timber. They are very hardworking and they usually take meals twice a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. Their place and style are different from ours.

Ethnic people have their own culture, traditions and language. However, most of them have no written form of language. In the recent past and even today, they are facing many problems to live in the hills as many Bengali landless farmers have settled there. The new settlement began to displace the ethnic people from their lands which caused revolt among the ethnic groups. In 1997, the government signed a peace accord promising to address the grievances of the hill people.

Many ethnic groups in Bangladesh still lead primitive lives but some of them have acquired modernity. They are pursuing higher education even though the opportunities are less due to their high socio-economic status.

Ethnic people are an important part of Bangladesh and its cultural diversity. We should not neglect them but extend our helping hand to them for their development. They may differ in terms of culture and religion, but they are citizens of Bangladesh. So, we should use them as friends, not as enemies.

Azibul Hasan
26 March 2021
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