Concert for Bangladesh

Originally released 2005

Concert for Bangladesh

Originally released 2005

By August 1971, when George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and friends took the stage at Madison Square Garden to play The Concert for Bangladesh, 10 million East Pakistani refugees had fled over the border into India with scant hope of surviving inevitable hunger and disease.

By August 1971, when George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and friends took the stage at Madison Square Garden to play The Concert for Bangladesh, 10 million East Pakistani refugees had fled over the border into India with scant hope of surviving inevitable hunger and disease.

Up to that point, little public attention had been drawn to the crisis in East Pakistan/Bangladesh. Few people outside the region knew how the deadly catastrophe had come to be, or what individuals who cared could do to help relieve the suffering.

The events leading to Pakistan’s refugee crisis had started with that nation’s birth in 1947 and with the decision by local authorities, and the departing British, to carve the sub-continent’s Muslim regions from predominantly Hindu India. The result was the creation of two distinct provincial territories, West and East Pakistan, with more than 1,000 miles of India dividing them.

It wasn’t just geography that split Pakistan’s two “wings.” These two Pakistans could not have been more different, separated also by race, culture, and language. Urdu was the dominant language of West Pakistan. Bengla was spoken in the East. And although the East Bengalis outnumbered the Pakistanis in the west, political and economic power was centered in West Pakistan.

Eventually, conditions placed the East Pakistanis in a position to change the balance of power.

Promising to end dictatorship and introduce democracy, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan came to power in 1969. The General appeared to make good on his pledge when free elections, the first in Pakistan’s history, were held toward the end of the following year.

The outcome of the voting, however, came as a blow to the West Pakistani leadership. The Awami People’s League of Bangladesh had won an overwhelming victory, capturing a majority of Pakistan’s legislative seats. It appeared that the Awami party had been mandated to create Pakistan’s first democratic government.

But the regime in the West refused to allow the transfer of power to East Pakistan. In March 1971, the order was issued to eliminate opposition to West Pakistan’s dominance.

To this day, no one knows how many were killed in the conflict that followed. Estimates range from several hundred thousand to three million.

The fleeing refugees who had survived the violence in their homeland were now threatened by starvation, lack of sanitation, cholera, and other deadly illnesses. Combined with these perils was a season of natural disaster in the form of destructive floods. Predictably, most of the victims succumbing to the hardship were children.

The Indian Government estimated the cost of caring for the refugees at $1 million a day. Foreign aid provided only a fraction of the desperately needed food, equipment, and medicine. It was in this dramatic context that George Harrison, Ravi Shankar and their fellow musicians decided to rally worldwide support for relief efforts in Bangladesh – thereby averting an even greater humanitarian disaster.

Really it was Ravi Shankar’s idea. He wanted to do something like this and was telling me about his concern and asking me if I had any suggestions. Then after half an hour he talked me into being on the show.

George Harrison

Details

Disc 1
The Concert For Bangladesh 1971
Introduction by George Harrison
Bangla Dhun
Wah-Wah
My Sweet Lord
Awaiting On You All
That’s The Way God Planned It
It Don’t Come Easy
Beware Of Darkness
Band Introduction
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Young Blood
Here Comes The Sun
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
Blowin’ In The Wind
Just Like A Woman
Something
Bangla Desh

 

Disc 2
The Concert For Bangladesh 2005, Special Features
Documentary
The Concert For Bangladesh Revisited With George Harrison And Friends (45 mins.)
Background story of the show including interviews with cast and crew.
Previously Unseen Performances From The Rehearsals, Soundcheck And Afternoon Show
If Not For You
Come On In My Kitchen
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Mini Features
The Making of the Film
The Making of the Album
The Original Artwork
Recollections – August 1st 1971
Photo Gallery
Take A Bow

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