Before we analyse the origin of the Jumma nationalism, let us find
out what nation and nationalism means. A 19th century English philosopher
John Stuart Mill defined Nation as,
"A proportion of mankind may be said to constitue a Nationality
(Nation), if they are united among themselves by common sympathies,
which do not exist between them and others- which make them to
cooperate with each other more willingly than with other people,
desire to be under the same government, and desire that it should be
government by themselves, or a protion of them exclusively".
Many social factors contribute to the development of a Nation, but the
most important of them are: culture, history, language, religion and
"Jumma" is a Chakma word derived from Jhum or shifting cultivation
or swidden farming. The 13 nationalities unify themselves under the
banner of Jumma nationalism. Jhum farming is a traditional way of
farming in the mountainous terrain. The Chakmas, other constituent
nationalities and even the Bangladeshis of Chittagong plain used to and
even now identify the indigenous people of the CHT as Jummas.
Majority of the Jummas may no longer depend on Jhum farming for
livelihood, but they are either descendant of the Jhum farmers
or continue to practice Jhum farming in one way or another. That
is the thread that the indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts
have in common.
To the Jummas the Jhum cultivation is not only a livelihood, it's
the way of life. For example, the Jummas perform animistic rituals before,
during and after Jhum cultivation. These animistic rituals are common
among the Jummas irrespective of their current religious traditions. That
signifies the Jumma people's common spiritual root in animism.
There has been a systematic effort on the part of the Bangladeshi
Government and society to undermine the Jumma nationalism. It's
claimed that Jumma is a backward profession and can't identify a
nationalism. But comparisons can be found with other nationalisms which
were derived from kinds of livlihood. One of them is the Turkish
nationalism. Turkish nationalism was derived from a bird named Turkey.
People of modern day Turkey (used to be Ottoman) used to deal in Turkey
birds in the Balkans and the people of the Balkans used to identify anyone from
the south of the Balkans as Turkey, though majority of the Turkish
people did not trade in Turkey. Does it mean that Turkish nationalism
does not have foundation. Indian nationalism was derived from the
word Indus, a river in the present day Pakistan. Alexander the Great
designated any people who lived east of the Indus river were Indians.
What is the common thread that unifies culturally and religiously
as diverse as
the Indians, once Jawaharlal Nehru said it is the knowledge of Mahabharata
and Ramayana, the two great epics of India, that unifies the people of India.