For some people puzzled with the merchant history of Rohingers in the coastal Arakan “Wonder how many of these merchants landed in Arakan State of Burma to become a significant and distinct race of 1.2 millions speaking a Chittagonian language.”
With no knowledge of Rohingya, these people are obviously ignorant about Rohingya historians and geographers, including traveler’s account, about Arakan that mention about Rohingers presence there for nearly a millennium. Denying such information at the expense of mostly Rakhine sources to deny the historicity of Rohingyas, is not history, but only a display of prejudice.
Concerning the math question, let me answer that question. Hopefully, away from romanticism, we can all agree at least on math.
An annual growth rate of just 1% (well below our current world’s population statistics) in a population size (living minus dead) would make a community to become 1.1 times its size in 10 years, 2.7 times in 100 years, and 20959.2 times in 1000 years. Just imagine! how a very small community can turn out to be a humongous one over centuries! It does not take too many people to multiply to a sizable number over the years (as long as they can reproduce). That is why, many of us don’t have problem of figuring out what the world population in the next century or next decade can become (with almost 99% confidence). The only thing one has to do is find out the annual population growth rate in our time and a reliable estimate of present population. The rest is simple mathematics. By the way, the current growth rate in many third world countries is close to 3%. [I would like to believe he can figure out the answer to his rhetorical question on the number of Rohingya merchants required to settle in the Arakan to now become, what he claims, 1.2 million!]
If someone says that Rohingya history is uniquely at odds with (rest of) Burma. What is so unique about it when no human group (not even the Rakhines) living anywhere can truly claim to be 100% unique? Rohingyas don’t claim any such uniqueness either, except stating that they are Rohingyas of Arakan who have settled there many centuries ago, before the current nasty debate (with all the telltale signs of ethnic cleansing) whether they are children of the soil or not. Even the aborigines of Australia resemble characteristics today that can only be called mixed. They have elements of African/South Indian/Dravidian racial features, which is also mixed with some other races (including European). That is why when speaking about Rohingyas in Arakan, let us also not be oblivious of other important factors like the social dynamics in a society, people’s ability to adopt, absorb, mix, mobilize, proselytize, migrate, and whole bunch of other socio-economic-historical factors that creep into any society to make things appear the way they do today.
So for social scientists (with some math background) it is not difficult to understand how 12 disciples of a holy man (of which one is even said to have betrayed and died shortly) now multiplied into nearly 2 billion followers worldwide? Just a mere two millennia have done all that. No romanticism there, just an understanding of sociology and some math! And of course, an appreciation of simple logic and open mind is needed to understand what I just said, without which we shall go on making a moron, bigot and racist of ourselves!
The writing of some people on Rohingya unfortunately demonstrates a very partisan view in which simple logic, truth and math are sacrificed; Rohingya people’s legitimate human rights to their land are trashed at the altar of opportunism and historical revisionism. That is deplorable and would only tear the fabric of Burma further apart, when it so badly needs its various communities to come together under a common platform on the basis of mutual respect in their common struggle for human rights, dignity, freedom and democracy (for all).
Notes: Wikipedia says: “………cultural traits tend to support the Rohingyas being part of the native population of the region… Although the Myanmar government denied recognition as an official ethnic group, the Rohingya have a distinct language and culture.
The Rohingya language is an eastern Indic language of the Indo-European family. It is mutually intelligible with Chittagonian dialect, the language of southeastern Bangladesh. It is also related to Bangla Bengali), which is spoken in neighboring Bangladesh and India. ………. However, there has recently been an effort to write it using the Roman script, the result being called Rohingyalish.� (Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohingya)
Dr. Habib Siddiqui