My Heritage

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Plenty of kids in the United Kingdom don’t come equipped with the desire to be an engineer or a doctor as most kids in South Asian nations but one thing many of them do dream of becoming is a politician or a musician or a sports athlete. I’m proud to say that I was someone who aspired to be great in journalism. From a very young age, I wanted to contribute to politics, I wanted to serve my country, I wanted to contribute to the United Kingdom, in every possible way, because nothing mattered to me more in life than all of that. With so many bright young things interested in working in the same field, competition to make it is extremely high, and as often happens, very few of them can truly win top honours – be it as a Prime Minister, the highest possible post for a politician, arguably, or a Cabinet Secretary, which in case you did not know, is the highest post in the British Civil Service.

I never wanted to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom but I did want to work in public policy…and oh how badly, I wanted to work in public policy. I so wanted to be able to make a difference in the world since my childhood, and after years of gruelling training and practice at my English medium school(s), I got the opportunity to accomplish my dreams. When it comes to the ‘top job for politics’, one of the many interesting things about you is undoubtedly your heritage. Are you related to the British Monarchy like David Cameron through a relationship one of your ancestors, a mistress, had with one of the Kings? Or do you have an entirely different kind of lineage yourself, but with those sets of aspirations too in life?

My grandparents were zamindars, from both sides – maternal and paternal, practising their trade in the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, particularly, as zamindars were known to. A zamindar can be deemed as a hereditary aristocrat, who were in possession of large amounts of lands. As a kid, I had the privilege to visit these lands, because when my Dad was a kid the zamindari system was still active, so you can imagine how huge my grandparents were. After Bangladesh became independent in 1971, the zamindari system was unfortunately abolished by my great-grandfather Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Prime Minister of the country, at the time. So, the lands were there, but the trade was no longer practised.

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The zamindars were terribly powerful people in the early 20th century, and were recognised as such by the British as very powerful people in Bangladesh, during Great Britain’s colonising efforts in the country, which served to be a very fruitful and immensely successful age. Zamindars would also control peasants, large numbers of them, from whom they had the right to collect taxes. Zamindars were active throughout the Mughal Rule but since we are talking about my heritage, I’m going to specifically be talking about the British rule and zamindars. In Britain, zamindars are considered to be the European equivalent of lords and barons. They were to always be subordinate to the British Crown, and never act as hereditary lords, which means that family politics of any kind was a strict no-no when carrying out day-to-day activities for the Crown, namely collect tax, from the peasants.

The Zamindars in Bengal particularly are known globally to have been instrumental in the modernisation, growth and development of Bengal; my father’s surname is Sarker and my mother’s surname is Mallick. Most of the Zamindars in Bangladesh were given the title of Sarkers, but Mallick also formed a substantial amount of this zamindari system. Sarker, which is a word of Indo-Iranian origin, means nobility and used to donate aristocrats particularly, and is frequently used in the Balkans and Turkey. Indo-Iranian languages, or Aryan languages, as they are also often known as, are a branch of the larger Indo-European languages, which consists of most of today’s European languages, such as English and French. Mallick, a Northwest-Semitic word, meanwhile, means King, and has its roots in Western Asia.  It all sounds very ancient – an Aryan is someone who speaks an Indo-European language, and it was often used as a title by Indo-Iranian people (speakers of Indo-European languages). The Aryan race (a kind of Caucasian) is a by-product of if it all because they are people who speak an Indo-European language.

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