The movement for Bangladesh was carried forward in the name of creating Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal). Implicit in the idea of Sonar Bangla was the vision of the society economically prosperous, free of exploitation, democratically governed, tolerant of pluralism and respectful of people’s rights. Several of Bangladesh’s leading social scientists, as well as American and European scholars come together in this volume to provide a carefully balanced and comprehensive assessment of the country’s first three decades of independent existence since 1971. Combining the fruits of primary research as well as analytic overviews, the contributors provide a unique and up-to-date account of the country’s political system, economic performance and the social ambiguities arising, inter alia, out of the Bengali’s multiple identities. Of particular interest are the chapters dealing with the impact of Islam (on politics and the position of women); the treatment of non-Muslim and non-Bengali minorities; the country’s mixed economic record; the profound social changes arising out of ‘modernization’; the growing nexus between business and politics; and NGOs and civil society. Important developments focused on include the rise of a large, export-oriented garment industry employing mainly women workers for the first time; the dramatic fall in fertility rates despite the absence of significant improvements in most people’s standards of living; and the emergence of a new Bengali business class seeking to make its potential felt. The volume is designed to serve as a standard textbook for courses on Bangladesh and South Asian studies.