50th Anniversary of the Concert for Bangladesh

50th Anniversary of the Concert for Bangladesh

The Concert for Bangladesh (or concerts plural, as there was a morning and an evening performance) was the first ever collaborative benefit concert of it’s kind. It was organised by Indian Sitarist Ravi Shankar and former Beatles guitarist George Harrison to raise international awareness of the plight of the then-East Pakistan, and the nearly one million refugees displaced in the area due to the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Shankar, distressed by the plight of his own and neighbouring countries, brought the dire situation to the attention of his close friend Harrison, who was inspired to gather all the musicians he could to bring the issue to the attention of the wider public.

The concerts inspired a wave of goodwill around the world, inspiring large numbers of people to volunteer with UNICEF and others to donate privately to the relief fund. The event also showed the positive impact that stars and celebrities could have on charity causes and provided the blueprint for the Live Aid concert the next decade on. People seemed to become more educated about geopolitical events almost overnight, due to all the news reports about the concert including a summary of the events in Bangladesh.

By 1985, around $12 million had been sent to Bangladesh. Sales of the live album and film about the organisation of the concert continue to benefit the George Harrison fund at UNICEF to this day.

Here and Now 365’s Managing Director Manish Tiwari was able to interview Ratul Shankar, grand-nephew of Ravi Shankar, about the concert and its impacts live on ION tv to mark the occasion.