“I was born in Surrey and I left England when I was four years old. I spent my childhood in various parts of the world, including Brunei, Singapore, India and Bangladesh. I moved back to England nine years ago and settled in North London. I studied English Literature for both my Bachelor’s degree and my Master’s. I am currently doing my second Master’s in Government, Policy and Politics part-time.”
This is Tulip Siddiq’s introduction of herself. It’s heartwarming to see a tech-savvy young politician of Bangladesh origin using social networking sites to voice her aspirations. Campaigning for increased women participation in politics, she practices Labour Party values in The Regent’s Park ward, and was part of Gordon Brown’s election campaign. But while Brown lost the match, Tulip won her race to Regent’s Park ward. The debutant knows there’s no short cut in politics. She further tweets:
“I am the national BAME Officer for Young Labour, the Labour council candidate in Regent’s Park ward and a member of the Camden Bangladesh Mela Committee. I am also a Governor at Beckford Primary School and on the executive board of my trade union – Unite: T&G section.”
Tulip is related to Bangladesh and to Bangabandhu, so I was surprised to read about his granddaughter running for the ward election at The Regent’s Park. Being a member of a South Asian political dynasty, success if, after all, merely a matter of taking the short cut. But then Newton’s third law of motion comes into play and the descent is equally fast and furious. So Tulip has wisely opted to work her way up to the top; by focusing on basic issues that affect civil rights and liberties. In today’s world ‘complication’ rules, therefore simplistic showcasing is as much an art as necessity and Tulip has again chosen wisely:
“During university I did an internship in the Amnesty International Press Office which increased my interest in journalism. I am an associate member of the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association and I occasionally write for the Ham&High which is my local newspaper. You can see some of my articles here. I also write for Progress Magazine, Tribune Magazine and political blogs such as Labour List and LabourWomen.”
Activism and Journalism are fast becoming ideal partners for political success. Social media is on its way to creating a virtual platform for political and even election campaigns. Recently, while going through Khushwant Singh’s review of Fatima Bhutto’s book, I wondered who could write a similar thought provoking and passionate book on Bangabandhu. Now I believe Tulip should be the one. Just one advice from Khushwant Singh: put your emotions aside and search for the truth…. For the sake of Bangladesh.
“I am interested in Bangladeshi politics and managed a successful media campaign for Sheikh Hasina, recently elected Prime Minister of Bangladesh, while she was in exile in the U.K. In my spare time, I work for the Awami League as part of its UK and EU lobbying unit and election strategy team.”
There you go. Lobbying is a sign of the times. Bangladesh has never needed lobbying more than now. Just like India took the lead in the sixties and seventies to facilitate India shining, lobbying at the UN, IMF, World Bank and every institution that carries an abbreviation. Full of passion for India, second and third generation politicians of Indian origin can now be found in the power corridors of every major democracy. We definitely have some of our own. To name a few, Baroness Pala, Rowshanara and Tulip have pioneered the political presence of Bangladeshi women in the UK.
They have proved to us that it’s unnecessary to fight Bangladesh’s internal political war on the streets of London or New York. Instead, by being part of western politics they are in a much better position to ensure social integration of Bengali immigrants, job markets for our workers, admissions for students and acceptability of our exports, while attracting investors, highlighting tourism and promoting the cause of Bangladesh.
We also desperately need clean ambassadors in the west to fight for our place in a globalised world. We need to remind the world that despite corruption labels, Bengali taxi drivers in the west have time and again shown the height of honesty, and so have most of our workers around the globe. This is the vantage point we should explore if we truly want to materialize Dream Bangladesh.