Happy Victory Bangladesh. One, two, three..there’ll be thirty nine candles now on the cake today, isn’t it? We all celebrate your Victory day but we lost you, it’s our fault. The Bangladesh that was born in 1971 is a distant memory today. Every year, right around victory day, we all start soul searching; what went wrong, who’s fault is it, how can we find you, where is she etc etc. I’m sure we’ll get to the point when our decedents will rise to the occasion and give you the place you deserve. But before we walk that road, let’s look at some cautionary issues that we might need to address on the road.
Just a few weeks ago, Transparency International released another of their survey results. I’m a firm believer in statistics. Sometimes numbers can be misleading to understand the population, but they do portray a picture. In the survey they asked a question that struck me. The question was, how many of you think religious organizations are involved in corruption. The whole world or the 70 odd countries in the survey said 50% of us believe they do corruption, in Bangladesh it was 9. In a country that has seen the worst atrocity on its population in the name of religion time and over (before the British partition and again in 1971) you would think they’ll be a bit skeptic about religious organizations. In a country that was founded on secularism you would think people would be more inclined to reject religious organizations. But in Bangladesh we see a different picture. It seems everyday our relation is more distant to one of our founding pillars. I think the supermen who gave us the dream of Bangladesh, didn’t have time to incept the idea of secularism, but they wanted to plant it. That’s why the constitution was written on that basis. May be they knew the communal structure of the society and saw in a crystal ball the domino effect it might have. They knew the dark side will let us embrace the opium of religious obedience and struck the dagger in our heart when the time will be right.
That slow poisoning started from 1975 after the shields were broken.Since then, we have become more communal then forty years back. First by erasing the secular character of the country and then by spreading to all parts and every corner of society. They took new names, new slogans but kept the idea the same. Converting Bangladesh to Banglastan.
The same people who opposed our independence in the name of religious existence are now firmly rooted in our hearts and minds. May be not Golam Azam or Nizami but that’s just two of the cult. Systematically they have spread their wings in our academic system, government system, intellectual thought process. They have build more inception factories in the villages then we have build schools and hospitals combined. They gave shelter to the socially unsecured to drink the magic potion. Not only the financially vulnerable, the mentally isolated teens in our urban life found friends in them when they needed them the most. When we rejected these helpless, exploited them for our short term gain, they helped them to survive and trained them for the longrun assault. Slowly and steadily the word patriotism started to vanish from our national psyche and now it’s all about what Mr. Zakir says on television. It’s not that we didn’t see this coming. We all saw it; that’s why we start our election campaigns from religious shrines. We saw it, that’s why in the tug war of naming buildings and airplanes we use religiously sensitive names to score points. Just like any good businessmen, they saw opportunity and made it strength; what they don’t see is the eminent threat that’s coming.
We see their presence more firm in our society, not the political picture, but in society then ever. We are preventing them to become a political power but that won’t stop them to spread in the grass root level. JMB at the rural and Hijbut Thahrir at the sophisticated working class in Bangladesh is doing what Jamat e Islami can’t do with their brand name. I tell you tomorrow have Zakir Naik speak live to Bangladeshi people and Bangabondhu from after life and see how many of us tune to which channel. You think Shahrukh’s stadium presence was sensational, wait for this new prophet to come to his people and you’ll see what pilgrimage is. Our patriotism has changed hands and brands from liberals to army power mungers to anti liberation forces. Now it has become a corporate product and nothing else. Television channels will cash it to fill in air time, ad companies will make emotional pitches to increase TRP and we’ll all go home happy by scolding some 80 year old Razakars. We isolated the poor to become breeding ground of this extremists. We all looked at Dhaka and how good the schools in the capital are doing and left the rest of the country to do a soul search.
But when their new breeds would come out and talk to us face to face with a holy book in one hand, what will be our answer? Are you going to call them supporters of Razakars? That’s not going to fly on ballot papers or in your living rooms. With them the difference is ideological. And I’m afraid, the Bangladesh our martyrs wanted to see fifty years from independence is too unprepared to counter that ideological battle. A few documentaries and special supplements on daily newspaper will not stop Bangladesh slowly turning into Banglastan. You see, unlike Afghanistan we won’t have to be totally dominated by mollas. The dark side in Banglastan is very smart. They just need a governing power that’ll keep a blind eye to their activities. Thank god the ‘brothers’ from other mothers have shown us the more extreme side of this radicalism, otherwise by now we would’ve made them a formidable political power,too. They knew the battle would be ultimately ideological in Bangladesh. That’s why in ’71 they started the fight by killing our brightest minds and they ended the battle by killing them. What was a tactical change in battle we thought was a victory. That’s why Shamsur Rahman had a visit from them (thank god those kids where not brain washed enough) but we lost Shah Kibria and Humayun Azad, didn’t we?
So before you think this Bangladesh is a shining becon with it’s garment sector, think again. We burn our own factories, if enough is “invested” we’ll gladly let the sector die. Our problem is just not over population or poverty. These failures are symptoms of a larger problem. With over 30,000 NGOs we still ‘don’t’ eradicate poverty, because that’s something we have sold pretty well over the years. It made one Nobel prize winner, other we have to call the Queen’s knight. Our problem is more basic, it’s lack of patriotism-something our country desperately wants us to gain before we loose it to something else. Believe me when I say, I have nothing against religion or practice of it, but I guess we all know why gatherings are organized in Kakrail Mosque every Tuesday after Zohar don’t we? If we don’t admit the issue now, it will come back and haunt us. So this birthday before we blow the candles, let’s make a wish, a wish to better days. A day where Bangladeshis would be just Bangladeshis and united we will stand. Happy Victory Day Ma 🙂