A typical Dhaka city boy. Ideal School ’06 batch, Dhaka College ’08, North South University. I don’t know him personally, but I do know many of his school friends, who are as shocked as his parents at what he has turned out to be.
However, what Redwan Nafis did or did not do is the subject matter of a different article soon to follow. This one is about the widespread impact of his actions that is soon going to arrive as a giant tsunami in the lives of middle-income Bangladeshis.
Soon the teenagers emerging from Bangladesh’s colleges and universities will find themselves on a very thorny road to that Holy Grail of good life, higher education in and possible emigration to the States. In my humble opinion, only a few privileged Bangladeshi children or truly talented ones, if any, will have the opportunity to pass through the golden door for the next five or six years.
The readers may have noticed that in the wake of Nafis’ arrest, New York senator Chuck Schumer has put forth a bill in the US senate that will enable the US government to persecute what he calls ‘sham universities’ that let people emigrate without any real educational purpose. Though it makes perfect sense and can hardly be called a xenophobic frenzy, the bill is probably the forerunner to plenty others that will try to stem the constant flow of Bangladeshi students to America.
As I scrolled through the comments on the news on Nafis, everywhere the word ‘bangi’ jumped at me. It seems to be a derogatory term in the US for Bangladeshis. Hatred is inherent.
The Nafis incident is like an earthquake – the disaster that hovers on the edge of everybody’s imagination. Everyone knows it is perfectly possible, they know it might be here any time and they probably also know that it would be a great idea to take precautions. Yet nobody does. And when it hits, nobody has any clue what to do.
Yes, it is probably very selfish to think about personal interests when terrorist-delusional kids are running amuck on Dhaka’s streets and some are even running off to America to blow up fake bombs. But this is on everyone’s minds. What country will take me now? Where will my children go to study? Will I be stuck with a public university degree and a dead-end job? Will I never get to live in a developed country?
Indeed, if the gates of America close, what are the alternatives for a talented man who wants to make do in this world? Besides being stuck in a nation that denies the existence of 40 million of its citizens, that is.
Some students in my generation have turned to Asia – Malaysian engineering schools are among the top in the world. The Japanese government gives regular scholarships, the Monbukogakeshu, to Bangladeshi students. Some Chinese universities too, are teaching some subjects in English now.
Yet somehow, America is the most coveted destination for those wanting to climb up the social ladder. Even immigrants, whether they are blue collars or white in the US, are treated as kings when they visit their relatives here.
This view of America is the exact opposite of how an Islamic extremist looks at that country. Simply put, where majority of third world people see heaven, they see hell. But looking at us, an average American most likely simply sees a ‘bangi’. Nothing but an intrusion into their domain trying to share the prosperity left to them by their fathers.
Asian developed countries are no different in that respect, perhaps even worse. Neither China nor Japan will allow an alien to become a citizen unless they denounce their country of origin.
The world is moving decorously into anarchy. Seven billion people scrambling for dying pools of resources are, more likely than not on the brink of a third world war. Running away from the country was a real solution to a lifetime of problems, but that was one generation ago. Are any of those solutions real anymore?