[The post is written in first person as an open letter to the article author.]
I have recently read this Daily Star article of yours with interest. Otherwise an intriguing piece, I am somewhat at a loss on some of the points. I would only discuss three of them:
You wrote about Generation-B enthusiastically but you never told us about the values they actually stand for, or the kind of principles they actually adhere to. You see, “ideologies” or their “baggages” are not necessarily bad things. Nations moved, nations shaked, nations aspired–not always with mobile phones or laptops. For examples do please look at the emerging economies of the last few decades or you may want to go a bit further back in the history. On the contrary, just because someone carries a mobile phone and a laptop does not mean that you have a world leader in the making. I am really wary of people these days who are quick to suggest–often on over-simplified premises—how shiny buildings, flashy cars, plush restaurants, shopping malls, mobile phones, laptops and micro-credits have become the greatest gifts of our time ! You see Obamas of our time were not made out of mobile phones or internet connections or micro-credits or social businesses. The promise of greatness we see in leaders like Obama (or Martin Luther King or Bangabandhu) are just manifestations of their ideologies or values or commitments. Without a great ideology you cannot have a great leader.
So, please could you elaborate–what you think is going to be the defining ideology or value of “your” future Obamas of Generation B? At least give us a wish list. Because I think the readers like me would be more interested in the specifics rather than in some wide and vague rhetoric. And please stop bashing everything that is ideological, because I am particularly concerned to see the way you have described our fathers’ generation as an “ideological baggage” carrying generation. For the record, I am grateful that they had “some” ideologies to fight and die for, which I hardly can say about most of my own generation. I am grateful that they bothered to “carry” those ideologies–when they were young–when they took up arms to free the country–and when they sacrificed their lives. They did that happily to ensure that we do not have to. They did that so that the legacy can be passed to our generation. They did that for us, Faisal, for you and me. Let’s not forget that.
Please do not get me wrong. I do not underestimate the role communication technologies can play in development discourses. But we must not lose sight that these technologies can only assist and catalyse changes. At most they could be the tools/gadgets in the hands of the movers. I sincerely doubt they can achieve anything more than that. At the end of the day, it is what goes on inside our minds and hearts (our values, ideologies and principles etc) that define us, which hopefully one day would be embodied in the figure of a great leader.
These days I often come across articles such as this where authors try to apply “business models” to address and explain larger issues of politics and statehood, often using theories and terminologies from the fields of marketing or management studies.This is fundamentally flawed and I find this tendency problematic. Business and politics (or statesmanship) are two different worlds and their premises and mandates are totally different. Where one is profit driven, the other is public interest driven; where one is all about money, the other is about people (by, for and of the people), egalitarian goals, sovereignty and twenty other different things. [Do I really need to go on to explain this?] Yes, one may argue that in Bangladesh, the distinctions are now blurred–with businessmen holding political offices and politicians becoming profit-seeking businessmen. One may further argue that the boundaries between these two worlds are now collapsing. One may even argue that the nexus between power and money is not uncommon even in the most advanced of the democracies. I guess my point is, that does not make it right. If that happens, then universities all over the world would have placed their departments of politics, economics, international relations and all other social science departments under the umbrella of one big Commerce Faculty, as part of a BBA or MBA programme perhaps. If that happens, then Bangladesh would be run by the CEOs or Chairmans of the Group of Companies. Hey, why not bring the CEO’s of multinationals (eg, IBM, Coca Cola, Microsoft) in and lease the country out in their business-efficient hands?
Sorry for the crude analogy, but I hope things will not come to that.
If I were you I would refrain from using terms such as “shining India” or “rising China” as something positive. These are just buzz words, and their premises are not as clean as the leaders (including their business leaders) of these two countries are trying to make their people believe. For God’s sake, are we not following the news on China, Tibet, Darfur, Nandigram etc? There can in fact be a whole new debate on this “shining-rising” countries which can be the subject of a separate thread. Perhaps another day . . .