Muhammad Quamrul Islam :
It's an age old tradition of Bengali to open fresh account-book/ ledger on the occasion of New Year Day countrywide by businessmen irrespective of size and wealth, extending invitations to their customers and associates. Even passerby joined on smiling requests, to take sweets and exchange pleasantries, which had various socio-economic implications. It was really an expression of social dimension of businesses thru ages, which is on the wane now told by the concerned. We septuagenarian saw these over various periods of history unhindered, in spite of divisions of Bengal by British in 1905 and 1947 administratively and politically respectively, nationally every nook and corner of the country. It was observed in erstwhile East Pakistan emerged as Bangladesh in the spirit of Bengali nationalism in 1971; now where we are as expenses are incurred by charge to public exchequer commoners are bewildered! Thanks to electronic and print media now a day's Bengali at home and abroad is aware.
True, everything changes with the change of time, but would it mean core values would also change in the wrong direction. Bengali will be spoken in broken English as in FM radios or expatriates Bangladeshis visiting home on leave, asked a retired high official now a Treasurer of University. If that meant improved human relationships, it could be felt in assimilations in self and society. The accesses of a section of our people in relatively higher echelon to western countries charities during liberation war 1971 sought jobs and settlements there started to change the social scenario, and the slogan against anti Anglo-American imperialism so loud up to 1960s began to lose the steam. It was further accentuated with collapse of Soviet Union in 1992 paving the way to globalization and soft immigration policies to their benefits, which have been availed by us. It's no point to debate but delve within, if patriotism is of any value that is deeply ingrained in our culture and moral values.
The other day a senior citizen screamed within his fellows around that as the numbers of educated persons are increasing by leaps and bounds coming from public and private universities, the character of the country is going downhill! In no place you go for a work you will not be harassed and charged extra. Transparency International and its Dhaka office issued various reports on the extent of corruption which evoke no response from any political party although they are registered with Election Commission. Nor the Anti- Corruption Commission could combat due to its extent and deepness of corrupt people. Many talks tall in seminars funded by foreign donors to justify their expenses by vouchers and on TV shows, but of no effect as the authorities know their levels of integrity. Procedures and loopholes favor the rich and powerful, so go the saying.
A retired secretary to the government, honest and friendly to the people extend helping hands without any consideration, expressed his disgust what we Bengalis are, unconcerned about others except self only, no fellow feeling and instantly hurl accusations baselessly to others. He has not increased rent for last 4 years, still not happy and asks for internal repairs of apartment, not properly maintained by him or pays monthly rent duly. The Developer further creates problem now to make commercial uses of his space for profit. He is worried how to manage family expenses in the rising prices. It is not an isolated case but a representative sample.
Of late in Chaitra 1423 Operations under different code names were conducted in militants' dens in Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Comilla successfully killing men, women and child and injured others, reported in the media. They were young with suicidal vests, which raised the question why it is so, without shifting the responsibility? Were they not students of our education system, what they were taught and teachers cannot escape responsibility. Education Minister should not fight shy of, but face.
Drawing attention to the report in highest circulated national vernacular daily on April 4, 2017/ 21 Chaitra 1423 on terrible bribery in government appointments of teachers and other staff of educational institutions countrywide and so on, what its multiplier effect would be, queried guardians but no reply. Similarly land grabbed by an MP and his accomplices at Mirpur Dhaka reported on March 1, 2017/ 17Falgun1423 in the said daily which also involved forcibly dispossessing the real owners retired officials and professionals of 8 plots at Kallyanpur in 1997, one of the co-plaintiff is Advocate Abdul Hakim now High Court Justice, led to litigation, owners awaiting to take possession now.
Let us not forget our National Anthem 'Sonar Bangla' is our strength shown by sacrifices of millions of martyrs in liberation war 1971. World Poet Tagore and literary contemporaries brought distinction to Bengal and Bengali in 20th century. Tagore's poem and of Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam inspired Bengalis to fight the British rule in India to freedom, Pakistani rule in the spirit of nationalism and emancipation of the people that are to be realized.
Our families countrywide celebrated in each place town and rural areas, participated in traditional Mela i.e. fairs for sales and purchases of products, doll dance shows, Jatra theatre, Circus and so on. In 1424 it would be different for global impact and domestic economic growth, but' 'Ramna Batamul' in Dhaka for Baishakhi morning songs, which is now in 50 years, till the main point of attraction of the country.
There are people who are morally high, great, but unknown, show by examples to the surroundings. Some days back one specialized Government doctor with MD and FCPS known to his patients, family and society, lovingly called him poor man's doctor, suddenly fallen sick needed cardiac surgery refused to go abroad but take treatment here as thousands of people taking their services to which community he belongs. If we go abroad it means we have no faith in our services! May the leaders and new generation feel his yearnings. We hope the New Year will show the path of peaceful unity and equitable development, Insha'Allah.
(The writer is an economist, advocate and social activist. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org)