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Book Review

‘Kaler Nirantar Jatra’

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03rd-Apr-2015       
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reflects the living  memories of a former bureaucrat :
Published by Palok Publishers. 179/3, Fakirerpool, Dhaka 1000. ISBN 9789849097143
The author had the rare opportunity to closely observe the techniques and strategies how  a developing nation is governed being a personal secretary of a President and a Prime Minister which has added a special aspect to his bureaucratic career and it has been recorded in this book. Professor Moonjurul Islam of DU has gone through the whole text in one night as he has said in the launching ceremony alluring the readers. The book is really so.  The slanting trend of quality service in the management of administration and values has made the author  concerned which  get reflected in the pages of this book along with his thoughts how to get out of it. His bureaucrat colleagues who happened to be in the administration of different tires will find pleasure eyeing on the pages as the pages will bring them back to their glorious days and also find a different picture of present day administration. From the then East Pakistan there were 209 CSPs ( Civil Service  of Pakistan) till 1971  and out of them 128 are alive till January 2015 when this statistics was released in the book launching ceremony by Abu Hena , Ex-Chief Election Commissioner and Bangladesh Ambassador to Japan .He also let us know that the write was the   last batch of CSPs and he used to work with him as  commercial councilor  when Abu Hena was the ambassador of Japan. Abu Hnea rightly said that the writer retains the credit of attracting Japanese investors toward Bangladesh but he has not mentioned it in the book proving his reticent quality.
The author as a bureaucrat came into contact with the people from lowest to the highest strata of the society which gave him ample opportunity to learn their philosophy of life, mentality and simplicity and the cleverness of the people sitting at the highest tier of the state and what shrewdness they apply to get things done. The early life of the author, his higher education at Dhaka University, experience as its teacher, closer observation, memories of Humayn Ahmed, thoughts, limitations coupled with this education abroad and assignment in foreign mission have found their place in the lines of this books tending to further enrich the text  and saturating   it with  different taste for the readers of all segment of educated populace.
When a family experiences the lack of values, it surely witness disasters of various kinds. In the same way, if we consider a state as a family, it also embraces the same fate. His rare experience in the field administration as SDO, DC and Divisional Commissioner has given the book a living example of the field administration, its relations with the government and the highest tier of state administration and also the links with the simple and common people who constitute the significant segment of citizenry.  He has drawn the picture of the university campus during 1960s and also a contrasting picture which we meet today in the campus giving us ample food for thought. He has tried to measure the time utilising the standard of gold.
In his bureaucratic and diplomatic career as commercial councilor in Bangladesh Embassy in Japan he has been admonished and not rewarded always but did not linger this point and these phenomena don't appear in the book as significant features. He took things easily and as usual part of human life which many people actually cannot digest. Their anger and frustration get evaporated through their writings or works.  To attract successfully the business tycoons of Japan to Bangladesh, the writer was the chief instrumental figure. He raised the issue before the ambassador who supported, adored and finally helped implement their plan. But to speak the truth, the author has not included this point. He does not feel to express his own credit but we came to learn from the then ambassador and he requested the writer to include this fact in the coming portion of the book.
When suspense came in a chapter he just turns back quickly to another field. This might be his individual technique. In one chapter we get the description that he established Dhaka Forum along with some of his fellow retired colleagues to find out a solution to political chaos of the country. Suddenly, he turns toward his daughter's giving birth to a child. Some of the incidents have been written a little bit haphazardly. If they could have been neatly arranged, the book might see further classical touch. He has employed a number of similes in the book.  The administration of the state has been compared to the heart, lungs and pancreas of human body. To learn their activity and importance X-ray is necessary.  In the same way to know the importance of sound administration of the state we must have inner sight and far-sight which proclaims absent in today's administration. Sound administration has become torn and broken by the touch of politics. Passed memories make him indifferent like uncontrolled fresh air of the sea beach is another simile which he has employed in his write-up as a mature literary figure when he was in the Urbana Champagne campus of Illinoi University. Like a dexterous writer he has been present in all the chapters but has surrendered him to the events and self-speaking. Though he has described the Urbana Champagne, Seattle, Japan and the culture, memories of these places, his scholarly touch in Chemistry has been emerged in the book unconsciously surfacing the fact that he had been a successful Chemistry teacher as well.
He has drawn a contrasting picture of the behaviour of the doctors of USA and Bangladesh. The smiling face and cordial behaviour of a doctor can lessen much pain of a patient which Bangladeshi doctors don't want to know and utilise with some rare exception but the author met this situation in the USA. He comments we may be financially poor but our doctors should not be mentally poor as well. Doctors' good behaviour is the first and very important treatment of any disease which we all feel but not the doctors. Medical Council of developed countries observe not only the professional ability but also conduct and behaviour of the doctors. If ranking of the doctors is detected below the desired standard, their certificate gets cancelled. Like a close observe of the society, he has penned down whatever he experienced at home and abroad, as a government official, as a father and as a grandfather making his chapters palatable with a tasty juice.
The book is a mixture of author's travelling, boyhood experience and the peculiar experiences of administration in the field and highest tier. These diversified phenomena have been embanked within 316 pages dividing it into twenty-eight chapters.  
-Reviewed by Masum Billah

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