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No anti-corporal punishment law yet

01 November 2022


Sir Frank Peters :
Deeply entrenched in local history and frequently espoused with great gusto and enthusiasm by many is Bangabandhu's dream of the nation he fathered becoming a Sonar Bangla (Golden Bangladesh).
It's national anthem "Amar Sonar Bangla" was written in 1905 prior to Bangladesh becoming a nation by Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) almost as if in anticipation, or as a prediction, of its eventual arrival.
Throughout history, great men have entertained great dreams. Some dreams, perhaps, are direct messages from the divine that may never be recorded in Holy books for future generations to contemplate and learn from, but are spoken to an individual in silent prayer during the stillness of the night to teach when the mind is at peace and in a receptive state.
At the height of the US Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared all Blacks held captive in the states, who had rebelled against the United States (as members of the Confederacy), to be set free.
Two years later on December 18, 1865, the 13th Amendment was adopted as part of the United States Constitution to officially abolish all slavery, and immediately more than 100,000 enslaved were freed. It was Abraham Lincoln's dream.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Aug. 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., the iconic humanitarian activist, one of the most prominent leaders in the American civil rights movement, gave his world altering "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Sadly, in 1968, he was assassinated and did not see his dream materialized for the greater benefit of mankind. His words, however, resonated throughout the world, touching the hearts and souls of mankind and sowing the seeds in humanity of the vast improvement we witness today.
This brings us to a local great man - Bangabandhu, Founder of the Nation, Hero and Visionary.
On March 7, 1971, Bangabandhu epitomized his Sonar Bangla vision before two million people at the conclusion of his epic thunderous speech at the Ramna Racecourse.
Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bangabandhu's dream could also be entitled 'I have a dream'.
His journey in this world abruptly and horrifically ended on August 15, 1975 by assassin bullets, but his dream and hope lives on to inspire Bangladesh's journey over the coming years.
While Bangabandhu may have been in a relay race against time itself to achieve the Sonar Bangla nation he envisioned and desired; his daughter, three-time Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, has seemingly taken the baton from his hand and is moving forward decisively.
Millions of people throughout the world have an empathy with Bangladesh - and don't even know it. They may not be waving the red and green national coloured flag in public, but are proudly wearing top branded Bangladesh-made garments of high quality and style.
And not just any garment, but one made with skill, passion, love, and hope for a better future that will provide better living for the maker and his or her extended family.
Rare is the ready-made garment factory worker who goes to work to solely provide for his or her own individual needs. The majority of RMG workers have children to support and extended families that may include sick and elderly.
Interwoven into every garment made in Bangladesh is the international manufacturing standard of the highest quality, but also the spirit of care, love and compassion for family loved ones.
History also tells us Bangabandhu was an advocate of anti-corporal punishment who never hit his son Sheikh Russel. No doubt Bangabandhu (1920-1975) readily recognised the value of children to a nation.
For any dream to be given any hope or chance of coming true, the dreamer must first wake up. Bangladesh needs to wake up to the flaws within the education system and work towards accomplishing Bangabandhu's magnificent beautiful dream of a Sonar Bangla. The noble journey begins with the education system.
It is an indisputable fact that good education is the solid foundation of every nation and if Bangladesh doesn't succeed in eliminating corporal punishment in its entirety from the education system, the much talked about and much-hyped Bangabandhu's Sonar Bangla dream is nothing more than a pipe dream.
All the achievements being lauded and accomplished today maybe mere eye candy sand castles, built without solid foundation and longevity.
Golden future
If we are to believe in our heart of hearts that children are the golden future of Bangladesh, then we must do all in our power to protect our natural resources not just because it is the right thing to do, that Allah would want us to do, but because it would senseless to build on quicksand.
It's somewhat astonishing that on January 13, 2011 Bangladesh Supreme Court Justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif decreed that corporal punishment should be banned in all schools and madrassas. But it still has not been passed into law, although loud cries of "our children are our greatest resource and the future of Bangladesh" echo profusely throughout the nation. The mind boggles. It only took Sweden months to legislate its protection for its most valuable asset.
The biggest leap forward towards helping to achieve Bangabandhu's dream of becoming a sonar Bangla would be to legislate anti-corporal punishment laws without delay and follow through in upholding them.
Good luck to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her noble quest to materialize her father's magnanimous dream. No doubt success is beckoning.

(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer and a profoundly esteemed foreign friend of Bangladesh.)

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