Bangladesh is severely ill today; it needs proper treatment, which makes concerned people worried. I am surely concerned about the future of the country. The future of a country depends on the success and failure of her citizens. The people of Bangladesh abroad work very hard, and many of them are successful. A part of their hard earned money abroad flows back to Bangladesh, which keeps the country afloat. Today, Garments Industries are flourishing. But, political turmoil and corruption have been always a threat to this industry.
Bangladesh had been moving in the wrong direction since the get-go. Bongabondhu wanted to bring economic liberty for the people through socialism. He wanted to bring such a gigantic social change without building proper foundation through Cultural Revolution, which, in case of Bangladesh, will be the Bangalee-Jatiotabadi consciousness. It was a proper time to transform the national psyche towards that cultural movement. Instead of taking that route whole-heartedly, he started to appease religious fundamentalism, and became engaged in building relationship with recently defeated enemy, Pakistan, and other nations which opposed the very independence of Bangladesh. Friendly nations, like India and Soviet Union, started to desert him. He became a lone ranger, without learning necessary survival techniques. Rest is history.
Unfortunately, no one learns from the history. Today religious fundamentalism has overtaken politics in Bangladesh. The history tells us that – admixture of religion and politics may work for a while in a monolithic society, but it will become explosive as an admixture in a non-monolithic society. Bangladesh has moved away from the secular ideals of Bangalee-Jatiotabad, and the result is right before our very eyes.
Sometime, political parties may think that they will only come to power using religious fundamentalism, and then shun it. Bongabondhu might have thought so also. Pakistani President Musharaf will attest to this statement as well. Even, USA will attest to it; they created Taliban and Al-Qaida. You know what happened after that. The fact is – once Jinni is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back. Therefore, such duplicity will never work; it’s against the natural rule.
Politics is not a faith, it’s a science; it follows certain laws. For correct results one needs to apply correct formula. For example, religious fundamentalism will create conflict in a non-monolithic society, and it will push the society backward. You won’t need to be a genius to figure it out; it’s dictated by social and political laws.
Religious fundamentalism is driven by illusions, not by reality. Even communism/socialism is partly illusion based, without much logic. It is true – one can organize a society using such illusions; Hitler did it, and it worked for a while. Religious fundamentalism will also work for a while, no doubt, but – it is bound to hit the reality at some point.
World, today, has become very small. If someone fires a rifle at one corner, the sound reaches the other corner instantly. Even geographical boundary does not mean much today. People share same thought instantly around the world. There is no place for religious fundamentalism in this new day and age.
Bangladesh was born out of a secular spirit, and it was at the forefront of this new age. Unfortunately, what happened to this new country is really a sad story. The country is now under the clutch of the religious fundamentalism, which is against the Bangalee-Jatiotabad. Religious fundamentalists are ashamed of being Bangalee; they want to destroy Bangalee culture and instill a foreign culture in its place. They want to go back to the pre-independence era of exploitation. They know full well – they cannot succeed as long as Bangalee-Jatiotabadi sentiment is alive in Bangladesh. Ziaur Rahman wanted to introduce Banglaseshi-Jatiotabad in an attempt to erase Bangalee-Jatiotabad. The fact is – there is nothing called Bangladeshi-Jatiotabad, it’s a fake Jatiotabad. His argument was – there are other ethnic groups in Bangladesh, and he wanted to be fair to them. Actually, that was a lame excuse on his part to erase Banglaee-Jatiotabad. Yes, we have Bangladeshi-Bangalee, Bangladeshi-Chakma, Bangladeshi-Bihari, etc., but, that has nothing to do with Bangalee-Jatiotabad, Chakma-Jatiotabad, Bihari-Jatiotabad, etc. Our nationality is Bangladeshi, but not Jatiota. We belong to Bangalee, Chakma, Bihari, etc. Jatis.
Since 99% of Bagladeshi are Bangalee, and we have religious sectorial divisions, only glue that can unite the majority is Bangalee-Jatiotabad. There is no alternative to this option to achieve this goal. We need some leader who can make this case to the people, and say, without hesitation, Joy Bangla, and Joy Bangalee-Jatiotabad in front of the crowd. This is the only medicine that can cure Bangladesh from the illness of religious fundamentalism.
Religious fundamentalism is a social cancer. Even if – we cannot cure Bangladesh from this dreadful disease, we may be able to manage it, if we act early enough. If we wait too long, this disease will spread so much that – it will become unmanageable.
Some people may think that – we have our country, why we need secular ideals. Bongabondhu may be one of those people. It’s not enough that you have planted a tree; you need to water it and protect it from diseases. The story is the same here. We may have Bangladesh, but – it needs nursing and care. Bangalee-Jatiotabad is the fertilizer that will keep Bangladesh lush and vibrant.
Bangladesh is independent, but the enemies of independence are not sitting idle. So, those who are for the independence cannot let the guard down.
(This article was published in the Bengali-Newspaper, Thikana, in the USA on February 2, 2007)