Sylhet
April 21st, 2018
1952-1971 / স্বাধীনতা যুদ্ধ
Where do we stand on the 40th year of our independence?
March 26th, 20115,563 views

It is the 40th anniversary of our independence. Anniversaries come and go. Let us face it, over the years we have not been able to reach the fruits of our independence to the people at large. How unfortunate that within a few years of our independence the Father of the Nation and several members of his family including his wife and a minor child were gunned down by a ruthless bunch of power-hungry officers of our army, in connivance with some of our disgruntled politicians and civil society members.

Forty years down the line justice has been meted out and many of those involved in the heinous crimes received the death penalty. Yet something is amiss, there are still some grey areas. Be that as it may, we haven't taken any lesson from it. To many of us it looks as though the whole matter still continues to be a purely family matter. Yes it is a great tragedy, indeed. But it should also be viewed as a national tragedy more than anything else, that aspect seems to be missing.

The Bangabandhu was not only the father of our Prime Minster but also the architect of our independence. He was both a leader and a friend of the people. It is disgusting for the people at large to live with this continued debate as to who made the declaration of our independence and who did not. Does it really matter. What really matters is that we were fortunate enough to have a leader of the stature of the Bangabandhu to guide us in the hour of our need leading to our liberation from occupation forces and subsequent independence as a sovereign a nation. That is the fact sealed and signed by the entire world community and no one can alter that no matter what, the rest of the controversies are nothing but cheap politics.

Many argue that 40 years in the life of a newly-born country is not too long a time and we have made considerable progress. There is some truth in that but surely we should have done much better. Indeed, there is much to be said about the way the administration is functioning today. If anything we are confronted with an administration which happens to be the poorest since independence. In all fields of development interventions, confusion reigns supreme. There is serious lack of coordination right from the planning to implementation levels.

We never had a cabinet of ministers as large as the one we have today with a number of advisors. God alone knows as to what the advisors in particular are doing and why they are there. Time and again, we have seen that they have simply complicated matters by their so-called advice. There is continuous conflict of interests between the ministers and the ruling party lawmakers. To be honest, to many of us, our foreign policy appears to be so remote and foreign. Never before has any administration of the past since our independence has indulged itself in such secret and conspiratorial deals particularly with foreign governments as the present regime.

They say that corruption is eating through the vitals of our development process would be an understatement But my question is: Whose corruption is it, and how is it taking place? By the going of things it must be said that as much as we talk of containing corruption, we simultaneously have created new avenues.

It is indeed hard to describe this administration as democratic. Since taking the reins of the administration the ruling party has continually undermined peoples' causes. At best it has been a democracy by proxy. It is a democracy of the chosen few, by the chosen few and for the chosen few. A look into the Yunus episode would reveal as to how democratic are we? The way our media continue to be bashed, how the voices of the dissidents are stifled, in a subtle way, tell us the story?

The story of Bangladesh right through the 40th year of our independence is more of a story of missed opportunities than anything else. On this 40th year of independence, we have so far wasted both our resources and time on issues of lesser consequences. Our mega projects have been undertaken without due cost- and- benefit analysis and without due consultation with the people, the actual stakeholders. Never before so many vital management decisions were taken hurriedly that had to be subsequently withdrawn or backtracked by the ruling party. Admittedly the previous governments including the Jote Sarker had innumerable flaws but there, at least, we knew where we stood for good or for worse. Today's ruling party is ever so elusive and shrouded in mystery. To be frank, the ruling party happens to be professionally the weakest and the most nontransparent of all the governments we had so far.

There is considerable truth in as much as many of the key problems facing the country today have been inherited by the ruling party but the fact remains, it too has not performed as well as it should have over the past 27 months or so. As the saying goes, morning shows the day and thus there is no reason for the people to be optimistic about the performance of this regime during the rest of its tenure. Frankly, as we see it, even if the present regime were to be in the seat of power for the next five years or so with its present level of management skills it is unlikely that it would perform any better.

It may be relevant to mention here that the ruling party is also behind making some of our cardinal instruments of the state highly controversial like the judiciary. It has quite unduly clipped the wings of the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC). The police for all practical purposes have become an instrument of terror for the public. Corruption at the public service organizations like the DCC, BRTA, and the Department of Land Administration have become veritable places of extortion and agony for the public at large.

Finally let me assure you that this essay is written with charity for all and malice towards none. These are impressions of a cross-section of people with whom I interact on a regular basis, like the retired bureaucrats, people with limited incomes, small shopkeepers or roadside vendors, the community of drivers and other service-providers including some university teachers and the likes.

People's expectations from the ruling party have been dashed. It is sad to see how people are now comparing its performance with the 'Jote Sarker'. Not only that, a large section of the population believes that the Ershad-era was the best the country has witnessed so far.

However, all said and done let us recall, once again, with profound gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so that we live in a land of our own in harmony and with dignity. When that will happen is anybody's guess.

Source: FE. The writer can be reached at e-mail: chowdhury.shamsher@yahoo.com