Learning from past lapses

History is a great teacher but the sad part is that few seem to learn from it . Great periods of progress can be followed amazingly by bigotry and non enlightenment. Historians also have a name for this :reaction. Defeated and vested interest groups are able to create confusions and disregard in the minds of the people about the new order of things to get them to react to the same.
The reaction, based on a nostalgia of the past, can lead to u-turns and subsequent wiping away of the gains made by progressive ideas and revolutionary activities. Thus, the period of excellence achieved in all fields by western civilization, the Greek renaissance, was wasted by the coming of the dark ages in Europe when reason and enlightenment was banished for the supreme ascendancy of religious orthodoxy. Similarly, the clarion calls of ‘equality, fraternity and brotherhood’ that seemed to change social and political relationships forever in Europe, unfortunately turned into a complete reversal by the military coup of a dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte, and finally ended in the full restoration of the once despised monarchy of the Bourbon kings, after some years. Of course, the excesses committed by the progressives and revolutionaries also had a great deal to do with such regressive developments. But that is another matter .The point is, the preservation, on the whole, of the positive developments of a new and promising era should be in the interest of all human societies. Learners from history in the modern times can avoid the reactionary pitfalls of the past and consolidate and build on stages of correct advancement made by their national societies without relapsing back to the old order.
The case of Bangladesh is a very relevant one in this context. The inspiration for the creation of Bangladesh was based on the finest human values :love for the country and everything positive it represented. The ones who were first pulsated by a conception of Bangladesh were fired by the passions of patriotism without which no people can stand up with their head high and work for their well-being and prosperity. The movement for Bangladesh progressively gathered force from ideologies like Bengali nationalism, democracy, non communalism and winning of the economic emancipation of the people.
The struggle for the independence of the country intensified guided by these core aspirations. It was envisioned that after the winning of freedom, the identity of Bangladeshis would be as Bengalees only. The supreme objective of the liberation war was that a truly welfare state would be set up where the state would seek to fulfill the basic needs of all in the country . Rule of law, a pluralistic society based on democratic governance and tolerance, were the other cherished values that would be sought to be established in Bangladesh. Thus, all the liberal values and objectives were prominent as the founding principles to guide the new country.
But after forty six years forces are found well entrenched in the Bangladesh polity who seem to be working for the transformation of the country to conform to a model not very different from the Talebans in Afghanistan. Madrashas or the breeding grounds of these groups have been proliferating a great deal faster than normal academic institutions in Bangladesh. The religious schools have been getting a bigger share of the education pie in contrast to schools and colleges with secular syllabuses based on science and other subjects with a relevance for the economy or nation building. The patronisation of the various forms of religious orthodoxies by successive governments have made the country very fertile for their ascendancy in all respects.
A foreign observer who returned to Dhaka after some years quipped that when he was here last, two out of ten women in the roads would be spotted wearing the all envelopingburquahs(shrouds), but the number now would be eight out of ten. This alone, is exemplary of how the social scene in Bangladesh is being set for a change for Talebanisation or something similar. It is like setting the clock backwards when this is the last thing that the freedom fighters for Bangladesh fought for or gave their lives. The struggle against autocratic governance was prominent in the eighties in Bangladesh under Ershad. But autocracy has not been replaced with democracy in the real sense of the term. Elected governments from the nineties have set unparalleled records in corruption, violation of the civil and political rights of people, waste of state resources, politicisation of the administrations to frustrate free elections, awful exploitation of the consumers through underhand syndicates of hoarders and profiteers of essential goods, putting productivity of the economy at great risk from insufficient power production, paving the way for dynastic ambition in ruling over the country, etc.
Other nations in our Asian neighbourhood could travel far in the last four decades to a remarkably elevated state economically. South Korea, for example, is now regarded as a developed nation though its overall conditions resembled ours only three decades ago. South Korea, Malaysia and others in our East Asianneighbourhood that prospered, developed and consolidated their gains, achieved the same singularly from their devotion to modernization and industrialization backed up by an increasingly dynamic and need-based education system with science and technology at its core. These countries did not indulge in the dangerous luxury of rearing obscurantist forces in the name of education. Our polity or civil society shall have to create the clamour infavour of a new stream of positive, enlightened and dedicated leadership to steer the country to realize its full potentials in the future. Various international ratings has put Bangladesh among 11 countries which are most likely to be the next economic powerhouses in the near future provided their governance proves to be equal to their potentials. Bangladesh has missed the bus, very regrettably, for the last forty-six years. It cannot absolutely afford to go on wasting time and opportunities in this fatal manner.


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