Bangladesh: of Reality and Expectations
Photo: Yamin Tauseef Jahangir
First a small circle, then a slightly larger one and as it ascends to the top, the radius of the sun gets bigger on the national flags attached to a bamboo stick carried by Mithu, a young man from Munshiganj, who makes a living by selling flags to people in the streets of Dhaka during December, the month of victory. One can think that the ascending order of small to large radiuses of the suns on the flags carried by Mithu symbolises our growing aspirations and achievements as an independent nation. This year we are celebrating the forty years of our glorious victory in the war of liberation. However, though it has been four decades since we emerged as an independent state in the world map, we are yet to achieve much more. On the occasion of the 40th Victory Day celebrations, the young generation has a lot to say.
Mithu, the flag vendor, hopes that more people will buy flags from him to hoist on the rooftops and cars. This is very normal for Mithu, since he can feed his family of four better.
Zahid Aasha, an active volunteer of Movers, Math Olympiad, opts for a Bangladesh where math education would get a high priority in the curriculum. “If we really want to make a digital Bangladesh then there are no alternatives, but to educate our students well in maths. For this we need to be passionate about the subject. In addition, innovative ways of studying this subject must be introduced as well so that students can grow an interest,” says Aasha.
Mizan, a Dhaka University (DU) student, thinks that though occasions like the Victory Day and Independence Day are being celebrated with great flamboyance, the sense of patriotism amongst the people in this country are on the decrease. “From political parties to the media, everyone is trying to exploit people's emotions about the liberation war for the sake of their own interest. If we want to celebrate victory in a befitting manner then we have to work sincerely for our country. It will be the best way to pay tribute to the martyrs of the liberation war,” says Mizan. Prince, another DU student, who is involved in leftist politics says, “Our real victory is yet to be achieved as the people in this country are still deprived of their rights.” Prince says further that people will be more conscious and aware of their rights and they will establish a society, which will promote equality amongst all, within the next ten years.
There are people for whom the occasion of Victory Day is a day of joy and festivities. For Lisa, another DU student residing at the Rokeya Hall, the Victory Day comes with great fun and merriment. “Every December I eagerly wait for the 16th as I, along with my other friends, participate in different programmes within our campus celebrating the day, wearing red and green. A team of teachers and students from our hall go to the national memorial at Savar to pay homage to the martyrs and at night we have feasts in our cafeteria,” says Lisa.
Sakib a student of World University, Bangladesh, however, is one of many young people in this country, who would rather leave Bangladesh and emigrate elsewhere. Sakib wants to leave his homeland for Australia because of the ever-growing population and insecurity in the country. “I am leaving for Australia this December but I hope to return once my higher studies are finished. We can actually make use of the large number of people that we have in the country by sending people to the developed parts of the world and be in touch with the advanced science and technology. We can later on use this and develop our skills to develop our own nation as well,” opines Sakib.
Nowadays, young people are concerned and aware of the challenges that Bangladesh is facing in the 21st century. Right now one of the major problems for Bangladesh is the global climatic change. Asif a student of the Department of Environmental Science, North South University, says that on this Victory Day, Bangladesh will be able to campaign successfully to get its fair share from the United Nations Climate Fund to face the odds of climate change and to compensate for the climate victims in the country's coastal area. “Recently I visited Kuakata with my friends and teachers from our department on a study tour. There we came to learn practically how the global climatic change is affecting the lives of our people in the coastal areas. The sea is rougher than before for the local fishermen. However, there are also glimpses of hope, as we have seen that most of the village houses are using solar panels as a source of renewable energy. Only if the developed nations of the world could use this kind of eco-friendly energy then Bangladesh would be free from the threats of global warming and sea level rise,” says Asif.
For the last few years, the people from all walks of life are voicing the demand for the trial of war criminals louder than ever before. Dr Amena Mohsin, Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, is hopeful that there will be a fair trial of the war crimes within the next few years, which will definitely not be politically motivated. The eminent educationist also hopes for the people of Bangladesh to be courageous and bring an effective change to the so-called form of democracy that the country follows. Only then can we create a better Bangladesh, she says.
Nabil, a ten-year-old cricket enthusiast, of class three, Little Angels School, Dhaka, hopes for the Tigers to win the World Cup to be held in Bangladesh early in 2011. Like Nabil, we also wish for a Bangladesh, ready to solve problems, resolve issues and finally justify the lives of the millions of martyrs, who had lost their lives to gain freedom and establish a mark on the world map.