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Dhaka Tribune

The year 2041 . . . in a citizen’s crystal ball

How this Bangladeshi imagines Bangladesh will be like in 2041

Update : 07 Jun 2022, 05:59 PM

Imagining the future is often a hard calling; and yet the future is what we focus on, for there are all those dreams we associate with it. That association is more often than not linked to society, to nation, to country.

So how do I look to 2041? I will be well into old age, if the gods grant me that long a lease on life. But Bangladesh? 

Having observed first hand the struggle for democratic rights in the 1960s and having been witness to the rise of this People’s Republic from the ashes of war in 1971 and thereafter seen its tortuous trajectory along the road to politics commensurate with people’s aspirations and expectations, here is the picture I have of 2041.

I expect Bangladesh to have graduated to a fully developed democratic society based on the rule of law and constitutional order by the time we celebrate Victory Day in December 2041. A welfare state resting on social democracy, on a guarantee of employment for all, on a strong health system and an assurance of economic benefits for the vulnerable are part of the dream.

I envision a state where all citizens, irrespective of class, caste, faith and the various strands of political convictions, will inhabit a land where secularism is an unassailable underpinning of individual and collective life.

I imagine a landscape where the rule of law, upheld by the political classes and the civil administration and guaranteed by the judiciary, will define the contours of the republic in both the real and metaphorical meanings of the term. That government will be responsive, will speak for all citizens, will not be partisan is the dream I construct in the mind.

I look to Bangladesh in 2041 in the imagery of positivism underscored by the presence of strong institutions -- an assertive Election Commission, a fully empowered Anti-Corruption Commission, a purposeful civil service and a dedicated defense establishment all geared to a promotion of the public weal and unfettered democracy in the country.

I dream of fundamental, constitutionally ensured human rights for the indigenous people of this country, men and women whose hold on their culture and territory has been generational, citizens whose land, property, and life will not be hostage to majoritarian predatory instincts, people empowered to speak of their concerns without fear.

I look to 2041 as a year when we will proudly proclaim to the world that our system of justice can be emulated by nations beyond ours because our judiciary is absolutely independent, because it reassures citizens that any onslaught on their rights will be dealt with swiftly and pitilessly and that those who commit wrong will pay the price for their misdemeanours despite their links to power, to those wielding political authority.

I look to the year, to 2041, where every instance of malfeasance, of wrongdoing, will be swiftly dealt with. 

I picture a time when men and women of nefarious intent will not hold positions of power or be called upon to serve as advisors to elected government. 

I see, in the prism of my thoughts, a time when black money will not be turned into white money, when money will not be laundered abroad for criminal elements to play truant with national resources.

I see an era when political dynasties will not disturb the structure of democratic governance in Bangladesh, where hereditary politics will be a bad story consigned to the dustbin of history. 

I see politics rooted among the masses and political leaders rising from the grassroots to speak for the nation.

In 2041, I envisage a media operating in the fullness of freedom without the shadow of draconian laws threatening journalists. I expect the media to speak truth to power and for power to heed the message. 

Indeed, I think of 2041 as that year when a properly and democratically elected parliament will keep the executive branch of government on its toes through its deliberations and oversight of administrative affairs. 

That lawmakers will engage in meaningful debate and not sycophantic behaviour on the floor of parliament, that they will put tough questions before the prime minister and every minister and that those questions will be answered to popular satisfaction is what I look forward to in 2041.

My vision of 2041 speaks of a country where rural regeneration will have revived our lost tradition of agrarian grandeur, will have laws in place to prevent and punish the commandeering and destruction of villages and croplands, will place stringent limits on an unbridled and unacceptable expansion of urban squalor. 

My dreams of 2041 encompass a time when education will be meaningful and free for our children, when schools, colleges, and universities will turn out the best and the brightest of young men and women we will have on offer. 

These young people will not move off to foreign climes in search of prosperity through acquisition of overseas citizenship but will remain rooted, in their patriotism, to their country and give of their best to it. Our workers will not be subjected to humiliation abroad but will have employment and happiness here at home.

In 2041, Bangladesh will be home to citizens adhering to the principles of Bengali nationalism. The tampering with history that has marred the past, the selective reading of the historical narrative that has undermined our soul as a nation will have become a sordid tale belonging in times gone by.

Such is the canvas of dreams I paint in the world of my imagination as we look to 2041. A new, vibrant dawn symbolic of the resilience of Bengalis, of their resurgence as inheritors of a rich heritage is what I envision in this season of rains presaging the coming of the monsoon.

Syed Badrul Ahsan is a journalist and biographer.

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