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Dhaka Tribune

Bangabandhu's ‘second revolution’ has no alternatives

The great leader's dream must be made into a reality

Update : 23 Sep 2023, 11:14 PM

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of Bangladesh and the undisputed leader of the Bengalis, was brutally assassinated on August 15, 1975. But the killers, their masters, and associates could not extirpate his philosophy, principles, and ideals.

If we interpret Bangabandhu's life, we find him an honest and beautiful person. His political career was enlightening. His thoughts were clear. His life, philosophy, policies, ideals, actions, and leadership comprise the elements of being a good citizen.

His magnificent and forward-looking ideas were his political wisdom to achieve extraordinary goals, which will be revered forever. 

Bangabandhu was a simple-hearted man, but he possessed a solid political ethos. Immense faith, love for the country's people, and unflinching patriotism made Bangabandhu steely, brave, and resilient. His courageous and charismatic leadership led Bengalis, who were hapless for thousands of years, towards a shining future.

Prominent political leaders in our subcontinent had political philosophies, thoughts, or visions. For example, Mahatma Gandhi’s political philosophy, Pax Gandhiana, contended that politics cannot achieve peace alone. Peace requires the confluence of politics and economics, ethics, forms of pleasure, and the pursuit of spiritual transcendence.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah believed that the Muslims of the subcontinent should have their state to avoid the possible marginalized status following independence. In the Lucknow conference, he influenced the Congress and the League to agree on a common scheme of reforms, partitioning India and establishing a Muslim state.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s political thoughts recognized nationalism in developing a cohesive India while he was aware of the contribution of technology in building a modern India. Nehru considered religion as a private matter.   

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s political beliefs circled on peace, harmony, and equal rights, reflected in the four guiding principles of the state-adopted constitution: Nationalism, democracy, socialism, and secularism. He acquired his philosophical beliefs from his love for the people and the country and his political engagement and struggles over many years. 

Bangabandhu Mujib has made the dream of independence of Bengalis for almost 4,000 years by uniting an unorganized nation slowly, step by step, with a clear political goal to become independent, and has given them the right to live with dignity in a sovereign country, Bangladesh, which made Bangabandhu an unparalleled and the greatest leader in our region through his political acumen. 

Bangabandhu set an example by establishing a secular, modern democratic state by uniting the Bengalis and about 49 small ethnic groups in the same nationalist movement. He is the true friend of Bengalis, the "Bangabandhu." 

In a statement from 1970, he said, "Our struggles will be paid off if we can make the lives of the future citizens of this country free from misery, if we can make happy, beautiful, and prosperous futures for all, and if we can ease the burden of sorrow by paving the way for the fulfilment of the dream that we had drawn for the countrymen for so long." 

Bangabandhu’s nationalist politics built on co-existence and mutual tolerance of different groups in the society while equal rights of all citizens were the backbone. He always stood against communal violence. He wanted to bring a massive sociopolitical change to socialism while not following Marxist or Maoist philosophy or importing socialism from other countries. He had his philosophy to bring about sociopolitical change. 

Bangabandhu declared the second revolution to build a socialist society with a vision to bring change to the fate of the people, keeping democracy, social justice, and people's rights unruffled. Bangabandhu formed the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (Baksal) on February 24 following an amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh (enacted on January 25, 1975) to implement his vision.

About the second revolution, Bangabandhu said at the National Parliament on January 25, 1975, “This is our second revolution. This revolution aims to bring smiles to the faces of the unfortunate people. This means the end of oppression and injustice. This calls for believing in the four principles -- nationalism, democracy, socialism, and secularism. This calls for all who believe in these principles to love their country. Everyone has a scope to contribute to the development of the country. Come and join the race to work for the country. Save the country. Save the people. Remove the sorrows of the people. And uproot the corrupt, bribe-takers, extortionists, hoarders and, of course, those anti-state elements who did not want our independence and yet I gave them a chance” (translation adopted from Dr Atiur Rahman, The Daily Sun, June 15, 2021). 

By killing Bangabandhu, the hyenas thought they could stop his dream. But Bangabandhu's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, is taking this determination forward by removing the darkness of two decades. But the current political landscape is often hostile. Sometimes, we see that some groups are misleading the flow of information. At times, there is a breakdown of good governance.

The second revolution has directions for every aspect of the country. The second revolution evaluated education as one of the core agendas to implement. Bangabandhu took appropriate measures soon after the country became independent to create an enlightened nation by establishing a modern education system through radical changes.

Education was given the highest importance in the 1972 constitution prepared by the post-independence Bangabandhu government to eliminate our nation's poverty and backwardness, and build a developed and prosperous country. Article 17 of the Constitution talks about a people-oriented education system. In 1972, Bangabandhu's government took the initiative to create a people-oriented, science-based education policy for the country. He formed an education commission headed by eminent scientist Dr Qudrat-A-Khuda. In Bangabandhu’s second revolution, the people-oriented modern education system was a priority.

Bangabandhu's daughter is following her father's footsteps in promoting education. Nevertheless, it is visible that the quality of the education system has not been improved as expected. Inequality of the education system across the public and private, and rural and urban-based institutions, curriculum, path (generic and madrasa-based), and incompatible systems to meet the current demand and compete with the modern world hinder appropriate skill development from building a prosperous Bangladesh.

There is a lack of elements to develop the intellects of students. The slow pace and contrast in creating a people-oriented modern education system to meet the requirements of the modern world has created imparity in society. The skilled population needed to run a modern state is not being made. 

The current "demographic dividend," created because of declining fertility and mortality rates and the subsequent increase in the ratio of working-age people, has a substantial economic impact on Bangladesh. The education system is not adequately organized to use the "demographic dividend" opportunity. We cannot use the demographic dividend opportunity if we fail to offer a sound education system for the next generations.

Today, Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in infrastructural development, which is eye-catching, but we have not been able to establish good governance as directed by Bangabandhu. The bureaucratic mess is still slowing down the relentless journey of the general citizens.

Corruption is rampant in Bangladesh, where regular citizens willingly or unwillingly are bound to pay bribes for essential services routinely. The financial sectors of Bangladesh and a few of their Mephistopheles clients have long been involved in horrendous corrupt acts in the form of deliberate loan default, swindling, and money laundering. However, still, there are no remedies. 

These are a few of the many challenges that need immediate solutions. The only way to meet these challenges is to fully evaluate the philosophy and instructions left by Bangabandhu through his "second revolution" program and ensure its implementation in the state machinery.

Dr Ezaz Mamun is a freelance contributor from Australia.

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