Your cause can be anything from educating children to feeding the homeless
The failure of Oikya Front and BNP to lure the people outside of the supporting groups of the two major parties -- into a strong movement over the past few months and years (electoral or otherwise) shows us that the image of the second party is so tarnished that they will not be able to replace it anytime soon.
The ruling party, on the other hand, seems to be very strong in their position. It seems that much of the population in Bangladesh has placed their trust in the current government as the pioneers of development, and are at least complacent with some of the abuses which have occurred in the past few years.
Bangladesh is still at its catching-up growth period where development is fast and eye-catching, but soon, this growth rate will settle down. Perhaps the scenario will change by that time, but until then, we will have to learn to manoeuvre the current state of affairs.
As such, we the people who want to create positive change in Bangladesh must look towards means which can get the job done, even when a full-scale political revolution (that would be necessary to change the current rulers) seems unlikely. One such way could be through social movements.
Two of our most recent social movements, the quota reformation movement and the movement for safer streets, were able to get some of their demands met by the government.
It was announced that the quota would be abolished for class-I and class-II jobs in the civil service and the police held “Traffic Week” in response to the safe roads movement. This way of doing things comes with the price of being attacked on the open streets and getting jailed, but it is still worth a shot.
The second way is keeping other institutions strong that may hold the government accountable from time to time. One of those institutions is the media.
Although there is currently a stranglehold on the media through the Digital Security Act -- and more means maybe on the way -- journalists can still make the government uncomfortable by digging up stories that expose any rot within the system.
Another institution that can play a role is the civil society. Civil society groups like Ain o Salish Kendra, Centre for Policy Dialogue, and Sujon may act as tab keepers of the government. In the culture of fear that has been allowed to breed in the country, it is hard to believe that these institutions will be able to efficiently do any of the tasks listed above.
But, then again, we must all do our part as much as we can.
The best way, at least for now, is to choose a cause that is non-confrontational with the interests of the ruling party, and work for that through a government or non-government organization. The cause could be educating street children or feeding the homeless.
While it sounds like the coward’s choice, it is one that can really make a difference at this time and build our organizational capacity for the revolution to come in a time that is more fortunate than the present.
We must now realize that we have lost a battle. We have failed so far to prove to the masses that democracy and human rights are as important as development.
But the fight is still not over. Let us find a different path for now, and wait patiently for the opportune moment.
And when the time comes, we will all be ready.
Anupam Debashis Roy is the Editor-at-large of Muktiforum. He can be reached at [email protected]