Things that make you to Think
Young generation opine on 41 years journey of Bangladesh.
The word ‘Independence’ carried a lot more weight than usual to the people of former East Pakistan when the nation proclaimed sovereignty and Bangladesh was born on 26 March 1971. Demanding to be free from the oppression imposed by West Pakistan (now Pakistan), Bangalees dove into a war against political, social and economical desiccation to claim their rights. Millions of people willingly shed their blood in 1971 to gain a free country for their future generations, who would be proud to be born as citizens of an independent country, realising what it was worth.
41 years has passed since that fateful year, and Bangladesh celebrated 41st Independence Day on 26 March 2012 with a fervour,
through several events organised around the country.
However, all the celebrations were marred, all sacrifices put to shame, when political activists of both the ruling and opposition parties got themselves into a fight over placing wreaths in the sanctified National Memorial at Savar. An eight-year-old, who had come to offer respect with his father, got caught in the middle the mess and practically fled. “I was getting scared there. My father held me tight, and we ran away from that place.” The father later hired a rickshaw and they went away, the child still holding the roses he had wanted to place at the National Memorial.
The frightened child was but one example of how young Bangaless today perceive the state’s so-called development. While talking to several young people on this auspicious day, this reporter found that, despite their endless pride and love for this country and respect for the 1971 martyrs, they are deeply concerned about how the state has not yet succeeded to ensure the basic rights and needs of its people.
“I am proud to have been born in Bangladesh, but I am also ashamed that we are not living up to the dream of our ancestors, our freedom fighters. This feeling ignites anger in me, but it also inspires me to work for our betterment,” said Sazzad Mahmud, a student at Jahangirnagar University.
“In addition to fulfilling our basic rights, it is also crucial to renovate our political system. I think a large vacuum has been created, judging by the overall situation,” he added.
Masudur Rahman, a software engineer and recent graduate of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), regretfully said, “True independence is still far beyond our grasp. We have our own country, but we still have hundreds of problems and crises. It might not have been this way if our political leaders were honest in their intentions and objectives.
“Corruption exists in every corner of our country. I had bitter experience while looking for jobs. Money is a better evaluating factor than an applicant’s qualifications. The state fails to create suitable jobs for the meritorious students that graduate every year. For this, I see many of my fellow university students leaving this country and becoming an asset for others,” says a frustrated Masud to this reporter.
Sifat Mahmud, a private university student, is also unhappy about the country’s progress. He said, “42 years have passed and Bangladesh has come a long way, making a mark in numerous arenas. But there are also countless things that have not changed. Poor people became poorer. Poverty is still prevalent and has become a huge problem. Economical crisis affect every step of day-to-day life. Are we truly independent when we still have to depend on others? I don’t think so. General people are still suffering.”
“How can I appreciate the dirty politics that makes our political leaders use vulgar and crude language with each other inside the National Parliament?” asked 23-year-old Saadi, who is an HSC student and runs a tea stall.
The youngsters are also concerned about the long term crisis faced by Bangladesh as well. “Our rivers are dying. Maachhey Bhaatey Bangalee (Banglalees live for fish and rice) is becoming a myth for many of us,” said a number of people while talking to this reporter.
“It has been years since I had the real smell of a Hilsha fish. That is just a childhood memory now. I have not breathed fresh air for a long time. What happened to our nature and environment?” asked Shafik Islam, a jobseeker living in the capital.
Life, in general, has become hard for people, whether they live in the rural or urban areas. Same goes for young people. Children these days begin life outside with fighting for a place in the renowned schools, and continue fighting for the same when they finish school, college, and university.
The struggle continues when the young grown-ups start their adult lives by trying to beat the constant price hike of daily commodities, house rent, utility bills and only God knows what the other bills are.
A philosophy student from Dhaka University asked this reporter, “Could you tell me what I will do after graduation? Is there any particular job opportunity regarding my field except for teaching, which is unattainable due to corruption? My parents, who live in village, are still unaware how I grow more and more tense after finishing each of my school years.”
“Nowadays, political parties are giving a shout-out for the young people, but are they truly trying to create a friendly environment and corruption-free country for them? They should work for the people- the poor and deprived people of this country. How many years does our government- any government- still need to ensure our basic rights and security?” asked Mithila Syed, a young service holder.
The young generation of Bangladeshis is much worried about the country’s political agitation, social depreciation, economical instability and the constant pollution and corruption of our beautiful, resource country. Nonetheless, they have respect for our martyrs and feel proud to be Bangladeshis.
This story was published at Morning Tea, a weekly magazine of The Daily Sun in its 41st Independence day special issue.