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OP-ED: Cloaks, daggers, and Cold Wars

  • Published at 07:56 pm August 19th, 2020
world map
Photo: BIGSTOCK

Old ways of waging war have been replaced by new forms of entrapment

Cartographers through the centuries have spent countless hours poring over canvases and paper in drawing the lines that separate kingdoms and countries. Some of them charted the voyages across seas to different continents where new countries, later to be dominions, were discovered for the so-called civilized world. 

Ironically, the icons of such journeys are fast losing their reverence not entirely with reason and then again not without. The world as we know it has evolved. That which was of historical significance is now being called to question. The days of entrapping human beings through waging wars are over. 

Replacing it has emerged a new form under the guise of isms and economic policies that feed on the greed for control of water and natural resources. Technology, arms, and the inherent desire for self-interests are all being used to further geo-political shifts that operate on crass subterfuge. 

In so doing, the despicable theory of Lord Macaulay to systematically dismember carefully built cultural, educational, social, and even religious edifices, was refined. Brainwashed infiltrators in the form of businessmen, job doers, and literary and cultural activists spread across the length and breadth of countries where social fabric was thin. 

Money and psychoanalysis were carefully implanted, creating a group that permeated seats of government and legislatures. Hence the division, creating groupings in government and legislatures to “pro-this” or “pro-that.” In the bastions of democracy, there are not-so-hidden controversies of gross interventions by foreign states through thinly disguised non-descript platforms. 

The privacy data leak sources were pinpointed, the platform creators were identified and noting (sic) could be done about them. The US president might be carrying matters too far in his “fake media” tirade but there’s little doubt that his view isn’t unfounded. Governments have failed to be neutral in shutting down voices of dissent, choosing only those that are openly critical. Those that spew discord and a larger agenda get off scot-free.

Politicians often talk of conspiracy theories and they are correct, except that they too must know up to which point they can be expressive. History that was once accepted as the truth is being probed anew and significant skeletons are being discovered. 

Leaders and thinkers, most of them long-gone, are having their inner thoughts and compromises with ideals exposed. Neutral and unimpassioned discourse is being throttled to the more immediate pressure of the version of politics that continue to be used to keep myopic visions of the electorate at bay. Donald Trump’s supporters still consider he is doing a “great job.” Boris Johnson’s cabinet is happy at being more cloistered in cabinet rooms rather than the openness of interacting with the public. 

Arching over all the incompetence is a new fascination with maps. Sir Cyril Radcliffe knew nothing about them or India and completed his mission of dividing a country heavily intoxicated. Having done so he left and was buried in historical ignominy. Yet now, Nepal has approved a new map inclusive of what has been known as Indian territory, China stakes its claim on land that is in dispute with India, and Pakistan now wants the whole of Kashmir and Gujarat to boot. 

A group of intellectuals continues to harbour pipe dreams of a “Greater Bangladesh” stoked by media that is ostensibly trying to report the “facts.” This theory is based on an inflow of immigrants both Hindu and Muslim into Indian soil that is supposedly a demographic tilt of the balance. 

Pakistan, having failed to ensure equality of the Bengali Muslims either through democratic polity, economic reasoning, and even murderous genocide, is getting its press to regurgitate Clement Attlee’s discourse with the US ambassador of the time. 

That was based on Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy’s plan of a third state, United Bengal, at the time of India’s Partition. It couldn’t muster enough muscle and died a premature death. But then, there are still media outlets such as India’s Times of India that maintain an online portal “Greater Bangladesh” that faithfully reports on matters in Bangladesh, Noida, and other areas that have an uncanny geographical spread of United Bengal.

Cartographers continue to remain busy aided by the miracles of technology. The cloaks have been discarded, the daggers are still drawn, and the predicted new Cold Wars are nothing compared to the mischief at play. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.

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