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OP-ED: It’s time to wipe the slate clean

  • Published at 09:42 pm March 25th, 2021
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Photo: SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN Dhaka Tribune

To forge ahead, lessons need to be taken from the past

It is natural for emotions to be mixed on the 50th year of independence. Those that had the privilege to put their lives on the line will have bittersweet recollections -- of events, fallen fellow-travellers, and the notoriety of those that betrayed so many. 

They have written or spoken about the War of Liberation and how it transformed their lives. The larger majority from the little villages went back to doing what they did before that life-changing experience. Sadly, their views have hardly been heard. 

Among those that were part of an exodus to flee for their lives, few have had the opportunity to speak about how they survived through those nine traumatic months. Strangely enough, not much has been made known of the support and sacrifices of the bulk of the population that didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t be active participants of the war or a part of the exodus.

History is unforgiving and remorseless, and remains to remind that lessons need to be taken from the past and focused on planning a better and ambitious future. Time, effort, and debate has been devoted to discussing and dissecting the various phases that led to Bangladesh emerging as an independent country. 

The nature of the four basic pillars on which our constitution is based have changed drastically, worldwide, over the years. Nationalism across the world has been fragmented as left, centrist, or right. Secularism is being suffocated through distorted propagation of religion. Socialism, as was understood in the 70s, has been taken apart by the enticement of capitalism from which we aren’t immune. 

Democracy as is generally understood is being compromised by different allegiances, as is the insanity with which freedom of the collective and the individual has been allowed to grow unmanageably beyond the gentleman’s view of accountability.

The hunger for power on the chessboard of geo-political ambitions brings with it new challenges. Much of Bangladesh’s proud recognition as a lower middle income country is due to the exports and remittances. The two provided for jobs and improved lifestyles for some, but not all. They will have to adapt to change, as artificial intelligence increases its foothold. There will be job losses. 

For them and the multitude of others, combined plans for technical and vocational education and a streamlined, revamped education system is a crying need. The quality of education, whether in formal institutions or coaching centres is in shambles. Books and practice sheets make one shudder at the level of below mediocrity. The Qudrat-e-Khuda Commission’s recommendations were valid at the time. Its relevance must be updated.

The anti-liberation forces must be uprooted and tried even if more court benches are required. The demands for an apology must be forcefully insisted on Pakistan for the atrocities committed. Genocide trials in the international court too must be initiated. It’s time to wipe the slate clean and surge further ahead. 

Wallowing in history is unbefitting of the proud nation that we are. Leadership is about vision. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision has either not been understood and definitely not followed up upon. There lies the tragedy of poverty and development that can transform villages. That’s the best tribute for the martyrs, especially those lying in unmarked graves that came from humble backgrounds.

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

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