Thursday, January 31, 2013

Khaleda Zia's Article in The Washington Times - Observation

The contents in Khaleda Zia's article in The Wasington Times have some merits. Who would in right mind want a democracy to be turned into a kleptocracy, where erosion of people's democratic rights in favor of a family dynasty and supporting cohorts based system that can bring only more miseries for vast majority of Bangladeshis?

Historically speaking, Bangladesh Awami League is widely considered as the left leaning progressive political party, whereas Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is considered as slightly right leaning centrist party. Their respective founding leaders, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, first Prime Minister of Bangladesh after the brutal 1971 war who is revered in the nation by many as its founding father, and Ziaur Rahman, once a popular president of Bangladesh, was respected by many as a freedom fighter. Both of their violent deaths in the hands of disgruntled military men, in 1975 for Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and in 1981 for Ziaur Rahman, are still remembered as two of the most dark and tragic episodes in the history of Bangladesh. Even there are skeptics who point toward a darker conspiracy in the deaths of these two men within a short decade after the independence.

The current Prime Minister of Bangladesh is Sheikh Hasina Wazed, who is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. And the current opposition leader and former Prime Minister of Bangladesh is Khaleda Zia who has written this article in The Washington Times, is the widow of late President Ziaur Rahman. For Bangladeshis, these are well known facts, but many in other parts of the world may not have the slightest clue of the complexity in elitist political strata in Bangladesh.

After the 1971 war, in the last 42 years, Bangladesh has many governments, including the elected ones, and the small and long dictatorship by military strongmen. From my childhood, I still have distinct memories, seeing processions after processions of many thousands of people in the crowded streets of Dhaka, demanding real democracy, urging for justice and fairness in the political and wider society. Many had lost their lives or limbs, imprisoned, tortured, and at last forgotten.

Most of the Bangladeshi elections, except a possible few exceptions in recent times, especially after the collapse of last military dictatorship of Hussain Muhammad Ershad, are marred with widespread fraud and predetermined results. That was the reason that both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were united together when they were struggling against the military ruler of 1980s. They both supported the idea of an independent caretaker government that can neutrally oversee the electoral process so that the people of Bangladesh can peacefully cast their votes and their votes do get counted. Backing away from this system would be a political blunder.

Some may counter argue that in US, Great Britain, India and many other nations, this type of independent caretaker government does not exist. True. But we need to understand that all these nations have a longer and stabler history of democracy than in Bangladesh. This is not the right time to abandon the independent caretaker government system.

No nation in the world is devoid of corruptions. This is a fact of human life, and perhaps is part of human frailty. Bangladesh is no exception. The recent alarming news of corruptions, like Padma Bridge construction related briberies, giant company like SNC Lavalin's involvements, World Bank's denial of loan to Bangladesh, etc. are not unique in history. Like the corruptions in current Awami League government run by Sheikh Hasina, the previous government run by Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist Party were full of deceitful corruptions as well. None of them were flowery saints and each of them have scary skeletons to hide in the closets!

Literate population in Bangladesh is vast. There are many intelligent people who can run this nation wisely and better if given chance through a free and fair election. Being a part of a decorated family is no excuse to bar anyone from the political process as that would be violation of their human rights, however, getting fatter, literally and metaphorically, both the politicians and their joyful relatives while remaining in the power's pulpits, may only prevent Bangladesh and millions of Bangladeshis achieving their full potentials through their democratic rights.




Friday, January 04, 2013

2013 - a New Year


1.

2013. A new year. A new me! I have made my resolutions too. On New Year’s Eve when the giant apple about to fall, I silently made the mental note what I would like to accomplish in the coming year. The cheers, fireworks, music with wintry gusto make every new year’s eve feels special, though know it well that in cosmic timeline, our skimpy existence and boisterous celebrations may not surmount to anything, but for the mortals billions, these moments spur the longing of a commonality where our aspirations, existential anxiety, love for the beloveds and the daily humdrum of our lives fuse into collective roars that can be heard across the globe, through cyber net, cable media or the simple presence in a stampede free firework show.

The bygone 2012 was memorable. It was the year when dictators fell from their long held power, democracy returned to nations where it was absent for many years, global economy seemed to be turning back from the plunge of dismal recession (though a struggling path is ahead), and technology made more bold advances occupying further aspects of human lives. It was the year the pragmatic progressive Obama won the election over confusing Romney, and it seemed terrorism’s ceaseless bloodshed is cornered like a despotic king isolated in a strategic chess game. These are all the good points to remember from 2012. These are the uplifting stories and events that shaped many of our consciousness and thoughts, opened the horizon’s visibility a bit more, lilting our conscience pleasantly buoying toward the new possibility.

Then there are bitter memories. The repeated wars between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza and Israel where hundreds of innocent children, women and men died for incomprehensible rationales, the brutality in Syria where more than 60,000 dead in a prolonged war between a ruthless dictator and his democratic but vengeful oppositions, the senseless murders of children in Sandy Hook Elementary School just 11 days before Christmas, Aurora shooting in the summer where mere movie spectators were gunned down during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, a 23 year old unnamed Indian woman was brutally gang raped in a bus in Delhi, beaten and thrown out of the moving bus, her fight to survive ended tragically over heartfelt candle light vigils and prayers from around the world, the burnt bodies of 117 poor garments workers in Bangladesh, and 315 garment workers in Pakistan, a business man named Bishwajit Das hacked to death in broad daylight on the street of Dhaka while his gruesome murder was captured by sidelined media, these are the few samples of decadence that perhaps illuminate the world’s collective failures in the realm of humanity.

2.

2012 was the year we lost some great human beings like any other years. A few of them listed below; whose works I was familiar with through their lives’ contributions:

·        Ravi Shankar (musician and composer)
o   A tribute with links to music videos
·        Mehdi Hassan (singer)
o   Rafta Rafta – a nostalgic song performed by Mehdi Hassan
·        Sunil Gangopadhyay/Ganguly (writer/poet)
·        Humayun Ahmed (writer)
o   A tribute
·        George McGovern (US Senator, World War 2 veteran, civil rights champion, anti-war proponent)
o   A tribute
·        Arlen Specter (US Senator)
·        Michael Clarke Duncan (progressed from being a ditch-digger to becoming a famous actor and later in life became an activist for vegans/vegetarians)
·        Neil Armstrong (first man who walked on the moon)
·        Gore Vidal (a fearless writer)
o   A tribute
·        Sherman Hemsley (“The Jeffersons” actor)
·        Dr. Stephen R. Covey (motivational speaker and writers of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)
o   8th Habit
·        Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin’ Norm)
·        Larry Hagman (known as J.R. Ewing in TV show “Dallas”)
·        Andy Griffith (television icon)
·        Ray Bradbury (science fiction writer)
·        Eugene Polley (inventor of wireless TV remote control)
·        Robin Gibb (Bee Gees singer)
·        Donna Summer (singer)
o   Hot Stuff
o   Last Dance
·        Chuck Brown (singer)
·        Carlos Fuentes (writer)
·        Vidal Sassoon (hairstylist)
·        Dick Clark (TV host)
·        Mike Wallace (“60 Minutes”)
·        F. Sherwood Rowland (discovered the linkage between by-product of aerosol sprays, deodorants and other consumer products that have negative impact on earth’s atmosphere)
·        Whitney Houston (singer)
·        Etta James (singer)
o   At Last
o   Tell Mama
·        Dr. William House (promoter of implantable ear device)
·        Dr. Joseph Murray (successfully performed first kidney transplant)
·        Andy Williams (singer)
o   Moon River
·        Nora Ephron (author and screenwriter)
·        William S. Knowles (Nobel Prize-winning chemist, helped developing drug for treating Parkinson’s disease among other of his scientific accomplishments)
·        Elizabeth Catlett (artist)
·        Adrienne Rich (poet and essayist)
o   A tribute
·        William Hamilton (theologian)
·        Marie Colvin (fearless war correspondent)
·        Anthony Shadid (journalist)
·        Wislawa Szymborska (poet)
o   “A Few Words on the Soul” – a translated poem
o   “Nothing Twice” – a poem with background music
o   “Tortures” – poem recited by Karin
o   “Statistics” – poem recited by Martha Briggs
o   “Hatred” – Videography by Shadi/Greg
·        Lakshmi Sehgal (freedom fighter and social activist)
o   Obituary - The Telegraph
·        Rajesh Khanna (actor)
o   Ye Shaam Mastani – a song from Rajesh Khanna’s acted movie “Kati Patang”.
·        Yash Chopra Humayun Faridi (actor)
·        Humayun Faridi (actor)
Links to other notable deaths in 2012:

3.

Everything seemed slowed down in last ten days of December. Winter started officially. Where I live, snow had covered every inch of the earth, and temperature dived below -20 degree centigrade. It was the time to reflect on life, and perhaps mortality too.

As I have read the passing away of many great men and women of our time belonging to different nations and professions, one commonality that was found in everyone was their continuous struggles and belief in human endeavours, their ceaseless contributions throughout their life in this progressive journey of humanity. Through their writing, singing, acting, scientific discovery or inventions, theological/philosophical/metaphysical/political curiosities and fearless journalism, pursuance toward artistic truth or fighting for justice, equality or a sustainable environment, there seemed to be one universal constant nudging these great men and women, and that was their undying love for humanity, though how lost sometimes it felt in the face of flashing violence and painful apathy.

The ridiculous premonition of Mayan collapsible globe is already literally hanged in the past, and the vilified number “13” is upon us as a mere numeric of this year 2013. Who knows, maybe the over clich├ęd “unlucky 13” may prove to be the luckiest year for human beings and other species of our world when dictators, bigotry, devious greed, violence and endless wars will be sidelined by humanity’s common yearning toward love and peace. We cannot change a bone chilling winter into a summery breeze outside instantly in this decade of 21st century, but there is no barring from dreaming. Is there?