Straight Line Beckoning of democracy and past failures written by Muhammad Nurul Huda

Straight Line Beckoning of democracy and past failures written by Muhammad Nurul Huda

EVENTS preceding 1/11 and disclosures made thereafter show the banality of evil that has come home to us with a strange poignancy. As a nation we displayed scant concern for public good and few citizens were interested in public welfare. The erosion of our national character could not be checked. The eloquence of our public leaders flourished most when our public affairs were in the worst condition.

Is there a fear that election and its allied corruptions and the power and tyranny of wealth will make life hellish as soon as freedom is given to us? Citizens, anxious-eyed ask the question whether freedom’s foundations will stay. The staying power of democracy varies depending on the resilience of political institutions achieved through age and tradition. A democratic society cannot perhaps afford to have substitute for knowledge and integrity in public life.

Would it be an impracticality to hope that our democratic society will harbour a certain extravagance of objectives so that real and potential leaders wander beyond the safe provision of personal gratifications? Shall we see group cohesiveness and work and achievement? Will our democracy involve the cooperation of all perceptive citizens?

If we would like to benefit from past mistakes then we must ensure that arbitrary power shall never again be able to wear the grab of constitutionalism. One has to realize that our free nation can be stifled by indigenous autocrats only through our own apathy and folly. An authoritarian regime in Bangladesh will be only as puissant as the sycophants and the time-servers, the cringing and the craven can make it. We must come to grip with the reality that no human being can be more powerful than his henchmen will allow him to be.

The important question is, shall we maintain discipline or shall we witness the mindless ‘hartals’ when government ceased to govern, mobocracy displaced democracy and townships were paralyzed by groups of men who regarded themselves above the law? We have to learn to ensure the rule of law while providing liberty under law. It has to be demonstrated that liberty is not an “optional extra” in a democracy and that human rights are not a luxury intended merely for the elite and the affluent.

It is time to seriously ponder whether by voting ignorant professional politicians to power we have ensured the continuance of poverty and inaction. In other words, the survival of unworthy politicians must not be co-related to the continuation of the forces of ignorance. The mercenary actors of our political scene must be replaced by persons of honour and knowledge.

It is the duty of every Bangladeshi citizen to not merely vote but vote wisely. He must be guided by reason alone and vote for the best person irrespective of any other consideration and party label. In fact, the right person in the wrong party should be preferable to the wrong person in the right party.

The disgustingly loud and unreasonable voice of a minority must no longer be mistaken as the voice of majority. This has been so because thinking persons have not taken the trouble to give public expression of their views and felt contented by living at the mercy of fools. They may console themselves by believing that truth shall ultimately prevail but incompetence cannot be allowed to play a very long innings.

Identity of views on national subjects may not be possible but harmony of aims can. Therefore, there must be nationwide campaign to disseminate correct facts and right ideas among the public at large. This way people would be able to face any crisis. Ultimately, standards of rationality and fair dealing of social justice and individual freedom will progressively be achievable.

Politically speaking, a democratic nation will progress when knowledge and power will be combined in the same set of individuals. As in the past we will face a grave crisis when some will have knowledge and others have power. We have to remember that people will be very soon disillusioned with democracy unless it results in rule by meritocracy.

The task, therefore, is to transform our apathetic and lethargic democracy into an anticipatory and participatory one. An anticipatory democracy would foresee the issues ahead and equip itself well to meet them; and a participatory democracy will be one in which the people are not content merely to vote at the time of elections but participate in the continuous process which goes to the making of decisions and the formulation of policies.

If one cares to find out one will see that a phenomenal change has taken place during the last ten or fifteen years in the thinking and behaviour of the general masses. And it is a positive one. While things at government level are deteriorating or stagnating, at societal level there is a yearning for change — a realization that this is our own country and we have to do something to improve it.

To the discerning eye there would appear an unfortunate disconnection between the state and society. There is a wide and growing gulf between the ruling elite and the people. The government with all its power, mandate and huge resources has very little clue about the ground situation: how people think, how they perceive things, what are their needs, what are their priorities. People on the other hand, have little faith in the government.

The elected government of the not-too-distant future has to ensure that power and hunger for more resources does not become an end in itself. Protecting the status quo from all challenges shall not become the prime activity of the government. Devoting the energy and resources of the establishment for solving people’s problems and maintenance of order in the society should be the main focus of rulers as against the use of government machinery to keep the rival claimants to power in check.

We have to remember that a bad government is the inevitable consequence of an indifferent electorate. Politics will never be cleaner, and economic future will never be brighter, unless and until our citizens are willing to give of themselves to the land which gave them birth. Finally, we would do well to remind ourselves that "democracy is always a beckoning goal, not a safe harbour. For freedom is an unremitting endeavour, never a final achievement."

Muhammad Nurul Huda is a columnist for The Daily Star.| Link posted by Badiuzzaman Khan | original source

Place your ads here!

No comments

Write a comment
No Comments Yet! You can be first to comment this post!

Write a Comment