Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shock & Awe Talk: Of Vested Quarters and Political Atheism

  • For those who do not know me, I am a scribe of small repute who wrote ‘irregularly regularly’ for this publication since its inception. I then went on a hiatus for over five years which in retrospect and in all truthfulness had to do with my articles either not being published or being harrowingly edited – making them incoherent not only to readers , but also to myself! Nonetheless, there being no ‘burying old hatchets’ issue at stake, I can only say New Age this time around appears reasonably optimistic in handling the ‘shock and awe’ columns I intend to write every other week. Fate ironically reduced me to a ‘restricted writer’ with only semblance of a presence on the Internet, this re-entry into the ‘real hardcopy world’ – print, photograph and all…ah… feels like a deep breath of freshly polluted air which in reality is what we breathe in Dhaka! Welcome all….
  • Why Shock? Well……why not? Electrical shocks are used to resuscitate dying patients, however in Bangladesh today we have taken on the retinue of being ‘constantly shocked’ to events surrounding our day to day existence. It has come a time when we have been rendered (to use the cliché expression) ‘shock proof’ which on the flip side again means we have decided to be in denial of realities around us. Exception being, until some realities come up close and bruise our comfort zones we ‘care not to care’, or play plain disinterested. Take for example the print version of New Age of 9th January 2011. On the front page itself there are 6 reports of deaths, murders shooting, slaughters (throats being slit…eeeee), and mayhems – the word ‘kill, killed’ appears 3 times and the reports are gruesome, grisly and sufficiently capable to incapacitate a ‘fresh mind’ that has just woken up from comforts of a wintry slumber.
  • Not being your average Bengalee citizen who by inclination and perceived genetic disposition is expected to be ‘very brave’, such shocks can cause distress and disequilibrium which in turn can mar a perfectly productive day. That being a wake up ritual – back home the same evening if one makes the mistake of switching on the TV or worse tune-in to watch the ever growing numbers of reasonably pretty faces who read news in piercing high decibels (obviously a replication of Indian TV presenters) the exercise could cause more havoc than bargained for.
  • On the 9th January evening (i.e. after this newspapers kill, killed front-page) – all TV Channels ran footages of a female ruling party MP who lives in Pallabi, Mirpur, reporting that masked bandit had robbed her and a nearby apartment residents of all their valuables – in a precision operation that lasted well over ninety minutes. The Home Minister was also seen at the crime scene mouthing her oft repeated phrase of ‘how appreciably the law and order situation has improved’ and how some ‘vested quarters are out to discredit the Government’s accomplishments’! That aside – she promised to get to the root of these crimes and ‘nab the Godfathers within 24 hours’. Shocked?
  • Not at all. Scared? Just a wee bit. Why? a) its armed banditry in my own neighborhood which is a little too close for comfort b) a MP has been robbed and she is no ordinary citizen c) and as the evening wore on TV news also beamed gruesome blood drenched footage of a slaughtered mother and child, (clear acts of defilement by the Media, denying victims the dignity of their death) a Shonaton Temple in the city being robbed off the gold jewelry adorned on the principal deity and more. Cumulatively a,b and c sadly doesn’t quite add up with the Ministers ‘improved law and order situation’ statement. Shocked? I dunno…..
  • Point for rumination – the citizenry at large are held ransom to whims and caprices and serious low life attitude of our political leadership with barbs such as vested quarters’, tongue in cheek obviously meaning the Opposition. What has become taxingly dreadful is this political culture of appropriating blame on real or imagined foes is a legacy that we have not been able to shrug off in the 40 years of our existence. This divisive culture whereby if you speak out against the Government you are a ‘demon on the payroll of the BNP/Jamaat axis of Islam pasand bigots’ or member of the hard to define ‘anti-liberation force’…. and if nothing works to humiliate you into silence, in that case ‘mmmmmmm…..most definitely you are an active post-Liberation Razakar hindering the War Crimes Trial process’ option is always open, which clearly demonstrates closed mindset veering on lunacy of a shock and awe kind!
  • The constant reminder about War Criminals despite the ruling parties ‘brute majority’ does not speak about its confidence but its fragile vulnerability. We tend to complain and never unleash solutions and when we do – we make them appear as ballistic science understandable only if we ‘agree to agree’ with the ever growing number of Government backed see-no-evil faithful sycophants who appear on nightly TV talk shows. To square peg a round hole, one is rendered a political pariah – with the exit door open, sometimes with threats or even pain of death if you don’t rush it………..scared? Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh – not saying!
  • When it comes to my personal belief system, I am a believer but also an agnostic – a strange twist! However when it comes to our politics, I am a disbeliever and a vowed atheist – in that I have come around believing that anybody that believes our politicians simply cannot believe God! Thus as a pronounced ‘political atheist’ I do not vote, have no time for partisan politics – and if I could have things my way – I would outlaw this state of ‘Demon-ocracy’ masquerading as Democracy altogether – for in 40 years we have proved to ourselves that we simply do not deserve it or are fit to practice it.
  • What other options do we have? None as far as I am concerned – other than slapping a life ban on all existing politicians and demanding that new leadership emerge from the post-Liberation generation, removed from the taints and stigma of our historical travesties of fate. The nation turns 40 in March – and as a Political Atheist I would rather trust the new forty something generation – and God!
  • God help me………………..
Mac Haque
New Age XTRA Print Version
Friday, 14th January 2011


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