Saturday, December 31, 2011

Culture, Shons-Krishi and my Gumcha story

by Mac Haque

"জেনে শুনে মুরাউ মাথা জাত এ উঠবি, মানুষ ভজলে সোনার মানুষ হবি" ফকির লালন শাহ

"Wrap your head consciously, and you will rise above the prejudices of class" Fakir Lalon Shah

No discussion on culture is ever complete as they have a tendency to get seriously bogged down over definitions. The simplistic notion that our cultural cognisantis will put forward is one that is riddled with generalized reference to rituals. Songs, dance, books, poetry, play and the fine arts etc are apparently culture! However cultural awakening simply cannot come about by making statements, but by taking a firm stand, and no matter how difficult, idiosyncratic or insane it may seem, unless the prevailing status quo is not challenged, no conceivable change to our fate or destiny is as such possible.

Shonskriti or culture as we know it in Bangladesh is a product and extension of British colonialism, and formulated on the very same premise as krishi or 'agriculture'. It basically meant that individuals or groups selected by the Raj were empowered with sufficient wealth and know how, as also sobriquets such as Zamindars (landlords) and Khan Bahadur's (tax and levy payers) and unbridled control over land. These local lackeys would then go on to determine the course of our ancestor's life and our existence.

Their 'job' was to control or manipulate Mother Nature for purpose of producing cash crops which was then sold to a majority for profit. 'Control and manipulation' were buzzwords introduced as tools for wanton oppression by an obscene minority upon a sufferable majority. Tragically the minority as such were not born into poverty.

The same principals continues to be applied in what we identify as 'culture' today, and the overriding intent is 'control' – however with a slight variation. The times over two centuries ago were thought ripe to 'control and manipulate' the thought process and aspirations of the majority – 'lowly and wild humans' who like animals had to be leashed in and branded. They were after all the chotoloke, read - subordinate culture, low life, and poor riff raffs.

Brit pampered minority views, ideas and representations of thought processes that were alien and unheard of, were effectively bulldozed-in and made standard parameters of behavioral judgment. In today's context we may look at it as a devastating 18th Century 'mind control' experiment which met with unimaginable success. Things like what is or not aesthetically sound, and or of 'pure taste and refinement' etc were of supreme interest.

It laid a pseudo socio-political-philosophical base to justify political exploitation. Acceptance to these domination theories, masquerading as 'culture' came easy as they were left unchallenged. Conveniently overlooked then as even now, is these heavy duty impositions from a different culture were never thought as 'oposhonskriti' or even alien counter-culture?

Consequently what we have today with our so-called 'progressive forces upholding culture' in Bangladesh in their zilch understanding, is propounding a mindset which remains totally alien and obscure to the majority, and its not as if its unknown to them. It is a puritanical trap and one we have not been able to do away with and perhaps will never do away anytime soon. What we are left with by default is a 'forceful shons-krishi' or the fusion of two words 'agriculture and culture', passing off as holier than thou 'shonskriti'.

Our date with fate has thereafter been marked only with pitfalls. Our cultural confusions continue to precipitate into a maze of myriad and damaging dimensions, none of which the sufferable can either control or complain about. Clearly while the Brits and the Pakistanis may have been kicked out from our 'sacred land' - what they have left behind is a legacy that has been firmly implanted into our genes. We have a mindset which while reveling on the wondrous conduits that culture has to offer, is yet one that is deluded and leads us to oppress without our even been conscious about it. Cultural cohesion is as yet an unknown domain for us.

My Gumcha story starts here.

In 1970 I traveled to my ancestral home in Borholla, Jorhat, Assam to attend the wedding of a favorite uncle. What amused initially but later fascinated me were the gifts of 'gamusa' (literally meaning body cleaner or sweat dryer) he received - and there were over a hundred – with a broad range of motifs, design and shape, offered by his students, fellow teachers and other villagers. Little did I realize in my adolescent curiosity that the gamusa would be my first practical initiation to culture – and love, obsession and importantly faith for its Bangladesh counterpart, the Gumcha?

The lessons I learnt were important. In Assam there is no class or community called tati or 'weavers'. Almost all homes have their own handloom and each gamusa therefore bears the unique signature of a family, clan or household. Spun in pure cotton, the base is traditionally white or off-white color and unlike its Bangladesh counterpart the Gumcha, has beautifully embroidered side borders with indigenous motifs that date back centuries.

The Assamese Gamusa

That being a physical description, the socio-cultural angle to the gamusa is profound. It is used in Assam for more than the purpose of a body cleaner or sweat dryer per se. When a guest arrives for the very first time or after protracted absence, the rituals of adoroni or 'welcome to the loving fold' is done with betel nuts and leaves and a new gamusa is adorned around the neck or shoulder of the visitor. The ritual has been handed down to each generation from times of the reformist Sage Shankardeva or even earlier. It is not uncommon for a visitor to reciprocate with a similar offering. Gift of a gamusa is thought to pay recognition and homage for a persons wisdom and talents.

In Assam almost everybody sports a gamusa irrespective of the fact that they may or may not be wearing traditional dresses. The significance and the ritual offering of gamusa are noticeable even in Government functions and/or Cultural celebration like the three national cultural festivals, the Bihu. During agnostic rituals in Shankardeva inspired mufti-faith-denominational Naam ghar or prayer halls, gamusa are used for varied purpose, such as wrapping ancient manuscripts, prayer books or even as offerings to the priest or headman.

In Bangladesh it is entirely a different story, for none have been able to convince me about the history of the Gumcha (made from pure cotton, are bright and multi-colored) or about it's a socio-political-cultural significance, which it obviously has.

All we know and all that our city bred citizens have been led to believe is, the Gumcha is synonymous with chotoloke. In reality, the multi-utility Gumcha, other than drying sweat off, it is a rag that can be used to clean almost anything, as dusters for table, chairs, even toilets! Village folks use it for catching fish fries or carrying dry provisions such as rice, salt etc from markets.

It can also be used to keep dust off ones face and considered more convenient and hygienic than a towel, as it takes less than ten minutes to dry in summer. Farm and day laborers use it as a head cover to keep off the scorching sun, as well as base to protect their cranium when they carry heavy bricks or mortar. The finest demonstration of how a Gumcha can be wrapped around the head is noticeable among rickshaw pullers in Dhaka and elsewhere.

In the early 90's when I started wearing the Gumcha seriously I was taken aback by the mighty sounds of disapproval. This was not only limited to people who did not know me personally, but very many well meaning friends and relatives, and many who I may say were educated and 'culturally progressive'. At least they all knew a song or two of Tagore by heart!

The questions were baffling. 'Why on earth are you wearing a Gumcha?' and that by the way, not borne out of curiosity but SHOCK. My retorts revolved around a bewildered, 'but why not', to 'tell me what's so wrong about it' would be met with deafening silence or spiteful indifference.

The whisper campaign behind my back was, 'Mac has taken on a rickshaw puller, day laborer mentality' or even worse that a transformation has set in, whereby I wasn't being 'rational' in my dress and attitude, and was becoming 'khyat' meaning unrefined, unsophisticated, peasant like, straight off the paddy field? It wasn't long before the word Pagla Maqsood or 'insane' was being underscored with double strokes below my name! My association with the Baul fraternity didn't make things any easier.

Even though my intentions were never so; wearing a Gumcha tied as a bandana on my head was not to be a 'fashion statement' as quite simply anything worn by the majority can be anything, but 'fashion'? Head gears are worn in almost all cultures, from the Arab Kaffiyeh, to the Mullah's tupi, to Jewish skullcaps, to the English hat; to American baseball cap etc and are all passé in Bangladesh. But what beat me completely in those early days, was how a simple piece of clothe used by almost eighty-five percent of the population of Bangladesh DAILY, when worn by a city-bred musician such and me, could be the butt of ridicules, jokes in poor taste and rancor?

I realized over time that the hostility was not ideally directed to me, but as a culmination of our genetic hatred for the poor. This is the implied 'children of a lesser God' doing overtime in the minds and mentality of those living a sheltered and prosperous life, in our hypocritical society. I prepared to challenge each and every scumbag notion against the Gumcha and defend those who wear it. I couldn't care less. My revolt became more focused, and instead of being dissuaded, I persisted and wanted to see how far I can go. I stepped up the attack and ended up making more enemies than friends.

Bibi Russell

In 1995 I met the International fashion icon of Bangladesh Bibi Russell for the first time at the house of my friend Rubana Huq. Seeing the Gumcha I was wearing, she gave me a bemused but over all look of pride, and asked me over to her office in Motijheel the following day. When I reached her Rahman Mansion office and display center I was in for a huge shock myself.

Bibi had an entire range of Gumcha shirts, pants, ladies wear, baseball caps, dining and bedroom accessories! All of 1995 and 1996 I collaborated with Bibi whenever there was any fashion show, and all of them had aggressive Gumcha promotion. In summer of 1996, Bibi and her troupe went to Paris for an exclusive haute couture event where a track from my first Baul fusion with FeedBack and Abdur Rahman Boyati was played during catwalk passes. The interest for Gumcha in the West was unbelievable.

That being a more positive early incident in my ongoing story of the Gumcha, I remember the particularly sad events as well.

In 1997 I was barred from entering a functions at the Sonargaon Hotel because, while my jeans, T shirt and dinner jacket was okay, the security guard wanted me to take my Gumcha off as it was 'inappropriate'. I complied, folded it into my pocket, stepped in, went to the Gents and promptly put it on. For the rest of the evening I proceeded to shock and harass the genteel and their many pretensions.

Around the same time, I read about our 'progressive cultural elite' scoring a victory of sort by entering the Dhaka Club with their 'national dresses'? How on earth the 'Punjabi' as the word suggests, and the attire of our Pakistani colonizers went on to become the Bengalee 'national dress' is yet unknown to me!

And there was this talk show in 1999 on 'culture' in ATN TV and in a long time I was face-to-face with our pompous Culture Vultures. As expected they wanted my Gumcha off before the cameras started whirring. I stood my ground and questioned etymologically whether their Punjabi was at all Bengalee?

In disgust I reminded them, 'if there is anything 'cultural' or Bengalee about this evening, it's my Gumcha which I wear with pride on my head. If you can't accept that, I might as well leave'. Good sense prevailed and I carried on, but when the program was aired, most of what I had to say was predictably, edited out.

Finally it was left for my Baul fraternity to explain the Gumcha in its symbolic socio-cultural-philosophical significance.

Much as an ox carries the yoke as its burden of keeping man alive (as in agriculture), the Gumcha is worn symbolically by those that have taken on the yoke of the poor consciously. However, for those wearing them on their head, it is to symbolize that at no times does our thoughts drift away from the poorest of the poor, the farmers, the day laborers, and the riff-raffs in Bangladesh. Ultimately it is them and how they formulate our thought process, is what will make us a NATION, and not the other way around.

On my part, I could be whoever I am, and even though I may be just be one among millions, I am a citizen of Bangladesh and do have a right to think and act the way I do. I only wish I had more on my side. Can it be that those reading this piece will make a New Year resolution to buy, wear or use a Gumcha?
Bibi's model

If not anything, please remember that the few Taka (no higher that 150) you spend buying an individual Gumcha will perhaps keep a poor farmer family alive somewhere in Bangladesh for a full day? This is not only your chance to be of service to the marginalized that are too proud to extend a begging bowl for sustenance, but a chance for you to contribute to your culture – directly?

Let's look at 'accessorizing' Bangladesh all of 2012 by demanding that the Gumcha be declared a 'national headdress', as we do not have one. Nothing could be more secular, generic, genetic or democratic!

New Age Xtra, Friday, 30th December 2011


Friday, December 16, 2011

Bangladesh 2011- Forty years of ease, deceit, anarchy and the Rahman’s

by Mac Haque

"History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again." Maya Angelou

Bangladesh turns forty on Friday the 16th December 2011, yet we have not heard about any special celebrations. Wherever I have asked, I have been dismayed, for the Government probably doesn't look at forty years as too long a time to celebrate anything. Maybe fifty is more like it – ahhh…. ten years of further window dressings, a half century well spent, and we will have so much to say, as if in the last forty we didn't!

When we look back at history, the reasons we seem not to cheer on, do not celebrate, is because we believe in a round about way, that our Independence was no more than a donated moment from the past. The past in turn reminds us that everything that we hold sacred or of core value have come without us having to work too hard for it.

If we just look at the duration of our hard fought Liberation War – nine months to be precise, it wasn't until end-May or early-June 1971 that our national resistance, the Mukti Bahini started to retaliate. It means the actual fighting was no more that six or seven months? I wonder if any other nation anywhere in the world has been this fortunate.

That said, none can deny that the genocide perpetrated by Pakistan Army took a huge toll on human lives, but fate would leave us to live with a controversy surrounding numbers. Whether it was three million or three hundred thousand is really immaterial here. The fact that so many died for the benefit of so few is hard reality to digest. Number games have been played and will continue to be played, only to recompense for a failure to take stock of the malignancies that continue to bedevil us forty years later.

What changed in 1971 was no more than changing of honor guards and incorporating new regalia denoting a State, a flag, a map maybe. What did not happen were the promised emancipation, liberation, freedom and Independence, for those who needed it the most – the poorest of the poor. In forty years Bangladesh despite its forward looking indicators remains a 'developing country', the euphemism for a 'poor country', meaning the majority of our people go hungry, are stricken with diseases, have no roof on their head and are ripe for the dole.

We are therefore left with only two classes in society, the have-nots and the have-plenty's. The pretentious middle class worrying and spitting venoms about economic indicators and the get-rich-quick scam called the share market, is fast becoming a rare species and doomed to extinction – i.e. if it has not been already.

Quite savagely natural disasters such as storms, typhoons, cyclones and tidal bores are looked upon as opportunities, a prime time for the have-plenty's to loot dole coming in as foreign aid meant for the destitute. Much like vultures who feasted on the corpses of the hundreds of thousands that were killed in such disasters in forty years, humans resembling hyena scavenged the land, pouncing upon whatever money came our way.

It was Henry Kissinger's infamous take in the seventies of Bangladesh being an 'International Basket case', which led to foreign aid trickling to a near halt. The creed of greed thereafter got more institutionalized. In place we had the NGOs some who ended up siphoning money under 'acceptable limits' yet were left with more money and clouts than the Bangladesh Government.

Possibilities for change in Bangladesh were immense. What did not change is the mindset of our ruling class and I am not at all game to the repeated roulette played out as to who did or did not support the Liberation War. To accept that a shadowy 'anti-Liberation' force is active forty years down the line and wants an imminent destruction of our nation, is co-opting to the notion that real Independence, yet eludes us.

That in effect would be reducing us to a mentality of blasé servility, a defeatist trap, the juggled artistry of political masters who want to enslave us into their vulgar partisan thinking. Bangladesh's ruling class is happy living in a time warp of the 60's but two questions for them : Will our woes be truly over if the 'anti-Liberation' forces were eliminated? If so, why hasn't it happened in forty years?

And why is their pauperized mentality so entrenched in our national psyche? Simply because power brokers are slaves to an irreversible status quo – one that harps on the past, making mincemeat out of the present – only to placate their sheer inadequacy, not to forget their fragile vulnerability. The continuity of slavery is their foremost agenda. The practice of freedom in its entirety is unknown to them - for good reasons.

Like 1971 everything else that came later our way was really too easy. Importantly quick-fix, get rich mantras' playing on the pathos of the poor was all that was needed to get whatever one wanted, with an unsuspecting majority perpetually prepared to gulp the bait. I am talking about power, and those in power get so drunk, they do not realize that they also stayed drunk and unreasoning in their pursuit to achieve the same.

Let's take a look at the first Military Coup that led to the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was just a 'handful' of disgruntled Army officers stirred up passion in a 'handful' of men, move Tanks without ammunitions from the Cantonment and go in with blazing machineguns, kill the President and his family, capture the nations Television and Radio station – and one has captured state power. Piece of cake?

While all of this was happening, the Army Chief (who in forty years survives unscathed while the actual killers have already been hanged) failed to wake up from deep slumber? When he did he was unable to go for a counter offensive against the renegades although they were just a 'handful'?

So the first Coup and capture of State power was, really too easy and not much hard work had to be expended, or am I to be imminently proved wrong?

The succession of Coup and counter-Coup leading to capture of state power by the ambitious were more or less fashioned on the same initial formula. The strategy; capture the Television and Radio station, kill a few soldiers…and all else falls into place. What else did we have?

Khaled Musharraf during his short-lived stay in power took theatrics to a new height and had the Air force and Naval Chief pin more ribbons into his lapel (and this was photographed and televised), 'promoting' him to a General. In less than forty eight hours he was dead. Ziaur Rahman was swept to power riding on a crest of 'popularity' after a succession of intrigues and counter intrigues inside the Dhaka Cantonment.

Zia the man had the requisite qualification of being a War Hero of 1971 - yet once in power he espoused a new 'identity' for us: 'Bangladeshis', which on surface perhaps made sense. This was to ensure that the world does not confuse us from the rest of our Indian Bengalee cousins from West Bengal. Ironically our identity crisis commenced at this point.

In sinister moves after other, he firmly entrenched the idea of 'Bengalee Muslims' or even 'Pukkah Muslim' and promoted himself to General and went on further to rub in the doctrine of 'Bangladeshi Nationalism'. It was time for half educated Army Officers to teach us 'bloody civilians' a thing or two about patriotism which was all okay, but reeked strongly of a pro-Pakistani bias.

Zia's heavily Urdu-accented Bengalee speeches made us wonder if we have resurrected a neo-Yahya Khan in a Bengalee body!

A new chapter was ushered into our history. The era of half-baked intellectuals, with cronyism becoming institutionalized and we were then forced to go back to the drawing boards. Bismillahs, Khosh Amded, Allah Hafez, Shukriaz and other Cantonment-ized words and expressions entered the popular vocabulary. We were being Muslim-ized and Islamization wasn't too far away.

And there were clear reasons for all of this happening so soon after our Independence.

While Western secularism was certainly not one of the 'pillars of state' we fought for in 1971, the post-Liberation 'secular Khalifa's' (read Awami intellectuals) made a mess interpreting the same in our formative years. Weird ideas and philosophies which were totally alien to our people were 'bull-dozed in' making a sordid mess of our belief system. Secular possibilities within Sufi Islam that was naturally and firmly ingrained in our populace for centuries were never explored – rather were succinctly shunned. We were left initially to whispers that progressively grew to shouts; all our post-Liberation political masters wanted were to 'Hindu-ize' us…huh?

Making things easier for Zia was the Saudi Wahabi assistance that wasn't forthcoming when Mujib was alive, and import of cheap labour from Bangladesh, a country then just reeling out of a man-made famine in 1975-76. Medieval Sharia Islam was clearly making a strong comeback. Zia the cunning fox upped the ante and quickly drove quite a few sharp wedges.

On the one hand he rehabilitated the Jamaat-E-Islami, permitting the Nemesis of 1971 Ghulam Azam to return, as also installing a far right Islamist zealot as Prime Minister. On the flip side he took pain to welcome back to the country from India, Sheikh Hasina – the daughter of the assassinated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Also, as a mean to appease the West, he lured the far-left Maoist and Communist thriving on the underground since 1971 to resurface, and as quickly continued the zero-tolerance pogrom started by Sheikh Mujib in 1972 – a legacy which quite bizarrely is still in place forty years later.

In the intervening hungama there were possibly a dozen Coup attempts against Zia and it is estimated that several thousand military officers, mostly innocent were brutally executed after camera trials. Done to death were the remnants of the Mukti Bahini who fought and ushered in an Independent Bangladesh, a force that ironically, Sheikh Mujib, Zia or the rest in our history ever displayed the magnanimity to share power with.

In a couple of months while attempts were on to begrudgingly 'usher in Democracy' of sort, Zia too was killed in a Coup in Chittagong in 1981. But that didn't change the era of retired men in khakis masquerading with Islamic skull caps. It was time for the gestating right-of-center Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to be born, with a profound sectarian/communal overtone.

What set in next was a continuation of the easy road to power, albeit with a slight difference. Within a year another General, Hussain Muhammad Ershad (repatriated from Pakistan post-1971) would chart the course of our history. He did so after penning in several articles in newspapers on the dangerous trend the country has entered into and how important it was for the Army to intervene. In 1982, with promises of Democracy and the rule of law he 'assumed power via a bloodless Coup' - albeit with the same easy formula of his predecessors.

Nonetheless what would stand out as important in Ershad's stay in power is the abdication of 'secularism' and declaration of Islam as a 'state religion' of Bangladesh in the late eighties. In effect Ershad managed to circumcise Bangladesh and sort of seal its confused Islamic identity, allowing a walkover of myopic Mullahs who plague us to this day. However as President of a country that recently incorporated Islam as 'state religion' his personal philandering was legendary!

The other significant parameter of his stay in power was its sheer length. Ershad hung on to power for two years as the Army supremo and a staggering seven years as President despite repetitive efforts by Awami League, BNP as also the Jamaat-E-Islami (strangely all three party's united in a joint Opposition from 1987 to 1990) to oust him. In the cumulative nine years he proceeded to institutionalize corruption.

Giving the devil his due, he did manage to 'make politics difficult' - a promise made to his former boss man Zia, and ensured that the Army doesn't make further misadventure into power. He managed the very difficult job of reigning in the Army by converting it to a Mercenary force – one the United Nations would use for peace-keeping operations anywhere in the world, less Bangladesh. The status quo for the Army remains unchanged as of 16th December 2011.

By the time Ershad was ousted in a popular revolt led by students of Dhaka University (not political parties) in December 1990, the BNP had emerged strong, with its popularity higher than ever before. The reasons were quite simple. The Awami League in its lust for power had connived with Ershad prolonging his stay. In the aborted 1987 agitations against Ershad, the Awami League shamelessly stabbed the movement in the back and moved away from the Opposition unity.

This enhanced Zia's widow Khaleda's reputation as an 'uncompromising leader' only to be voted to Government when elections eventually came in 1991. In from 1991 to 1996 when she made way for a political experiment masterminded by the Jamaat-E-Islami called the 'Caretaker Government', Bangladesh entered an insane phase in its political life that was perfected to a fine art during the anti-Ershad agitations.

The trend would go on to be the mainstay of yet another easy formula to capture State power under a Democratic charade.

Planned chaos and mayhem, killing of demonstrators and law enforcers, arrest of politicians (safe refuge?), days upon days of Hartal (general strikes), and arson and bomb attacks, meant whoever came to power would be subjected to same stratagem by whoever was in Opposition. The word Utkhat or 'overthrow' of a democratically elected Government entered common usage among politicians, yet none of them ever got killed in the process!

The new formula: create anarchy of the worst kind, let Bangladesh hang on a thread in its day-to-day existence and ensure the common people who are prepared to die and kill rule the roost. In the mean time allow partisan intellectuals to write their fiery columns that no one reads in exercise of free speech, let black money backing the political parties finance 'historical gathering of people' (read assembly of the innocent, poor and vulnerable) and that's not all. The Army would be more than obliged to step 'to aid the Civil administration' at the very last moment for a show of brinkmanship and ensure order – and then all is hunky dory, and you have captured state power?

The overriding attribute for capturing state power got more focused in that the sole ownership of Bangladesh by now was in the hand of two 'Rahman families' – that of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman. By the nineties they had made Bangladesh a fiefdom to be fought over – a Zamindari that lives on even to this new millennium.

There was hardly anything creative in how the two families jockeyed for power before the 1996, 2001 or the 2008 elections. The same formula, the same ease; use the commonest of people as live fodder, bring life to standstill by anarchy and murder mayhems and don't talk about economy or wellbeing of the people when all of it happens. If there was at all any 'fear' left in us, it was for the Army and what they may or may not do. What does seem a bit out of place is how the Army too is used by politicians to rally favor incognito onto warring sides.

In 1996, even though the Awami League was all poised to win the election and did so eventually, it nonetheless attempted to back a botched Coup by an errant General Nasim. As a natural corollary to that, and when things went completely out of control towards the end of 2006, Bangladesh was blessed with something new.

It was to be a 'world's first'. When a 'Caretaker Government' failed to take shape due to bickering among 'respectable citizens' representing either sides of Rahman's, the President in a surprise move, called in the Army. It was a Coup backed by foreign missions in Bangladesh, with the support of the United Nation and what we then had was two years of total chaos with the common citizens paying a very steep price. The Army kicked in for a long stay, initially reined in corrupt businessmen and their political cahoots.

Both Rahman women were arrested as well as thousands of their cronies.

The nation initially applauded as it seemed the days of the Rahman's were on the verge of being history, or to be rendered obsolete. Those of us on the dumb apolitical fringe hoped, but like everything else in Bangladesh things would prove short lived.

Before long, the Army too was left corrupted from its rank-and-file up to its Generals. It eventually shimmied up to one of the Rahman's to have a clear bail-out from the mess it jumped into. Therefore if conspiracy theories and the grapevines are to be believed, the real beneficiary in the shenanigan, the ultimate victor of the UN backed Army Coup in Bangladesh was the Rahman family – that of Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League.

End line, the next ten years leading up to our fiftieth Independence Day 2021 is crucial. The people of Bangladesh have lived long enough under the yoke, whims and caprices of this two warring and diabolically deceptive family. Their personal gripes and resentment towards each other, their propelling of their siblings and relatives as future rulers of Bangladesh will simply not work. It is time that the patriotic people of Bangladesh, took stock and plan on a forceful Utkhat of the Rahman's and their stooges.

Short of that, the lessons we learn from history will always run short, and we will continue to be short charged.

New Age Xtra, Friday, 16th December 2011