No more old failure, new uncertainty  

Khawaza Main Uddin   | Published: December 31, 2019 22:06:25 | Updated: January 02, 2020 22:09:41

A new normal in recent years is: There is barely any impact of people's demonstrations on those who matter in policymaking. Once individuals have been extremely restless, thanks to faster virtual communications, quick solution to problems has eluded them.

Dhaka-dwellers, for example, have found no respite from air pollution despite knowledge of what needs to be done for improvement. Social media outcries had not been able to bring down prices of onion for two and a half months. The country's share market that experienced two crashes in two decades has sunken precariously; yet small investors' collective wrath couldn't prompt regulators and market actors alike to play fairly.

All criticisms about banking sector scams have failed to help recover the lost money or punish culprits; neither have the reports on discontent about quality of education and healthcare brought any positive changes. That more than half of job market entrants find no opportunities has not created any electoral pressure.

Rather similar to Americans' widespread reluctance to voting, the majority of the Bangladesh youth are getting disillusioned about political affairs, as reflected in response from 1,200 young boys and girls surveyed by a Bangla contemporary, the Prothom Alo.

This is a new trend which is yet to be explained elaborately. One may blame the echo boomers as consumerists, but who could deny responsibility of the previous generations in creating such demands?

Maybe, the youth have not been attracted to old patterns of socio-political activities or elderly change-makers have not been able to connect them with proper message. Both the developments indicate a loss of appeal of old methods of indoctrination, including for armed struggle. That does not, however, suggest that the youth are silent and inactive.

Have the seniors questioned themselves what they offered the juniors for becoming altruistic? Leaders have still been using rhetoric in public speaking whereas the generations that have ubiquitous influence on them have largely remained unattended.

No indicators confirm that corruption in the country has come down, notwithstanding political pledges to fight it out. Neither has discipline been established on roads nor have there been adequate opportunities created for all citizens in keeping with pre-polls pledges.

Also, society looks oblivious of a student demonstration for quota-free, merit-based civil service and the schoolchildren's movement for safe roads - both happened less than two years ago!

Therefore, youth disillusionment about old order cannot be considered unnatural. They are smart enough to act by seeing the consequences of the recent protests like the ones of the Arab Spring.

In post-colonial societies, leaders often failed but clever ones continued their socio-political missions creating and leaving certain baggage. The tech-savvy millennials are not following the old path of change; but it's not that they won't take any recourse for damage to common interest. That's just unknown.

Worldwide, pundits couldn't come up with accurate answers to anti-immigration populism, rise of ultra-nationalist authoritarianism, explosion in number of refugees, fear of recession or resistance to antibiotics. In the Western context, once considered 'crazy' things are turning out to be another new normal. In Asia and elsewhere, most powerful people hardly take ethically correct stand on issues such as respect for age-old rule of law and equal treatment of human beings.

Thus, values of pluralism, support for righteous causes, and all such dictions have been reduced to near irrelevance, at least for the time being. This is a transitional phase when old problems have reached such a point where only change is the remedy.




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