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O tempora! O mores! O Bangladesh


O tempora! O mores! O Bangladesh

Many forms of showing respect to the elderly as dictated by the ancient South Asian culture might appear anachronistic tothe people in today's West. In Oriental tradition, the elderly people would be given the highest social status. The then societies used to hold in high esteem even the people in their middle age. Greeting these people with utmost humility andrespect was the commonly practised norm in society. The ordinary people were found turning to the wise old men for advice in times of personal or social crises. In a way, the ancient South Asian society would view the senior citizens as their guides in myriad areas of life.

The highest form of respect in those days was reserved for the teachers. Those were thehallowed persons on whom was bestowed the responsibility of teaching the young learners. From kids to teenagers to youths, every student would look upto their 'gurus' or 'Ustads' for their lessons. Those were not confined to books only. The whole world or the vast canvas of life was their area of learning. Along with the students, society in general used to remain eager to hear wise words from a teacher.

In the 21st century, the whole scenario has undergone radical changes. In the developed countries, the senior students view their teachers as friends. At the higher institutions, they are seen engaged in debates, arguments and, even, lively gossiping, with their teachers. If the venue happens to be a place outside the classroom, they smoke together, exchange jokes and continue laughing together to their hearts' content.These spectacles were unthinkable even in the so-called modern times in the early 20th century. In the sub-continent, even the senior students engaging in free 'addas' with their teachers is still considered anathema.

As per the ancient tradition, a student in the bygone days was required to get down from his bicycle and walk on pulling the two-wheeler, until a teacher passes by him. Greeting a teacher with 'salaam' or 'adab' or 'namoskar' was compulsory. There were a lot of other manners while encountering a teacher in the classroom or outside. In ancient China, students sitting inside a class with their back towards the teacher had been the custom. This was considered the best way of showing respect to their teachers. To Bangladeshi pupils today, this scenario may not appear even in the furthest recess of their imagination. It's a different episode, though.

What we see today is killing a teacher with pointed wicket stump in broad daylight. The culprit is a notorious student of a college, where the teacher is in charge of disciplining hiserrant students. Such an atrocious and revolting event occurred in greater Dhaka recently.  Killing of teachers by their students is nothing uncommon in the country. Almost two decades ago, a senior teacher at a reputed Dhaka school was brutally stabbed to death by one of his students at his very residence. The exact reason couldn't be known. Elsewhere in Bangladesh, physical assaults of teachers as well as their harassment on flimsy grounds by a section of rowdy students are common incidents. Compared to the social customs of revering teachers mentioned at the beginning of the write-up, these depressing incidents can only identify this country with those where savagery and lawlessness rule the roost.

The episode of teacher-student bonhomie doesn't seem unusual in the countries famed for their fast way of life. On the other hand, students who do not hesitate in the least to kill or humiliate their respected teachers live in a land which has always boasted of its time-tested social values. It's a great irony.

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