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The Financial Express

The love for new narratives  

Khawaza Main Uddin   | Published: March 17, 2020 22:30:31 | Updated: March 19, 2020 21:59:28


The love for new narratives   

In public transports or at roadside tea shops, people still talk, as they did in the past, about issues, inclusive of the latest addition of coronavirus concern, however, in a timid voice. In inter-personal and familial atmosphere, they express a bit more hostility to anarchy. A modern man finds not enough tranquility to see his/her restlessness subsided.

So, the paradox cannot be ignored: when they have abundant complaints about, say, transport shortage, share price fall, banking scams, governance crisis and all that, most of them hardly look for logical remedies to be attained through due diligence. They, not excluding the intelligentsia, don't have patience to pursue changes. Their criticism, made in closed groups, doesn't indicate their happiness either with the status quo.

Almost universally true is the people's wish to have wellbeing of families, which is somewhat measured by consumerist yardsticks, and they are, studies suggest, concerned about future of the country and their children.

People once sought freedom from foreign rule with sugarcoated goal of salvation and now what is more emphasised worldwide is problem-solving. Revolution has been replaced by focus on improvement in the system, establishment that has been corrupted by abusive and flawed practices.

How would citizens expect solutions, without accurately saying what they want ---dictions that reflect their aspirations and leave compelling effects on policymakers?

The ones who resort to fake news and the ones who term authentic news fake are not much differentiated in 'populist' culture. Transparency and accountability in regulatory affairs are largely incomprehensible. Engaging in conflict of interests or abuse of power no longer involves any shame. Reports on extrajudicial killing cannot generate such sympathy for victims' families.

In such a situation, issues such as traffic congestion, non-compliance with rules, environmental pollution, quality of education, widening disparity, youth unemployment, demographic dividend, corporate governance, high cost of doing business, and even extortion, corruption and violation of rights are unlikely to receive the priority they deserve. This is notwithstanding media reports, public discourses and any other social interactions.

Otherwise, the issues should have been resolved much earlier. There is a national integrity strategy, just well-crafted on paper.

The middle classes would 'find themselves living in an increasingly hostile and unwelcoming society because community roots are being broken'. This is what was stated by UN Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Professor Philip Alston in a report he presented in Britain in 2018.

In Bangladesh, today's society is witnessing waning values of empathy and altruism as its citizens have to run after parochial interests. The latest coronavirus invasion has exposed a selfish face that leads to quarantining of individuals! People, engrossed in daily necessities and preoccupations, have experienced that their dreams are often lost in crooked discussions.

Restless souls do yet harbour hopes of solution to the issues that pose difficulties to their lives --- worldly solution that are supposed to come from the masses. When children and juveniles demonstrated for safe roads in 2018, a placard attracted hundreds of thousands of eyes -'Road Closed, State Under Repair'. That's something new, presented by a new generation, to the country's adults.

The socio-political and cultural narratives that have already been exhausted for various purposes cannot be useful once again for reigniting the Bangladesh dream of producing confident citizens and building a just society. Peace of mind and harmony in social relations as well as the state's priority to building and rebuilding institutions need to be spelt out with clarity.

Unless the issues of people have appeals to them, it's also unlikely that they would wake up to rhetoric that has no meanings to their real life. There comes a time when introspection remains important for people to explore solutions.

 

khawaza@gmail.com

 

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