The generation that fought the Liberation War in 1971 is on the way out. It is the youths in the age group between 18 and 30 who joined the war for liberation of the motherland in a far greater number than any other group. Already many have taken their leave of this mortal world and other are also in their advanced age. Sexagenarians and septuagenarians, these people are also counting their days for their call from the world after. The few octogenarians or nonagenarians and still fewer centenarians remain as the representatives of the war they directly participated in or witnessed in other capacities.
With the departure of the majority of the dominant generation of the Liberation War, the country will miss the most vibrant spirit they brought along with them or acquired at the all-consuming testing time. It is good to see that the new generation has been showing a growing interest in the making of this nation. Gone are the days when distortion of history of the Liberation War was taken to a morbid mental landscape and the collaborators became ministers. The country was on a retrogressive journey downhill.
From that point it has been a daunting challenge to revive the genuine history of this country. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of independence, people should thank the all merciful for not allowing the anti-liberation forces to prevail and rule the roost. But has the threat gone forever? Are the country's fundamental principles solidly established and safe in the hands of the posterity? Unless or until deeply embedded in the mindset of the new generation, the spirit of the Liberation War yet to take firm roots may still run the risk of losing its way in the wilderness.
A secular Bangladesh revoked constitutionally by a dictator could not as yet be made a rubric let alone translating its substances into a reality. It is the lack of confidence in such an ideal along with pursuance of self-interests by the privileged that poses the greatest threat to this country's prospect as a defender of its spirit that went into the making of this nation.
True, ideals and principles the world over have seen a sharp decline. Looting of nation's resources by the privileged in society, money laundering and affluence and influence getting the better of sobriety, courtesy and humble living, refined taste and culture with particular focus on bridging the gap created by discrimination in society proving irrelevant, only project the present civilisation's aberration.
Bangladesh is no exception to this rule. But here is a young nation and its driving engine is as sacrosanct a spirit as that of the Liberation War that made possible an emphatic triumph against the brutal and repressive forces of the Pakistani junta. The legacy could and should have protected the nation against all ills and evil temptations.
Unfortunately it has not happened so. Social-economic divisions, contrary to the aspirations of the founding fathers and the freedom fighters, have widened fast. Today's Bangladesh has seen the rise of a class dominated by plunderers of public money and siphoning off those out of the country, dishonest and lord-like public servants who take commission from development projects and use delaying tactics to serve their own narrow ends at the expense of national interests.
Surely, talented young people cannot be blamed for opting for pursuing higher studies abroad and making a career and settling there. Some of them may be accused of selfishness because they would have preferred migration to what they consider an El Dorado for a better living. Thus the country has been deprived of the service of its most brilliant and creative minds who have excelled in research and innovation in a foreign land.
Even the next category of educated people, excepting a rare few, has failed to demonstrate their dedication to the cause of the country. In today's age of information explosion, the young generation is becoming techno-savvy and an automatic mental gap has been created between it and its previous generation. The first generation of the country finds it difficult to understand much less inspire this 'robotic' generation.
There lies the danger. A whole generation now taking leave and the next one poised to take over hardly have mutual understanding of their dreams and aspirations. Even if there is no clash of interests, the lack of understanding may lead to a lack of respect for what the predecessors upheld so dearly to their hearts. If the generation to follow becomes techno-centric and self-centred, the dreams of their predecessors will die out in the barren wilderness.
The best repository of the legacy will be literature, art and culture in their myriad forms. Creative genres warrant a thorough review in order to appeal to the taste of the new generation. There is a need for master strokes of genius in order to rouse patriotism that pulsates like streams coming from the mountain tops to become rivers and to chart unknown terrains to meet the ultimate destination ---an ocean.