As Bangladesh completes 50 years of its independence, it’s time to revisit what the spirit of the founding fathers was in order to keep the new generation informed about the state’s pledges made at the beginning of the liberation war.
The basis for the spirit of the national endeavour to build an independent Bangladesh was the proclamation of independence by the Mujubnagar government.
In April 1971, that government had made the pledge to establish ‘equality, human dignity and social justice' as fundamental principles of the country.
After the military crackdown by March 25, the elected political leadership of Bangladesh formed a provisional government and issued the proclamation of independence on April 10. The provisional government took oath at a ceremony in a village, along the India-Bangladesh border, called Baidyanathtala, in then Kushtia district (currently Meherpur district).
The Prime Minister of that government Tajuddin Ahmed renamed Baidyanathtala as Mujibnagar and declared it as the capital of newly-independent Bangladesh.
The proclamation, known as the Mujibnagar Declaration, served as the interim constitution of Bangladesh until 1972 and provided the legal basis of the provisional government.
“We, the elected representatives of the people of Bangladesh, as honour bound by the mandate given to us by the people of Bangladesh, whose will is supreme duly constituted ourselves into a Constituent Assembly, and having held mutual consultations, and in order to ensure for the people of Bangladesh equality, human dignity and social justice declare and constitute Bangladesh to be sovereign Peoples' Republic and thereby confirm the declaration of independence already made by Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman,” read the proclamation.
Based on the current state of ‘equality, human dignity and social justice’, as promised in 1971, let’s assume, the people of the new generation would try to fulfil their aspirations.
Today, there are issues of inequality and lack of people’s access to equal opportunities. Achieving equality depends on how the state acts and offers scope to all its citizens to grow. Equity can be ensured through appropriate education for all and fair employment opportunities. Access to healthcare facilities for all citizens is also another criterion for measuring equality.
Currently, as analyses suggest, there are disparities in different forms – between the rich and the poor, between the rural and the urban people and so on. It is well known that human dignity of all cannot be ensured when there is a widening gap between different groups of people.
There are allegations of corruption in the recruitment process for public services, a situation which cannot be called just.
We are far away from a system in which everyone can choose his/her profession. Instead, allegations have it that new entrepreneurs face various obstacles including red-tape, lack of access to finance and undue interventions.
Fifty years after independence, we are yet to be ready to accept dissenting views of others, meaning it is hard to ensure mutual respect for citizens.
The reactive attitude of people is also reflected in the mob lynching from time to time. According to Ain O Salish Kendra (Law and Arbitration Centre), more than 625 people were beaten to death by the mob in the past eight years.
These days, some graphic videos go viral, which show a large number of people take part in the cruel act of beating someone. Violence against women and children as well as forced child marriage is still a serious social issue.
When Bangladesh has attained remarkable economic progress, some of the critical issues relating to human dignity and social justice are yet to be fully addressed.
It’s hoped that the promises the state made through the Mujibnagar Declaration would be fulfilled in the coming days. That will be the greatest homage to the architects of independence.