a year ago


Not all is lost for this society

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The slogans are rather significant: "Manab kalyane amra thakte chai (for the cause of humanity, we volunteer to lose)" or "Ihaloukik loksan saman paraloukik lav (loss of the mortal world is equal to the gain of the world after". With the chanting of these slogans and giving the beneficiaries a unique reception, an extraordinary market was inaugurated at Kharki in Jashore, according to a report carried in a Bangla contemporary.

The market was organised by Idea Samajkalyan Sangstha on its premise for sale of nine essentials at prices less than half the going rate in the open market. A total of 537 middle-income families were selected after a month-long survey in that area, who will be able to enjoy the opportunity of procuring the nine items once a week for four times in the month of Ramadan. On Thursday, the day before the fasting began, each selected family had made the first week's purchase of the victuals.

The nine essentials the organisation sold at the losing rates are rice, potato, pulse, sugar, cooking oil, onion, chickpea, beaten rice, dates. Rice is priced at Tk 25 and each family can purchase five kilograms of the staple and two kilograms of potato at Tk 10. The seven other items are one kg for each family and the prices are Tk 40 for pulse, Tk 45 for sugar, Tk 120 for a litre of cooking oil, and Tk 20 for onion and so on. They can buy at Tk 550 what costs Tk 1287 in the open market.

The idea behind the Idea's noble initiative, as its founder assistant professor Hamidul Huq Shaheen clarifies, is that both low-income and middle-income people now have their back to the wall and the former can receive help from government and non-government organisations. But the middle-income people are at a disadvantage because despite their sufferings they cannot ask for support and wipe their tears in silence and out of public gaze, lest their vulnerability is exposed to others. So, his is basically a programme to bring the commodity prices within the purchasing capacity of the middle class, particularly in the holy month of Ramadan when traders in this country do rapacious profit. Through this noble venture, he also wants to leave a lesson for students and the young generation that not all loss making makes one a loser. Doing humanitarian service is what gives returns more than the apparent loss.

During this holy month, businessmen in most of the Muslim countries and even in some non-Muslim countries bring down prices in order to provide some relief for those adherents of Islam who cannot afford the sought-after essentials at the normal price. Bangladesh, in contrast, is a country where this month is used as the most convenient time for outrageous profiteering.

So organisations like the Idea Samajkalyan has shown how a protest can be tendered and a positive contribution made to society. At a time when it seems society is so much rotten that it has no prospect, such small initiatives show the way and make people optimistic. After all, not all is lost.

Young people with hardly any fund or savings of their own save from their pocket money only to feed the floating people, orphan children and the poor unemployed. Quite a number of such organisations like Bidyananda with a humble beginning have been taking care of the neglected and vulnerable. The range and scope of such organisations have only extended over the years.

Then there are initiatives such as Satata Dokan (honesty store), a one-taka sale point that offers the poorest of the poor children to purchase a shirt or a girl's dress at Tk1.0 during festival times ---Eid or Durga Puja. These are small initiatives but giants leaps for humanity in this inhuman society. What is particularly heartening is that a few youths come up with the idea of helping the most needy. Their small means could not stand on their way to render such humanitarian services. It shows they feel for the needy and vulnerable in society and other co-travellers also join them in this noble task. Clearly, not all have gone rotten. There is hope these pure souls will prevail over the corrupt, selfish and devious who are out to make the most in their own narrow interests.

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