Photo: Dhaka Tribune/Mahmud Hossain Opu

Election dreams and the New Year

We have just one day to go in the run up to the national polls, and after the polls day, there will be just one day to enter into a new year.

On the first day of the year, we will know who are going to be our representatives in parliament for the next five years. Since it would be the beginning of a new year, we will have a sea of expectations from them.

The contesting candidates have also been talking about these expectations. However, in the meantime, the media has also been talking to the people at large across the country about their expectations. I have noticed that a few expectations that have been discussed were fairly common hopes of the people, some very basic points in mind.

I have noticed that ensuring basic rights in all walks of life was one of the expectations of the people. At first, I thought they were talking about basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothes. But with a keener look, I could gather that the people were talking about the amenities in their day-to-day life. Some were talking about Padma Bridge; some wanted Metro Rail tracks in Dhaka city; some wanted the focus of economic development in the villages and not just in the towns and cities.

Many people think that the majority of the present band of politicians have a “me-first” attitude rather than a “people-first” one.

Citizens believe that people are taking up political careers as a means of business rather than to hellp the people.

They expect this attitude to go; they hope that the people-first attitude missing from our political arena will be instilled soon.

Improving the quality of education is another expectation of the voters from the representatives who will form the government in January 2019. Lately, we have been talking about the quality of education in the country a lot, but all of this talking does not seem to have translated into taking tangible action. There are serious questions about our way of imparting education in the country.

Increasing literacy perhaps is no longer our goal in education — instead, it is creating a truly skilled and enlightened population that should be the focus. However, despite the steep competition that we have noticed among students, the expected outcome of creating the required human resource for the country still seems a fair distance away.

We may have become successful in raising the rates of passing in the examinations, but haven’t questioned ourselves on whether the existing curriculum or existing system is helping us reach the desired goal as far as education is concerned.

We hope the elected representatives would certainly work for improving the quality of education in the country.

One cannot forget the threat of religious fundamentalism. We have been able to prevent the onslaught of religious militancy to an extent, but the international religious extremist groups, along with their local cohorts, have their eye on Bangladesh; we have seen those attempts multiple times in the last two decades.

Those elements are still in operation; whenever a chance is presented, they might strike. Apart from their own ploys, many local political forces may also use them as their means to destabilize the government.

We have done some work in preventing those elements from entering our society. In order to prevent them holistically, there’s a need to impart true religious education.

All of us as Bengalis must understand the true spirit of religions. And in order to do so, our people’s representatives have a big task ahead.

We expect our society to be an example of inter-religious harmony in the global arena. Our spirit of freedom, to a great extent, had its origins in the dream of creating a society that would be free of religious animosity.

While the oppression of ethnic minorities in Bangladesh is very much an issue, it does seem to be less so in this country than what happens in our neighbouring states.

The minorities do have a lesser voice in our society, and we certainly don’t want that. We don’t dream of a country like this; we want one where everyone has a space.

In a nutshell, the above were my observations about the common people’s hopes and aspirations from the new set of representatives who will be forming the new government. I wish them the very best, and appeal to them for remembering the dreams of the common people.

First published in Dhaka Tribune on 29 December 2018.

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