The commoners, such as I, usually never get to meet the prime minister of the country to tell her about our expectations from her, her party, as well as from the government she leads.
This kind of writing is, perhaps, the only means for expressing my mind. Before going into the details, I must mention that by winning in the 11th national election, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has increased the level of the people’s expectations to an even greater level. Although I have thousands of expectations from the prime minister of Bangladesh, I’ll only talk about a few in this piece.
Taking our culture to the world
The first suggestion that I would like to put forth before her is that she might start thinking of introducing Bangla Cultural Centres in various countries. She is the leader who has brought laurels for Bangladesh by telling global leaders that Ekushey February, our Shaheed Dibosh, should become the International Mother Language Day — a day on which everyone now thinks of his or her mother tongue.
By establishing the International Mother Language Day on February 21, we Bengalis have entered into the minds of people across the globe, who now know us as a nation that can sacrifice itself for the sake of its language.
Since our childhood, we have observed various cultural centres from many countries operating in our Dhaka city. I myself learned French at L’Alliance Francaise de Dhaka during the late 1980s. We watched numerous movies and attended cultural functions at the Russian Cultural and Iranian Cultural Centres during that time. We also came to know about the literature of those countries through the activities of these cultural centres.
Dhaka still has Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre, which promotes Indian thoughts and Indianness in this very country. Although Indianness isn’t foreign to Bengalis, the Indian state thought is running a cultural centre here.
We have seen that these cultural centres did play important roles in spreading the thoughts and policies of those nation-states in the past; they have also promoted their traditions, cultures, and literature through these centres. In fact, these types of centres are still in vogue, and serving nicely to those nations’ strategic thinking.
I dream of Bangladesh establishing Bangla Cultural Centres in various countries across the world. And I think it’s only possible for PM Hasina to implement it.
Save our water
Bangladesh used to be a riverine country — meshed by thousands of rivers, canals, and ponds, with available water in them for the people to use. Times, however, have changed; we have exploited our rivers, ponds, and canals so much that they have lost their old ability to help us. Fish don’t find them a safe abode, farmers don’t find their water usable for irrigation, and people don’t find the water good for even bathing, not to speak of drinking.
It looks like we have plenty of water, but most of it is not usable for humans. We have to rely on underground water.
We all know that drinking water and the water we use in everyday life will truly be scarce very soon. Our water-supplying authority may have a different opinion about it, but our water is running out. In a decade’s time, there may be water-related conflicts in this tiny land of ours. I ardently hope and request our prime minister to find a way to help our countrymen understand that water is a treasure, and that they have to be careful while utilizing this treasure.
Another way of saving water is to save rivers. I’ve seen that we have been encroaching upon rivers for a long time now. The rivers are God’s blessing that have to be nurtured with wisdom, which we haven’t been doing. Therefore, there’s not a single river in this country that contains water that is usable. We have also grabbed most of the banks, making the rivers too narrow to flow; they are dying now.
I wish our prime minister would personally stand by the “save the rivers” campaigns across the country.
Happiness over money
We all know that we’re going to be the 24th largest economy of the world in 2041; that’s what our new finance minister is aiming at. He has already said that we should be able to topple one country each year. No doubt that’s wonderful news. No matter what, we believe that Bangladesh has set itself on the course to becoming one of the most important economies of the world.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we must become that. But at the same time, we should also remember that too much emphasis on economy is likely to make Bangladeshis financial robots, as has happened to the people of many developed countries across the world.
We Bengalis cannot afford to become robots like them. Our prime minister is in the perfect situation to inspire happiness rather than running after money only.
I expect she will instill a sense of happiness among the masses. There was a time when we were happy with what we had, but we have changed over time, and have become prone to greed, always wanting more and more than what we have. Our PM can turn.
First published in Dhaka Tribune on 12 January 2019.
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