On behalf of the new generation of lawyers in Bangladesh, I would like to take this opportunity to issue a public apology to Professor Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank.
In a country where corruption at every realm is the norm and everyone is simply concerned with personal gain, we have had the privilege of having people like you to look up to and inspire us to believe that one can, in fact, despite all the countless potholes along the way, do something worthwhile for the country. That patriotism and a humanitarian perspective are consistent dedication of a lifetime, and not outbursts of passion and empty words on every national holiday, talk show or election campaign.
We, a generation in their twenties and thirties now, did not experience the Liberation War which has had such a pivotal role in the shaping of the collective identity of modern Bangladesh. We have, rather, grown up watching two leading political parties constantly arguing over the accuracy of events that happened in the years preceding and following 1971, and producing a political system where mudslinging and name calling takes priority over discussing issues that concern the people of the country.
We have grown up knowing that we live in a country once labeled internationally as a “basket case”—a country no one really quite cared about and knows mostly for its poverty and corruption. And we have grown up constantly hearing people in our country say, “ei deshey ar ki hobe”.
Then in the perennially dark sky where eventually some of our heroes turned out to be phonies or self-important agenda pushers, along came people like you. People who showed us that greatness does not come from an intention to be perceived as great, but from being a humble but dedicated servant to a cause that is going to make a difference in Bangladesh first and the world subsequently. From making use of the education you receive to do something worthwhile for others rather than just as a means to advance yourself.
I don’t think I will be very wrong to assume that the reason the majority of us, who have worked hard in our respective academic disciplines with the intention of making a positive contribution, have done so because of the inspiration provided by your efforts and those of others like you. We even dared to set foot in the dog-eat-dog world that primarily is the realm of Bangladeshi law and politics, believing that change is not impossible.
I have been very lucky to have worked directly with you and with the family that is Grameen several years ago, right after you both won the Nobel peace prize. What I took away from that experience was a lot more than simply an impressive line on my CV and a signed reference letter.
I took away the experience of meeting you, and getting to see how Grameen Bank works. The experience of getting to meet a human being whose humbleness and openness never lets on about the honour and fame he is rightfully entitled to. The experience of working in a place where graduates from the top universities of the world and illiterate farmers and rural small business owners work together as equals and as a family, in a country where even a man who earns a hundred taka more than his neighbor feels entitled to act superior.
That the powers that be have done what they have is the ultimate poor reflection on them, and something that will come back to haunt them forever. It is best left discussed by political analysts. As someone who had voted for the first time during the last election falling for their lies and has no clue on what to do when the next one comes around, I do not need to, and will not, elaborate on it any further. But that the system has embarrassed you in the manner that it has is the worst possible insult to the values we harbor and consider the basis of our profession. We are very sorry.
We are sorry both to you, for all the obvious reasons, and we are sorry for ourselves, because the system that our seniors and role models in the legal arena have shaped and worked so hard for has ultimately become easy for legislation to play with. Because, thanks to one utterly ridiculous decision on the part of the ruling party, the judicial system, years and generations of achievements earned by so many highly educated and dedicated individuals for hundreds of years in this part of the world, was humiliated, along with everyone in it including us.
Thanks to the fact that the system was so easily manipulated by the rulers, we are going down in history as the country that humiliated one of the greatest achievements of not just Bangladesh but, for a change, the entire world. To grow up in a generation that witnessed its predecessors constantly be pessimistic about the future of the country, then witnessed the achievements of people like you and ultimately witnessing what is happening now, as you can imagine, is a very confusing and frustrating experience.
I suppose the only thing we can promise you is that we will not let you down if we can help it. We will not let ourselves down. We vow to be the kind of people that this country and this world really needs. The kind of people who will continue to try to change things that clearly do not work, in order to help others. The kind of people who would not subscribe to the defeatist attitude of our elders, who have witnessed the country they have fought a war for fail to live up to expectations, and did not have the opportunity, time or patience to set things right. We vow to be the glue to put it all together. It is you and your generation that have paved the way up the hill for us; all we have to do is climb up and take everyone else up there with us. We vow to be those forklifts.
We thank all of you, the generations before us, for giving us everything that we are proud of today. While we are sorry for all the things that have gone wrong, history is ultimately all about learning from mistakes and taking preventive measures. As terrible as the consequences of the current state of affairs are going to be, we promise you that we are going to fix this.
It is not impossible, and you know that a lot better than any of us.
The writer practices law
Source: The Independent