Let there be no more bloodshed, atrocity and corruption

F R Chowdhury

Nobel Prize is awarded in recognition of extraordinary contributions made by any individual or institution to the world community. Professor Dr. Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for his unique concept of small scale loan called ‘micro credit’ for rural poor people to enable them to be self-reliant and thereby alleviate poverty.
Says the Encyclopædia Britannica: “Micro banking or microfinance is a means of extending credit, usually in the form of small loans with no collateral, to nontraditional borrowers such as the poor in rural or undeveloped areas. This approach was institutionalised in 1976 by Dr. Muhammad Yunus, an American-educated Bangladeshi economist who had observed that a significant percentage of the world’s population has been barred from acquiring the capital necessary to rise out of poverty. Yunus set out to solve this problem through the creation of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.

Poorest of the poor
“The Grameen approach is unique because the small loans are guaranteed by members of the borrower’s community; pressure within the group encourages borrowers to pay back the loans in a timely manner. Grameen’s clients are among the poorest of the poor, many of whom had never possessed any money and relied on a barter economy to meet their daily needs. Using micro-loans, borrowers are able to purchase livestock or start their own businesses. By 1996 Grameen had extended credit to more than three million borrowers and was the largest bank in Bangladesh, with more than 1,000 branches”.

Battle against poverty
As regards poverty Dr. Yunus wrote in the above mentioned Encyclopaedia, “The Battle Against Poverty
I want to see a world free from poverty. Poverty does not belong in a civilised human society. Its proper place is in a museum. The Grameen Bank and affiliated institutions are dedicated to providing opportunities that can help improve the socioeconomic condition of people who live in abject poverty. I believe that micro-credit has a key role to play in reducing poverty. While access to credit for micro-enterprises is important by itself in improving the lives of the impoverished, it is complemented by other strategies”.
Poverty causes lot of unrest. Removal of poverty is a step forward to peace. That was the basis of the decision of the Committee. This year Professor Yunus has also been honoured with the US Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his good work.
Another person whose vision eventually created perhaps the biggest NGO with network in different countries is Mr. Fazle Hassan Abed, the founder of BRAC. He has been honoured with a knighthood by the Queen. He is now Sir Fazle Hassan Abed.
In Bangladesh when there is so much doom and gloom, we eventually found something to celebrate. Long live Yunus and Abed; and they deserve to be remembered with something more than Nobel Prize.

Misrule of Idi Amin, Mugabe
I am sure most readers will agree with me to name Dada Idi Amin of Uganda on top of the list. His misrule turned Uganda into a country of total chaos which drove thousands out of the country. Then we have to consider the name of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. This resourceful country was pushed to total bankruptcy. Even printing millions of dollar notes could not keep pace with inflation. Thank God, it is now turning around because of a political settlement.
On 10 January 1972, when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to Bangladesh from Pakistan, his popularity was unprecedented, probably more than what any political leader can even dream of. That was a time and opportunity for him to do everything good for the country. Instead what he did will remain in history as another period of total mismanagement and extremely poor governance. His first priority was to remove all opposition to consolidate his position.

Extrajudicial killing
He nationalised all industries and appointed his own men as administrators. After struggling all his life for the cause of democracy, he abolished democracy in a matter of minutes. He created a Rakkhi Bahini that killed thousands of young men. He introduced the extrajudicial killing by killing Shiraz Shikdar in police custody and even announcing the same in the House of Parliament. He banned  all newspapers except four government-owned dailies. The TV, radio and the four news-papers wrotes in praise of his political ideology. He created the lone political party BKSAL and retained all powers in his hand.
He appointed regional administrators with absolute powers. Many of his party leaders made money and fortune when Anjuman-e-Mofidul Islam were busy burying unclaimed bodies of those dying on the street without food or shelter.
Over 30 years later his daughter, with tacit support of the 1/11 Administration, came to power with more than two-thirds majority in the House. She had a  glden opportunity to do everything good that she wanted to do. Instead she chose to follow a wrong path.
Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina launched movement along with Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh for Caretaker Government (CG) for about 5 years since 1992.
The then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia positively responded got the Constitution amended, which CG enabled Sheikh Hasina to come to power in 1996.
But Hasina amended the Constitution to remove the need for a non-party CG so that she can again be elected to power. She changed the name of the Dhaka Airport only to remove the name of the late President Ziaur Rahman. Even after getting a High Court order and giving posthumous award to Hannan for declaration of independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujib, she could not stop people from speaking the truth that it was the then Major Ziaur Rahman who made the declaration of independence from the Kalurghat broadcasting centre in Chittagong heard by millions of people including Bangabir Kader Siddiki, Bir Uttam.

Professor Yunus defamed
For quite some time she embarked on a programme of defaming Professor Yunus in every possible way because the Nobel Committee selected Professor Dr Muhammad Yunus.
In the political field she was determined to teach Jamaat a lesson for withdrawing their support in 2001 election. She had five years time from 1996 to 2006 to form war crime tribunal but did not.  She started with a war crime tribunal whereby most of the Jamaat leaders are now under trial.
The BDR mutiny and killing of officers was dealt with in an unprofessional manner.

Killing of Biswajit, journalist couple and disappearances
The law and order situation in the country has gone to the lowest ebb. People are being killed at random by police and other law enforcement agencies in the name of cross-fire.
The Government has no answer to killing of garment worker Aminul Islam, journalist couple Sagar-Runi and disappearances of BNP leaders like Ilyas Ali.
The Government tried to blame Jamaat for killing of Biswajit in broad day light by Chhatra League elements. The Government arrested journalist Mahmudur Rahman only because he published the news about Skype conversation by a war crime tribunal judge.
Political opponents have been arrested to such a scale that there is no room left in jails. Now they may have to release criminals to accommodate more BNP and Jamaat leaders and other political opponents!

Financial scams
Financial corruption has gone to a level never heard of before. By market manipulation people made money out of the stock market and sent it abroad. “Hallmark” and “Destiny” matters are known to all. One state-owned bank gave loan against inflated value of shares as security which is now not even 1/10th of the original value.
The latest that has come to light is the bungling of millions of rupees from telecommunication revenue from overseas calls. A mortgaged ship is sold off without reference to the bank.
However, the most sensational is the case where a car load of cash money was caught on way to former Railway Minister’s house.
According to news reports, Suranjit Sengupta received heavy condemnation from various quarters over the seizure of Tk 70 lakh from his assistant personal secretary’s car at night and the casual manner of his handling of the matter afterwards.
The parliamentary body on railway ministry and officials of railway and other ministries alleged that Suranjit took the matter very lightly. They questioned how neutral the two probe committees, formed by the minister, would be when an officer of the same ministry is to investigate his subordinates.
Even the Anti-Corruption Commission joined the crowd. The graft watchdog said it would launch a probe into the minister’s alleged involvement in the incident, reported Channel i, a private TV channel.
The opposition BNP demanded the minister’s resignation while the parliamentary body launched a probe into the ministry’s handling of tenders over the last three years.
Suranjit’s APS Omar Faruq Talukder, Railway’s General Manager (East) Yusuf Ali Mridha and Divisional Commandant Enamul Huq were in the car. Driver Ali Azam was driving the vehicle, stopped on the way to Suranjit’s Jigatola house, and entered into the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) headquarters at Dhanmondi in the capital in April 2012, news reports said.    Ali Azam drove the vehicle into the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) headquarters in the capital and exposed the bribe money. The border guards discovered the money in the car and detained the four persons.
According to newspaper reports, when guards at the gate rushed towards the vehicle as it had entered the BGB headquarters without authorisation, the driver told them there was bribe money stashed in the car. The guards discovered Tk 70 lakh in the car and they detained the four.
At the very maiden meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Railway Ministry, Minister Suranjit Sengupta faced the charge of corruption from the opposition BNP. Rehana Akter Ranu, the lone opposition member on the committee, rejected the ministry’s probe body formed to investigate the alleged capture of Omar Faruk Talukder, assistant personal secretary (APS) of Suranjit, with Tk 70 lakh. She told reporters that Omar earned the money from the ‘recruitment trade’ and the sum was supposed to go to the minister.
The minister still remains a minister without portfolio.

Padma Bridge project
Finally we come across the WB case on Padma Bridge project where the WB withdrew from the project only because the Government refused to prosecute the corrupt minister and other officials. Meantime the Prime Minister introduced to the nation corrupt ministers as great patriots. With just a few months left of the present tenure, the Government is desperate to sign new deals.
They are mostly on credit agreements. The need for purchase of £3bn worth of military equipment from Russia is a debatable issue. Similarly the agreement for coal-based power plant has been concluded without proper feasibility study.
With the opposition away from the parliament, the Government does not have to answer for their failures, corruption, mismanagement and bungling. The nation is on the verge of a serious turmoil. In the meantime she is busy naming every road, bridge, building and military bases in the name of Sheikh Mujib.
The incumbents are trying to cover up all failures, corruption and mismanagement. But people are not given explanation for disappearance of Ilyas Ali or murder of Sagar-Runi or even about the Padma Bridge corruption or black cat . Nobody talks about purchase of £3bn of military hardware.
The liberation of Bangladesh was not the achievement of any individual or any party. The whole nation fought and achieved this independence. Everybody is equally patriotic Bangladeshi barring a few. The ruling Awami League government must see to it that political killings, enforced disappearances and corruption are stopped immediately; and release all political prisoners. Finally please agree for all general elections for the parliament to be held under non-party caretaker administration without which fair national polls cannot be ensured. We can then look forward to a happy and prosperous Bangladesh.
Let there be no more bloodbath in my motherland.
Email: fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. In Bangladesh, ‘corruption’ is an inalienable part of our existence more because the law against corruption is itself corrupt. Whenever a corrupt person was, if ever, taken to book, the ACC (or erstwhile BAC) Chairman said, ‘There’s no tangible proof against corruption.’ True it is that bribery happens without any receipt. So wherefrom there would be a ‘tangible evidence’? In Canada, for that reason most probably, the law is that talking of corruption itself is ‘corruption’. And look, the system of delivering work/services by govt officials are beset with abundant scope of corruption. There’s no time limit for disposing a file at any point. Anyone in the chain, from the peon to the secretary, can withhold the file for indefinite period without showing any reason whatsoever. As a sufferer I’ve experience that failing to satisfy the clerk, my file for transferring MPO from Jessore to Dhaka was put under a heap of files for more than a year and finally I was told that the file was missing as I did not see the concerned clerk personally. Finding no other way, I had to pay the demanded amount and the next day my file was in place. This is one small instance how corruption is nourished in govt offices. Another pillar of corruption is total centralization of the administration. The secretariat, other directorates and the high court are honeycombs. The opportunities of squeezing common people are immeasurable in here. Had the administration, a few Directorates, High Court Benches etc been decentralized, the scope of corruption would have been shrunk to a great extent. But you see, the govts come on ordinary people’s vote but soon after assuming power, they become slaves of the upper class, vested quarters and money & muscle wielders. So corruption without Bangladesh or Bangladesh without corruption will remain a dream for ever.

  2. About the scope of corruption one important thing has been said by our Finance Minister. He said the bureaucracy is inefficient and corrupt and that’s a great impediment to FDI and all development otherwise. But one thing might have gone amiss. The other night Dr. Akbar Ali Khan said in a TV talk-show that the decision they could take at the Dy. Secretary level, is now involves as many as 3/4 upper and lower echelons together. Evidently, our development projects are taking 3/4 times more than it used to take even 20/25 before. Consequently the project cost increases to that proportion. And the squandering is borne by the ‘stupid’ public. Who cares? After all we have become independent to show our ‘mettle’ and ‘merit’. Who can challenge that?

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