STUDENTS IN POLITICS

STUDENTS IN POLITICS

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  • F.R Chowdhury       27 February 2020

 We have seen various stages of students’ politics. In primary school, the class teacher appointed a monitor to represent the class. The class monitor or captain, in fact, was a go between teacher and students to facilitate academic activities. In high school we have seen the teacher conducting a poll and appointing the most popular student as the class captain. The role of class captain expanded little more to include sports, games and other activities. In college we found the students electing their union or association. Their activities extended further to include cultural activities and debate. Debate gave the students an opportunity to analyse any given subject and present his/ her own thoughts. It also taught tolerance to others’ views and comments. Finally at university we have seen students’ union that would contribute to the development of all skills that would make a student an ideal and responsible citizen. Apart from academic studies the students engage themselves in various other activities – sports and games, cultural activities, debates and study tours. The last days of student life, the students’ union and the university authority work together hand-in-hand to make it memorable.

At university level we have seen students to sometime become very vocal on certain issues. They relate mostly to higher/ better academic/ educational aspirations such as for lowering fees, better library or IT facilities etc. In extremely rare cases the students came out openly with the general public as in 1952 language movement and 1971 liberation movement. Other than that, pursue of knowledge has been the primary goal of the students. The future of the country depends on the knowledge acquired by the students and application of all the skill, knowledge and virtues in their later life.

As a seafarer I visited many countries. As a civil servant in Bangladesh as well as in the UK, I visited many more countries, some of which as an IMO consultant. I have visited remote places like DPRK (North Korea), Malawi and Pacific island of Tonga. I have witnessed similar trend that I explained above. Every country gives top priority to education because they know for sure that future of the country lies on good education.

There is one exception – the recent trend in students’ politics in Bangladesh. I am tired of hearing about Bangladesh being a role model in almost everything. Perhaps the politicians also want to say the involvement of students in politics is making Bangladesh another role model. In Bangladesh the corrupt politicians bribe the students to dance in their tune. The students are derailed. They engage themselves in immoral activities – extortion of money in every possible way. They even kill each other. Gone is the primary goal of education. It appears that knowledge is no more required. What we require is the skill in immoral activities. If this continues, we know what we are going to get in future. The future is dark and bleak. That is why thousands are desperate to go abroad. They die at sea, in containers, trailers and tanker-trucks but still they try to get away from the country – desperate effort to escape to a better future.

It is natural that all parents want their children to get the best education. It is no more there in Bangladesh. Those who can afford are sending their children abroad. Initially they went after first degree. Then it came down to HSC level. Now they are going soon after finishing SSC level. Those receiving good education abroad are not returning home. This is a brain drain. Back home, we are stuck with those who have been serving their political masters instead of acquiring any education. What a vicious situation! Politicians are hypocrites – they send their children abroad for better education and at home they engage the students in politics and thereby destroy our education system.

Chatra League, Chatra Union, Chatra Dal, Shibir – they are all equally unnecessary and unwanted. Bangladesh could be a better place without them. They produced notorious thugs involved with all types of crime. Their leaders are ready to do anything to please their political masters. The corrupt politicians and so-called students’ leaders scratch each other’s back. When the politicians do not need them anymore, they (politicians) simply dump them (students’ leaders) as if they had nothing to do with it. I never heard of any such students’ leader becoming a famous barrister or doctor, engineer or scientist, not even a general or admiral. They destroy the dreams of their poor parents who send them for higher education. They become what we call in Bengali “mastan” to spend best part of their lives in prisons.

Political party that comes into power in Bangladesh start thinking how to prolong their rule instead of doing what they are expected to do for the country. They apparently do not understand that by being honest, sincere and equally fair to everyone they could contribute more to the development of the country. That is the way politicians should gain their popularity. Instead our politicians want quick result – they create their own “bahinis” to do their drum-beating. Labour organizations, youth organizations, women’s organizations are all affiliated with political parties. These leagues, dals and so-called unions have no genuine link with any industry. They do not work for the benefit of their own society or community. They all provide the muscle power for politicians to suppress opposition. The leaders of these organizations get rewarded for their devoted support; and the ministers and senior politicians must provide that either by money or kind. Easy money can only come through corruption. It is a complete cycle. What a way to flourish corruption and divert all energies that could otherwise do lot of good things for the country instead of “mostanis”. Ignoring the crimes committed by “mastans” of affiliated bodies lead to collapse of law and order situation. The present corruption and crime situation in the country is the outcome of maintaining the organizations affiliated with political parties. It is a matter of shame for the professionals to allow their organizations for political purpose. Genuine professionals like doctors, engineers and lawyers should take pride in profession instead of drum-beating for political masters.

Recently Mr Rashed Khan Menon justified students’ politics in Bangladesh by saying –“if they do not learn it as a student, where shall we find our future political leaders?” I feel sorry for the poor knowledge of our veteran politician. I am sure he travelled to many countries. Can he tell us about a single country that operates our type of students’ politics? Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge provide best education and produce maximum future politicians? United States, Britain, Germany and France do not have our type of students’ politics but they have no shortage of competent and capable politicians. Yes, there is shortage of corrupt politicians like ours. I hope by now the readers have found the right connection with what I narrated in the previous paragraph.

Through this article I urge up on our political parties and their leaders not to destroy our education system. Keep education out of politics. I request the education minister to have courage and bring an end to present form of students’ politics in Bangladesh. Ban all sorts of party politics in campus. Bangladeshi children are as good as any other children. Given the opportunity they can achieve the best. Give them education and that will bring genuine change. Colleges and universities should provide support for development of other talents – sports and games, debates, cultural activities. Bangladesh could one day become the destination for higher studies for students from all corners of the world. Bangladesh may perhaps be a role model if it can bring those bold and courageous changes.

This article is not written with any political motive. This is neither against a particular party nor against any individual. It is solely for the future of the country. There is still time to rectify our stupid system. Only a generation of educated leaders can guide us to better future. There is no substitute for knowledge and education. The country must develop healthy trade unions to contribute to its development. Let us not suppress all different views by the brute force of affiliated organizations. Have patience and tolerance. Public consultation and collective decision are the essence of democracy and prosperity.

London, 15-January-2020                                                                         <fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com>

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