NOW a days it is hard to find promising young writers who critically presents their point of views on contemporary political issues, precisely on youth movements. This is undoubtedly a challenging work. The young critic and activist Anupam Debashis Roy has taken the challenge in his new book titled Not All Springs End Winter: Political Economy of Mass Youth Movements in Bangladesh before, during and after Shahbag, published from Adarsha.
Not only in Bangladesh but also around the world, youth movements have become one of the major forces in political scene in today’s existing systems of capitalism, neoliberalism and authoritarianism. In the 2010s, people have seen some new movements in Bangladesh that have distinct characters in their languages, methods, modes, pulses and dynamics.
Though Anupam’s foremost focus was on the Shahbag movement of 2013, the no VAT on education movement of 2015, the quota reforms movement of 2018 and the road safety movement of 2018 but the writer contextualised his arguments with a brief introduction of the historical dynamics of Bangladeshi youth movements happened till 1990 from 1952.
From 1952 to 2018, the political history of Bangladesh is deeply rooted in the history of mass youth movements and Anupam’s work studies the methods of the movements that worked or did not work from the theoretical framework of political economy.
In Not All Springs End Winter, the writer presents his critical analysis on how the new movements have learned from the old movements and how they are gradually improving in terms of methods and strategies.
The writer’s study shows that the dream of the Shahbag movement was never realised, moreover, the spirit of the movement was co-opted by the ruling political party. Since the movement, there was an absence of social movements as people were demoralised by the results of the Shahbag movement.
Later, in 2015 and in 2018, financial self-interests brought the youths together which gave birth to the no VAT on education movement and the quota reforms movement. In terms of theory, Anupam says, ‘These movements presented the participants with significant noncollective incentives,’ though, undoubtedly there were ideological and cultural elements in the protests. To mark the reason behind the term, the author explains how the vigorous participations of the youths were absent in the movement for the Sunderbans or in the protests against violations of human rights and other crimes that took place in the post-2014 period — rape cases, murder cases, specially the killings of writers, bloggers, activists and publishers.
In the study of the road safety movement, Anupam defies the previous logic as the students did not have strict financial benefits. From the author’s view, ‘They did have a noncollective incentive however, that of the moral satisfaction of joining the fight for justice.’
Not All Springs End Winter is not exactly a book on narratives of movements, nor the history of those movements. The book is mostly focused on the methods and dynamics of the movements.
The concluding remarks of the book emphasise on the importance of a collective force to meet the demands of justice, liberty, rights and reform. It says that the country is waiting to see whether a liberal force awakes and forms an alliance like the historical movements and fights against injustice and oppression under a multi-party alliance. From the author’s words, ‘But some of us should not just wait for history to pan out. Some of us must also act. And if we do, effectively, forcefully, emphatically, and most importantly, methodically, there is no doubt that better days await us.’
This book, also translated in Bangla as Kalker Andolon, Ajker Andolon, published from same publication, will spark some interest in understanding the dynamics of these youth movements of the 2010s and inspire new thinkers and activists to work in this field as well as to develop the understandings of the movements.
Nasir Uz Zaman is a member of the New Age Youth team.
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