This coming DUCSU election can be a new beginning, a new sunrise against all the injustice, inequality, oppression, and domination because we have to keep in mind that when present falls, a broken down future can be a by-product and students never fall apart. And really, it should be and has to be a reclaiming of the legacy of 1952, 69, 71 and 1990 and this is what we deserve as a nation, writes Abdullah Al Mamun
Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk
Few days back, in between a conversation, one of my friends asked me are we over-emphasising Dhaka University Central Student's Union DUCSU election where we are stricken with so many problems, recent and past, that should be addressed immediately? Severe poverty, unemployment, degrading and inopportune education system, health care problem, serious economic inequality, unsustainable development, unnecessary and over-dependency on foreign countries, serious environmental issues, corruption and injustice in every sector and what not? With overpopulation in a little land with limited resource, how far Bangladesh could go on? How do we decide which problem should be prioritised first and which later? Can a proper democratic electioneering be a way, among others, towards resolution?
DUCSU election, just being an election of the University of Dhaka DU, does not and cannot remain merely an election of this institution alone because of its glorious past during the language movement of 1952, mass revolt of 1969, liberation war of 1971 and then again mass revolution of 1990. Its united and collaborative protest against establishment, imperial tyranny, autocracy and dictatorship has made itself synonymous to the voice of the silence and more specifically a symbol of the political awareness of the students. With the passage of time it has become able to broaden its sphere of activities and it did never keep itself limited to the interest of the university and the students only. Along with making academically successful students, this university has the reputation of being a repository of the politicians. Thus, on one hand, this institution has been able to create an impact over political, social, and economic issues and become a conscience of the people of the country. On the other hand, RUCSU, CUSCU, JUCSU elections et cetera, to a great extent, are highly linked to DUCSU in today’s political context of Bangladesh. Like DUCSU, election in other public universities are also absent for a long period of time and who can deny the fact that once DUCSU election is properly held then other public university central students’ union elections will just be a matter of time. That means a sound and competitive DUCSU election can become both accelerating and inspirational for them as well.
There has been a growing tendency in the Bangladeshi political arena that politics gradually seems to be handed over businessmen which was not so terrific at least until 1971. However, with the emergence of independent Bangladesh, the dominance of business people has become reportedly high. Interestingly in this game of Awami businessmen and politicians, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jatiya Party and others also did not lag behind. As a result, the high graph is keeping pace as time flies by. According to different statistics more than forty per cent politicians today are businessmen. This alarming and cumulative rise will have a serious impact on the political field of Bangladesh because mass people will not be benefitted properly by the businessmen cum law makers. And as a result, unemployment problem, economic imbalance, road accidents, poor judicial system, education, health issues, corruption et cetera cannot be properly addressed for the interests of inexpert politicians do not let the problems get resolved. And so, production and nursing of proper politicians is a must. Nevertheless, why governments have negligence in arranging DUCSU election is something to notice seriously.
A deep observation of the constitution of DUCSU will help us understand the cause behind government’s indifference towards DUCSU election. Chapter two of the constitution, aim and objective, explains DUCSU’s activities that include working for the cultural and intellectual development among students, creating a sense of good citizenship and providing a floor in the procreation of future leadership, and spreading this practice both inside and outside campus even when needed they should extend their functions at international level. In addition to that, arranging and maintaining their own empirical and explorative journals, patronising debate programme among inter-university or intra-university is said in the third chapter through which students can get a proper educational environment and grow their social awareness. Along with creating a platform for healthy leadership, the probability of intellectual development and competitiveness increases specially if practiced throughout different educational institutions. And the supplementary output can be proportionately more law-abiding leaders and civic society where Bangladeshi politics could experience less corruptive environment. However, the actual scenario is not as such because absence of sound democracy for a long time has fostered unhealthy and unexpected current condition both politically and socially. Now if a regular, fair and participatory electioneering can be a way out, then one can easily understand government’s callousness towards this. This sort of unbridled autocracy and dictatorship in the decision making might be avoided, to say the least on one hand. On the other hand, it does not necessarily mean that a fair and impartial DUCSU election might be enough to break the shackle of rigid and one-sided political culture rather what I am trying to say is that it will work as a catalyst in making a good political environment for other institutions and the country.
Along with government’s negligence to hold DUCSU election, we should not forget it is the university authority and other stakeholders who are equally responsible in the prolongation of this election. Otherwise why should not we raise question about last 28 years of apolitical campus and what have teachers (read certain group of teachers) done actually instead of being divided into blue and white group only? Can there be any option to justify the role of authority in the matter of only seven DUCSU elections in 48 years of independent Bangladesh? Can we deny that these very people are the successor of 1952, 1969, 1971, and 1990? Can’t they realise that their callousness and unconcerned stance has put the institution in an undemocratic condition where the country as a whole is severely sufferer as well? Joseph de Maistre, a French philosopher, once said, ‘Every nation gets the government it deserves’. And this is exactly true in the political context of Bangladesh because where pupils from highest institution fail to play their part then how come we deserve a better situation than this? Besides, being callous to politics or being apolitical does not mean being out of social connection at all because there is nothing purely apolitical. And here Otto Rene Castillo becomes relevant when he says, ‘One day / The apolitical intellectuals / Of our land / Will be interrogated / By the poorest of the people. / They will be asked what they did / While their community / Was extinguished, / Like a sweet fire, smell and alone.’
There is a saying that herd of cattle does not break the line. It seems that students (read certain group of students) also have maintained this proverbial uniformity with their mentors. We can no way keep them out of criticism about their role in these years of ‘campus without election’. In the same way students should not forget that protest, revolution and independence are not the result of few groups either, rather it is the collaborative action of all by which we have achieved Bangla language as our mother tongue and Bangladesh as an independent country. Additionally, it should be kept in mind that dictators always intrude in the flow of proper going and it will continue to do so in future as well if there is not a new beginning, if there is absence of revolution against ‘establishment’. There would have been no 1952 and 1971 if students failed. Besides, our previous generation of students did not get frightened against Pakistani dictatorship, against bullet, against ox head bureaucracy, against state patronised goons, against inequality and injustice and now why should we? We should not take it seriously on what Obaidul Quader, minister of road transport and bridges, said about hall room and polling centre because this is how undemocratic establishment talks. Rather we should be serious about free and fair election at any cost. And this is not the case in Bangladesh only, in other parts of the world this intrusion by the power are there. As for example, University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jadavpur University are in that situation of ‘un-democracy’ where the pattern might be different but not the situation. Yet protests are there. Therefore, this coming DUCSU election can be a new beginning, a new sunrise against all the injustice, inequality, oppression, and domination because we have to keep in mind that when present falls, a broken down future can be a by-product and students never fall apart. And really, it should be and has to be a reclaiming of the legacy of 1952, 69, 71 and 1990 and this is what we deserve as a nation.
Abdullah Al Mamun is a student of Jadavpur University.
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