In the 11th parliamentary elections of Bangladesh, we have experienced the lack of young parliament members. Present social, political, cultural and economic conditions discourage youth to participate in active politics. Siam Sarower Jamil hopes that the scenario will change as it must.
FOR Bangladesh or any other country, politics is the main driving force. I am talking about the politics that is more democratic, a conservation of the public interest, a culture that is civilised and elegant and rich in positive practices, dedicated to the interests of the country and the people, believing in secular ideals, unabashed on the question of honesty and devoted to patriotism.
Those who will practice such politics and whose earnest efforts will inspire and mobilise the people of such values — to dream and show about the future of the country — must be young.
It does not mean that the elders will stop participating in politics. However, as soon as they enrich the youth with their past experiences and make a ‘new place’ in the vast arena of politics, the country can move forward. But how many youths of Bangladesh are interested in taking politics as a career is a crucial question.
In the 11th parliamentary elections, more than 60 per cent elected members are businessmen, the highest in our history. And only seven per cent of such members said that they are politicians by profession.
These traders involved in fish farms, poultry farms and other large industries. Of the 300 members, 149 are identified as direct businessmen. 36 showed their profession as agriculture and business. In total, 185 parliament members are involved in business.
According to the data available, 13 per cent are lawyers and doctors, teachers and other professionals are eight per cent, four per cent in agriculture and seven per cent in other professions. Those who have shown politics as a profession is only seven per cent.
It is clearly indicating that the number of professional politicians is decreasing. In this situation, how many young people will take politics as a career? And why is the young people losing interest in politics?
Sociologist and philosopher Max Weber said that politics is a different kind of work which has its own cruel rules. A ‘power struggle’ between political leaders and party elites continues. There is no authority to guide the politicians, and it is not possible for anyone to remain pure in politics. State is an exclusive device to display ‘legitimate power’.
Weber also made clear the qualities of politicians. These qualities are deep passion, awareness of responsibility and proportion-related knowledge. The political leader has a motive. He would not be hungry for power only. Hunger for power does not lead a politician to any objective. A leader must have an idea with moral spine and specific motives.
Is it really possible to find such a leader? Why would young people in this capitalist society choose this type of noble profession?
Most youths of Bangladesh have no interest in politics. Especially the students react negatively. It can be understood, if you ask questions about politics to the students, they will express dissatisfaction. If surveyed, a large part does not even think about politics. There are very few people who are aware of politics but have no support for any party or no direct involvement. But why is such situation?
At the age of 34 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected as a MP. He became a minister at the age of 36. Tajuddin Ahmad was elected as a MP in 29. At 46 he served as the first premier of Bangladesh and led the wartime provisional government.
Mahatma Gandhi, a top leader of the subcontinent, earned fame by starting a non-violent movement in South Africa in 25. At 47, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Pakistan movement was elected a member of the Central Legislative Council of Indian subcontinent. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of India’s leading leaders in 40. Subhas Chandra Bose was elected president of the All India Congress in 41.
Syed Mir Nisar Ali Titumir was martyred in the hands of imperial rulers when he was struggling to establish an independent state at 49. Revolutionary leader Surya Sen was hanged at 41. At 21, Pritilata Waddedar sacrificed her life. Sukanta Bhattacharya has earned his fame in the politics of the Communist Party just at 21.
Youth is the best time of a human life. Courage and physical strength of this time might not remain at the age of 70. All successful presidents of the world are middle-aged. At the age of 44, Sukarno became Indonesia’s president. Egyptian leader Jamal Abdul Nasser took over the state at 38. Before Fidel Castro’s friend Che Guevara turned 40, he became a terror to the capitalist and feudal rulers in the whole America. Martin Luther King earned the image of ‘great hero’ at 30. After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, most of the ministers’ age of Ayatollah Khomeini government was between 25 and 40, most in their 30s.
Although many people in Bangladesh do not like to participate directly in politics but political talk is the most favourite topic. From the tea stalls to the air-conditioned rooms of corporate offices, discussion of politics is everywhere.
However, these political discussions are mostly ‘negative’. It begins with analysing how bad politics is and ends with how far we should stay away from politics. Naturally, a child grows up hearing ‘negative’ talks about politics from an early age. It is far from being involved in politics and it does not create a political awareness among the youth. The one learns to think about politics as a kind of crime.
Participation in politics can be done either directly or indirectly. In that case, increasing political awareness is a kind of indirect participation in politics. When a talented young man is turning away from politics due to unawareness, a lesser qualified youth is making way to policy making stage by participating in politics.
And those less qualified policy makers are formulating relatively weak policies. Many people are leaving the country, frustrated by dirty policies. As a result, society and the state are being burdened with the intellectual trafficking and weak policies.
But is it only the young people who are responsible for lack of interest in politics? Of course not, the state itself can ever avoid its liability.
Democratic practices in educational institutions had been disrupted because there was no student union elections for long time, party rancour in the name of student politics, demonstrations of strength, tender cheating, handing over student leadership to the non-student and lack of employment has made the youth to turn away from politics. The state can never avoid its responsibility of starting all these unwanted cultures in the state system.
Recently the way Dhaka University Central Students' Union election was held, it has frustrated the idealist youths. The election could not show any ray of hope.
One day political parties will come to realise that youths will lead these parties, even lead the country in future. So, it is very important to make sure that the meritorious youths should participate directly and indirectly in politics and take politics as passion and profession. It will create a better future for Bangladesh and even for the political parties. So the political parties should ensure the participation of talented youth in politics for their own interest.
As a young citizen, I am looking forward to the day when the prime minister of Bangladesh will be a progressive young leader in his or her 30s. About more than 70 per cent of the members of the parliament will be professional politicians. Except for a few in a 40-members cabinet, the rest will be aged between 25 to 40 years.
Youths have the morale to achieve dreams, have courage and goals. The elderly will not be excluded. They will help young people succeed by offering advice from their experience. They will be in the seat of respect. Young people will be in charge of operating a secular liberal democratic state.
Siam Sarower Jamil is a young writer and journalist.