Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The future of Bangladesh relies on creativity

Emerged out of a panel discussion yesterday at LSE.

(ok, my tabloid beginning is done, the rest could sound a little boring...)

Panellists included:
Omar Faruk, Barrister, Chair of Southwark Muslim Forum
Niaz Alam, Solicitor, Director of The Ethical Trading Initiative

Dr Kamrun Hassan, something to do with Education

Asif Saleh, Founder of Drishtiphat, a Human Rights NGO from Bangladesh

Chair: a moody PhD student from King's College London.

It was a Question Time sort of an affair on the future of Bangladesh but none of the panellists were actually a resident of Bangladesh (bar one maybe). It didn't stick to one agenda, Democracy and Theocracy were hardly the crux of the discussion, or maybe I missed it when I was dozing...


The only main point I could find interesting to mention is the need to understand the Sharia. Most of us are ignorant of religious doctrines (myself included) and well a lot of us don't favour Islamic Law given the examples that exist, ie. Saudi, Pakistan etc.

One of the points that came out of this was the need for the Muslim imagination to grow. To say Sharia will not work in Bangladesh because 'look at Pakistan and their rape laws' is a poor example (which was given).

We can take lessons from Pakistan, where they have gone wrong we can improve, where they have gone right, we can copy. There's not a great deal of difference between the two nations. We share a common history and a common culture, it could work. I don't think we should demonise the idea of a religious state, it could be better than what we have today.

At the same time, I don't think Bangladesh is ready for Sharia rule, it will be abused and it will be just another failing example of a Muslim state. Best we carry our initiatives through education, on the grass-root level as well as in higher level academia. Let Islamic knowledge grow before venturing into living by Islamic Law.
(Not that current laws are contradictory to Islamic laws I would imagine)

Professor Yunus

Another topic that came up was Prof. Yunus' new found interest in politics. With no background in politics it's questionable on how useful he can be. But from what we have of the zias and haisnas people welcome the change. What is destroying the morale of Bangladeshi politics is the personal rift between the AL and the BNP and Prof. Yunus and his Nagaric Shakti Party (the Citizen's Power Party) will be a breath of fresh air.

Politics in Bangladesh is pretty much based on personalities rather than ideologies (another issue that was discussed), don't think Bangladeshi politicians know what a manifesto is! I am hoping Prof. Yunnus will lead a way of a more sophisticated politics, in giving us an ideology or a manifesto which people can aspire too rather than hail joy bangla and Mujib or the other.


Personally, I felt we could have spoken more about the expats' role within Bangladeshi politics and the future of Bangladesh. This was touched on slightly but not enough. Exapts pour a lot into the Bangladeshi economy we should be given some mode of rights within Desh. The need of a Non-resident Bangladeshi vote is a way. There's a limit on what we can offer, none of us live there but we can influence and that could be our main strength.


All in all it was a good debate to have, particularly for those who are learning about Bangladeshi politics and history, they enjoyed it. The panellists gave sound arguments but really their wisdom cannot be used in Bangladesh. Maybe that was me expecting too much...


Shak said...

Hmm. I thought about the expat thing too. So non-residents can't vote then?

And the moody chair wasn't that bad, mang. Perhaps you should have participated a bit more then you might have? QT kinda needs a switched on audience to work and challenge the panellists.

purple said...

Nope. No votes for non-residents.

No, the Chair, he was uber cool..

I could've participated but I wasn't particularly impressed by the panelists, I felt they couldn't offer what I wanted. Maybe that's me being vain. Guess I really wasn't feeling the crowd :s

Next time...

Shak said...

Well I guess that was the point - Question Time is only ever as good as the questions. Fact is I think even they were a bit disappointed with us!

And also, why has your world ended?

purple said...

Omar Faruk was particularly disappointed. :-D

(That was a wrong post on the wrong topic. Umm, I exaggerate a bit...)

Fugstar said...

its hard to chair people to are so determined to agree with each other. first time init.

it was all quite uninspiring, one of the least interesting discussions about bangladesh that its possible to have.... thats just me being vain having heard everything that every one was going to say and pretty much being able to predict it from the first few words...

but primarily this was for the lse committee brits who wanted to know some basic stuff. they seemed jolly enough about it. it wasnt for the established group of folks to chew the cud on bangladesh regularly with a knife and fork.

for uk folks and deshi folks i guess its about reading history critically and deciding what they stand for and what they beleive.

I'm glad that the brits actually heard directly that established groups of deshis talk about religion as if it were an STD, an obstacle to progress defined in very quite souless way, and that seculars dont really know much beyond the daily mail.

between secluar fundamentalism and political islam there is a place for policy studies.

On chairing, its hard to allow bollox to be aired and be pretty powerless to contest all the 'common sense' that was spun around. there is a hefty amount of politically manufactered stuff out there that should be shot down with mind bullets, rather than given ground to.

Finally, the panelists themselves were not happy about the topic centring around the secular islamic polarity.

to go through the voluminous tracts of ideological friction in a short time would have switched everyone off, and also done a disservice to panelists who were sacrificing their time for us. The idea was to get the two groups working creatively off each other.

I think this worked in the heads of a few people, if not everyone.

for example i learnt that islam loving people need to publicise and refine their policy ideas a lot more. concepts like practical ethical sciences and the higher objectives of the shariah need to be defined more publically and links with analysis of the social conditions or the people.

Ms purple, you dont get answers to the questions of the day from student society bashes. just lke you cant do differential calculus with language students who are still picking up basic algebra. you wanna go and find the gandalf figure and squeeze there brains one-to-one. QT works because theres a big public intelligence focussed on the week's material.

Deshi collective intelligence hasnt been coordinated well enough for this to happen to a high standard, though the brick lane circles are there for any who are *that* interested. also

whats moody?

Im totally with you on the islamic education thing.

there were 3 parties, the pannelists, the organisers and the audience. tuesdays small and globally inconsequential gathering wouldnt have been possible without either of them, but im kinda glad that some relationships and opinions were shared.

the audience and the organisers know the different streams and where they are heading. the panelists get to do some community service.

the organisers dont get fooled by those who say they have the whole truth to bangladesh.

the panalists feel a little uncomfortable.

audience folks leave wondering why they didnt get all the answers without asking the questions...

Shak said...


>On chairing, its hard to allow bollox to be aired and be pretty powerless to contest all the 'common sense' that was spun around. there is a hefty amount of politically manufactered stuff out there that should be shot down with mind bullets, rather than given ground to.

It's not the job of a chair to decide what's bollox and what isn't though. If you wanted to do that, then you should have been a panellist.

purple said...

I'm glad fugstar wasn't a panellist or an audience, would have confused the young ones otherwise.

But QT format is much more interesting than lecture-type for these events. A young 'sis' did tell to me she learnt a lot from it after she commented on how rude the chair was. oops...

You should take lessons from Dimbleby, I won't call him moody.

Fugstar said...

There is no such thing as a neutral chair.

andrew neil and dimbleby arent neutral.

There is no neutral science either

David Bowie wasn't neutral, look at all the sparks that flew around him.

nor is Jools Holland.

The DT format comes from the obs that you dont really want people going on about themselves and going of on their own agenda trying to fool people with soundbites. Creates a dependancy on the audience though. folks, especially 'islamics' are used to being empty recepticals and uber reverence of religious authority. 'Radical lovers of their own sweet thoughts' over do it the other way.

Public Muslim events with discursive interaction are the future, we'll learn how to *jam* with ideas even if the instruments and scales on them are different.

Just need to get that self indulgent electric guitar to turn his/her volume down. and get the guy sitting in the corner slapping rythms on his belly and proper drum kit.

Interactive things are the only ones which i like to be present at anyway, esp if they involve people of substance.

The audience at the end where the food was were the most interesting people in the room methinks.

who said i was moody?
the one with the beating heart?

purple said...

Well, if you want to get all philosophical about it, no one's neutral.

Did feel the girl with the beating heart would require medical attention. But she was well, actually she even managed to walk out after her ordeal.

These kids need workshops I think. A bit of lecturing and a bit of group exercise. Think I have teacher streak in me, I'll need a cane though.

No one said you were moody, that was I.

Shak said...

>There is no such thing as a neutral chair.

If we're talking practically then that's rubbish I'm afraid. Sure, it's difficult, but it's totally possible. Someone who has no knowledge of the issue would find it easier.

purple said...

I'm guessing you like talking/discussing just for the sake of it. It's done. Ober. Fugoid next time have your impartial hat on, make Shak happy.

(but then you need someone who knows the 'issues' so he/she can steer the discussion into a direction that would be more satisfying for the audience - who know of the issues)

ঈদ সংখ্যা said...

The whole world knows that the Bangladeshi people are creative enough and and BD is improving enough for their creative move.