In the current of news, the country’s largest group is largely missing. The voice, that is expected to be loud and clear, is hardly heard in the serious business of life in Bangladesh. Is the ground completely lost for the change makers to play any role at all?
At least, issues are in abundance - widespread corruption, misdeeds, mis-governance, flouting of rules, rights violation, and crises in every sector. Yet conscience-driven people, of any generation anywhere, are not visibly active in their respective platforms to make their points heard.
In a format of short text message, let me conclude, today’s youth appear to have chosen withdrawal before joining social ventures as ‘the best policy’, rather than honestly being a party to failure.
The choice left for an alienated individual in that case is crude selfishness. Well, will a youth still be able to meet his/her present and future needs, not to mention rise, in a society of many millions?
Almost every optimist, who is happy with the status quo, tries to cite the example of recent success of the national cricket team.
Yes, cricket is a career but the best-XI plus a pool of even 100 cricketers or so in a country of 160 million population is too small to represent a generation. And managing star image of a sportsman requires education, sophistication and prudence that are not at our disposal.
What else is on offer for the majority of a nation that is so young in global standards? Unfortunately, the youth do not dare to ask how they should assert their position, hope for a better future, and prepare for leadership in course of time.
One of the unforgettable experiences of the people of job-seeking age in recent times is their loss of money, hard-earned or borrowed from family, in the share market scam in 2010-11. But no remedy was there.
Meritorious students cannot differentiate themselves from ordinary ones when question papers are often leaked or examiners are directed to raise average score in public examinations. Even if they manage to secure certificates with excellent results, there is no assurance of admission into good institutes of higher education and entry into much-needed jobs.
Mr. HT Imam, the prime minister’s adviser, further made their ‘prospects’ clear, publicly assuring activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) of favour in viva voce of recruitment tests for public sector jobs. Most BCL men not only separate themselves from other youth in capturing public benefits, but also misrepresent a whole generation by their activities as reported.
Our leaders, obsessed with history of their own choice, dictate till date the dream of a future nation based only on numbers or calendar year. The faces of millions there and their requirements are yet to be considered as important.
Our ‘naive’ parents, too, want to see their sons and daughters living in well-furnished apartments and becoming salespersons of multinational firms or technicians of information technology at best.
For us, creativity is a buzzword that is more suitable for reading and talking, but not for application in professional life and social service delivery. Some people are building their fortunes including a second home in a developed country, plundering the resources of the awam (masses).
Our caring guardians could not just appreciate the independent journey of their children, contrary to what poet Kahlil Gibran wrote: “You may house their bodies but not their souls,/ For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,/ which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”
Instead of allowing the next generations to face distinct and unforeseen challenges of their time, the seniors are inadvertently creating blockages in social arteries, where none would grow properly.
Posterity may one day curse their forefathers: “What kind of a country have you presented us, the successors!” If any, the legacy the predecessors are leaving behind is the erosion of social cohesion leading to elimination of role models that the juniors could have followed in building their own houses.
Sadly enough, the innocent minds of the present generations have not been blessed with bliss in their own life, unlike the youthful romanticism seen in those of the 1960s, 1970s or even 1980s. Those ‘selfless’ youth liberated the country in 1971 and pulled down an autocratic regime in 1990.
Who is then the promising youth of contemporary Bangladesh? The pool of mufassil (provincial) talents, for instance, that had been a major source of quality manpower for years is depleting fast. On the education front, the poor is yet to find a ladder to graduate to the next level of economic and social status.
Only a section of spoon-fed youth of privileged families - no matter how their sponsors earned money or remain powerful - is pushed into big scene of entrepreneurship or politics, but of little avail. This group may belong to the 30% youth, who, according to a Transparency International Bangladesh survey, believe a man of integrity could still use corrupt means, should it benefit his/her family.
The success the Bangladesh youth has so far achieved is marked by the so-called lower end jobs - be it in the garments sector or earning remittances. The upper class produces another privileged group, of the youth now. In between, others are in fluid or even gas form.
We fear lest the structure of the society collapses when the middle is too shaky.