– Mohiuddin Ahmed*
Civil Society, ‘Sushil Samaj’, intelligentsia – these are the words we use off and on today. In some cases these words are synonymous. The wrong translation of Civil Society as ‘Sushil Samaj’ into Bengali from English has given birth to different questions. Rather when it is translated as ‘Janasamaj’ or ‘Nagorik Samaj’ in Bengali one can reach very near to the derivative meaning of civil society.
There are two most active and influential power hubs. One is ‘State’ and the other is ‘Market’. Outside these two there is a third flow or trend, whatever it may be called, the existence of which can be guessed. The more the flow gets forceful, speedy, consolidated and manifested the more its strength can be felt.
On a particular objective when a group of people, being together consciously and voluntarily tries to generate a wave or bubble is called a civil society in a simple language. In them there may be both civil-non civil members. As for example the controller of the state may be the common man and their elected representatives or an unelected military junta. So also the ‘market’ may be under the control of the responsible businessman and industrialist or it may go into the pocket of mafia circle. In the same way there is an admixture of good-bad groups in the citizens. There are persons of opposite mind and opinion.
In spite of that, civil society is not a rival side of the state controlling government or any political party and again not even at their side. Many politicians don’t want to take this distinctive feature into consideration. They try to pull them into their side. And again many persons,, groups or organizations get into the side of the government sometimes consciously and sometimes under different pressures. Then the civil society fails to accomplish their own functions properly, gets derailed and in many cases they turn into an object of laughter in the eyes of both the government and the people. And then they are ridiculed and jeered at by calling ‘sushil’. Many representatives of civil society become porter of the politicians due to their own mistakes or being attracted by different allurements tie love-knot with them. This tendency is not a new one.
We know that well before the creation of Pakistan on 14th August 1947, controversy initiated with the state language. Ahead of the partition of the country, in the first part of June a news got published in the Press that the leaders of the North-Western India (West Pakistan) wanted to make Urdu as the state language. This time few Bengali intelligentsia took their pen against their contention. Amongst them were Dr. Mohammad Shahidullah, Kazi Motahar Hossain, Abul Mansur Ahmad, Mohammad Enamul Haque, Abdul Haque, Forruque Ahmad, Abul Hashem and others. Before the establishment of Pakistan their writings were published in support of making Bengali a state language. The major part Bengali Muslim politicians was under the umbrella of Muslim League and they were enthusiastic to make Bengali a state language. Even many of them opposed the proposition. So it can be opined that the beginning of state language movement in the subsequent period grew on the background prepared by the representatives of civil society, the intelligentsia.
We notice the same picture in the last part of fifties and entire part of sixties. In an all India canvas The Muslim State of Pakistan was created applying the tool of two nation theory. Subsequently another kind of two nation theory initiated in Pakistan. Few front running Bengali economists of this country raised their voice against economic disparity between the two parts of Pakistan. Professor Nurul Islam, Rehman Sobhan, M.N. Huda, Abdus Sadek, Anisur Rahman, Mujaffar Ahmed, Swadesh Ranjan Bose, Abdullah Faruque, Mosarraf Hossin and others presented a new kind of two-nation theory through an intellectual logic and struggle – a conception of two economies. The conception that two economies existed in the two parts of Pakistan was first highlighted in 1956. In its continuation the political demand for the regional autonomy started to gain momentum and in February 1966 through the six point program of the General Secretary of Awami League Sheikh Mujibur Rahman this demand was made more clear and sharp. It can be said that duet between the civil society and the politicians was created who met together in a confluence of the demand for self right.
Whenever any voice is raised from the civil society, any strong protest against the existing social inconsistence and deprivation is made, the state then steps in the role of a persecutor against them. Different restrictions are imposed on them. Different tricks and subterfuges are followed so that their writing may not get published. At a stage it is noticed that they are suppressed and oppressed in different ways. Their books are banned. We are habituated to observe this picture right from the British colonial period.
We know that Kazi Nazrul Islam became the eyesore to the British rulers for his writings. He was put into prison. Anti state charge was brought against him.
We notice the same picture in the Pakistan period. The hoodlums of government student organization (NSF) turned Professor Abu Mohammad of Economics Department of Dhaka University blood-stained by beating. On the accusation of waging of an irresistible movement in favor of six points demand the printing press of the Daily Ittefaq was sealed off and the editor of the Daily was also put into jail. But nothing could save the situation at the end. Oppressor Ayub-Monem’s Government met the fall.
A representative philosopher of the 19th century Karl Marx considered the state as instrument of persecution. Although various ups and downs were experienced during the last two hundred years the character of the state has changed very little. Even no change in the language and version of the government press note, ‘At first the police made a light lathi-charge and then in self defense opened fire to bring the unruly crowd under control’ – this is a century-old sentence. We don’t know who of the employees of the ministry first drafted this sentence. But the same language is being used, the only change is the place-time-person.
In many countries of the West the citizens control the state. The people determine which powers the state would hold. Day by day the state is turning to be service providing institution. We observe an opposite picture in our region. Here the citizens don’t run the state. The state itself controls the people. When a party gets the control of the state it gets, as if, a lordship on it. In its eye critic means enemy, anti state element. In the last period of BNP the Emperor Babar of Home Ministry remarked, ‘We are looking for ‘satrus’.’ It seems that government is always trying to find out enemy. This character of the state of the British colonial rule as yet exists. King goes and king comes but the scenario does not change.
The most concerning matter is that the state would also determine what the citizens would think, talk, write and publish. This sort of scene we see in Time Machine movie. A time would come when there would be no book, the man would move like robots. What a sort of dangerous society has been hinted by H.G. Wells! Are we walking along with that path?E
* Writer and Researcher.
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.