– Abul Momen*
In Bangladesh society the mark of economic development can be easily understood. Cars in the road have increased and going on rise; the number of glittering shopping malls have increased in other towns/cities surpassing the Capital city; as the different aristocratic food stalls have been started, so also the rash of the customers has gone on increase. The number of learners on the higher education campus is also high. Although the unemployment problem has increased a major part of those young people earns and spends money. It is superfluous to say that they are engaged in earning through illegal way mainly in the government identity. Under the government party umbrella, of and on, with the help of local police station or law enforcement agencies small groups illegally earn income throughout the entire country.
Reports in the newspapers say that this kind of income from the slums of Rupnagar, Mirpur which were reduced to ashes by fire in August last amounted to over one hundred crore taka per month. This income included house rent and gas, electricity and water bills. Was any part of this amount entered the government office? It is heard that the figure of extortion money in the transport sector crosses one thousand crore taka. Big hawker markets, bazzaars, haats etc. are also sources of income. This way they earn big figured money income through extortion from big development projects. As at present the high tide of development flows in the country, now the income comes regularly and its amount is increasing. This sort of plundered money income chiefly is spent for consumption- it has turned difficult to save prestige and dignity in the society due to its mightiness.
Literacy rate in the country has reached about 70 percent; average longevity has enhanced to 72-73; everything of income, savings, expenditure has increased. The budget money of social ceremonial functions has risen up manifold, save the food, in decoration and other fields people are enlarging the redundancy of expenditure. Tendency to costly medical treatment has enhanced; many persons make trips to foreign countries for medical treatment and for shopping for marriage and other ceremonies and festivities. In case of education of the children foreign inclination is on rise. New companies are accepting costly corporate culture.
I know, they are not all people of the country. The number of poor people is 20 percent as yet; many families are suffering from the want of nutrition and pure drinking water; unemployment is about 26 percent. Moreover, the difference between the rich-poor is increasing in the country. But in these factors a big transformation in the society is noticed to set in.
It was remarked about the Bengali people that it is a land of poetry, a country of songs. The scene of happiness that was drawn up, after the fish-rice there was said about the songs through voice to voice. Fisherman, boatman, farmer, weaver- all these group of people composed and sang songs, some of them being in the professional work and some others in leisure. Bangladesh which is the fruit of language movement by civil up-rising, literature-culture was a companion here catching the hands of politics. The political significance of ‘Ekushe’ February being extended gradually the actual picture of a rising nation’s literature, art-culture was presented, centering round all these occasions it was a cultural awakening together with songs-poems. Here all of litterateurs, singers, fine-artists drama-performers with others were involved. In all the towns revolving round many cultural organizations, music and persons of music teaching, literary sitting were active. Throughout the whole year they held function on many occasions, made gathering. In this way the people of a town/city in unison of melody, color, musical measure and theme and subject they received food for the mind through the sound recreation.
Today this sort of people has decreased in all the towns/cities including the capital; perhaps outside the capital, in the district towns a highest number of 500 persons on an average participate in the cultural functions. The situation in the villages is more distressing- once in almost every village 2-3 dramas were held; a good number of open-air opera musical functions was staged every month. Now all these functions and activities have stopped fully. Once a line from the famous book Dristipat of Jajabar moved from mouth to mouth- Science has given the speed, snatched away the emotion. In telling emotion perhaps the writer indicated to the fine sensibilities including sense of humor, artistic sense etc. of man. But this proposition is to be accepted that in the human qualities and value judgment including the cultural sense and artistic taste of educated enlightened man of today a decay has set in heavily. The scarcity of man of good taste has increased in the society- it is, as if, the dearth is going on increase by a contest with the development.
Why this has happened? As a reason few matters appear before the eyes. Firstly, as the education has turned to be only examination result and degree certificate bound the exercise of art-culture has stopped in the education campus; secondly, for that very reason from the early boyhood due to the disruption of exercise of arts like music, recitation, fine arts, theatrical performance etc. the growing generation in the pressure of examination does not read literature does not sing songs, does not enjoy music, has no eagerness for arts-culture in them. It is to be said here that artists are made a very few, but for their rising up and lasting there should be a good number of man who are capable of singing songs, drawing, recitation and acting. They are aesthetic to arts and connoisseur of artistic activities. In that only sense of art and culture in society goes on running, social feeling gets lofty. The third reason is perhaps created by a class of religion trader politicians. By showing the plea of religion they have become successful at a stage through ceaseless propaganda against different arts including fine arts. Today the general Muslim society has turned their face against the arts and culture. Fourthly, Awami League, the upholder and charioteer political mainstream has removed themselves away consciously from cultural practices of the people to Islamic line of thought and organizations. As a result the union of politics- culture that once gave birth to the Bengali nationalism got motionless. Now rather one kind of Muslim nationalism has risen in the country which by character is more conservative than the Pakistan movement. Fifthly, the society and mass media have blindly been following the market economy that has nourished the culture of consumption- propensity. Consequently the people have become inclined towards the personal trappings, foods and drinks and pomp and grandeur. Delicate taste and value judgment no more function. This has given birth to a crisis of judicious conscientiousness.
We have, as if, forgotten the co-existence of education and culture, religion and culture and riches and culture. Hence the crisis of taste, decay of value judgment and destitution of feeling in the country and society have turned acute. Despite the increase of income, longevity, spending capacity, enhancement of motion in life, external glamour and magnificence and worldly material success the society rather is being defeated in humanitarian standard. If we put our eyes and ear on the society the symptom of disappointment, restlessness, discomfort would be noticed. In Bangladesh today security has stood up as the main issue because the Bengalees are now being involved in the primitive blood thirstiness (murder against murder) culture.
May it sound unbelievable but is true that- in so much development and glaze, in so much enjoyment-luxury and splendor the social life in Bangladesh is losing living energy. In few cases personal achievements take place but in general the society is being defeated in its heart of hearts. Because a society devoid of cultural practices can never be developed and lively. With a reference to a quotation from Rabindranth I shall conclude my writing.
Leaving the practice of culture, in the words of Rabindranath, ‘Ignoring the magnificence of the mind we have given predominance to only accomplishment of livelihood.’ He questions, can this acquirement of success leaving out the culture be ever complete properly?’ It can’t be. He also explained the reason of the matter, ‘Culture acts in making the aesthetic faculty of all man successful from the deepest level.’ He explained the proposition that how the cultural feeling makes man capable in the developed conscience, ‘Cultured person can do harm to himself but can’t make himself humble. He feels ashamed to propagate himself pompously or to advance himself pushing back all others selfishly. That which is vile or hypo-critical gives him pain for its disgrace. All that which are great in arts and literature in the history of man, he gets pleasure to respect all sorts of greatness as because there is cordial acquaintance with those things. He can adjudge, can excuse, can see the good part by crossing the difference of opinion; he takes it to be his self relief in making jealousy to the success of others’ (Education and Culture).
The serious distress of assets in the people of our society is daily found evidently. In this situation even if by economic standard we can become a rich country but in real human standard our bankruptcy can’t be concealed.E
* Article Writer and Journalist.
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.