Should we cut off our own noses?

Maswood Alam Khan
I was surprised by quick response from readers to an article I had written a few months back. I received more than one dozen emails, all a bit excessively appreciating my write-up. It was a write-up on “Porosrikatarata” (Jealousy). One reader requested me to write more on the subject with a prescription for remedying the malady. One young reader even requested me to write to publisher of Oxford dictionary to get the word “Porosrikatarata” entered into the latest lexicon of English language, based on what I wrote on the topic in a small piece titled “Porosrikatarata: Worse than jealousy” that was published in an English daily in November 2010.

The part of my write-up on “Porosrikatarata” that the readers perhaps enjoyed most was a joke, exemplifying Bangladeshi jealousy, narrated in a conjured conversation between God and a Bangladeshi Man. Let me repeat the joke:

Man: “God, I’ve tried my level best to please you; I have never skipped any prayer throughout my life and I am sure you are happy with my deeds too.”

God: “Yes, dear. There is a reward awaiting you after your death.”

Man: “Can’t I get a special reward before I die, God?”

God: “Well, what do you want?”

Man: “Anything you grant.”

God: “You will get whatever you wish on one condition: That your next-door neighbor will get just the double of what you will receive from me. Mind you, there is no limit to what you can ask for as rewards from me. You may now ask for anything of any quantity.”

Man: “God, Please gouge one of my eyes out; I would be content with only one eye.”

The joke however did not conclude whether God accordingly did gouge out one eye of the Man and two of his next-door neighbor.

Atypical jealousy affecting Bangladeshis has now been made known also to Americans by another joke adoring a news item on Nobel laureate economist Dr Yunus, being a victim of petty jealousy, published 06 March 2011 in Los Angeles Times. The news said: “The popular pioneer who was ousted from Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution, may be too successful for others’ liking in Bangladesh, where ‘hingsha’ (vindictiveness) is nowadays a hallmark of national politics. To exemplify Bangladeshi jealousy, the news in LA Times annexed a joke: In the hell, every other nationality is kept in guarded cells but the one housing Bangladeshis remains unguarded. “Why is that?” someone asks the devil. The devil replies: “Because if anyone tried to leave, ‘hingsha’ ensures the others would pull them back.”

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith conceded at a recent news conference that Yunus’ removal wouldn’t improve the nation’s image but said the central bank acted in accordance with the law of the land.

Yes, law of the land of late has been very vital in deciding courses of events in Bangladesh. “Law takes its own course” where even the highest authority is helpless.

If law permits withdrawing those cases which were politically motivated against the members of the ruling party to let them free and pursuing those which were genuinely initiated against the members of the opposition political parties to punish them, and if it is found that 99 percent cases against members of the ruling party were false and 99 percent cases against members of the opposition political parties were genuine, can or should the government do anything to temper with the truth of statistics? Let me leave this with the learned readers to bear out.

We should be grateful to all the governments of Bangladesh since her liberation in 1971 as legal rights of each and every citizen of this country have been guarded and upheld, shouldn’t we? Nobody can produce concrete evidence that a policeman, a magistrate of a lower court or a judge of a high court ever tried to flout the law of the land. May the readers bear out what I’m saying!

Some funny people, claiming themselves as human rights activists, however, are heard saying against crossfire of RAB personnel and remanding by police.

If criminals attack RAB personnel on duty will they have to remain silent, sitting idly and sucking their thumbs? Don’t RAB personnel have right of self-defense? If RAB fires back and someone is hit by a bullet in the crossfire, should RAB be blamed? In the same way, remanding is an old practice of law. Can anybody come up with evidence that a suspect remanded in police custody was ever tortured by interrogators? It is always the criminals who make a mountain out of a molehill while talking to journalists to tarnish the image of our valiant law enforcers. It is readers who are the best judges to evaluate the standard of our law enforcement.

The standard of our law enforcement is very high, compared to anywhere in the world. Look at Libya! Gaddafi did not flout law of his land by employing his armed forces equipped with tanks and helicopters and mercenaries from other countries to silence the voice of the protestors on the streets, did he? We could also be as strict as Gaddafi has been, couldn’t we? But our government gives value to people’s democratic rights. Did our government ever use tanks and jet fighters against demonstrators though it is not unlawful to use any weapon to douse the flames of protests in order to ensure protection of life and property of people? Bangladeshi people know well the standard of our law enforcers. I don’t need to drum up support for our law enforcers.

One must laugh at the attempt Dr Yunus made in the High Court challenging the central bank’s decision to fire him as the Grameen Bank Managing Director. The High Court has dismissed the challenge of Muhammad Yunus saying Yunus, 70, was working long past the mandatory retirement age. A kindergartener could well predict what would be the judgment. We wonder why Dr Yunus failed to predict. More ludicrous is Dr Yunus’s plan to continue the legal battle.

So, law says Dr Yunus cannot hold the position of the chieftain of an NGO or a bank when he is above 60. Dr Yunus, at 70, is deemed unfit to shoulder the responsibility of Managing Director of Grameen Bank, period! No matter the bank was his own creation or not. And law does not allow any scope to draw an analogy with others who at 70 or above are carrying out duties that may be more onerous than that of Managing Director of Grameen Bank.

His Excellency Mr. Md. Zillur Rahman, at 82, is the President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Mr. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, at 77, is the country’s Finance Minister, because law permits them to be so. So is Fazle Hasan Abed, at 75, the chief of BRAC in Bangladesh, the largest and one of the most effective NGOs in the world.

But, Dr Yunus, the only Nobel prize winner from Bangladesh, cannot work as Managing Director of Grameen Bank, no matter he is physically fit or not. And, moreover, there is no provision in the law of the land for any Nobel laureate to enjoy any concession as far as age limit is concerned. We should not forget “All are equal in the eyes of law”.

All said, one may think some of us are perhaps sticking too much to the letters of laws. One may guess we are going overboard. Maybe, we are playing a dangerous blindfold game guided by a wrong rule. A person, covering tightly his/her eyes with a blindfold, is stalking people. If s/he catches someone but guesses incorrectly, the person (who according to rule of blindfold game is supposed to be freed) is jailed and if s/he guesses correctly, the person caught is killed (instead of becoming the blind man, according to rule).

We break china cups, plates and vases to vent our angers as a sequel to our quarrel with any of our family members. Such arsons are quite common in our households. In an extreme instance, an enraged husband might have set fire to his house to punish his wife, not realizing that by burning down the house he actually burnt his own house to ashes, along with all his combustible possessions. This is what is called “cutting off one’s own nose to spite one’s own face”.

Some quarters in Bangladesh have perhaps been advising the authority to ‘cut off their own nose to spite their own face’ with a view to hurting Yunus and the like, thereby turning friends and foes alike at home and abroad into their enemies, hitting at the end of the day one nail after another in the coffin of Awami League—to the pleasure of BNP and other political parties in the opposition. Do the advisers of Awami League realize how such acts of ‘cutting off one’s own nose’ may influence the public judgment now that the general election is not many miles away?

Someone in the present government, I guess, is carrying a rogue gene. He or she is not properly advising the prime minister on what is good or bad—forget about the nation—at least for her own image and for the better future of her own party.

It is high time the devil assigned an armed guard at the gate of the cell in the hell housing the Bangladeshis.

Leave a Reply