Youth should step forward to take up the responsibility of Bangladesh
Democracy is the buzz word for our political system. But is it really so? Is it democracy that a nation where a majority of population is below 35 elects a majority of people above 60 to power? Are we really satisfied with the way our country is being governed? Should it not bother us that at the age people generally take retirement and rest, our politicians actually become eligible to be at the helm of affairs? Why is it so that people below 50 years are considered as political 'kids'?
The country desperately needs some young leaders who personify energy, enthusiasm, morality, and diligence. No doubt we have progressed a lot in the last 62 years but the development pace would have been completely different had some young torchbearers led this process of development.
Bangladesh Politics have been interesting since its inception. Some people often say "Many things have changed, but Politics in Bangladesh have been the same". Is it really so? We need to think about this. Governments change over a period of time, Power slips from one political party to another. But the so called properties of the political system have often seemed to be the same. The parties which we have are nothing but a set of aged intellectuals that were distributed among different groups following their own doctrines.
The majority of Bangladesh population is under the age of 35, but its politicians are largely a gerontocracy. The political parties are filled with aged, old men and women who often look like members of exclusive pensioners' club. The question that now arises is that "Is this generational rift between the citizens and the political setup desirable?"
Therefore, active participation of the youths in politics and education process is required for building the future of Bangladesh. Younger generation has to shun the mindset of "disliking politics" because their role is very important to carry forward the wheels of development in various sectors including education.
However, today we wonder about the state of the youth in Bangladesh. Are the young segments of our population living up to their potential? How hopeful are they about the future? Do they believe sky is the limit?
Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, said, "The foundation of every state is the education of its youth." If Diogenes were alive today, he wouldn't be too impressed with the current state of affairs. Ignoring the dismal school and university enrolment rates countrywide among other factors, a simple look at the most recent HSC results gives one a glimpse into the declining state of the education system.
Youth is harbinger of any change. It's particularly true of democratic transition and consolidation. Our democratic revival in 1990 was achieved mainly through widespread student movement. Most recently, the 'Arab Spring' or the sweeping collapse of authoritarian regimes in some countries of the Arab world can largely be attributed to youth outburst against autocratic repression.
Demographically, Bangladesh is a predominantly young country. So, youth aspirations and demands are important in demand side of governance. Simultaneously, how government policies and initiatives bear upon the country's youth should be an important consideration in the supply side of governance. But we generally see that issues of concern to the youth are not given as much importance as warranted.
The future of democracy will rest on youth's shoulder. If the Bangladesh youth do not find the existing political system responding to their needs then we can't exclude possibility of youth revolt like Arab Spring.
Whereas student movements in the foregone days lent the youth a voice to be collectively heard and rally under a common banner, politically opposed youngsters and footsoldiers of the main political parties -- lured by the trappings of being involved in student youth wings -- are now too busy killing one another to engage in activism for the common good.
Unlike in the 60s when a secular spirit brought together the youth to stand up against exploitation and other forms of injustice, much of student political activism today tends to verge on the extreme.
Given the dangerous lack of space in civic society allotted to youth voices and their political underrepresentation, the forces of radicalisation have never loomed larger and the threat of militancy increases by the day.
The overall culture of violent politics -- legitimised through decades -- is a major stumbling block in the way of tapping the potential of Bangladesh's window of opportunity that is its demographic dividend.
The people of Bangladesh seek some new leadership which they can trust upon. The time has come for the youth to step forward and take up the responsibility from the octogenarian politicians. Now that we know, that the impact of young leaders on the growth of a country is crucial it is not to be ignored that there has to be right balance between the experienced and youth.
As for the youth of our country, they can contribute in more ways than just contesting elections. Much can be done in areas like educating people, raising awareness about various social ills, and many other areas.
We can just wish that the next time we go to vote we find more names of youngsters who can make our country a better place to live in.
The writer is a journalist