March 08, 2008

Professor Muzaffer Ahmed and our Farce-Perception Index

Professor Muzaffer Ahmed was awarded the Ekushey Padak this year. This blog congratulates him on that.

His work with TIB has managed to publicise more allegations, appearances and perceptions of corruption more effectively than opposition political parties sitting in the highest political body of the land or media dinosaurs sitting in their offices.

Indeed, so damning are these allegations that they have managed to put about a hundred plus people behind bars, but not on any evidence of corruption which is admissible in a court of law. Finding evidence of corruption after all seems not to be TIB’s job. They seem concerned more with the perception of corruption than with evidence of corruption itself. Which might just be thematically appropriate. He is after all receiving the Ekushey Padak from a government whose members are concerned more with the perception of prosperity, rule of law, and democracy rather than any evidence of it; and in choosing a man whose contribution to society is more in the perception of a select few rather than in the evidence of benefit to the general masses, this government seems to have remained true to its nature.

The perception of corruption seems to have gone down since that perception-changing, paradigm-challenging, simply, absolutely, unquestionably wicked awesome and generally kickass day which has become enshrined in our vocabulary as 1/11. Those three 1’s separated by that angular line are unavoidable nowadays, turning up like the name/title/portraits of a Bengali/Bangladeshi nationalist leader during their respective party’s rule.

Yes, 1/11 seems to have brought about seismic changes in Bangladeshi politics.

Suddenly, we have all these people with PhDs coming out of the woodworks to join politics without a single thought to building support bases amongst the general population, generally regarded as a prerequisite to successful political participation in a democracy.

Suddenly, Dr. Kamal “Jowls of Steel” Hussein is electable again.

Suddenly, we are no longer sure if Hannan “অসহায় মানব” Shah is a real person or a Monopoly™ token which is repeatedly landing on the “Go to Jail” spot.

Suddenly, Osmani look-alikes (our answer to Elvis impersonators) are being shoved down our throats with all the energy of a demented aunty force-feeding you on Eid day.

Suddenly, Canadians are thinking of invading Bangladesh, one human-rights lawyer at a time. “Today Bangladesh, tomorrow downtown Toronto…. Or maybe not!”

Most ominously, H.M. “িবশ্ব েবহায়া” Ershad is neither getting married nor divorced (nor estranged, sued, etc.) Do we really need further proof that some great cosmic change has come upon us?

You may argue that these are not seismic changes, but I say to you: don’t they appear to be seismic changes? My Political-Change-Perception Index (PoChaI) is tingling again! Massive changes are underway. I perceive it.

And it’s not just me! Muzaffer Ahmed’s PoChaI must be tingling as well. And I’m not saying that because he was awarded the Ekushey Padak. Governments have given awards even to their trenchant critics from the time of Shawkat Osman and Ayub Khan’s stormy exchange of mutual recognition in the 50’s. No, there is a better reason for us to think that Muzaffer Ahmed’s senses are not just tingling, but overloaded. A friend of mine tells me that a new book has been launched, a selection of the army chief’s speeches and writings. It was launched on 20 Feb, and apparently the TV channels could not get enough of it (I haven’t seen a newspaper item on it, so I leave readers to find their own links). Guess who was present and spoke on the book launch? Yep: one Dr. Muzaffer Ahmed. Blissfully oblivious that there is no greater corruption than corrupting a political system. Must be all that sensory overload.

Say, what do you call a man who can measures others’ perceptions of corruption but fails to perceive evidence of a conflict of interest in his own role as a public intellectual outspoken about corruption? An idiot or a sell-out? Whichever you say, you miss the important point: with that punjabi and shawl, he doesn’t appear to be either.

And what do you call a man who appears to have given his approval to attempts at subverting our nascent democracy in return for an award? Corruption? Maybe. But not the appearance of it. Perish the thought!

Is anyone else’s farce-perception index shooting up?After TIB is dead and buried, we will still need citizens’ organizations that monitor government corruption on behalf of the citizenry. With TIB’s glorious precedence – as exemplified by Muzaffer Ahmed in the glorious month of February– in pointing out the corruption of all governments with equal energy to guide us, can we possibly go wrong? I perceive not.


shamshir said...

Haha. Nice post, AsifY bhai.

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