May 08, 2008

So, How Come No One’s Saying, “We Are Becoming India”?

I appreciate those worries that we are becoming Pakistan and that “certain quarters” are trying to implement the Musharraf game-plan. Every time there is a rumble at the Baitul Mukarram, we hear ominous talks about the Lal Moshjid. I harbor these same fears to a certain extent. Comparative political analysis is something I enjoy a great deal, and my skeptical eye is certainly satisfied by the appropriateness of the case: Pakistan is after all the other Muslim-majority state in South Asia, and we did inherit some of its dysfunction in ‘71 (and not just through Jamaatis as some proponents of an “Original Sin” theory would have you believe).

But my comparative heart gets mighty malnourished when I see no one pointing out another obvious and appropriate case: India. Consider our friend and neighbor to the west (…and north and east). There are many things Indian that I would love to see in B’Desh: a thriving economy, a sense of pride in their country despite their differences, an increasingly assertive movie industry and, of course, Bipasha Basu.

What about the negatives that we wouldn’t like to see replicated in our own land? And I don’t mean the urban capitalist success stories with the huge swathes of rural disenfranchisement and isolation. Let’s leave that for another day, another blogger and focus on the politics for just one minute.

Within South Asia, India is the only democracy operating for more than one election (sporadic or otherwise. So Nepal, Bhutan and, if you like, Afghanistan are out of the picture) where a religion-based party is not just the Mainstream Right-Wing Party, but also one that has actually come to power at the Federal level (or its equivalent). It is quite an amazing feat for the BJP to position itself into THE right-wing alternative to Congress in a country that repeatedly professes to be more secular than its neighbours and, particularly, its dysfunctional, “truncated” twin. Why India does not have a secular right-wing option - the way BNP is to the Jamaat-B, Sharif’s ML is to Jamaat-Pakistan, and UNP is to hard-line Buddhist parties in Sri Lanka (disagree all you want on these examples) - is something that Bangladeshi citizens would do well to look into at this current juncture in our history. I feel myself particularly inadequate for the task.

But my interest lies here: that while many have commented about how BNP’s downfall will facilitate Jamaat’s rise as THE right-wing alternative to AL - thus making it BJP’s equivalent within the Indian system - I am yet to hear that fear encapsulated in this particular, analogous sound-bite: “Bangladesh is fast becoming India”. Why is that? And please don’t say validity. I can punch a few holes into the Pakistani analogy without breaking a (mental) sweat.

Is it taboo? Not catchy enough? Is India a country even our right-wingers secretly look up to and see no negative in? Will saying it get us a fatwa from Bigot-in-Chief Saidee? Does India mean only Amitabh, Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar and endless soap operas (and of course Ms. Basu and Mr. Abraham) to our people? Are we afraid that Fugstar will inflict yet another obnoxious-for-the-sake-of-being-obnoxious comment on us if we do say it? Will Naya Diganta use it as their premise to theorise – nay, prove! - that 1/11 was sponsored by the Indian Thread Makers’ Cabal (no doubt in collaboration with the Markin Shoe Makers’ Chokro)?

A bright, optimistic side of me wants to believe that deep inside, people – whether Awami or BNP or non-war-criminal Islamists - associate evil with Pakistan – with good reason – and despite all the India-bashing, India still isn’t evil in the same way. But I still wonder, and I ask this with no malice, a smile on my face and out of genuine curiosity, what is it that prevents that particular sound-bite about India?

4 comments:

tophemartin said...

C'mon Bipasha Basu is so white-washed check out her picture on Wikipedia. I mean c'mon unnamed author.

Anonymous said...

topher, topher, topher,

I looked at the picture. While she might look whiter than a certain lungi-wearing brown man who now resides in Ohio, deep in her heart she is as brown as any other hip-shaking bollywood actress.

Besides, she's Bangali. We stay brown no matter what. I refer you to "unnamed author's" fascination for eating rice with his hand despite residing amongst the utensil carrying denizens of the Great White North.

~DhakaShohor

Anonymous said...

YOU BANGLADESHIS SHOLUD FUCK PAKISTANIS IN THE NAME OF ISLAM.PAKISTANIS ARE REAL BASTARD PEOPLE ON THIS EARTH I CAN SAY. WE ARE HAPPY THAT THEY HAVE NO MONEY AND ARE A POOR LOT. A DAY WILL COME WHEN AMERICA WILL FUCK THEM BADLY. AND THEN THEY WOULD CRY FOR TRUE MEANING OF ISLAM.

Panama lawyers said...

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