Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


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Why not someone tell the story of Bangladesh in TED?

Bangladesh is a young country that earned it's freedom from a repressive regime through a bloodbath. It's founding ideals had been those of a liberal, secular democracy. But for 4 decades the fate of Bangladesh oscillated between democracy and military rule. The story of Bangladesh remained a gradual takeover of the spirited and progressive society by Islamic fundamentalism. The political parties forgot the founding principles of the country and the sacrifice that its people made for it so that the traitors that once supported the massacre by Pakistani military could go unpunished and sometime even get to be ministers.
2013 is witnessing a historical movement by civil society in Bangladesh named Shahbag movement.
This is possibly the last chance for Bangladesh to win a decisive battle against religious fundamentalism and in favor of liberal democracy if not entirely secular. Can we accumulate our opinions about this remarkable social change by a largely Muslim population striking at the core of it's own religious extremism?

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    Feb 24 2013: I am not sure what will be the end result of this movement in near term but in long run I feel , this movement will have definite impact on the overall psyche of people which is...

    In post 1975 era, the anti linberation fundamentalist forces being in power in disguise of military dictatorship and cantonment made democracy tried to bring a fundamentalist character to the country by taking out Secularism out of the constitution. They also twisted the history to confuse new generation. Until Shabagh Movement happened Politicians and even the so called Civil Society was not sure about IDENTITY awareness of New Generation.

    Thanks goes to development of IT and information super highway......New Generation don't have any identity crisis. They are clear about the secular nature of Bengali Psyche. They know their enemy......they also could make the generation next awake i.e. Kids who are yet to start their journey along the information super highway got the wake up call for their own soul searching......which will have profound positive impact in days to come....

    It also gave a clear message to the politicians that meddling up with negative forces of society for short term political gain will not be tolerated.!/photo.php?fbid=528344530541702&set=a.525843160791839.113334.525832910792864&type=1&theater!/photo.php?fbid=529258780450277&set=a.525843160791839.113334.525832910792864&type=1&theater!/photo.php?fbid=530950866947735&set=a.525843160791839.113334.525832910792864&type=1&theater!/photo.php?fbid=512721198778328&set=a.507907859259662.126127.507894382594343&type=1&theater!/photo.php?fbid=528294497213372&set=a.525843160791839.113334.525832910792864&type=1&theater
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      Feb 24 2013: I can understand your anguish Salim. It is one thing to fight when the enemy is outside and another thing when the enemy is inside. I don't think any political parties can be trusted here. But as you have rightly said, it is clear that the new generation has refused to live with a debatable identity and a misrepresented history.
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        Feb 25 2013: You are welcome Kate......and also thanks for your interest with something happening in my country as well your goodwill to support....

        Some other beauty of this event is the spontaneous nature of participation.....while political parties spend money to bring people (it might be unique to my country ...) in their meetings , in this case its sponatenous rather who are participating spending money to help others....say one is buying a bottle of water sharing it with the person beside her/him !!!

        Participation of women and kids are another big mark of it ..usually they tend to avoid political the claim of opponent of this movement it being politically motivated or painting it as anti-religious is futile.

        Age distribution of the mass is also another positive indicator.....pre-dominantly young girls and boys who seldom are interested about political issues are participating en mass......moreover usually in our society parents advises kids not go to such's exceptional from that perspective as well because partents are also participating.....say I went there number of times with my family.....

        Bengalis living indifferent countries already expressed their solidarity with this movement .....things are happening in Australia as well....

        Being an enlighten human like you , people of other countries can stand against any move by their own government which is against this Shabagh movement.....Thanks
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    Feb 25 2013: Tahmina Anam of the Guardian explores the capital punishment demand by Shahbag warriors.
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    Feb 25 2013: Kate asks my friend Salim how can we in other countries support it. Salim is too proud and too gentleman to seek solidarity from friends of other countries, I guess. Sitting on the opposite side of the border and as a person who speaks Salim's language and for which people on either side of that border sacrificed their lives, I can say at least this.
    Many of us in India, particularly in Bengal, see this upsurge as a just and democratic struggle coming up spontaneously and apolitically. Our children are refusing to live with misrepresented ideals and history. Like the bloody liberation struggle of Bangladesh of 1971, world watches over with caution and skepticism, India being no exception. That is possibly not a very good news.
    What is very good news is that individuals and social media are taking the bull by its horns, some like Richa Jha are calling spade a spade.
    I am in absolute agreement with Richa but she possibly means English language print and televised media. In Kolkata, the most popular Bangla dailies are updating the news of this revolution with clear mandate in favor of Shahbag warriors. All noted Bengali intellectuals have publicly taken stand beside the Bangladeshis. But, alas, Bengal in India is just a state.
    I am personally against capital punishment. But I have witnessed in my own country judiciary taking mass appeal for such a punishment for a heinous crime. So why not Bangladesh judiciary too?
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    Feb 24 2013: Thanks Pabitra for opening the discussion and keeping me in mind !
    You already made long stroy short. However , would like to correct a bit....Shahbagh movement was started not by the civil society (as per the definition) , but by young generation....can say largely are Generation Y.

    As you know in the fateful day of 15th August of 1975 , when the founding father of Bangladesh was killed along with almost entire family.....the regime of not only military rule but also fundamentalism started blooming with direct funding from military rulers and countries who were against our bloody fight for freedom in 1971 when 3.0 Mil people sacrificed their lives and 200K women were violated and tortured in the name of religion....They also took a very well planned strategy of implanting fundamentalism in the country..... over last 3 decade that anti libaration force were in power, at times as military ruler at times in disguise of democracy.

    The killing and massacre done by Pakistani army couldn't happen to the extent as it happened , if they were not supported and helped by the funadmentalist section of Bangladesh......and those collaborators are known as RAJAKAR......

    Over last 3/4 decades RAJAKARs become powerful being nurtured by power monger politicians.......The anti liberation force even changed the text of history book so that new generation are being kept in dark.... I myself have been frustrated so far until this Shabagh Movement started

    It's an eye opener for me. It showed the power of internet and social media. The current government came to the power with absolute majority 4 years back and one of their election time commitments was to bring RAJAKARs under trial... The trial has been going on for quite sometime despite of national and international pressure ....

    On 5th February one of the verdict came out....and the new generation started movement using social media that finally converted into mass protest

    Thanks also to Kate ...will continue later
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      Feb 24 2013: Thank you Salim. We are fortunate to have you within us as you are presently living within the change. May I request you to publish here the links of your wonderful photos in Facebook that show the movement happening? Or if FB is not preferred by you will you take the extra trouble to upload the photos in indepenent photo sharing platform like Flickr and supply us the links?
      I have read the accounts that a significant political party, BNP has come out in the clear in support of the fundamentalist leaders of Jamat by supporting their call for general strike. I have also read that fundamentalists under Jamat are openly attacking the protesters (killing Rajib Haidar in the process) and destroying pickets of protesters and national flag of Bangaladesh. How the youth of Shahbag movement are resisting that?
      Most importantly I am hearing a question being pointed out towards Shahbag protesters which is about their principal demand of capital punishment for the 1971 perpetrators of rape and mayhem. How far do you think this demand can earn support of civilized world and international citizenry of modern times? The perpetrators were tried and sentenced for life already.
      That said, I shall also like to give you the perspective of some of my fellow citizens about the same question with regard to the alleged rapists of Delhi bus rape incident. They said that they will only take my question as sincere if I ask it even after my own sister is gang raped and killed with the same brutality as the Delhi girl.
      I look forward to your views my friend.
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        Feb 24 2013: You are welcome Pabitra....
        With Shahbagh Movement few points become clear to everyone.....

        Though Bangladesh is a country of 85% to 90% muslim population....people at large has more humanistic view in their practices, which has been proven by the Shahbagh incidence. A handful of bloggers called up a protest at Shahbagh on 5th February that finally turned in to a mammoth protest through the participation of people from all walk of life.

        As you rightly said about the major opposition party, their mask has been unmasked through this movement. They stood beside the fanatic fundamentalist Jamat.....the rapist, killers, looters of 71!!!

        Despite violent figght back of RAJAKAR Jamat and their supporters , Shahbagh Warriors still are on the path of non violence....e.g. the whole country Stood Stand Still for 3 minutes or lighted up millions of candles through out the country....while RAJAKARs and their supporter killed Rajeeb, Jafor and few others....

        People everyday spontaneously going to Shahbagh and many staying overnight in the protest of violence of Rajakars and also with the demand of bringing collaborators of 71 under justice ensuring capital punishment...

        Fundamentalists are trying to paint the movement of Shahbagh as movement against Allah....which is a damn lie....last Friday they attacked from mosque after Friday prayer....

        People are more and more relying on FB , Twitter get information about the movement largely ignoring main stream media.....

        Here comes few links (majority in Bangla , which is fine for you but for other interested friends will try to translate as much as possible).....!/shahbagecyberjuddho!/photo.php?fbid=493287707374418&set=pcb.493287967374392&type=1&theater
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    Feb 23 2013: Pabitra, have you checked this out?
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      Feb 23 2013: I did. Interesting but it's not the story I want told. And the subtext of the story is that a person from a neighboring country wants the story told as much a Bangladeshi does.
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        Feb 23 2013: There seem to be two TED fellows from Bangladesh. Is either an appropriate person to bring forward the story of greatest interest to you?

        If not, if you go to the Speaker's link above, there is a recommendation form where you can propose a speaker or topic you would love to hear about. Take a look.
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          Feb 23 2013: Thanks for the suggestion Fritzie. I have one name in mind, that of my friend Salim Solaiman, a rather adored TED commenter here. But I am not sure if he can find time or agree.
          Bangladesh is one very unique country where people defended and died in course of that to uphold their right to speak and write their language, Bangla. Their sacrifice is celebrated as a World Mother Language Day on 21st February. This language is spoken in the Indian state of West Bengal, a result of British division of the subcontinent during August 1947. The national anthem of both Bangladesh and India are written by the same poet, Tagore.
          As belonging to the same culture Bangladeshis are one of the most liberal, freedom loving and secular democratic people. Presently, the younger generation of Bangladesh are struggling to take their country back to 1971 when people of Bangladesh sacrificed their lives for secular democratic ideals, which history denied them sadly.
          It will be a pity if that story is not told to inspire freedom loving people all over the world.
          Btw, I don't see any link where I can suggest this topic.
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        Feb 23 2013: Bottom left corner of the speaker's page to which the link is above. But, for your convenience:
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          Feb 23 2013: I checked it Fritzie. But it doesn't seem to allow me to suggest the topic.
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      Feb 23 2013: Thanks. It is really amazing. I remember to have involved in a debate where a certain religion was being proposed to be superior to others and Islam was being denounced as written with extremists in mind. I have no religious affiliation despite my Hindu background but I opposed that line of argument. Shahbag movement reinforces my line of argument that despite what is written in religious texts it's culture that defines humanity.
      I earnestly hope Salim will join this discussion.