This time 12 months ago Bangladesh was facing an impending crisis. Elections had been called for January 22, but with the main opposition boycotting what most impartial observers agreed were fraudulent polls, the only thing that was certain was that we were running out of good options.
12 months later, things remain unresolved. Elections are due to be held by the end of next year, but few would argue that their success depends on the satisfactory resolution of a number of issues and questions that remain outstanding.
Nevertheless, there is no reason why we cannot, as a nation, resolve all issues and move forward to good elections that deliver a responsive and responsible parliament and government. All it takes is the determination to do the right thing.
2007 was a tough year for the Bangladeshi people, with emergency and sky-rocketing prices, to say nothing of cyclone and flood. While we are better off than we were a year ago, when the nation was looking down the abyss, it is also fair to say that the current situation is not what anyone had hoped for.
But we still have our heads above water, and it is quite possible that the worst is behind us. With any luck, 2008 will be a better year, a year of resolve and resolution.
Forum begins the new year with a cover story on the most serious issue of our time, global warming, by one who has been a lonely voice in the wilderness on this subject for too long, Afsan Chowdhury, together with two superb pieces of reportage on the post-Sidr devastation.
Moving abroad, we complement these with pieces on Iran and the fascinating tale of the tiny island of Diego Garcia; and on the home front, welcome Naomi Hossain’s thought-provoking piece on the collateral costs of crime, which we hope will be the first of many such analyses of how we live our lives.
There is, as ever, so much more, from an unsentimental and gritty photo feature of life in Bihari Camp to a provocative essay by Rubaiyat Hossain on women in Bangladeshi society and a meditation on the great Sufi mystic Maulana Rumi.
We wish our readers all the best for 2008, which we hope will be a transformative year, both for the nation, as well as the world at large. There is still time to turn things around, to reverse dangerous trends, to learn from one’s mistakes, and to move forward. As the New Year dawns we must be alive to the great possibilities that lie before us.