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     Volume 7 Issue 33 | August 15, 2008 |

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Writing the Wrong

Futile Knocks of Opportunity


So we have four Bangladeshis dead in a fire for 24 hours, repeat 24 hours, (DS xx August) and in this day of SMS and email and telephone connectivity and sophisticated local bus service, our show-naam dhonyo embassy in Saudi Arabia does not know anything about the incident. This shame cannot be hidden in a cave in an isolated desert.

In fact, one of the embassy officials posted in Saudi Arabia was quoted by a Dhaka TV channel a full day after the distressing story came to light that he (presumably in Jeddah) came to learn about the horrific incident from a telephone call from Bangladesh. Neither can this shame be hidden in a hole in an isolated mangrove of the Sundarbans.

This is not the first time that our comfortably-kept slipshod members of the phoren services have made affairs quite uncomfortable for an incumbent government. The whiff of a conspiracy is in the air. That in Bangla means, of what are these alamat?

Only a few days earlier we saw the undignified and inhuman deportation of Bangladeshi human beings from Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Kuwait, a result of total failure on the part of our wobbling diplomacy in the international stage. And now this, death?

Point one: Four persons killed in a fire. That should be breaking news in any part of the world on any day; more so if the victims are foreigners. And we know nothing about it in the country of its occurrence! Does not our Jeddah embassy have a TV set?

Point two: Bangalees in any country are well connected with each other. We all know that. It is unthinkable and hugely unlikely that no one informed any one who knew someone in our Jeddah embassy that some four persons are dead for 24 hours.

The other easy option was for the Bangladeshi embassy staff to switch their own TV sets on to a news channel at least once in 24 hours, instead of being hooked continuously to some stations displaying gyration of some Indian actress in a steamy Hindi movie. Yes sir! We may have whatever 'official' diplomatic stance with regard to relationships with our large and powerful neighbours, but when it comes to entertainment, for some the list includes Mallika Sarawat and Rakhi Sawant.

What has surprised most of the people most is that neither of the ambassadors has as yet been called home for urgent consultation in view of their apparent failure to serve their people! They have been beckoned for far lesser crimes in the past. But Jeddah-Dhaka-Jeddah is obviously more expensive than their other essential expenses. We are aware of our diplomats (Or was it the wife of one?) buying flowers by having the embassy chauffer drive across almost an entire country.

Surprising too is that neither of them (or others elsewhere dotting the globe for being equally dotty) have been reprimanded for their slapdash handling of important affairs, for instance our biggest foreign exchange earners. That admonishing could have served as a fitting warning for others. Soon it may be too late. Already, we have gone public to advise our workers not to panic. Are some of these 'best' products of the BCS exams working in tandem to stab behind the back at the behest of someone, some group, okay, party?

Patriotism should be the driving energy of any public servant. While there are many glowing examples of selfless sacrifices, the few bad apples bring the entire services a pawcha name. And all sorts of gags crop up, like the following one adapted from a sardarji anecdote:

In some foreign land, a man rushed to a Bangladeshi diplomat and gasped, “A Bangladeshi is kissing your wife in your home.” Furious, the diplomat hastened to his home, but came back within half-an-hour, still furious, and slapped the man and said, “He is not a Bangladeshi”.

The essence of that story is that some Bangladeshi diplomats misplace their identity. Once they have landed an overseas posting, they consider themselves a cut above the rest of their countrymen, are seemingly ashamed of their own people, and forget why they are flying a Bangladesh flag atop their office and house in a foreign land; some even adopt their land of posting as their newfound country.

In truth, no one is a cut above anybody, a true servant of the Almighty Allah feels equal to his fellow beings, and the national standard is not just a piece of cloth symbolising that His Excellency is awake. Among many others, the major difference between people is that some had the opportunity, others did not.

Arrey bhai! If you think that the literally poor uneducated dirty workers, who have sold their jomi-jawma or borrowed huge sums to land up a menial job in another land, who have sacrificed time from their family to earn some rice and lentil for their kith and kin, and who are toiling 12 to 16 hours to let their tears mingle with the sweat of their eyebrows are not worthy of your audience, you should opt for some other job that does not have 'Government of Bangladesh' embossed on its letterhead.

The above goes for every servant of the state who is being paid by the hard-earned taxpayers' money; be it at home or abroad.

One must comprehend for the sake of realising our collective dream of a beautiful Bangladesh that a government job is not just an opportunity; it is an opportunity to serve. The diplomats in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the past week, as do several of their counterparts, saw the shocking happening in their respective work places as hungama, not as an occasion to attend to their responsibility.

The one hundred year old 'scout promise' is apt for etching our commitment as sons and daughters of this sacred soil: On my honour I promise to do my duty to God and my country


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