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     Volume 11 |Issue 20| May 18, 2012 |


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Aasha Mehreen Amin

In a country with such a dearth of entertain-ment options for the general public, it cannot be denied that our politicians are, by default, making up for the void. Everyday, local television channels and newspapers are on fire, airing or printing the incendiary comments of famous political figures, remarks that evoke enough ridicule to keep the sniggering and chuckling going.

Take for instance comments of certain politicians on Bangladesh's one and only Nobel Laureate. Recently one politician in a surprisingly acerbic outburst shouted that Dr Yunus could not have established Grameen Bank without government support, that it was now a government institution and was running perfectly, completely disregarding the fact that without the illustrious professor, the Grameen Bank would not even exist! Most of us know and the rest of the world believes Dr Yunus to be the visionary who came up with the idea of collateral-free loans for poor women, an idea that lifted thousands out of abject poverty. Now it seems that was really no big deal. Neither was the fact that he received the highest international honour a person could receive, the much maligned Nobel, for making his vision come true. We understand that the said politician was actually a bit miffed with the rather firm words of the US's Foreign Secretary regarding her country's support for the man and their disapproval of the government's disrespectful attitude towards him. But to go purple in the face and say “rubbish” twice is enough to make media's heyday.

Not to be outdone, other politicians have made even more ridiculous remarks, much to the amusement and dismay of the public. Now they question the eligibility of the professor's receiving the Nobel Peace Prize since he did not stop any war. The political stalwart in question seems to have forgotten that the definition of 'peace' is not just the absence of soldiers blasting each other's brains out and blowing up bridges but a state of economic stability and wellbeing of all people, especially those who are poor, since poverty is often the main catalyst for strife and conflict. The political bigwig went on to say that it was easy to get a Nobel if you ate chips, sandwiches and white wine with the right people. It’s a bit like drowning in quicksand by not staying still but wiggling around despite the futility of extricating oneself from the muddy, bottomless, pit. To add to the drama, others have jumped right into the swampy hole of uncharitable comments – yet another politician taunted the professor and another eminent internationally recognised development leader, to join politics before giving their opinion regarding the need for a caretaker government during elections. Opposition party leaders have of course cashed in on such a royal faux pas by their rivals and made unsavoury remarks of their own regarding the Prime Minister coveting the Nobel herself. Another opposition stalwart made no bones about the fact that unless the government agreed to their (opposition's) demands, there would be more trouble and instability ahead, thereby admitting to all and sundry that indeed the opposition intends to create chaos and mayhem on the streets as long as it takes for the ruling party to bow down to them. No Peace Prize for him, that's for sure.

People therefore, are no longer interested in actors, models or singers when they switch on their TV sets or open the papers. The real celebrities providing the most exciting reality shows are the politicians whose faces have become popularised by their incessant appearances in front of TV cameras. We don't know how long this show will go on but considering the remarks of a respected member of civil society “it seems we are living in a land of fools”, it may be on air for a long, long time.



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