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        Volume 11 |Issue 33| August 17, 2012 |


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The Shusheel Avatar

Akram Hosen Mamun


The shusheels are the most important people in our country. With the advent of TV talk shows in Bangladesh, many of our intellectuals have ascended to the status of the most sought after celebrities by making frequent appearances in the shows.

The term shusheel does not denote a bunch of reflective type academics who sit around faculty clubs sipping their tea and wonder if the table is. Rather, the intellectuals who make up the shusheel society are the "action intellectuals" (aka activists). As advisers of the caretaker government, journalists, lawyers, academics, NGO officials, and even former bureaucrats, they have brought revolutionary changes to the country over the decades. While the plebian masses only become crucial every 5 years for electing either of this or the other party in the office, the shusheels play a much more significant role all the time. Although the shusheels belong to the ruling class of the population, they work as a “pressure group” to the government. Between the general public and the rulers, they work as the third force. It is only too obvious that if it wasn't for their incessant nagging in the TV talk shows, the politicians would have torn the country into shreds in no time.

When the tenure of one government expires, they even reluctantly accept the huge responsibility to run the state and make it a point to fight corrupt politicians.

However, it is not that the shusheels always find faults with the government. A couple of years ago, the globally famed oil company Cabron Corporation expressed its interest to explore gas close to a reserved rainforest. The government was quick to bend the wildlife regulations to make way for the corporation. The plebeians expected the shusheels who are known for the protecting Mother Nature against corporate exploitation to raise a row over the violation of wildlife integrity. But no. The neoliberal religion of the shusheels does not permit them to raise voice against multinational corporations. They know that in a globalised world, the only religion that matters is the neoliberal religion. That's why they follow it.

Grumpy critics often say that the neoliberal paths that the shusheels follow are ruining the country. But when did any great accomplishment in history take place without an angry outcry from those who cling to the old ways? Our giant NGOs bring millions of foreign currencies by making proper use of the white man's guilt. They selflessly use the money for "sustainable development" and "poverty alleviation". To save the government of some troubles, one of the NGOs has been trying for years to take over the primary education system of the country out of sheer benevolence.

On the other hand, out of petty jealousy and spitefulness, critics even go as far as to point out that the shusheels have fancy cars and luxury apartments. The truth is, the shusheels maintain a certain lifestyle, but it is only because they don't know where to spend all the funds they get as foreign aids for their "development projects". The people, who say that the NGOs sell poverty by advertising it to developed nations, fail to understand that they are merely making the best out of a bad situation.

Logically, the well thought out poverty alleviation projects need a lot of reports and researches to be done within a fixed timeframe. The shusheels are so concerned about the reliability of those (paper) works that they often undertake the trouble of hiring “internationally recognised foreign experts” to do the works in Bangladeshi slums. They do not take the easy way by utilising deshi expertise and think-tanks.

When the wayward elite bad boys of the law enforcers mistakenly shot some vague teenager, the shusheels specialising on human rights issues raised their voice and cried a river beside the bed of the maimed boy. To set a further example of his respectfulness, forgiveness, and moderate nature, the head shusheel of the human rights division said, "I have a dream that the elite bad boys and the human rights division would work together to ensure human rights in the future."

Some pesky journalists once reported that an NGO had received huge grants from donors for a project that aimed to teach elementary computer lessons in rural areas. Logically, the project needed a lot of computers. However, said the report, very little of the funds were spent on actually buying computers. Critics might point to this as a heretical act of corruption and fraud, but the media-shy founder of the skills development organisation really had the best interests of the country in mind. As the misunderstood shusheel comments, “Considering the additional amount of electricity those computers would have consumed, and also considering how more electricity consumption means more global warming, we decided not to buy them in the first place.”

While most of the countries of the world have developed through industrialisation, populist movements and political reformation, our country is progressing through TV talk shows, human chains, seminars and discussions among the shusheels. Yes, so what if they have moved away from the streets to the comfort of air-conditioned corporate boardroom like halls, broken only by occasional trips to national shrines (aka Shaheed Minar, National Museum) to bask in self-righteous indignation at the violation of civil rights by the state.


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