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Volume 2 Issue 7| August 2007



Original Forum Editorial

Month in Review: Bangladesh
Month in Review: International
Exit strategies: Some lessons from history- - Rehman Sobhan
What should have been in the budget-- K. Siddique-e-Rabbani
Tough politics but loose economics-- Nizam Ahmad
The effects of corruption -- Saifuddin Ahmed
Time to declare war on hunger-- Zahin Hasan
Where Deshantori ends, Phiriye Ano Bangladesh begins -- Mridul Chowdhury
A cloud of silence in Bangla Town-- Naeem Mohaiemen
Photo Feature
Epaar Opaar-- Udayan Chattopadhyay
The third pillar -- S. Amer Ahmed
Let's get political--Asif Saleh
Through Big Brother's eyes-- Tazreena Sajjad
Alternate universes: fairy tale, sci-fi or reality?-- Rashida Ahmad
Column: It's no joke


Forum Home


It's No Joke

If you put off doing something for long enough, there may eventually come a time when there's no longer any pressing need for that particular thing to be done.

This is the holy grail of procrastination.
It's the get-out-of-jail-free card, the prize trophy and the jackpot all rolled into one for every dawdler, loafer, and idler. But this happy occurrence comes only once in a blue moon, and only if you are willing to take procrastination to its limits.

I used to think I was the only one to create an extreme sport of sorts out of delaying a deadline, the pressure mounting, the adrenaline pumping and the sweat pouring ... but now I know better. Being older and wiser I have come to realise that there are a comforting number of people just like me.

But for those with a chronic tendency to put off till tomorrow what could be done today, there's a price to pay. Oh yes, repent at leisure for those lost opportunities, those unachieved goals, those unlived dreams ... not to mention the complete lack of progress in any direction.

On the other hand, there are two distinct types of procrastinator. There are the productive procrastinators and then there are those that are plain bone-idle.

The productive ones, when faced with some tedious or monumental chore, tend to turn to another previously insurmountable task such as overhauling their car engine or spring-cleaning their house with great gusto. While those that lean more to the bone-idle camp have in some cases been known to read the nearest telephone directory from cover to cover to avoid work of any kind. And who among us poor sinners will not confess to drawing up schedules and creating never-ending lists of things to do in an effort to seem as if we're doing them while actually not doing them?

But, whatever our own particular delaying tactics may be, we all do it. Everyone dillies or dallies at some point. I don't know about birds, bees, or educated fleas ... but people do it, organisations do it, even governments of countries do it. We all do it, we all let things slide. And we do it to a greater or lesser extent depending on the price we're willing to pay -- personal dissolution, institutional collapse, or a nation in ruins.

Speaking of the latter! Can it be that ineptitude and duplicity alone are responsible for the state of the nation? I think not. Can it be that we are the only nation on earth to have ever been subject to inept and duplicitous leadership (speaking in the past tense, of course)? Do not other leaders, influential leaders, leaders of the free world, perhaps, come to mind when the words "ineptitude" and "duplicity" are mentioned? Hmmm ...

But what sets these striding global figures apart is that they act. They take action goddammit when action is called for -- and they take it swiftly. No tarrying, no shilly-shallying.

As for us, are we just a country of incorrigible procrastinators, that will forever remain devoted to a battery of national delaying tactics: hartals, gheraos, states of emergency, impossible ten-point demands, and endless convoluted reform proposals for every institution in the land?

Or perhaps things are changing. One thing we can say for the present caretaker government -- they are not slow to act. Far from being idle, they appear to have been staggeringly productive in the relatively short period since they came to power.

Whether in the process of cleaning up the country by tackling widespread corruption, overhauling state-owned industries through privatisation, or widening the tax net -- this government has attacked a number of seemingly insurmountable tasks with great gusto.

But, to put a slight damper on things, a monumental challenge with a looming deadline lies ahead, and while an election road map has been drawn up, and the thoughtful among us are suggesting that it may be a good time to start considering exit strategies, I wonder if the government are just procrastinators of the productive type? Is all the swift action just a smokescreen of delay tactics? And what might be their prize trophy if they delay things long enough?

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