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        Volume 11 |Issue 44| November 09, 2012 |


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The Reversal of the Cow


The price of cattle had fallen dramatically on the eve of this Eid-ul-Adha. This already has some people very worried, would you believe? That is because of the bizarre Bangalee psyche: It understands (?) everything sitting in the comfort of the historical godi (cushion) which can perhaps pass as not-so-bad. But, it is suspicious of anything good for fear of the impending worse.

Whereas the sane reasoning is that neither the meat nor the money reaches Allah (swt), but one's sacrifice that symbolises submission (to His command) does, and therefore the price, if affordable, is not to be of any concern. The spirit ought to perhaps be that you sacrifice to the best of your ability at the going price at the time of your purchase of the sacrificial animal. One should not look back to see whether one has lost or won money-wise.

Obviously, the lower the price comes down, more and more people will be able to observe the ritual of Ibrahim (peace be upon Himi, PBUH) and Ismail (PBUH), but oddly it is those who can afford many times more are the ones who are finding the price plummet of 2012 disturbing. Their argument is that the cattle people, who had to give away their livestock at lower prices because of excess supply because the government/s opened all the borders, will take revenge next year by squeezing the number of livestock travelling to the haat.

For God's sake, our cowboys as yet do not have a 3G network to control the market. Come to think of it, neither do we. The rural breeders rear up the animals with their time, labour, money and hope to make a decent profit; it's their livelihood. And this time they sadly lost out. If the buyer gains by falling prices, the Eid of the seller is that much less.

If the supply of animals next year is less it will be because those in this business may not be finding it profitable any longer, not because they want to take revenge on the well-to-do people. Do they have the audacity? More plausibly, if the animals find out about the ridiculous argument, they may not take the walk.

The fact is we have to be negatively critical of anything and everything, anybody and everybody, whether it remotely concerns us or not. Now the son of Rajiv and Sonia was not made a minister in the latest shuffling of the Indian cabinet. Speculations across the border, closed we assume after the cows were let in, is understandable. But Dhakaites have to have a say, because we are like that. 'Why should he become a minister and take the blame for his failure, when in actuality he will become the prime minister?' was one comment. Let us assume Priyanka's brother was indeed sworn in as Manmohan's protégé, then the same concerned unconcerned Bangalee know-all at the receiving end of the cow trail would say, "Obviously he will become a minister. Don't you know whose son he is?" I love the smirk eternally pasted on his face after the release of that sentence.

Such valuable time could usefully be employed in other relevant pursuits, say to inquire in how many years would all the MPs in the Bangladesh Parliament be the sons and daughters of former MPs. Or why the children of doctors are not doctors by birth? Or why the son of the iconic lawyer is not in the bar at age eleven? The son of a painter does not become an artist. The daughter of a singer is not a singer without the rigors of rewaz. But we see children of actors crowding the silver screen, albeit it is now coloured.

This is when we are inclined to give credence to the notion that politics and acting are easy, not that there is much difference because they both deliver lines to please the audience. But in reality politics in Bangladesh should be very difficult. It is however made easy by the power of bestowal when all and sundry look up to the newly crowned neta and abide by his instructions. How an inexperienced person can run the affairs of a constituency even nearly as well as his seasoned predecessor belies logic, but that element is greatly lacking in politics.

We are so undemocratic that we cannot even elect a new leader after the demise of a leader, and so as not to rock the boat we (like it or not) settle for someone (son, daughter, wife) of the deceased parliamentarian. Once the name of a son, daughter, or wife is proposed, there is momentary silence in the majlish and then resounding applause, whether they like it or not.

There are the demonstrably exceptions of the capable son, daughter, and wife who can don the mantle of a meteoric politician because pedigree often counts, but if inheritance becomes the rule then we are headed for a feudalistic system of governance disguised as democracy.

How did we end up with politics in an essay that we began with cows? Some inheritors are used to doing just the reverse.




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