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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A sensible song about ministerial pomp and impunity

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While most of the fathers want their sons to become doctors, high-ranking officers, engineers, bankers there is one gentleman who does not have these ambitions about his son. Instead of asking his son to become a doctor or an engineer, this guy wants to make his son a minister. It would certainly sound unusual to readers but this is what I have heard in a song by popular singer Nachiketa.

Ministers are, according to widespread observations, the most powerful fellows in countries like ours and once someone becomes a minister he and his family members and relatives can easily access all sorts of privileges from the state like unlimited earnings, state-sponsored cars, palatial houses and every other form of luxury is always at the fingertips of ministers which is known to all people, particularly in Bangladesh.

For this reason, we see so much hectic rat race among politicians to grab ministerial posts because it comes with unbelievable power, pomp and the impunity to avoid penalties even after doing something heinously wrong. That's why that chap characterized in Nachiketa's song "Amar chheleke ami mantri banabo" (I will make my son a minister) wants to make his son a minister in future.

To make his intention come true, this man illustrated in the song envisions that he and his descendents will not have to do anything if his son can become a minister for just one term. Money and all other regal facilities will come to his grips without efforts if his son can get hold of the post of a minister. He even plans to get his son tutored by an ex minister for the fulfillment of his desire.

Songs entertain us all the time. While most of the songs speak of love and romance, some songs are very much lifelike which portray different aspects of society and the spectacles that surround us at home and outside. This song by Nachiketa is quite reflective regarding the socio-political scenario existing in some countries like Bangladesh where most of the people who become ministers want to hold higher posts in the government only to exercise power and to make life as convenient as possible.

While selecting people for different ministerial positions, most of the political parties around us put emphasis on nepotism and ability to flatter the party's hierarchy rather than evaluating the incumbent's quality and skills to run the state's portfolios soundly. For this reason we often come across faulty decisions, inappropriate policies, misuse of power, corruption and many more anomalies for which people repeatedly blame ministers. Political parties frequently face criticism for not choosing dynamic, qualified and transparent people for holding vital designations like ministers.

In many cases the government's necessary initiatives are not properly carried out due to inefficient cabinet members. We have seen a number of ministers whose reckless comments and controversial activities have embarrassed the ruling party again and again. Banking sector is standing on the verge of total devastation.

Financial scams one after another have unleashed deadly blows to the country's economy. Gigantic figures of defaulted loans have mortally hammered several state-owned as well as private banks. Illegal money transfer from Bangladesh to foreign countries has been going on without restraint.

All these unlawful things are happening with terrific damages to the country's financial parameters but we can see no change at all in the portfolio in charge of financial and banking activities which sounds very unfortunate and scary. Some renowned economists have recently said that the government's success stories have been broadly undermined by the failure of finance ministry.

Bangladeshi employees working overseas are facing various complications. We often read in newspapers complaints about noncooperation by officials belonging to Bangladesh's diplomatic missions abroad who reportedly do not care about the betterment of expatriate Bangladeshis. But it is quite surprising that no change has been initiated for the top posts of foreign ministry.

Question papers are getting leaked out every now and then across Bangladesh which is a blazing failure by education ministry. Several infrastructural projects are taking too long which are putting heavy loads of expenses on the government and thus making monetary mishandling easy for unscrupulous officials according to reports from relevant angles. Unabatedly jumping prices of daily essential things have become another pang for ordinary citizens all over Bangladesh whereas no effective steps have been yet taken to reduce price hike.

However, I don't mean to say that all ministers are immoral. Some ministers, both in past and present, have played their roles with utmost integrity. The government brought some changes to the cabinet a few days ago reshuffling some ministers but this rearrangement has failed to meet the expectations of the country's people reportedly.

Some eminent citizens have meanwhile remarked to newspapers that they are not so hopeful about any qualitative change in the government's functionalities through this reshuffle. Financial experts, former bureaucrats, prominent educationists and civil society members have over and over again urged the government to put priority on hardworking, patriotic, proactive and devoted leaders while reorganizing ministerial offices.

Some incompetent, inactive, over-aged, sluggish and unpopular ministers have in the meantime downgraded the government's image. If they cannot be replaced with better ones, tough roadblocks are waiting for the ruling party in days to come at such a time while the next election is approaching. Under these circumstances depending on corrupted and unskilled people holding top posts would be extremely detrimental for the government which is a simple forecast to comprehend.  

The writer is Assistant Editor, The Asian Age

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