Bangladesh : Keep watching!
Well, not true. The world has other things to watch. Celebrity Big Brother, for example. Or, something else. There is always a show on, aint it? Why would anyone bother about Bangladesh, a country of no significance?
I would say, we better watch. It is a country of 130 million people, poor, with a majority following islam, but democratic – so far! Not an usual thing. And, also, unlike other Islamic democracies, the Prime Ministership is not granted for life [or till retirement]. There is lively elections, free and fair by most counts, and the party in power has been thrown out in last two elections. Some achievement!
It is poor. It is corrupt. But don’t snigger! Think of another poor, corrupt country which is democratic, and you will realise what Bangladesh brings to table. The true test of democracy – how to make the system work at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ – is being played out here.
I am not suggesting that it is perfect. There is a lot of vote buying and black money. Of course! But then nowhere it is perfect, nor it is expected to be. How apt that the term ‘politically correct’ came actually from the Klu Klux Klan. Politics, yes, is all about flexibility, all over the world.
But, today, there is a show on – if the world cares to watch. That fragile democracy has just been given a new lease of life, with the intervention of the International Community. The UN Secy General started on the front-foot, intervening at the right time, when the ruling coalition and its underlings were about to hijack the election process. Army, to everyone’s surprise, stood idle, even with a popular preference towards army intervention. The generals did not walk in, presumably, fearing an international backlash. So different from Thailand or Fiji!
Also, so different from George Bush’s Democracy exports. It is a great success of an international community [including the US] maintaining a principled stance, and securing democracy in an important country.
However, all this happened because the World was not watching Big Brother then. The promised elections are still three to six months away. It will be sad if we forget about the country now, and let democracy falter again.