Welcome to Bangladesh in 2013, where you and I, the enfranchised, actually can control our own fate, regardless of the legality of our claim, if we have enough money to do so. As many of us go around in our cars and claim “status,” and complain about how a trade license costs $120 but the bribes to procure one costs $4800, we internalize and pay homage to the reality that everything can be bought at the “right” price in Bangladesh.
We can’t even walk the streets without dealing with open sewers, potholes, and the very real possibility of instant death in the crazy traffic that surrounds us (and gives some of us less versatile travelers heart palpitations on a daily basis).
What’s, worse, we have allowed Tazrin Industries’ owner to roam the streets free for the 125 people who perished in the garments sweatshop fires in December 2011, and hell, we can’t even arrest that MP who assisted in the great Savar escape of the now infamous Mr. Rana.
Will either the MP who assisted in the escape, or Rana himself go or stay in jail?
You must be joking, right? Please! Didn’t you note that it took our dear Prime Minister 2 full days to issue a call for arrests?
But, honestly, the time for these morbid jokes is over.
We’re all corrupt, and change starts with EVERY single one of us. Yup, instead of complaining about our garments contracts being taken away from the country and outsourced to less corrupt nations, let’s stop and examine how pathetically tragic the current events are.
Yes, that goes for you too, driving that SUV on the way to the airport for your weekend trip to go shopping in Singapore. We’ve also all bribed police officers for “harassing” us.
We, the “enfranchised” Bangladeshis, have allowed deaths to go unanswered just as much as we have allowed open sewage systems to flood the streets during the monsoon, and continue to tolerate rubbish overflowing on
Our “class,” our “status,” allows us to escape whatever we cannot digest. This means we don’t have to take the walk if we don’t want to, or face the anxiety of falling into something disgusting or fatal if we do take it, literally, symbolically. It means we compromise our honesty daily and the only ones who suffer are those who do not have the capability or the money to question this status quo.
Change starts with you. It starts with me.
It’s time that our morals and humanity don’t have price tags attached to them. So let’s question. Let’s stop paying these bribes to be left alone. Let’s stop reelecting these crooks back to power. We’ve had enough. It’s time we prove that we’re sick of perpetrating our own victimhood.
This piece was written in April 2013, when I was becoming accustomed to having been in Bangladesh (if that’s at all possible), for about six months. It’s just a testimony to the high levels of disparity between the wealthy and non wealthy: