Let democracy and social justice be established

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

16 December is the brightest day in our national history. Following a long political struggle and the nine-month long liberation war, the people of this land gained victory on this day in 1971. The occupying Pakistani forces had surrendered unconditionally.

On this day of the victory we remember the three million martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the country, we remember the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on whose call the entire nation jumped into the liberation war, we remember the four national leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M Mansur Ali and AHM Kamaruzzaman, who in the absence of Bangabandhu, organised the liberation war in 1971 through the Mujibnagar government.

The liberation war began when the Pakistani forces launched the genocide on 25 March 1971. Later, people from all walks of life including farmers, workers of this country formed armed resistance for nine months against the occupying Pakistani forces, the final stage of which is the victory that came on 16 December.

That was an amazing moment. On one side there was the joy of victory, on the other the pain of losing loved ones. Pakistani army and their allied Al-Badr murdered the best intellectuals of the country, setting a rare example in history.

The primary goal of our liberation war, to place Bangladesh on the world map as an independent and sovereign, state has been achieved through the victory of 16 December. In the next five decades after that, we have made a lot of progress in the economic and social sectors.

There has been significant decrease in poverty. Child and maternal mortality rates have reduced too.

Meanwhile, per capita income and life expectancy have increased.

The same goes for the literacy rate and health care coverage. There has been women empowerment. And the food production has increased more than threefold.

One of the focal goals of our independence was to end discrimination. Economist Rehman Sobhan's ‘two economies’ theory had created quite an uproar during the Pakistan period. However, that discrimination didn’t end even in the independent Bangladesh. The benefits of the freedom couldn’t be delivered equally to all households.

After completing 51 years of independence, we are celebrating the 52nd Victory Day today. One of the aspects of this celebration is the formality, through which we usually convey the history of liberation war and the glorious side of the victory to the new generation.

Alongside that, the self-questioning as to what extent we have been able to establish the main ideals and goals of the independence and liberation war- which is democracy, equity of people, humanitarian dignity and social justice, is also important.

Despite there being many positive aspects to our national life, we must admit that we are lagging behind in the political sector. Parliamentary democracy has been active for three decades, but the national parliament failed to be the political center.

The democratic sphere has shrunk while democratic institutions continued turning fragile. The electoral system has practically collapsed and the voters have lost their faith in it.

Even the freedom of expression has been narrowed down. The policy of tolerance and understanding is absent in politics. The national election is only a year away. But, there’s no consensus on how that election is going to be held.

The government and the main opposition are at crossroads. There will definitely be conflicts and problems in politics, but they are expected to be resolved through discussions. Let these crises of our politics and democracy be gone, indeed that’s our expectation on this victory day.

It must be kept in mind that we became victorious in 1971 only because we were united. If we wish to reach the desired goal, to establish democratic rights and human dignity for all human being, there’s no alternative to consolidate the spirit of democracy and liberation war.