It goes without saying that Bangladesh has made some impressive strides in economic growth and development in recent years. The overall growth trend has been spiralling for the last few years due to some groundbreaking steps taken by the government. In almost all the indicators of growth and development, there were positive changes paving the way for Bangladesh's transformation into a middle income country. Some of the indicators are as follows: the gross domestic product (GDP) rate has been growing every year; infant mortality rate has significantly plummeted; there has been a persistent decline in the number of school dropouts; per capita income is steadily rising; social safety nets are functioning effectively to eradicate poverty; and literacy rate is increasing. Undoubtedly, these social and economic indicators are opening new horizons for Bangladesh as these are effectively impacting the living standards of the people.
Amidst the commendable success, there still persist some gloomy aspects. The society as a whole is getting economically and financially prosperous, but there seems to be a crisis of moral values. These values fundamentally differentiate humans from animals. There is no denying the fact that with the rise of ever-increasing industrialisation and urbanisation, the number of crimes is also proportionately escalating. The brutality, frequency and gruesome manner in which the incidents are occurring are quite shocking, not only for the society but for the entire humanity. Day-by-day, the grisly incidents are increasing. The number of crimes like rape, murder, mob lynching etc seems to have spiked over the past couple of months. I'll cite only two of the sorrowful and horrendous incidents from a list of many that occurred in recent times.
The most poignant incidents were mob beating and subsequent tragic deaths of many innocents across the country. Without the slightest of judgment and qualm of consciousness, frenzied mob lynched 43 people to death in the last seven months entirely on the basis of suspicion. The last few deaths from lynching were caused by suspicions that the victims were child kidnappers. The tears of a four-year-old Tahsin after losing her mother at the hands of a mad and misguided mob at Uttar Badda in the capital can melt any human heart. But what depresses us most is the passivity of the people who derive a devilish pleasure from the beating and film the ghastly attacks. If this inaction and silent spectatorship continues, the society will soon fall apart as a whole.
Then there is the mounting number of rape incidents and most of the victims are children below the age of ten. To our utter surprise, teachers from schools and madrashas, who are supposed to be the safe shelter next to parents, are often involved in rape incidents. These contemptuous incidents glaringly display the distorted mindsets and the collapse of moral and ethical values that we are supposed to live by.
Every man in a society is like a cell of human body. If one part of a body does not function well, it affects the whole body. Likewise, the moral bankruptcy of one part of the society spreads to prompt other parts to do the same. Consequently, the whole social system crumbles down and a crisis of moral values emerges.
Such ominous signs have been appearing in our country in recent years. Benevolence, mercy, helpfulness, mutual respect, justice, responsibility and tolerance are on the wane. Violence, corruption, intolerance, perversion, depravity and self-centeredness are taking the centre stage. We are becoming wealthy but losing the very essence of our human identity. Our per capita is increasing by leaps and bounds but our human spirit is getting eroded. We are able to grow more crop in one piece of land than before but our heart is turning into a barren desert where many of us have forgotten to nurture the human qualities that essentially make us humans. This is a distressing narrative we must recognise only to be able to search our souls. Soul searching is what we need most at this time to find if there is any flicker-however tiny that may be.
Shahadat Hussein is as an Assistant Chief at the Planning Commission.