If not I, then who? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 10, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:50 AM, March 10, 2020

If not I, then who?

Trending now are a winter holding at around twenty degrees Celsius, finishing office work in a traffic jam, private fogging to rid societies of mosquitoes (members of the Executive Committee not included), and a side job or business not only to make ends meet but for a wee bit of luxury, such as eating out. And, wow! Do we not have some of the most awesome restaurants?

In vogue too is the rise of mass anger against the corrupt, the abuser (of power), and the inefficient. Thanks to social media and growing awareness among the people—a culmination of education and communication.

The conviction of on-street protestors is deep and emotions run high. Only brute force and deceit, well, perhaps a degree of bribery to the everlasting Mir Zafars, will work to diffuse the snowballing upsurge. Then, not always.

In such mass movements, the leader is not always apparent. A leader may be born before, during or from the ashes of a failed uprising, to lead not the whole movement, but clusters of boiling points.

Their demands are wide and varied. In some regions, they won't relent or rest until a cabinet quits. In another hotspot, they want an ordinance squashed. Some look to democratic practices and vestiges of an illicit, albeit consensual, relationship to remove a despotic, unruly ruler. They stumble against blocks of majoritarian supremacy.

People in many parts of the world feel that their leaders, despite the oft touted rhetoric of people's power, are working against them, and serving self-interest or, at best, the concerns of a conceited, egocentric group. They are not wrong.

Elected under the guise of egalitarian orderliness, some CEOs would start a war as a personal choice. Another would stoop to divide a country to gain electoral advantage. Still another would invite a foreign abetter to kill and maim his own people; some of whom may have voted for his ascent to prolonged authority.

Leaders under attack from their people to vacate their offices are in no mood to do so. First and foremost, they love power and are narcissistic at their best, but the laughable excuse they put forward is that, if people get their way (remove him) this time round, then every time there will be demands for some elected or nominated person to be deposed.

So be it. If a politician goes sour, then he should be shown the door.

Let us probe this from another angle. In any office, public or private, there are some governing procedures. An employee, installed with full honours because of his qualifications, if not in line with office practice during his tenure, is summarily suspended and/or removed. The sacking is more blatant in a private office, but then some governments are also lately being run along a hire-and-fire regime. Like me or leave me. Surely a country is more important than a mere office.

Some of our university vice chancellors (VC), who reportedly landed in trouble for reasons varying from gainful contracts to interference with academic results, and who absolutely failed in maintaining basic law and order, have presented a similar defence "...then every VC will face a demand for removal".

So be it. If a government-appointed VC will flout the rules, will demean the sanctity of education to the world, will shame the party-in-power that appointed him, and will endanger the life of the students, then he should make room for another professor. The process shall continue. No appointment letter should be a guarantee for an undeserving person to complete his term of office. Under that situation, quality suffers, as do the students.

Sports personalities are similarly affected. Despite failing innings after innings, goalless season after season, medal draught lasting over a decade, still they ignore the loudest suggestion of voluntarily stepping aside for fresh legs. Stardom lends them the license to feel indispensable. Yet truly no one really is. Everyone has a time allotted, extending which forcibly is an act of foolishness.

No person is more affected than stars of the tinsel world. Yet, heroes and heroines plod along in film after film, which is of concern only to the producer. We people can just stop going to their movies. But, then they pop up on our screens, promoting salt and sugar, oil and onion. Had they realised at the height of their career that fame on the silver screen is provisional, they would have invested their earnings in a business of profit. The shrewd among them, of course, do.

Understandably, there cannot be street demonstrations seeking removal of performers, but their obstinate #MeOnly standpoint is counterproductive and a hindrance to progress. The quicker the champions of yesteryear comprehend this natural law, the earlier the talent in the wings will flutter for recognition.

Politics, or for that matter any platform and profession, is not much different from the performing arts or athleticism. "Cannot be removed" is a despotic viewpoint and a misrepresentation of the need of the time. If not I, then surely someone else, can lead us to freedom, fair play and fortitude.

 

Dr Nizamuddin Ahmed is a practising Architect at BashaBari Ltd, a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian.

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