Of pink dogs and doggone humans
We have remar-kable similarities: jobless or sleeping on the job when employed, being kicked about or loved like crazy, meaninglessly barking at each other, unkempt body hair or salon spoilt, ready to lick and leak in public; tree or wall is a matter of circumstances.
In spite of our lack of differences, if I had been a dog on the street this Ramadan, I would be terribly upset (growl) because someone had splashed a mug of coloured water in a vain attempt to transform me into the legendary pink panther.
Says man's best friend, "Other than spoil my velvety natural look, the attempt is humiliating since the pink good-for-nothing is no more than a cartoon character. Flaw in the centre of a diamond, huh?"
At first, I had assumed the dogs were at the wrong end of unkind pranks by some local gaye holud revellers. Nevertheless, when I saw several of the canine beings across the city, I began sniffing in earnest.
Prowling here and there revealed that the pink job was part of the government's noble vaccination programme to eradicate the fatal infectious disease, rabies, from the city by year 2022, quoting Directorate General of Health Service sources. Seven years ago, the target was to eliminate the mainly dog-transmitted deadly viral infection by 2020.
Missing a deadline is as common as confusion on chaand-raat, but the good news is that before the Mass Dog Vaccination (MDV) sweep, about 2,500 people used to die annually from rabies, but commendably since the programme commenced in 2012, the number has dropped down to less than 400. The seven-year long campaign involves the two Dhaka City Corporations, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry's Communicable Diseases Control Unit, the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The splash of pink dispended is to mark every dog inoculated so that none gets to bark (in pain) "Owww..." more than once. By avoiding repeats there is also saving on workforce and medical supplies. Since no dog (or its owner) has to pay, every dog worth its bite wagged its tail, despite the ruffling of appearance and the sting. In the first half of 2019, around 1.3 million Dhaka dogs have been dyed pink, which is somewhat worrying because there could be a million more out there harbouring the communicable virus. We request all dog-owners to bring your friend from out of the closet. There is no shame in hiding from an impending injection.
While I am confident that the learned promoters are keeping track of the validity of each vaccination, there is however one loophole. In this growing hell of rampant corruption, if dubious officers and assistants were perchance marking dogs pink without administering the required medicine, howling will overwhelm the present exultation. The danger is we will never know their sin, individual or collective, until the disease re-emerges with the most tragic consequences.
The operation on dogs nonetheless holds promise in tackling the nefarious elements in our society. If our innocent canine friends can be dabbed with paint to mark them without their permission, albeit for a good cause, it seems logical to dab paint on human beings to single them out for their anti-community activities.
I take cue from the High Court, which last month ruled, "a thief should be called a thief" and "a corrupt person a corrupt person". The bench of Justices FRM Nazmul Ahasan and KM Kamrul Kader observed, "Otherwise the country cannot be protected" (Prothom Alo, May 6).
As an extension of that ruling, which aims to mark out the criminals in speech and writing, applying an indelible paint on their face and/or hands (parts that are usually uncovered) would serve as a distinguishable punishment and a lesson for others. Depending on the extent of their wrongdoing, the pigmentation should last on their body parts for a certain period, say, six months for petty offences and up to five years for serious transgressions. I do not know of any paint that lasts any longer because occasionally there is depravity in that business too.
Every time the wrongdoer extends his (or her) hand to greet someone, others would know that it was the hand of someone despised. An option would be to remain anti-social and avoid gatherings, which is also a penalty.
Passport and visa pictures would be out of question, as would be wedding and social media portraits. The person with the painted face would have to travel at night, if at all, and along dark alleys, of which there are a plenty. That too is part of the sentence.
To make life colourful there would be different hues for various crimes. The hands and face of the financially corrupt would be painted green because, from a negative perspective, the colour represents the materialistic. Blue would be the shade for the food adulterer because blue tends to suppress the appetite; not many foods in nature is associated with the colour blue. The child molester would be identifiable by the red dye on hands and face, symbolising anger and danger. Rapists would be recognisable by their yellow appearance, as the colour symbolises cowardice.
Those guilty of multiple offences shall be multi-coloured; for instance right hand green, left hand blue and face completely yellow. Second-time offenders would have to wear shorts compulsorily, because their legs would then be painted black and white. I hate to imagine what would be the fate of third and repeating lawbreakers. The polychromatic measures would help curb crime and deter offenders.
Tourism would get a boost because people from all over the country and the world would like to travel to spot such coloured delinquents. The wrongdoers, one hopes, would be hiding in shame, castigated by society, chastised by family and friends. That would add to the drama and make hunting for the coloured devils more exciting, by night. By the way, hand-gloves would be strictly prohibited, and punishable by colouring of another part of the body, that is hair or head.
Our only possible loss will be the dying away of many traditional names based on colouration. The flamboyant neighbourhood Romeo would no longer be known as Lal Bhai lest he be confused with a paedophile. The forever young shall no longer be a Sabuj for he robbed no bank. Parents would not name a child Nilu because s/he would not grow up to be a food contaminator. Kala, Dhala and Rangila will all be beings of the past. Golapi may just survive.
Dr Nizamuddin Ahmed is a practising architect, a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian.
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