Any project by a political party or government “to create awareness and public education” will very likely be met with skepticism and be quickly associated with political propaganda. Its exactly the same thing that happened with the recent efforts to start a project just like that. If they were to do it right, they should have anticipated this and avoided the labeling. But the problems are there and nobody doubts it. We have harassment of foreigners, robbery, mugging of foreign teachers, doctors, students threatening and intimidating teachers, gang wars and all the vices one can think of in incredibly small communities. Blaming it all on lack of employment is the easy excuse not to think seriously about the issue. So yes there is an issue or rather an abundance of issues and better we acknowledge the facts now do something about it.
A big one time one year project to ‘reeducate’ will not work in this case because we seems to have the fundamentals wrong in this case. Over the years, we have unthinkingly created monster sized issues: of ignorance of social skills, respect for persons and races, blotted out the definition of corruption and failed to install the values based stories in the young. Examples.
- We still do not have the equivalent for phrases like thank you or the expectation for that in the normal discourse. So if you give me a sweet you will very likely get a smile from me and that’s it. Nor is it particularly beneficial to waste precious time thanking and ‘welcoming’ the thanks, it looks artificial but that’s where we are.
- For years now, we have been ridiculing fellow human beings from neighboring countries in our dramas, and films (which are in essence part of our literature) with characters like “Pindey” who is the perpetual fool (Bangladeshi), not good for anything but ridicule. Maybe a story might have a use of such character to satisfy our ego or whatever, but overdoing this has created a sense of superiority and there are fellow humans suffering exactly because of this. Everyday there are hundreds of Bangladeshi waiters and servers who are subjected to verbal abuse in tea shops and café’s which is the validation of the above observation.
- Corruption is so endemic in our society that it’s hardly recognizable now. From simple things like getting preferential treatment in hospitals and banks because of relatives who work inside to big things which involve thousands or millions of rufiyaa, we are flushed with it, if nothing else.
So verily seems we have to start somewhere with something. We have to change our attitudue to ourselves and foreigners alike. We have to start a values based system in education and upgrade the books where the stories are missing. Instead of “Foolhudhiguhandi” stories we shall go for stories that actually show kindness and good manners to young ones.