From the Editor-in-Chief: Our social goals, our realities

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, May 5th, 2016
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The nation observed May Day last week. The day is fundamentally a recalling of the sacrifices made by some brave men in Chicago in 1886 in defence of their rights as workers. That these men had the courage to let their employers know that the pursuit of happiness in life came from a sharing of the resources of the earth is a story of courage we have always remembered and celebrated. And we have because these men inspired in all of us the idea that struggling for a cause which has as its goal the welfare of the collective body of people is the noblest of acts that people can go for. And in all these decades since that supreme sacrifice in Chicago, the idea has gained justified currency that only through a constant reinforcing of courage and a clear understanding of social realities can nations can ensure a happy future for themselves.

 

Nowhere is the lesson of May Day more significant than in Bangladesh, for it is here that workers and peasants have waged long, relentless movements to claim for themselves a respectable place in the wider community. These are men and women who have carried, with others, our nationalistic struggle of the 1960s forward. And again they did not flinch from identifying with the War of Liberation in 1971 to ensure for the nation a life to be lived in liberty and with a materialization of the goals set forth in that war. That May Day is for us, as it is for others around the world, symbolic of the idea that national development is but a guarantee of happiness and prosperity for those who toil day and night for the greatest good of the greatest number is a theme we cannot ignore.

 

But we observe with a considerable degree of worry that large numbers of our working classes even now struggle to make ends meet for themselves and for their families. That tens of thousands of men and women have found opportunities to ensure square meals for themselves through employment in the ready-made garments sector is a truth we cannot ignore. That our GDP growth has gone up is a reality we deeply appreciate. That we have become a lower middle income country and are today aiming for even higher goals is an unassailable truth. Despite all this, we know that much more needs to be done to give our people stability in life. When a child cannot go to school because he needs to work in order to assist his family get two square meals a day, we know there is still a very long road this child must cover if he and his family are to survive.

 

All of us — politicians, academics, journalists, citizens across the board — need to sit back and take stock of existing realities and future possibilities. Progress is ultimately dependent on the degree to which the political leadership can bring enlightenment to bear on its policies and goals.

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