The political economy of Goom

Afsan Chowdhury
Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
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The appearance and disappearance of Aniruddha Roy was mysterious and his reappearance was mysterious too. But that’s okay, it doesn’t matter as everyone is very relieved that he is back. While many doubt his explanations, there is hope therefore that many others who have disappeared will return as well.


Thanks also to the organizations which had put a lot of pressure on the government to ensure his freedom. As Aniruddha has himself said, it was his business rival who had masterminded the goom and had done much to cause him harm. He managed to give him the slip though that tale has not been fully told yet. But these are minor details and we are all happy that he is back with his business, family and diplomacy.


In a culture like ours, created by a type of socio-economic transactions that are fairly anarchic, meaning not systemic or bound by rules, the term goom has many meanings. Our Inspector General of Police was very right when he said that gooms had always been there and we believe may well be there for the next few decades. What will happen after that, one is not sure. But let’s just hope that we as an entire people do not experience goom.


Sudden and unaccountable disappearances have been regularly noticed in our life for long. This is particularly so in the case of our economy. If one remembers, we had a share market crisis in the mid 1990s which ruined many, both good and bad souls.  The first to go goom was all the money invested in the market and it never returned like Aniruddha did. That was a serious and large scale, not to mention high quality, goom. Since the money was never returned, we could call it a permanent goom.


However, it was not the money that went goom but the court cases as well against the alleged manipulators. So, though the manipulators roamed free and made more money and even repeated the miracle 15 years later, the cases didn’t return. However, just to prove that not all gooms are created equal, the cases did peep out once.  We saw that after 20 years they surfaced once this year. There was excitement in the air but then it was re-goomed to prove that many gooms once done can’t be undone.  Not all disappeared re-appear.


Bank Goom


But there are some other goom examples which are more in(visible). Take, for example, bank loans which are given out on the assumption that they will be returned. But the problem is that in most cases, it’s not a loan but a goom. So loan goom is a new concept which is not described fully as such as yet but is a new form of goom which has been around for long. It’s not a banking problem at all but a cultural problem which has been with us for a very long time. Therefore we can’t solve the problem by fixing rules and better supervision but hope that these self induced gooms find it proper to return by themselves and save the economy. The transition of goom from a police issue to an economic issue to a cultural one is a major development in the history of goom.


Money laundering is another form of goom. The laundered money has been goomed abroad and therefore can’t be tracked or found, let alone retrieved. Hallmarks scandal, Bangladesh Bank heist and the rest of the lot aren’t economic crimes but part of the goom phenomenon and have been with us since it all began.


If goom is so deeply embedded in us and if from the way we reacted has the endorsement of the system, formal and informal, why should we worry about the individuals who go missing every now and then? If Aniruddha has returned, many have not. But we wait for Dr. Mubasshar Hasan to return, hoping he will do another return and return safely to his family.


The point is the disappearance/goom of billions from our banks is no different from that of the individuals. What is common is goom, which applies to every aspect of our life. Some apply to banks, some to human bodies; but the principles that operate behind all gooms are the same. There can’t be any confusion about that.


In the end, there is a sense of continuity in it all, which is that what has a long history in our life becomes a history of its own. If it gooms our history, as it often seems, should we be surprised by any goom anymore?

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