Winners in struggles in life

Alamgir Khan
Thursday, November 23rd, 2017


Ruma Akter, once a poor girl, now makes and sells houses to people who need these. This is a good business in certain villages in the district of Munshiganj. Ms Ruma turned her sorry fate to success by starting this business. Taifur Rahman Raju in Pabna in his childhood used to write on pages of used exercise books of students whom his mother taught. Now he runs a stationary shop and a computer training centre and nurtures a dream of setting up a ballpoint pen industry and a hardboard factory in the future. As a recognition of their achievement, Ms Ruma and Mr Raju were honoured as the best women micro-entrepreneur and runner-up in the category of the best youth micro-entrepreneur, respectively, in Dhaka in this year’s CITI Micro entrepreneurship Awards ceremony. Manzur Shams’ stories on them are included in the book Jibon Songrame Joee Jara.


Besides stories about Ruma and Raju, Jibon Songrame Joee Jara (Those who won in struggles in life) tells stories of other hard-working village men and women who snatched victories from the jaws of economic deprivation. These people are micro-entrepreneurs who are providing the country with the economic backbone through their productive activities some of which are their own innovations. It is greatly astonishing to know in how many productive ways people in remote corners of the country are earning their living that can beat even some economist’s assumption and imagination. Traditional university education can hardly go as far in achievement as the innovative thinking of some strong-willed people in rural Bangladesh.


This 48-page book, published in October 2017, is a compilation of 14 write-ups on real heroes who did not bow before misfortune or the curse of illiteracy or poverty and have had economic successes in the face of numerous obstacles. Almost all of these stories were first printed in the Shikkhalok, an education bulletin published by CDIP (Centre for Development Innovation and Practices), a development organization in the country. A clear picture of the indomitable will and power of people to overcome their troubles emerges in this publication that should be inspiring to many interested in the development aspects of the country.


There are stories about people who are engaged in making muri (puffed rice), kites, toys for children, bamboo handcrafts, mats of mustak leaves (shitalpati), mousetraps, etc. People with hardly any formal education have started horticulture business, mini garment factories, small dairy farms, etc. Lack of capital and connection could not stop them on their blazing track of success. What they lacked, they compensated with their innovation, planning, courage and intelligence.


Two write-ups by A. K. Fazlul Bari, former Director of BARD (Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development, Comilla), are especially important for the depth of analysis and observations about the development initiatives in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in the country for decades. The author’s experience of working with a Japanese team in Comilla in the 1960s in modernising our agricultural activities is nicely described in one of his essays. The book starts with his thoughts on development in the rural non-agricultural sector in the perspective of a discussion on Sukumar Das’s life of making and selling cane and bamboo handicrafts in Rishipara in Jessore.


Mr Bari has raised a serious question about the approach of our development authorities. Their biased approach has played a big role in making the current development inequitable and not so sustainable. Not all the communities in the country have got development benefits equitably, which requires due attention nowadays and a new, balanced approach to development is a must.


Sukumar Das and people like him are not heroes in the struggles in their lives, but are still engaged in a hard battle for their betterment. The stories, therefore, are not only about those who have won in their fight for survival, but also about those who have been in the fight to date and are still away from victory. The question is how to help them win in life.

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