During last years of Ershad, there was a tide of road building projects throughout Dhaka. ‘Bijoy Swaronee”, “Pantha Path” and “Malibagh Biswa Road’. Beautifully paved road, walled out from the neighborhoods by ceramic/grill walls. There was bougainvillea blossoming on still grilled structures in short intervals. They all really looked like parkways and malls rather than a 3 rd world country road.
Soon after Ershad fall, all the beautification vanished. Pantha path pavments and Biswa road footpaths turned into slums, and fish markets. Those bougainvilleas all are gone. The still frames for bougainvilleas turned into structures holding the shanties. Middle class people resented democracy and thought Ershad was better off.
Over the next 15 years “Pantha Path” slums disappeared, most people in those shanties moved to better housing farther from the pavements as they could afford better places. Thanks to the construction boom on pantha path.
Some got job in garments factories around and moved to a better home. But some shanties on ‘Biswa Road’ remained throughout last 15 years. The inhabitants are still struggling and hoping for a construction boom along the biswa road where they will get jobs. (This may be coming soon). As Ershad was gone, the people living in those slums were protected by two people. One bad and one good. Mirza Abbas and Saber Hossain Chowdhury. They are the elected representatives from this area. They protected them because these slum dwellers are voters too.
In fact not person Mirza Abbas or Saber Chowdhury protected them to stay in the road side slum and struggle for a better life and eventually move on. It was democracy which protected them from being made homeless.
What temporary measure we have now is a big relief for most of the nation. I have revived my cancelled trip to Dhaka. Weddings, picnics go on as planned. Factories are open round the clock. Economy grows. These all are true.
But as democracy failed, the basic principle of democracy, i.e. voice of every single one in the society is inactivated now. So the poor minority is again homeless in the cold winter. Thousands of street vendors are suddenly robbed of their means of living.
I failed to talk to my parents last several days. Raids on VoIP have taken down many VoIP businesses. Suddenly I feel disconnected. What was the reasoning?
Can T&T give us as cheap and extensive service as these young innovative entrepreneurs were giving us? Why demolish it without making an alternate way to call to and from abroad? Rather than destroying a much needed service industry couldn’t we simply bring them under tax revenue coverage?
Reasoning is a by product of democracy. We lose that with demise of democracy.
Until recently India usually did not try to hide it’s street slums by demolishing them. Rather a democratic India cleaned itself inside out and now in upcoming Indian cities, you won’t necessarily see much of a slum. They are vanishing rapidly. Not by bulldozers, but by slow steady economic democracy.
In our Bangladesh, we need a democracy that will also ensure the right for a shelter of the poor. Until very recently we had this assurance.