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Abul Kashem

The Fiery Force

Student Politics and the Making of Bangladesh

Published : Saturday, 19 November, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 202
Reviewed by Sujayendra Das

The Fiery Force

The Fiery Force

Revealing Anecdotes about Student Politics... Student politics has its deep impact all around the globe. It began during the Vietnam War of the year 1962. In the early sixties, student politics germinated on a smaller scale. It was in the year 1965 when student politics found its sailing point at a broader scale with 250 students staging protest-an Anti-Vietnam War demonstration-outside the American Embassy at Edinburg. It also ignited the Anti-Vietnam War protest at Grosvenor Square at London.
Student politics has its impact deeply entrenched in and around the South Asian Subcontinent. In this regard, very recently, I was fortunate to glance over a scintillating book titled "The Fiery Force, Student Politics and the Making of Bangladesh" by Professor Abul Kashem, a reputed historian of Bangladesh and as that of the subcontinent. The book is well prepared to serve the needs of students who are involved in politics as well as that of political sciences.

Content of the book
The book covers the period from the year 1930 till date. Undivided India achieved Independence in the year 1947 on August 14 which marked the bifurcation of the country into two nations-India and Pakistan. The Pakistan, which consisted of two parts-West Pakistan and East Pakistan, transformed into two independent parts-Peoples Republic of Bangladesh and Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1971. Despite all the transformations these parts of the subcontinent have seen, student politics has not lost its sting; rather, it gained firm ground with the passage of time due to numerous economic and socio-political events.
Professor Kashem, through his long discourses on student politics, delved upon economic, social, and political history of Bangladesh which will no doubt develop insight upon student politics of the nation as well as of neighbouring India. Mass movement in the then East Pakistan began in the years 1948 to 1958 and subsequently developed the Mass Uprising Movement of the year 1969. In between-from the year 1930 to 1960 will always be regarded as watershed in the field of student politics.

What is student politics?
Student politics referred to as such 'that indicates student activism or campus activism of students to cause political, environmental, economic or social changes in any academic institution of the globe.' In the same manner, student politics in modern Bangladesh stands of as paramount importance. Nowadays student movement does not seem to be of a proactive pattern; rather, it is turning more as a virulent type. They are prone to be driven by philosophy of certain individuals or biased political views, rather than what the mass demands. But will the students not turn out to be more proactive? Yes, in order to do so, there should be proper teamwork to steer student politics to dizzy heights. It is not an easy task to accomplish. However, the hands involved need to be more proactive and action oriented to achieve the objectives of a movement.
Ayub Khan's terrorizing rule to dismantle student's politics
It was before the independence of Bangladesh when Ayub Khan, chief martial law administrator of West Pakistan, tried from all quarters to dismantle student politics to keep them under utter tenterhooks. His mission was not to allow Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to move closer towards India which was finally thwarted out on the instigations of India during those periods of time. Ultimately, Bangladesh achieved much desired independence with the sacrifice of a terrifying number of dedicated Bengalis, thereby spearheading development of student politics.

Ways to upgrade student politics in Bangladesh and India
Professor Kashem, through his in-depth discourses in this book, has stated contributions of outstanding student leaders from Bangladesh and India like Shah Moazzem Hossain, A.S.M Abdur Rab, Somenath Lahiri, Gopal Sen, Bijan Bose, and various other luminaries. The author evidently suggests some actions could be adopted to upgrade student politics, among which some of the common ones are stated as follow:
-Communal ire should be stopped.
-There should be commonalty among all student leaders of each party.
-The act of vengeance and belligerence should be stopped forever and there should be unity among all.
-Whenever there is malpractice due to lack of governance, students should raise their views in such a manner that there should be total cohesion among them.
-Proper planning is required by the students before their movements to press forward their demands to the government.
The author, before beginning these discourses, emphasized upon banning on anti-imperialist forces and also the strengthening of secular forces so as to accelerate the momentum of student politics to new horizon. This will be beneficial for proper governance of the nation as well as for social and economic development.
The reviewer is a senior writer of Kolkata, India

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