A weekly pot pouri on urban life by Ershad Khandker
This month is a veritable hotbed of fodder for a writer specialising in writing on vignette of the city dweller. Eid nears to the beat of people licking their chops quite literally in their quest for spending money for this yearly celebration. This is natural because Eid is part of our religious and social make-up. Most cultures have their big day for celebrating togetherness from the religious and social point of view. Eid comes to the Islamic World. Consumers start spending, in fact , we have a whole new meaning to the term consumerism as people of all shapes and sizes get in the act of spending money. Children lasso their father and drag them to shopping centers, elders expect their yearly honorium as middle aged people pay respect to their elders by buying gifts - you buy things for your parents, the Jamai buys for the Shoshur. Dulabhai buys for the favourite Shalika and in the spirit of the season may even try to help the shalika to put on the dresser some such thing, all in the cause of social harmony! The market place becomes the centre of the economy and that is good for the economy. Higher consumer spending suggests that there is money to be spent, and that the economy has some sort of health as consumers feel the confidence to spend a little, which is more than not spending at all. Retailers are the vanguard of economic activity. They will take the money being given to them by consumers to channel it down the line to other traders who are smaller in size. With this money coming down to them, small business will make bigger plans. The aim is for the businessmen to think big. Consumers spend money to buy things. This money is the capital with which the retailers and other businessmen are expected to generate more business by branching to other fields and opening new businesses. Banks become more eager to lend money against the savings made from earning from Eid collection. There fore, Eid makes the economy become more vibrant. This is a solace for the suffering head of the family who tried and failed in the quest of saving some portion of the Eid bonus! He or she should know that money spent is not in vain! The members of the family would now have a more meaningful line to convince the head of the family to spend even more. After all, the more you spend the more business activity is generated.
What sort of benefit does the government make from all this? Does the Eid celebration mean a bigger payday for the government in the shape of higher tax revenue or more duty at the airport or more vat? Maybe. However, Eid does put light and excuse the pun, on the lack of power generation in Bangladesh The government has tried to restrain the bigger shopping malls from arranging lighting display. Shopping mall owners have responded by and large. In Chittagong, PDB officials took down the lights and destroyed them. This makes one wonder about the lawfulness of the act of taking things on ones own hand. Do we expect the government officials to act in arbitrary ways, destroying things and making people squat and do sit-ups while holding their years? Is this permitted by the law? Some might say that this fall under the category of community policing and law enforces should have the right to teach a lesson to the casual offenders. However, there is a strong chance that the offender would have his spirit broken and the humiliation would rant him for the rest of his life. In fact, there are times when such acts of humiliation are splashed all over newspapers. One can only imagine the feeling of shame going through the mind of the person whose picture finds its way to the national media. Some would say that, the humiliation would do the sufferer some good and lesson would have been learnt while others would argue that the punishment itself was enough why put his humiliation on national display?
Your writer things that the cameraman and newspaper authorities should exercise some restraint and not publish picture that humiliates someone in a big way.
Debates about food has now become a tasty thing for those who like to talk about matters that are going on. There are expatriates writing letters with their own opinion. Most would agree that the drive to clean up restaurateurs is a good thing. The wider issue would call for some more analysis and steps to be taken like making this drive linked to permanent solutions in the different points where supply and preparation of food takes place. The individual on the other hand could take matters on his or her own hand and not in the way described above! We can exercise judgment and eat good and healthy. We are sometimes forced to it outside and eat cheap. We can learn from holy Ramazan that one does not die from eating less. If you become careful and eat fruits and biscuits and cucumber etc. all the risk of eating out in roadside restaurants would be over. Eat less and eat healthy and when you can, even try fasting from time to time. Your writer for one would start on this new policy from now on!