By Dr. Sinha M. A. Sayeed
As published in the Dhakacourier on May 2, 2013 http://www.dhakacourier.com.bd/?p=11418&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&ut... , and in The New Nation under the title "Poor politics promote sycophancy" on May 14, 2013 http://thenewnationbd.com/newsdetails.aspx?newsid=73802
There is no denying the fact that the state of politics and statecraft under all the circumstances mostly plays dominant role for the growth and development of political scientists in any environment. Models, formulas and theories grow and develop more quickly and befittingly in an atmosphere of crises and complexities and it is on record in political history and political science that nearly all the leading political thinkers, political philosophers and political scientists are the products of the respective time, space and dimension. Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Laski, John Stuart Mills, in the past and G.W.Chowdhury, AC Kapoor, JP Suda, Arun Agrawal, Baldev Raj Nayar, Pradip Basu, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Shireen Mazan, Javed Hashmi, Zaid Hamid, Dr. Rounaque Jahan, Dr. Ataur Rahman, Dr. Dilara Chowdhury in this subcontinent within the compass of last sixty years and so on bear such testimonies pointedly. Therefore, if there arises a phenomena that depicts such reality in a reverse manner telling us in a sense of desperation that even in the most doable political landscape political scientists there could not prove their excellence to the growth and development of models, formulas and theories then it is not only unfortunate but also a kind of unfairness to the discipline concerned. But as ill luck would have it, Bangladesh in this regard as a whole conceivably tops the list.
Our political scientists in particular Bangladesh Political Science Association (BPSA), which is almost dead, may put forward many a reason, convincing or not, for lagging behind. Or they may feel free to voice on a high volume that they have advanced a lot but their contributions are not being weighed properly by the critics. Or there may be a compromise route to say that they are within the limitations therein doing their best in various forms and manners in the context of time, space and dimension. Whatever the responses might be, truth is that the nation is not markedly aware of their overall contributions to the areas they are dealing with. Why does it happen when there are lots of possibilities, opportunities and realities? These entire better be taken into account as follows:
a. Today everything is divided into diametrically opposed camps under the leadership of the petticoat leaders Sheikh Hasina, currently the Prime Minister, and Begum Khaleda Zia, now the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, of the two leading petticoat political parties Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Our political scientists and Bangladesh Political Science Association, like all other professionals, associations, bodies and organisations, are not as well immune from such inevitable blasts and consequently the nation is beset and upset with pro-AL and Pro-BNP political scientists;
b. What Sheikh Hasina utters, says and adheres that is/are final for AL and all others within this fold while in case of Khaleda Zia the same is/are the practice for BNP. Political scientists, present and/or budding, are not applying their scholarly knowledge, experiences and efficiencies to look into the issues and problems in politics and statecraft and thus pile and store accumulated resources to advise relevantly to the persons entailing decision-makers and policy-makers as friend, guide and philosopher. Competing or to say more aggressively beating and outsmarting other disciplines, brain mortgage, brain tender, brain sales and purchases in the sense of using one’s knowledge and expertise are on in full swing in the domain of political scientists as if ‘sophism’ of ancient Athens has reappeared with all its vices and ills.
c. One of the basic foundations of any discipline in social sciences is research (es), which is now on decrease in Bangladesh. As a result, the numbers of political scientists proper are getting reduced gradually. Today, prospective political scientists are making move consciously towards becoming political analysts, political observers etc just to earn money and short-lasting name and fame. More painstaking is that in many cases they are doing all these either negligently or recklessly getting themselves aligned with the trends and currents of era. Photocopy-based approach to learning is indeed a threat to every discipline including politics and political science. Faring well in examinations and knowing the discipline profoundly are not the same but nowadays such line of demarcation is being blurred shamelessly;
d. Political scientists in the folds of these two camps either do not dare to advise the concerned policy and decision makers to go beyond the respective party line approaches and strategies if such advice is needed for the interests of country or they feel free both opportunistically and strategically not to think otherwise and thus continue safely being with the respective folds; and
e. Political gains for pro-ruling party/alliance political scientists in the form of portfolio and other privileges in different offices and bodies in the government have nakedly grasped them by and large and the same are coveted for pro-opposition political scientists if such party/alliance is voted to power;
There were sycophancies and appeasements in the past. We wonder how Machiavelli won over the mind of the Prince by writing the book ‘Prince’ (The descriptions within The Prince have the general theme of accepting that the aims of princes—such as glory and survival—can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends), how Hobbes convinced Charles 11 to save himself from the anticipated wrath by writing the book ‘Leviathans’, how poet Hakīm Abul-Qāsim Ferdowsī Tulsi (most commonly known as Ferdowsi) entered into the very bosom of the mind of the Sultan Mahmud of Gazni by producing ‘Shahanameh’ (The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the Arab invasion of Persia in the seventh century. After the fall of the Samanids, he dedicated his work to the new ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni, who was also a great patron of Persian arts and literature. The Shahnameh chronicles the legendary history of the pre-Islamic kings of Iran from Keyumars to Yazdegerd III Ferdowsi spent over three decades (from 977 to 1010) working on the Shahnameh, which became one of the most influential works of Persian literature).
All these creations crossed the four walls of mere sycophancies and appeasements by virtue of their profundity of visions, missions, thoughts, styles and techniques of presentations. They made their presence long lasting and appealing in the respective disciplines.
But our political scientists are not even tactful, diplomatic and visionary in advising, saying and writing. That’s why, since the day of independence till the date not a single political scientist has been able to make his/her presence meaningful and durable by devising formula, model or theory to resolve crises related to politics and statecraft, although Bangladesh is a land for such possibilities, opportunities and realities. Rather various think-tanks, bodies, organisations having diverse shades, opinions and backgrounds showed and are still showing their excellence at the call of time, space and dimension. Let our political scientists take vow to get rid of such stagnation of political philosophy and theory. Let them come forward to set examples that in the land of 160 million people with only nearly 55000 square miles, there remain also enough scopes to devise so many models and theories in political science and politics that shall be befitting under the similar circumstances in other states on earth.
[Dr. Sinha M. A. Sayeed, Chairman of Leadership Studies Foundation, and columnist, at firstname.lastname@example.org]
For more article of Dr. Sinha M. A. Sayeed on the very issue of mixing and overlapping of secularism and non-secularism(Islam) in the Bangladesh context, see...