Farooque Chowdhury

Public Universities in Bangladesh: Is it a “donkey”?

May 14, 2012

education-DU CampusMr. Afsan Chowdhury deserves thanks for his article “Public universities in Bangladesh: Asking a donkey to give cow’s milk” in bdnews24.com on May 6, 2012 through which he raises an important issue of public interest. Mr. Chowdhury has not relinquished his professional responsibility.  It is praiseworthy.

Referring to an incident in Jahangirnagar University Mr. Afsan Chowdhury said: It reflects a deeper reality. I agree: reflection of a reality. What’s that reality?

I failed to refrain myself from raising a number of questions after going through the article. To make it easy I have put my question/comment after quoting Mr. Chowdhury.

Mr. Chowdhury said in the article (henceforth only within quotation marks): “The Jahangirnagar University situation is a good reminder of how amazing the situation has become in the public universities.”

My question is: Does the one represent the whole? Should not a scientific approach be followed? Will it be logical to infer on all the public universities on the basis of one university and on the basis of one incident in that university? The approach is illogical. It is not based on science. With this approach – draw a conclusion on the basis of a single example – a lot of wrong conclusions will arrive. The approach makes a good sound but logically it is not sound.  

“Anyone asked about the great achievement of Dhaka University always mentions its role in the 1952 Language Movement, the 1969 anti-Ayub agitation, the 1971 war, the anti-Ershad movement of the 1990s, the anti-ML agitation of 2008, etc.”

Is not imbibing learners with patriotism and sense of democracy a great achievement of any educational institution? How many educational institutions are there in the world of which so many learners have made supreme sacrifice for their country, for their people for so many times? It’s not only the learners; there are teachers also, many in number. I wonder: how so many students from Dhaka University make supreme sacrifice, face persecution for the cause of the country, for the cause of the people?

I was searching the reason behind suddenly singling out Dhaka University in this article while the reference point was Jahangirnagar University. I failed to understand the sudden jump! From Jahangirnagar to Dhaka while the claimed focus is on the public universities in Bangladesh. The article comments on the public universities in Bangladesh although it refers to none other than the Dhaka University. Isn’t it a strange approach to an “amazing … situation?

“These are great political moments of our life but none are intellectual milestones.”

Is not participation in democratic movement, in the war of liberation reflection of a higher level of intellectual capacity? Have not any of the teachers of our public universities succeeded in making intellectual milestone anywhere in this world? Can we brush aside the intellectual contributions teachers of and learners from the public universities have made/are making in different areas till today? I refrain from naming names of those respected teachers from the public universities and of the students these universities have produced, who have contributed/are contributing in different areas of knowledge, in social and natural sciences, and in public life in our country and in other countries. Should we ignore them? Please, try to recollect the names of a number of teachers of Bangla and English literature, of history, of mathematics, physics, fine arts, statistics, economics, nuclear agriculture, medical science, agronomy, civil engineering, drama, electrical engineering, political science, nanotechnology, education science, crop seed, journalism, and many similar areas in different public universities in Bangladesh. Yes, many of them are unsung, the unsung heroes under the spell of silence. They don’t have that time to sell their names. They are also ignorant of that art. They are incapable of making tricky jumps and illogical sounds.

“The intellectual tradition and the public education system do not co-exist.”

You have made a major shift, Mr. Chowdhury. You have shifted from public universities to the area of public education system (PES), a much bigger area owned by public. The PES comprises of public universities and more. I am not going into detail as you know this. I’m skipping this question as the focus – public university- will be lost in this article.
“The public university system has not produced any great thinker in the last half century and as trends go will not do so in the next either.”

Is it factual? Should we brush aside all the brilliant teachers of the public universities: DU, JU, BAU, CU, RU, BUET, SUET, BSMMU and others? There is a public university being run by teachers from the defense forces. There is no vandalism, no sort of VC-problem. I’m not ignoring the rest, just trying to shorten the list. I know, you understand that “public universities in Bangladesh” is a wide area. You have again raised the issue of “system” instead “universities”. University system is broader than university/ies. I’m not entering into the “system” now.

Great thinkers are not produced in machine; so, they are not produced in each century or within each half a century. It’s historical period, it’s society, certain conditions in society, and to be specific, certain contradictions in society that produce great thinkers. In the case of great thinkers, the time span is irregular, not regular. Sometimes, within a span of a few years many great minds come and sometimes, century or centuries go dry. Great thinkers are not produced by public universities only.

I fail to understand the reason behind putting the burden of producing great thinkers on public universities, not on economy, not on society. And, I fail to understand the way you are defining great thinkers. Can a teacher working on arsenic or on earthquake or on flood or on issues of development, and on many similar issues, working in BINA, ISRT, IER, RTC, and similar institutes and departments of public universities be ignored as we are not aware of their work although their intellectual labor is being used in our country, and, what we understand easily, in foreign countries? We are not aware of their sweat, their pain, their hard labor that they are putting silently, the obstacles they are facing while pursuing their researches. I am making a comparison, which is a shame and stupidity for me, but I find no other way. Have we made any comparative study of the media coverage of tantalizing models and research activities being carried out in laboratories in public universities? (I apologize to the teachers for putting forth such a crude, illogical comparison. I hope, they will consider my ignorance.) How many media reports on state of public university laboratories do we find?

I don’t know the basis of your prediction on next 50 years. But, I must recognize, you are a great thinker as you can foresee. Are not you a production of a public university? How can I ignore your work with the most glorious part of our history, our War of Liberation?

“The universities are not expected to produce scholars because it serves no purpose to anyone including the teachers but political activists which serves everyone and that’s where most of the focus of the universities are.”

Pardon my inability to understand this statement that sounds ambiguous to me, Mr. Chowdhury. Is it a satirical statement?

Political activists don’t serve everyone; they serve respective politics and interests with those politics, you can name it “someone”. What’s the problem? That’s their honest deliberation. One should scrutinize the interest they serve, evaluate the interests they uphold. And, most of the focus of the universities is not those activities. Please, have a comparison: the number of classes, exams, tutorials, term papers, MPhil and PhD theses, seminars, and the number of learners participating in/producing these, the number of students using public university libraries daily and the number of student activism and activists, if all student activism is, for the sake of debate, considered bad and out of academic life. The same is regarding teacher activism and universities having problem. Environment of public universities would have been different if most of the focus were activism, if the numbers of all sorts overwhelmed academic activities. A democratic activism with overwhelming participation of teachers and students would have swayed away a lot of problems, of teachers, of learners, and an anarchic one, a stalemate. But none of the two is there.

“But when were public universities any different? The greatest tradition the universities have are political in nature, not academic ones. Nobody ever says that the great achievements of Dhaka University are related to education or intellectual greatness. In fact, this University has had its glory days largely before 1947 and maybe one or two winks before 1971 but not many later.”

I’m skipping this as I have already attended to a similar statement. I’ll just mention that there are many universities in many countries, I’ll not identify those as whether public or private, that have not produced a single instance of scholarship over a long span of time than the time you are referring to regarding Dhaka University. Virtual owners of those institutions have not brushed away those. I’ll again mention that you are referring to Dhaka University only while you raised the issue of public universities in Bangladesh. And, I like to bring to your notice that great achievements in education and intellectual greatness don’t follow a mechanical time span.

“It is not fair to ask a donkey to give cow’s milk.”

I understand the intensity of your frustration, which has led you to use such a symbol – donkey. And, the frustration comes out of deep love and high expectation. The symbol – donkey – you used to express the state of public universities in Bangladesh is reflection of your love for this institution. I respect your feeling. But, is the symbol proper? Fair? Befitting? Dignified? Should beasts be used as symbol for educational institutions? Even, if one likes to use beast as symbol, which should not be entertained, why not use a lion, a sleeping lion? A tiger, which is brave and symbolizes strength? A bird, which sings sweet songs? Would not it have been befitting if the symbol of a garden that requires more attention or a stream that flows and flows, that enriches lands and helps life around, but that may sometimes needs much care was used? After all, you know it better than me that use of symbol reflects state of mind and taste. The same is with the symbol of cow. Long ago, an economist defined cow as factory – it produces fertilizer. Cow is for milk and for plough. University is not a factory; it’s a world of knowledge, a temple for learning, a galaxy of creativity. None, not even you, expects milk from it. University flowers with knowledge. And, to have flowers, its fragrance, to have beauty of knowledge it should be loved, nourished, taken care of; an environment of creativity should be created.

How much do we provide to this institution? Have we checked the amount of money allocated for research in these universities? The amount money for scholarship? Ittefaq, the old Dhaka Bangla daily carried out a report on the current amount of money for a lot of scholarships for students of Dhaka University. The amount of money available are not only amazing, but painful also.

Have we checked the condition of laboratories in the public universities? Have we compared facilities in the public university libraries with some other libraries in our capital city?

Have we ever tried to know the condition of the teachers? I’ll request you to have a close look. I find no other sober way of expression other than making this request as comparing a teacher with some other insignificant employee of MNCs will be a sheer stupidity from my end.

We, you and me, as dwellers in this city, have not missed the transport system the public university students are provided with. We can have a look in their dorms and the food they can have in the dining halls of these dorms. Have level of nutrition the students can collect from this food been ever calculated?
“But excuse me, which VC has behaved differently in any public university?”

All the Vice-Chancellors? None? Shall it be a fair judgment? Will it be logical to make a blanket case? There are/were many VCs you will find having excellent academic and research performance and a good record of management. Often in a hurry we miss some points.

“Obviously the VCs reflect prevailing political cultures and that is hardly in any way different from the ones the VCs practice.”

Don’t all of us broadly reflect the same? As a member of society how can a VC escape prevailing political culture? As part of an institution, almost at the top, how the person can? In that case, we should look at the economy, the society that produces this political culture.

“They [VCs] are there because they are political activists and that’s how the activists behave.”

Who’s not a political activist? All of us turn political activists at different levels, at different occasions, to different extent. Isn’t it? We should define a political activist. In any society, institutions are political and persons involved with these are political activists/leaders.

“Nobody has ever asked that the VCs think clearly and if they did they may not have wanted to become the VC in the first place.”

None of the VCs “think clearly”? Do all of them think in clumsy way? “Dumb”? Then, how did they carry out their academic activities before they assumed the post of VCs? Then, how did the Chancellor appoint them? Is the system so mindless?

“The point is the universities are a place for politics and how are politicians in Bangladesh expected to behave?”

Which institution is not a place for politics? Educational institutions are also, since their inception in society. Even the books we read are not free from politics, if not of a particular political party, but of a class, but politics is there.

“It is enough that they don’t fight amongst each other for the job like the way two factions of students’ activists of the same party slug it out in attempts to gain control of the campus.”

Yes, you are correct. They don’t fight, and they do fight. They fight on ideological, philosophical issues. At times political also. Sometimes, I should not miss, it’s over some narrow or immediate cause/interest. Don’t we? Who not? The problem is with the extent and form of fight. That has to be defined. But, defining that is a difficult task. It can’t be done be ordains. This, in short, depends upon condition and factors, and even, extent of other fights.
“We are often disappointed with our universities because we expect them to deliver education but if we look upon their actual purpose we won’t feel so bad.”

I failed to understand this statement.

“Since 1947, the universities have been used to gain political advantage.”

I hope, you will allow me to make a minor correction: it’s not since 1947; it’s since universities, educational institutions have been organized in society, and it’s not only in our country, it’s in all countries. I like to cite just one crude example that you know: The motive of the shahibs, our colonial masters, behind setting up the Dhaka University. It was, you are aware of the number of years, long before 1947. Gaining political advantage from universities is a fundamental issue that none can escape and none should expect something else.

“Once it became clear that controlling politics meant controlling the campuses, every political party has gone after it.”

Doesn’t that actually happen with other institutions in society, in other countries? Shouldn’t political parties guide? What’s the problem with that guidance if the politics is nice? Doesn’t political parties guide in economic and social life? What’s the problem with every political party? Should that be done by a single political party? No, Mr. Chowdhury, that will be tyranny.

“Thus in the pre-1971 days, as students agitated against the Pakistani leadership of General Ayub Khan, the pro-Ayub Muslim League party floated the NSF( National Students Federation) which produced the kind of thuggery that we are familiar with and is the source of the great tradition.”

Another minor correction: It was even before the “famous” NSF. You are well aware of it as you worked with contemporary Bangladesh history. Tajuddin Ahmad, the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh, has described in his diary an incident of vandalism in student activism. There are names and number of a vehicle also. There were similar incidents in colonial days also. Leafing through the pages of history will bring those to our notice.

“Consequently, neither an intellectual environment nor any number of significant independent intellectuals has emerged out of the university system.”

Then, where from scores of intellectuals in the universities have come? Or, are not they intellectuals? How the teachers are working in all the universities, in the system, where an intellectual system has not emerged?

“No scholar is rewarded for academic excellence and whether it’s the university or the media, the focus is for political alliance not original thinking.”

Non-reward reality is the problem of the society, not of the public universities. Absence of “Original thinking”, if factual, is the problem of the society. “Original thinking” doesn’t crop up all the time. It’s not the problem of public universities. Should we overlook the fact of brain drain? Our public universities are losing a lot of original minds, brilliant teachers to seats of learning in other countries. I know you are well aware of this fact. After the fact, will it be fair to count or fathom “original thinking” in the public universities?

“So why should teachers think when you get much without doing so?”

How much do the teachers get? Do all the teachers get? Then, why not the society closes down the path to “get much” and why not broaden the path of “thinking”?

“Since 1971, this position has been strengthened till it’s taken for granted that university based party politics is the key to everything else.”

I failed to understand “university-based party politics”. Probably, you are indicating “party politics-based activities among a section in universities. Political parties in our country try to base their politics among the masses or within sections of broader society. What about trading-based and other section-based party politics?

“The public university education system doesn’t work because there is no effort to make it work.”

Can a single incident in JU lead to this conclusion? Then, shall not this question haunt other institutions?

“That happens because the principal cause which is gaining political advantage is achieved and the teachers are there to ensure that continuation.”

All the teachers?

“So they produce political factions — the White, Pink and Yellow groups — that fight a political partisan proxy war in the campuses.”

Are not there factions in other institutions? It may happen that color is visibly absent in those institutions. There are political factions, etc. in all types of universities in all countries. A keen look will take us to that fact.  Teachers involved with exercise of knowledge have strong opinion on a lot of issues in respective fields and factions thus emerge.

“Teachers are ensured of privileges if they belong to the right group at the right time and the identity of the teacher as a political activist is guaranteed and consequently no pressure to deliver either as a teacher or a scholar.”

Doesn’t that happen to others? Then, what’s the reason behind singling out teachers and singling out all the teachers of the public universities?

“The students spend time doing many things which have nothing to do with education like trying to remove the university VCs who look exactly like the one before. And the next one will look the same too. If Khaleda and Hasina look so much like each other, how can the political children look different?”

From public university teachers to national leaders? Should they be blamed for all these?
“Of course as an institution meant to produce scholarship and learning it is non-existent but as a political activist producing factory it is enormously successful and that too at a low cost.”

Then, shall you propose tomorrow to send the public universities to a place named non-existence or private capital? I don’t know reaction of a section of student activists’ with the future plan.

“For the moment let’s live with the fact that it is doing what it is supposed to do and rather well at that. So let’s celebrate what they have done.”

Then, I don’t know the reason behind formulating this article.

“As history shows the public university system as the prime delivery agent of higher learning ceased to exist many many years before.”

What’s the length of the history? Why the all encompassing approach to the entire public university system? You began dealing with a single university, then focused on another, and now you are pointing your finger to the entire system. Is there something in the bag for privatization of higher education? Is this a prologue to that one? But, have we considered the option open to the young learners from middle and low income families? What will happen to those unfortunate but brilliant students? Can we forget constitutional obligation: education?

“And so let’s not ask what can’t be delivered and focus on what it can do. Ask the donkey what it can do not what you think it should do.”

Is the “donkey” the public universities? I don’t know the way the public universities will react to the symbol, if that is. My humble proposition: please, change the symbol or the figure.

I do conclude here as my piece has turned a long one. I would like to state:

We should consider all the aspects before putting burden of blame or fault of failure on any public institution. Public institutions are public property, property of all the people. Every brick, all the grains of sands of all the public institutions are contributions of our people, our toiling masses. Its image, its honor are our honor. Teachers in the public universities are honest, dignified personalities. Yes, like all places on the earth, there are exceptions, errant behaviors. But that’s not the general pattern. Please, check with a number of our legislators and ministers and former ministers. A good number of them are from the public universities. They have substantial suggestions.

No institution can escape socioeconomic reality. The public universities are no exception. We should cast our eyes deep into problems, the fundamental causes.

I appreciate your pain. Thanks.

———————————
Farooque Chowdhury contributes on socioeconomic issues.

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44 Responses to “ Public Universities in Bangladesh: Is it a “donkey”? ”

  1. Nabil on May 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Special thanks to Farooque Chowdhury for analyzing Afsan Chowdhury’s writing. Though he raised a matter of great problem, I couldn’t catch his main words or summery may be.

    I agreed with the bad situation he mentioned. But saying donkey or cow roughly seemed to hurt me! I could smell something against politics too. And only academic excellences are needed-he said or it sounded like. But the analyzing from Farooque Chowdhury made me clear about some more things I didn’t notice.

    Though it may seem funny or annoying to some people to talk so critically about such a simple writing. But it is not only talking or expressing my opinion, it is more like thinking to myself!

    I am a student of a public university-but I never thought or couldn’t think or couldn’t feel anything about its brick or its honour as a public symbol. And it’s not only about our honour, it’s about knowing the main reason behind such problems as are coming through daily newspaper. I agreed at: we need to look deeper.(Farooque Chowdhury)

    We need to think as well as share the discussions and these 2 writings among our circles. We need to think on the basis of history and information. Whoever the writer (Afsan Chowdhury) is, right or wrong, we are in serious problem. Our honour is questioned, not by the writer, but by the situation we are in! Without questioning we are going down.

  2. Mustafa Kamal on May 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks to Farooque Chowdhury for his nice article on this issue. We expect many more articles on national issues from you.

  3. Ali Akbar on May 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I do not have words to express my appreciation for Farooque Chowdhury’s article.

    After reading Afsan’s article I was just thinking how lower the intellectual situation our country is in, and also I do not have words for him to reply as Afsan’s article is just rubbish. Neither has information, nor has logic. Just some expressions which goes direct to serve neon-liberal structure. And, right now, as the ideology dominate all over the world as well as our beloved Bangladesh, most of the literate person moves with his expression. Thought the article contains no information or logic, as I said before. I do not ever expect such article from a person like Afsan.

    Most of the comment I found here, they do not agree with FC. They express their disliking very boldly and rudely. I think most of them do not agree with Farooque Chowdhury cause they are produced by this system, their mind occupied by the ideology with the dominated no-liberalism. But what they do not understand that this frustrated situation produced by this no-liberal policy, including their rude expressions what I want to detect as fascism.

    Again many thanks to Farooque Chowdhury to protest such ideology. Please keep going on. We are here to protest neo-liberalism.

  4. Khawza on May 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Mr. Farooque Chowdhury: Where do our private universities stand in the global context? Do you know the ranking of Dhaka University (DU) and BUET? They are not even within top 100 Asian universities. So this is the fact. I am sure in the ranking criteria there is no place for the contributions for “democratic struggle”. If it were, DU might come within top 10! Our universities have become donkeys in that sense and we cannot expect cow’s milk from these. Hope you got Mr. Afsan’s point.

  5. syed Imtiaz Ali on May 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I don’t see where is the problem in identifying the SHORT COMINGS of our VC and other syndicate member selection process and the FREE FALL in the standard of our education yesterday and today. ALL our universities are seriously lagging behind in so many ways, academic in particular, compared to the regional ones.
    So, when we say about a handful, they are their OWN MAKING. Yes, indeed; not the products of any particular university in BD, like it or not.

    So, if we are sincere, we can see the forest, even if there are trees lined up in front of our ‘vision’. The more argumentative we are the more TIME is LOST!

    Good or poor projection, Afsan Chowdhury is right to express his FRUSTRATION with the public universities in BD. At least we have discussed and talked about ailments and solutions. Will the authorities please take a look this time around and make things SOBER, and academics oriented, and bring back the famed glory?

  6. Rukan on May 15, 2012 at 1:44 am

    If Ahmad Safa could write ‘Gavi Brittanto’ or Poet Al Mahmood could call the university areas ‘dakat der gram’ what’s wrong with Mr Afsan Chowdhury criticising public universities?

    The main aim of university is not to take part in public upheavals, mass up-rises or any such movements. The students of the US universities do not get involved in any national movement except for the Bill of Rights movement. The main aim of the university lies in intellectual pursuits, creation and dissemination of knowledge. A university’s excellence is not based on its historical past but on its leading position in research and its students’ role in the world theatre. Taken this into account we should evaluate the public or private universities in our country.

    Mr Farooque Chowdhury should look into how the VCs, Deans, even Proctors are appointed and new teachers recruited at the public universities. VCs are chosen from an obnoxious political race- the person running fast in the race would be the one fittest for the VC post. Deans are selected from the semi-finalists while the new teachers from people having such potentials. When this is the reality, the outburst of pent-up emotions from the thinking organism would always sound illogical when sometimes being illogical is more rational than logical.

    Mr Afsan Chowdhury has spoken about what the public universities in our country are, while Mr Farooque Chy about what the universities should be. The former is realistic, the latter is didactic and pedantic. The former is natural in his thesis, the latter is found struggling in his anti-thesis.

    I like this type of debate hoping a synthesis to come out.

    Thanks.

    • Aminul on May 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      STOP THIS!

      By any standard, Dhaka University (??) is NOT a university.

      I cannot speak about others and I am not even interested to talk about the private universities — sales centre of academic certificates, at best.

      DU cannot be called a university in its current position. No way, at least by its academic standards it is just luaghable. It was may be once upon a time. I have heard of this and but let me tell you that I am not interested to believe this myth any longer.

      • Ali on May 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm

        Will DU please have a reply to defend themselves under the circumstance and the comments made hereof?
        Although sounds a bit too harsh, but if anyone is sincere, one will surely ‘WEEP’ at the current state of affairs and the level of politicizing!
        We hope to read a ‘Defense statement’ from Dhaka University. Please enlighten the readers.

    • Ashraf Shaheen on May 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      To Rukan on May 15, 2012 at 1:44 am
      I am not ‘didactic’ but you better be a ‘pedantic’! Before jumping onto big words, you must dot your ‘i’ and cut your ‘t’ properly. Instead of showering all your intellect in a small comment like this, write something in plain English with right punctuation and right grammar!

  7. Iqbal Ahmed on May 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Mr. Farooque, brilliant piece indeed! This one is as fantastic as your other articles in the Daily New Age and Countercurrents.org. Please keep it up. We enjoy your articles which are informative, brilliant in logic and sound reasoning not mentioning your perfect and fantastic style of writing. I think you have irrefutable refuted Mr. Afsan’s logics (if you call them logic).

    To the bdnews24.com authority: please remove the comments which are obvious hate-speech and personal attacks to the author. I think you will uphold your ethics of comment moderation as you have done till today. These comments do not inflict any wounds upon the author but only makes it look foolhardy, arrogant and are a sore to responsible eyes.

    • Tahmid Khan on May 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      I don’t see why the comments, that criticize the write-up is seen as hate speech by Mr Iqbal Ahmed. Since it’s a public opinion section, just like Mr Farooque Chowdhury has a right to ‘fisk’ Afsan Chowdhury’s piece, the readers have similar right to express if they deem Farooque Chowdhury’s article lengthy and boring. Why would the moderator of bdnews24.com withdraw those comments? They allowed comments that criticized (in more raw and arrogant manner) Afsan Chowdury’s piece. Then why would Farooque Chowdhury’s article deserve anyspecial treatment?

  8. Iqbal Ahmed on May 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I think Mr. Farooque has raised a very brilliant point! I have found this article as sound, clear, logical and fantastic as his other articles published regularly in different international websites, e-zines and national dailies. Regular readers are well known to Mr. Farooque’s critical, logical and very informative articles not mentioning his brilliant style of writing.

    Afsan Chowdhury’s article, if you call it an article, made me pretty “pissed off”. The more I read it the more confused I got. I was not really sure what was his point. I will not comment on his style of writing as I think it is a personal attack to the author and a very bad and low-minded practise of beating around the bush.

    Public universities have always been a place of politics. That is true. And politics is the way to raise democratic demands and public university students and teachers have done just that. I see no problem in that. We are a democratic country and if student politics can raise its voice against oppressive forces I think we should avidly support them. What about some private universities where vandalisms and unrest broke out in the recent past. There have been a number of incidents like that. I see no articles from any ’scholars’ on those issues. I think Mr. Farooque have irrefutably refuted Mr. Afsan’s major points. As Mr. Farooque says, “No institution can escape socioeconomic reality. The public universities are no exception. We should cast our eyes deep into problems, the fundamental causes”.

    And to Mr. Farooque, please keep on writing and do not lose hope. Your pieces in Countercurrents.org and the Daily New Age, are really good readings and we expect more of those scholarly articles full of perfect reasoning, deep knowledge, information and sound decisions. Please do not be disheartened by what the above comments say. Remember the saying, “jackals howl at every hour, but the tiger’s growl makes them silent.”

    To the bdnews authority: Please remove those comments which are obvious personal attacks to the author. These comments do not reflect your ethics of comment moderation which you have upheld till today. These comments do not inflict any wounds upon the author but only makes you look odd, embarrassing and foolhardy.

  9. Mozharul Islam on May 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I agree with your argument. But what is the way out? And what is the alternative? Once cooperative bank was an important bank in Bangladesh now it is invisible or missing. On the other hand Grameen Bank, BRAC and other NGOs innovated micro-credit program to support poor people that somehow meet the need of cooperative banking. What is the future of higher education in Bangladesh? Who will meet future need of quality education?

  10. Fuad Hasan on May 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Mr. Farooque Chowdhury seems to be so much annoyed of Mr. Afsan Chowdhury ’s writing about the current problematic situation of the public universities of Bangladesh. It would be better if Mr. Farooque Chowdhury added something more in favour of Mr. Afsan Chowdhury’s opinion.

    I think Mr. Afsan’s opinion is reflecting millions of people of this country but Mr. Farooque is living in the dark or he is a one-eyed man (sorry to say).

    • Rakib Ahasan on May 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      I do not think so. Mr. Hasan could you please justify your opinion about the “reflection of millions of people”. And I do think, as you are “living in the light”…why don’t you put something in favour of your argument

      • Fuad Hasan on May 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        If you can differentiate between expectation and reality of the public universities of this country then I need not to clarify. If you are not able to then it would be nothing but “Cast pearls before swine”. Anyway, thank you.

  11. Tahmid Khan on May 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    No logic, no argument, no concrete point – just plain and simple blabbering. What a terrible read this piece was!

  12. GMA on May 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    What a boring piece of writing!

  13. delwar h on May 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Did Mr Farooque Chowdhury study in Dhaka University or any other public university of the country? If yes then Afsan Chowdhury doesn’t need to stress too much on his topic of poor produce of our public universities. One article by Mr Chowdhury proved it quite accurately. It was a torture reading Mr Farooque Chowdhury’s article.

    • Moinuddin on May 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      I think these type of comments exceed the limit of decency and should be recognized as personal attacks. The comments posted seem to be from one obvious source and have no reasonable arguments except personal attacks to the author. I think bdnews24.com, if they do believe in decency and reason, should not allow these type of comments. These are a public nuisance, the persons posting them are driven by obvious hate. I think bdnews.24 will uphold their professional ethics and delete these type of hate-speech comments.

      • Sonia Sharmin on May 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

        If you don’t have the stomach to digest criticism then please refrain from writing in public forums like this opinion page.

    • Hasan Jaman on May 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Mr. Delwar, I am very sorry to say that not capable enough to understand this type of article. You might know nothing about the policies adopted by the government and the WB to make dry and then kill our public institutions, including public universities.

  14. chowdhury shabab ahmed on May 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    The piece is full of grammatical errors, most of the sentences were grammatically incorrect which sounded like rambling of a very confused person. Did bdnews24.com use the piece unedited or were they trying to make a point?

  15. Ahmed on May 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    O the sheer torture of reading this ‘epic’! What was the writer’s point I still cannot understand.

  16. Shamsur Rahman on May 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I think this is one of the most awful write-ups I have read in this page! The writer’s English knowledge is terrible, writing skill/style pathetic and the arguments (if those blabbering can at all be called coherent thoughts) he made are laughable to say the least.

    I was pretty pissed off reading Afsan Chowdhury’s piece but I really couldn’t refute the points he made in there. When I saw this article, I thought finally someone has come up with one that will make Afsan Chowdhury’s arguments baseless. But I was so wrong!

    • Ashraf Shaheen on May 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      To Shamsur Rahman on May 14, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      “Pretty pissed off” (!). Don’t you think this is a ‘pretty rude’ word? Is this an appropriate word for intellectual conversations in Bangladesh? This would be considered rude in Britain.

      • Rashed Rahman on May 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

        This is not Britain, this is Bangladesh and this is a comments section not an editorial. Informal language actually is welcome here by the readers, excluding personal attacks of course.

  17. russel on May 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Mr. Farooque Chowdhury raised brilliant questions for Mr. Afsan Chowdhury. Now it’s time to see the set of replies from Afsan Chowdhury.

    Wow! It’s going to be a debate between Mr. Chowdhury vs. Mr. Chowdhury. :)

    • Helal Ahmed on May 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      Look to the future.
      Hope we don’t waste any more time on perceptions of past mistakes and glories.

  18. hossain on May 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Where did my reply vanish?

  19. hossain on May 14, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Good job, Farooque.

    Afsan needs to think a bit more in his next sermon of political wisdom.

  20. Shafiq on May 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    This article is a classic example of the saying, ‘missing the forest for the trees’. The writer was so focused on nitpicking every minutiae of Mr Afsan’s original article that while reading it, I expected criticism of grammar and syntax to start at every new paragraph.

    As far as I understood, Mr Afsan’s argument was fairly simple, rather than cradle of higher knowledge, our universities have become bastions of democracy. The political role of the public universities has become more prominent than the role of disseminating higher knowledge. Expecting learning excellence from the institutes that have become primarily political is illogical. He is not blaming the universities for this evolution, this happened with the participation and patron-ship of the whole country, except perhaps the guardians sending their children to these institutions with high hopes.

    This kind of line by line criticism of an opinion piece is called ‘Fisking’, from a style developed by criticizing pieces by Robert Fisk. No intelligent reader can be a fan of this kind of writing. If you pick every line out of context and exaggerate/distort its meaning, you can criticize anything. I bet one can ‘Fisk’ a graduate Physics textbook if one wanted to do that. If you want to criticize an article, write a coherent opinion piece, do not go after each and every piece of thought.

  21. Ezajur Rahman on May 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Very nice contextualising, mitigating, compensating and rationalising by Mr Farooque Chowdhury. It would seem that everything is understandable, exceptional and everybody else’s fault. One can imagine campus violence in some other public university and Farooque will be shocked and surprised! If attacking bad people means using the word donkey and upsetting the sensibilities of good people so be it. We are that desperate.

    Afsan highlighted the plight of our universities – I love the way he chose to do it. Farooque need not use his 3,500 plus words to defend good people. Perhaps he can discuss corruption, violence, extortion and murder in our universities? I suspect he would rather put into a global, socio economic context! It’s so much grander!

  22. abdullah al mamun on May 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Mr. Farooque Chowdhury, I got inspired to write after reading your article. You put positive mind to exist politics in public university. Fine, universities should practice politics. But, I think they should not practice party politics for their own interest rather the country’s interest should be at the top of the list. Party politics gives birth to vandalism in campus and consequently creates session jam. Though doing politics is a part of university activity, it is much more responsible to create new knowledge through education and research. So universities should practice politics in a way that don’t contradict each other. I think most of the university teachers these days are unethical and it is the main reason for session jam and unrest in campus.

    You have mentioned lack of budget for quality research. Pardon me, I think there is no budget problem. The problem lies with their urge to conduct a research! Because, it is easy to get research fund from donor organizations. An university should not always beg fund from the government, should it?

    You also mentioned about nutrition of student. Yes, nutrition status of university student is very pathetic. Who is responsible for this situation? Only lack of ethics of university teacher and politics! Do you think it is lack of budget? The government is spending huge amount of money for public university, but most of the times the university authority misuses the money. During budget allocation they never consider research, student welfare, they only think of how much more can be absorbed. I won’t be able to provide evidence, but I can the way to find out these unethical teachers.

    I would like to end by saying that our university is not run properly. And hence the quality of our universities is going down. Without creating a breeding ground of knowledge, a nation can’t survive. So as it seems, we are heading towards a disaster.

    See what’s going on in other countries? Mamata Banerjee has banned politics in university campus. There are things to learn from this.

    • Hasan Mahmud on May 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      To Abdullah Al Mamun,

      Nice comment and I appreciate this.

  23. Ali on May 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

    A lot of time and ‘pain’ has gone into the write-up, with pointers, and counter arguments. But the hard truth remains to be said and REALISED — where are we today in education in terms of other regional universities? Are we getting ready to change gears and face the 21st Century?

    If we open up the Pandora’s Box there will be a lot of worms and skeletons. So, please let us ALL look at the FUTURE. I strongly believe the nation has LOST a lot of valuable time in arguments. We all know what is best for our future generation. After all education lost is character lost, decision making faculty lost and the result is going to have a devastating, domino effect. We cannot afford any more pointing of fingers. Let us all join hands and AMEND ourselves. Many, many others are really GETTING AHEAD. Shall we languish behind all? For how long? Please no more of that. And we cannot deny the fact that our universities (ALL) are no where in the competition today! We may not like it at all. Only some fact finding will reveal this.

  24. Tanzim on May 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Nothing could be more befitting than this reply to Afsan Chowdhury and the admirers of his write up! Love for the writer (Farooque Chowdhury). Thanks so much indeed.

  25. Koto Ajana on May 14, 2012 at 9:34 am

    “We should consider all the aspects before putting burden of blame or fault of failure on any public institution” in bangla ” khotie dekha” That’s what we have been doing for the last forty years and slowly have become a donkey … One or two even 100 exceptions make no difference any more sir…the sooner we call a donkey a donkey the better for us. Celebrating on past glory now seems like a joke. My two cents.

    • Ezajur Rahman on May 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Your comment is not two cents – it is the full dollar. It is the essence of our current position. Until we can speak freely and truthfully about our current position we are doomed to academic discussions of no worth. Using the term donkey makes a bigger impact than any book of socio economic analysis. We need to tread on our ‘jaath gelo, jaath gelo’ nerve a lot more.

  26. Helal Ahmed on May 14, 2012 at 4:57 am

    The writer has got to learn English punctuation before writing a well meaning article like this in English. It’s difficult to make sense what he is trying to communicate.

    Feel sorry for him.

    Hope, next time he uses a good proof-reader or goes back to re-learn English grammar and punctuation.

    • sifat on May 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      I feel sorry for you. You should check your writing before you tell others to do it.Ha ha

    • Hasan Jaman on May 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Ahmed Dada, look at your English first!

  27. Shauhardo Iqbal on May 14, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I was expecting this reply on Mr. Afsan’s article where the writer compared our public universities with a donkey which was unable to provide cow’s milk ! Thanks to Farooque Chowdhury.

  28. Imran Parvez on May 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Your writing sounds good. One particular incident can’t be an example. The VC problem of Jahangirnagar University may be a political issue but it doesn’t mean the public universities of Bangladesh produce donkey or it can’t produce good thinker. I think the JU situation is one kind of protest against the corruption or any illegal activities against the VC.

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