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Politically Incorrect

by Maisha

I was in Grade V when I first heard about democracy. My first notion of democracy was – for the people, by the people and of the people. It appealed to my little mind that we are ruled by ourselves, by our chosen people. I began imagining happy nations where leaders were selected by happy citizens and everything was perfectly synchronized into order. In Grade VI, I realized that every nation is not a democracy. I felt pity for those who were not allowed to choose their rulers. It all felt unjust and unfair. As I entered Grade VII, I read that even in a democracy, not everyone has the right to vote. There are many countries where a section of people are not allowed to take part in this process called election. This section of people included women in many regions of this world. Now this disturbed me a lot and as a girl, I felt my position to be insecure. For the first time, I saw myself as different. I was later happy to find out that Bangladesh, my mother-land extends voting rights to all sections of the community. No one in my country is exempted from forming a body called government to rule us. Grade VIII introduced me to many other forms of government. Democracy was not the only way to rule, there were many other options like anarchy, monarchy, communist and the most dreadful, military dictatorship. I back then, recognized my country to be a perfect democracy. All I was taught about how to check democracy was done in my country. For fair democracy, we needed many political parties, elections and citizens ready to take part in government making. I longed to be an eligible voter. I felt that my vote could indeed have an impact, it could make a difference. This was the age when I had just started to read newspapers daily. I was now confused beyond understanding. India – where I had been living for 7 years, was the biggest democracy of the world. The papers had a different point of view. During elections, they were full of reports of rigging and use of muscle and monetary power to access control over the government. If the world’s largest democracy had so many loopholes, I thought about my country. That was the time when I began questioning the whole existence of democracy. Grade IX further aggravated my doubts. Our teacher taught us that there are some countries in the world who claim to practice democracy but in reality they are very far from the actual concept of democracy. These countries thus made false claims and gave false hopes to their citizens. I was appalled to hear that Bangladesh and Pakistan are the biggest examples of such countries. All the mist covering my idea of a perfect government was at once shoved away. I faced the truth and unknowingly denied to accept it. I started a debate in the classroom and was not ready to understand that my country was not a democracy. I returned to Dhaka soon after completing my Grade X Board Exams (O-Levels). The elections were dated to be conducted in 2019. Our country has been ruled by two women ever since I have understood politics – Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of our nation and Khaleda Zia, another women who roams around wearing georgette saris and her signature sunglasses. For the last 10 years, Sheikh Hasina has been our Prime Minister and after everything that has happened under her reign, I was convinced that this time the much enlightened people of Bangladesh would opt for a change and even better, someone might wish to be the change we want to see. Just think about Arvind Kejriwal, the common man who himself has brought a change in Indian politics. With his broom he has indeed swept away a lot of notions related to Indian democracy. What I feel is that we need more young and active leaders to undertake the mammoth task of governing the nation. But the dream of a perfect democracy was shattered when Khaleda Zia was arrested in early 2018. This in no way means that I am inclined towards BNP. I have not even read their manifesto. I want to clear it out that I do not support any party and this article has nothing to do with praising any one party over others. Coming back to my article, Grade X Civics taught me the different challenges to democracy before it can be considered perfect. Countries like USA, UK and Canada also have many loopholes in their systems. Well, to be frank I had started to doubt American politics the day they made Donald Trump the President. So basically, even the pall bearers of democracy are not able to extract the true sense of it. I began researching politics of these nations. There are three challenges to democracy – foundational challenge, challenge of expansion and lastly, deepening of democracy.

Foundational challenge deals with setting up the institutions of democracy and keeping forces like military, monarchy and nepotism away from gaining any power in running the country. According to my Indian teachers and people enlightened by the spirit of democracy, Pakistan and Bangladesh are yet to clear this challenge. This involves setting up basic principles of democracy like free and fair elections with apt choice provided to all voters at regular intervals, freedom to form political parties etc. After this we have the challenge of EXPANSION faced by many modern democracies. This deals with expanding the true sense of democracy to all geographical and cultural regions, giving women and weaker sections of the society equal rights in acquiring power by the means of reservations and sharing power with the governmental bodies working at various levels. India can be taken as the best example facing this challenge. The last remains the DEEPENING OF DEMOCRACY which is faced by each and every democracy in some way or the other. No democracy in today’s politics is perfect and this challenge is to remove their remaining imperfections. The growing presence of money and muscle power to achieve political positions, role of businessmen and wealthy citizens in the governmental bodies etc. USA and UK are the most suitable examples in this case.

Before coming to Bangladesh I have been well trained to not utter a single word about our political scenarios taken in account the recent happenings that have evolved. It is just the same case as in India we cannot talk freely about beef because people more cruel than actual butchers can come to hunt you down. I still start whispering when I talk about cows or beef. Similarly here I cannot speak freely about the government if I value my life. Whatever I have thus written needs to be whispered. I was a bit scared but Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography has inspired me to pen down my thoughts. I may be politically incorrect and am definitely too young to discuss things like this but as a future voter (within 2 years) and a citizen in making, I have put forward my opinions about democracy.

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66 Reviews

Points: 100
Reviews: 66

Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:17 pm
Starve wrote a review...

I write this review as an Indian who was very interested in politics but is now completely disenchanted with democracy to the point where now I know that my vote doesn't count.
THat is not to say that no votes count, but that the vote of people like me - the average armchair intellectual, doesn't count. I would happily opt for Fascism or Communism or anarchism if I were to look at their ideals and my reality. However the reality of those ideologies and the associated forms of government is very grim too.

First of all, you are not politically incorrect at all! This does not come under the ambit of politically incorrect lines of thought.

Now to the review. This post took me down memory lane to 4-5 years ago when I was studying civics/political science in my Indian school. You use a lot of the same terms that the textbook did , "foundational challenge, challenge of expansion and lastly, deepening of democracy." . However, that textbook contained logical fallacies of cherry picking, and also the "fallacy" fallacy, where examples were used to disprove/throw aside authoritarian and libertarian considerations.
Gandhi famously said "“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”"

The technicalities and analysis-

1.There were very few spelling mistakes but otherwise your spelling and grammar were fine.
there was a wrong usage in my opinion - pall bearers refers to those who carry the dead body of a person in a funeral procession. I think you want to call the US and UK etc. the flag-bearers of democracy. (Unless you're being exceptionally cynical and saying that democracy has died and these countries are finally taking it respectfully to its grave.)

2. Flow of reasoning/narrative- This was chronologically and idea-build-up wise conventional, however I especially liked the ending paragraph and other parts like it where you add your personal touch, your own reality to keep the article interesting. That is very important in political discussion no matter what people tell you. BEcause you can talk about your own experiences with authority even if you do not know a lot of political theory.

3. Depth and length - This was a surface level, introductory type article , and was a bit less than the appropriate length in my opinion for that level of discussion ( see point 4). It is completely okay to speak and write at this level especially at a young age, but then make sure everyone is able to properly understand your examples and reasoning within context. It is perfectly okay to use few ideas and few examples. BUT MAKE SURE THE IMPACT OF EACH EXAMPLE IS FELT! For example, the beef example can be explained more with the context of Hindu Muslim tension, the fact that many Hindus regard the cow as sacred, the fact that in recent times this has been misused by miscreants to torment and even kill minorities without any consequences etc. Give examples, put facts. They lend authority to your point.

4. Examples- Keep in mind that the readers on YWS represent a global, supportive audience, and thus need more background to truly understand the points you are trying to make with your examples. Go atleast to the depth of providing context that you did with Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, even though that wasn't perfect, it was sufficient. Definitely more background needed for Arvind Kejriwal, the reason that beef is such a taboo topic in India etc.

Keep writing, and stay safe!

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93 Reviews

Points: 3737
Reviews: 93

Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:39 pm
Laurenh6 wrote a review...


I thought that this was a really interesting read. I don't feel that educated in terms of Bangladesh and Indian politics but this was quite eye opening. The only thing I am confused by is where you're from/ where you live now because referring to Bangladesh, India and America has confused me a little.

It's interesting what you say about not being able to talk about beef freely, is that because of religious beliefs?


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541 Reviews

Points: 370
Reviews: 541

Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:46 pm
Lauren2010 wrote a review...

Hi there Maisha!

What a pleasure it is to read something so thoughtful and curious about democracy. I know you feel you're too young to discuss things like politics, but I definitely disagree. I'm glad that even though you aren't yet old enough to vote you are doing your research and forming your ideas about what you want your country to be. We need more young people like you in the world!

As far as improving this essay goes, I love the way you structure the piece to follow your own evolving understanding of democracy as you got older. It was clear and easy to follow and does a really good job of showing both the way we teach children about politics and how something that often seems so simple on the surface can be much more complicated the more you learn about it.

I'd be interested in seeing more of your own emotions and feelings about what you learned woven throughout the piece. If you even have some strong stories from your personal life, maybe conversations with teachers or family or friends about some of these things, that would make the journey we take here even stronger. Essays like this become truly moving and successful when they blend the personal with the factual, and I think you've got a lot of great opportunities here to try that out!

Otherwise, this was a lovely read and I enjoyed the opportunity to read it! Thanks so much for sharing, and keep writing!


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45 Reviews

Points: 1335
Reviews: 45

Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:26 pm
Lives4Christ24 wrote a review...

Hi, Lives4Christ24 AKA Lives is here for yet another review. I hope I don't offend anyone with my reviews, my only intent is to edify other writers by encouraging them and offering constructive criticism. I want to focus on the good in writing and writers not the bad.
I think it's very cool to meet and read the words of a young person who is aware of the political happenings of the world. I hope I get to read more of your work.

Prometheus, thief of light, giver of light, bound by the gods, must have been a book.
— Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves