Dhaka Thoughts: Upcoming UK Elections Make sure you #VoteProgressive #GE2017

In life, I am still trying to work through what tactics to employ in order to be able to put into practice the values that I uphold and believe in – life is a damn rollercoaster to say the least.  the pursuit of happiness, through doing good work, through having meaningful relationships, through experiencing what the world has to offer, has been central to my own thinking, and the pursuit of a much more socially just, egalatarian society.  However, the question is always what does that look in reality?  I will revise / edit this tonight when I return from drawing.

And so, to sum up a rather complicated chain of thoughts ( it seems I must write more so that I have less condensed thoughts in the future) I would urge people to vote for whomever they want, (Manifestoes here ) but to vote in a progressive way. To think about, if they can, what kind of future or what kind of society they want to belong to and in. These questions are fundamental, I think as the world continues to get smaller and smaller, the networked society would require much simpler ways to be communicated with and to.  The fear that the current Tory party have, and therefore are beginning to get desperate – is that they may lose the majority or the election. We can only hope.

What has been fascinating to observe from a distance ( being in Dhaka helps in many ways!) is the way Corbyn has matured ( is that possible for someone that old?! ) into understanding how the media tactics and politics need to be applied and he has given a little bit of hope to a lot of people of my generation. His maturity is coming through ( although still perhaps not quick enough.. in understanding the different between his local politicking as an MP for uber hip Islington – to being the leader of the fragmented Labour party – one that has suffered a giant amount of shock in its own identity as a political party.  I am a skeptic of Corbyn, despite it all – yet other friends are much more more critical of Corbyn, some outright have left the party, will vote for somebody else, and others, even more so, think he is a joke and a danger and at the same time, many others have joined the party because of him and his values. The right wing media has done its job, and its doing it well. At the same time, its important to acknowledge that we cannot have the Tories in power.

So what kind of a world or society do I believe? I am lucky to be able to switch between London and Dhaka, and having been raised in Darlington ( a town in the North East of England ) I thoroughly believe in the need to invest more in education and health, in making social mobility real and possible for all – by reducing the barriers that exist for many people to break out of poverty in the first place – and in addressing the need for environmental and global protection systems through multilateral agreements.   Investment in renewable energy sources and the need for affordable and social housing.  It is so crucial that people have all these things.  The UK is the 5th largest economy in the world. The mind boggles of course with questions in those tables of economic injustice and growing inequality – why do we have food banks then? Why do we have extended queues in the hospitals? why can’t we get better education for our young people? why are millions of children in poverty? Why can’t we just build good social housing?

So it is absurd to think even more grammar schools are a good thing, or that privatising the NHS by crippling it (through a tactic of not giving them enough resources to manage efficiently ) is good for anybody but a few private individual companies, ( I can relate to this personally too – in Dhaka where healthcare is mostly private, or the publicly available healthcare so terrible, I am afraid of those most vulnerable not getting the support they need. Having spent time running around at times to get help for one individual, I know how difficult the system is to even navigate, let alone get a result!) or by not investing more in social care, especially for those already suffering, with disabilities, the elderly, is making a good strong British society.

Making it a tax haven for the super rich, will not be making the British public any better – the profits are not going to the public, no matter how much ‘investment’ you attract. Nor will cutting immigration down drastically – its partially xenophobia, and much more importantly, lack of investment in the public to ensure that people are able to excel.

The madness has been always that the Labour party have needed to fully evidence their manifesto ( due to the previous fuck-ups ) but the Tories have given a blank sheet – and still, it seems an impossible battle to win the election for Labour or the progressive alliance. It simply means the privileged classes still take the public at large for granted. The media cannot seem to be holding to account the Tories. To cut through the bullshit, it is really tough, if you are an everyman or everywoman in the UK, its tough because the constant feeding of bullshit is real – it blurs reality.  It is much more likely, as Guardian writer Owen Jones says many a time, that people in general don’t have so much time to read everything to make sense of it all.  They will just go with their gut, or their friends, or their family, or whoever they trust to vote. Then – its making sure one message is fed, drip fed, spoon fed, repeatedly, with boosters, until it hones into the mindset, the consciousness, without effort. To Trust Corbyn to deliver a good brexit ( sounds even a shock to me as I write it – I can’t imagine what the general public still think ) to Trust Corbyn to invest in the public sector and social systems ( this seems plausible and believable to me ) and to Trust Corbyn to safeguard and maintain Britains position on the globe ( also seems a bit of  tough task for me to take in ) so.. Its tough to understand what will happen. Trusting him is the main thing – and convincing the public he is up to the job, is of course his challenge – as he unshackles himself from his past, and clearly is focusing on an interesting future.

However, these are not excuses anymore, there is, despite the gaps in election campaign budgets,  some scope for a real upset, at the pace and energy being built up – my hope is that the young people of my generation do go out and vote, and vote in a progressive manner.  But voting patterns of past will say that this is the least likely thing to happen.  Now the challenge is to the Labour and Momentum canvassers and beyond, to target in getting the vote out. Is it possible? It just may be.

The task for those of us able to rally round, campaign and make sure people vote, therefore is one of the biggest challenges.  This is being addressed somehow too. This election isn’t about Brexit, it isn’t a repeat of that. As sad as it is, Brexit will take place, BUT what is crucial to understand is, it can be done on good terms. What this election is about, is possibly the reason why people voted for Brexit – they were pissed off with the status quo, they were pissed off with the elite classes dominating and dictating. It was simpler to use that binary then, they were pissed of with the fact the NHS was not getting enough funding – that magic money tree from the EU payments Boris promised (350m for the NHS, disappeared straight away!)  Brexit was a two-fingered salute to the establishment. However, this election, is what they really wanted. Now that we have it, will it go in the direction they want again? Theresa May was always going to struggle, she was appointed PM, and has not been put to the public scrutiny as much as Corbyn, which I believe plays in his favour now, all of a sudden. People are beginning to understand Corbyn, and more importantly, although the voting majority will tend to be those in the centre, ( the promise of a Lib Dem surge does not seem to have taken place just yet – and those that will vote tactically will likely go in that direction – however, the challenges are real – to get the hardcore labour supporters of past, to vote labour. )

There is genuinely so much more at stake. So, if there is serious desire to get investment in the public sector, in Education, Health, Transport and renewable clean energy, in pushing all of society forwards, in getting a positive deal with the E.U, in creating a much more egalitarian or equitable society, in developing better, nuanced foreign policies – then for me, voting the Tories out is key. Check out the progressive alliance site & make sure you vote with both your heart and mind.  There are radically alternative manifestos out there too. So, you have choice! so, when you do vote, it won’t be just the same-same options with a different face on it.

What happens when you take power to privileged elite and challenge it? They will revolt. However, their revolt is not the same as when the people revolt. Their tactics are embedded in using their power networks ( Media, corporates, politicians taking their donations ) Some will use all of their power to defend their privilege. Yet, the frustration for those of us without the power to challenge the privileged elite will be the disenchantment of getting heavily involved in the euphoria of the movement. In observing from a distance- its difficult to understand how best to allocate my time and resources.  And the shock for those heavily inspired on the ground, maybe that it will fall flat as it did in the 80’s.

It is this inherently unfair system created and maintained by the privilege classes that restricts the potential of so much more good in the world.  In the 80,000 hour project for example, it outlines so many issues that we can be involved in. It outlines the importance of using the limited time we have to do the things we love and is good. However, to do these things, we need basic securities and systems.  I hope you everybody able to, votes, and my personal request would be to vote progressive.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 and make sure you vote!

The coming UK Elections: #VoteLabour

Watching from Bangladesh: My take on this is quite simple, #VoteLabour.  I imagine many of my friends, colleagues or even beyond will disagree with my reasoning.  They may want to vote more tactically – towards the Greens or the Lib Dems… because they are disillusioned apparently by the lack of Corbyn’s leadership qualities..

Yes, Corbyn may seem a little off-hand and not perhaps the greatest ‘exemplar’ of leadership as required in the traditional sense.  Nothing in this current state of global politics is quite traditional in any sense. With the upheavals of tensions and complex geopolitics – what gets left behind is everybody that has no time to get involved in all of that.

Yes, the right-wing media will enjoy ripping him to shreds and they are going to throw everything including the bath tub with the bath water to make sure it goes their way.  Beyond that – if its possible, we must look at what is actually going on – is that possible at the fractured masses? Probably not.. We can dare to dream though.   The leak of the Labour draft manifesto shows that – the Labour party are talking sense. Good sense. Maybe even great sense.. and in tandem.  Simply, investment in education, health and national infrastructure is crucial, and a fairer distribution system is important. The Tories and the Lib Dems are just not going to do anything as radical as this current Labour party – and this IS with the leadership of Corbyn.

Yes, the majority of the public are wanting a ‘stable’ strong’ leader. As the Tories rip apart the country and make it into something for the very few privileged individuals..  I argue that Corbyn IS a strong and able leader – he has continually stood his ground and not buckled under pressure or quit despite the madness of the leadership challenges.  My hope is, that his communication and language addresses the masses and just not the tiny fan base that believe he can do no wrong – I still don’t think he is able to get to the heart of the matter quickly enough. Practice. Practice. Practice some more.. Because this is probably, by chance, or luck, but he has managed it – a once in a lifetime opportunity to change again the direction of politics in the UK.  My other hope, is that his team just STOP focusing on the media as being negative and attacking them + play to their tunes ( even if they are ) and simply bombard the media with their presence. The tactics are there. They just need to be overwhelmingly visible and obvious. Being present – in whatever media – is crucial now + being concise is key. The rest, will be on the public and the 8th June..


Dhaka Drawings: Self-portrait

Currently the country is going through a crisis – with Hartals and Oborodhs on a daily basis, with restrictions on mobile communication technology – the ban of WhatsApp / Viber and other free messaging apps – it becomes quite clear the government is doing its best to crack down further.  How much more can they get away with?

I have not had the chance to go out and draw on the streets still – work has kept me confined to drawing at home and working in the studio. With a lot of activity going on in Paraa – I am quite oblivious to the chaos brewing outside – often coming home to hear the latest update of attacks – buses being burned, people fleeing, etc.  Its as if I have become immune to it already.

How fickle is my mind? The world was in uproar because of the attacks in France. And here in Bangladesh, life goes on, despite arson attacks on buses, bans on communication tools and restriction of the movement of the opposition government. Time, it seems, predicts a gloomy and dangerous few months.


Restless Thoughts, I grow weary…

Who is it, that can unlock the vault of Truth? Who holds the key? and Who locked it in the first place?Image

In between reflecting, over-thinking and trying to re-find my feet again.. I was able to catch up with some friends.  And in this meeting, there was a conversation about purpose – ‘Ruhul – you know what your purpose is, we can sense it / see it…’ (this was the gist of the conversation, and I laughed it off).

And over the weekend, I had a chance to catch up with my thoughts – where are we going with Paraa, how REAL is what we are setting out to do? How likely is it that we will make a positive impact at the scale we are considering, and how obvious is the danger in being optimistic and idealistic? How soon before someone will try to smack out that optimism and give us a sense of reality? I say, not very far away… 

The nature of the task, will probably depict the nature of the man (or woman) required to lead.  It is an interesting issue, and I use the word interesting in the broadest of sense.  Bangladesh is currently going through a process of finding itself, a process that seems to be bloody, messy and embroiled in horrible politics.  It begs me to ask the question, who will lead Bangladesh out of this mess? it is a tough situation for the country – violent and divisive politics has become the nature of the beast, and so it will continue for a while.

It dawns on me, and probably many others, that there is a need to just get on with it, not get caught up in this hullabaloo of political chaos.  There are many writers, many journalists and even more political theoreticians (within and external of the community) and perhaps even more practitioners who have become engrossed in the current conversation.  The propaganda machines are doing their best to distort and contort and confuse the mass public, and right now, we are probably as clueless as everybody else as to what is or is not the truth. 

My thinking is simply, that change will take place when a group will lead it forward, when a conscious understanding, and with Truth at the centre, and with the strength and depth of the needs of people firmly rooted – this makes it a difficult and bumpy road, and perhaps one that is already beyond our generation… It is perplexing, because it is quite shambolic and embarrassing to see current leaders acting in such ways – AND further, it is frustrating because it also adds to our own limitations as individuals.  How can we rise up to lead? How do we differentiate between political and developmental lead? and how do we ensure that not everything is based around rhetoric and propaganda? 

And most importantly, How do we lead with Truth at the centre of the task? especially in the context of a society and world that is heavily convoluted in gaining information and consuming things fast and quick?  How do we differentiate between a hard working ethic and an ethic that has been fuelled by consumerism? and how do we break away from the commoditisation  of time? And how do we teach these ethics to those that need it the most? the people in charge of leading and shaping our very society? How does Truth even fit into a liberally focused global market? and how or who addresses this inequality? the mal-distribution of time to issues that are irrelevant (who decides they are irrelevant??) and focus on things like education, healthcare, sanitation, proper planning and policy for the everyday citizen (the child, the mother, the sisters and brothers and the elders) who merely want to continue living their life and be given the opportunity to live this in as best a way as possible – to be able to flourish and live up to their potential?

I can go on forever and a day about the rickshaw puller, the garment worker, the bazaar stall holder, the fishermen, the tannery folk, those involved in cleaning and cooking and feeding and the expendable human energy that seems to burst out of every seam in Bangladesh.  But how or who begins to understand the REAL VALUE of such people? and how do we begin to shift the dialogue towards one that is people centred, that is community centred and that is focused around the notion of Truth?

AND what if, the whole purpose is to participate in the consumer market lead society, if that is the end purpose, who are we to argue otherwise? So I can easily go back to writing my thoughts, which tend to be questions rather than any answer to anything specific.

And who is it then, that will have the answers to the questions I am trying to answer? and how do get those questions in front of the people that matter? We must continue what we are doing I guess….

One of the things I set out to do a few years back was to write a philosophical novel, based around the Tree of Life and what it witnesses as the failures and triumphs of mankind.  It was both a personal process that I wanted to reflect upon and also a wider thought that Nature has never been in a position to give feedback to humanity for the way it has been treated, but if it was able to, what would it say? It was an epic book that I thought would take me a year to write + therefore I am quietly fleshing out the story, and then maybe, when I have that one year available, write it.

What is important to me right now is perhaps more practical concerns.  Scales of work and working are needed to allow the mind / body / soul to be in flux with time / space / environment so that there is some clarity in continuing the seeking of Truth.  So I am taking the next few days to re-gather my thoughts and see what progress I have made.  Its been an absolutely amazing journey thus far, and it can only get better over the next few years, but I guess its important to just take a moment to re-gather the thoughts, so that the ‘going forward’ aspect of it is in line with Truth.

Lets see what the next few days of thinking brings from within me…