Monday, July 23, 2007

The Knowledge Sinners

Socrates maintained that all evil proceeded from ignorance. Boy, was he wrong!

The Bengali language has an exquisite term for a corrupt intellectual: I refer to the word ‎vigorously doing the rounds these days – “ganpapi”. ‎

The word, like many a word in another language, is untranslatable, and literally would be ‎rendered “knowledge-sinner”. Now, what is a “knowledge-sinner”? ‎

A man or woman who uses his/her knowledge to do evil rather than good: that is, one ‎who knowingly does evil. The term is applied to our intellectuals, and that is cause for ‎hope. People have realised that it is not our politicians alone that are responsible for our ‎present predicament, but that the active connivance of our intellectuals was required for ‎things to come to such a pass. ‎

And today the intellectuals at Dhaka University have come out in favour of our two ‎hartal-walis. These teachers have corrupted the students – as can be seen by the Chatra ‎League going along with them. And are there sons in Chatra League? No! ‎

Meanwhile, Mahfuz Anam's editorial on "strengthening democracy" has come in for ‎criticism from readers here and abroad. That's another "ganpapi" who has shown his true ‎colours. Indeed, today, we are getting a slow-motion analysis of the pathologies of the ‎last 16 years. ‎

Indeed, over the last sixteen years, it was the intelligentsia that legitimised the two ‎murderous groups that we called political parties, that sanctioned the edict of Washington ‎in our affairs, that colluded in the disappearance of decency and humanity from our daily ‎lives. Now, all we have to do is to take that insight to its logical conclusion. ‎

But logic, of course, has never been our forte. ‎

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