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Sipahi Akbar and Mr. Mitra

December 4, 2012

On 24 November I watched a brilliant play called Court Martial, written by Swadesh Deepak and directed by late S. M. Solaiman. Theater art Unit had successfully staged 200th staging of ‘Court Martial’ in Theater Art Unit International Theater Festival as part of celebrating Two Decades of Theatre Art Unit.

The story goes like this: a soldier was accused of killing a commanding officer. When he was produced before a military court, he confessed the charge, leaving everyone stunned in the court. The plaintiff’s lawyer argued that it was absurd to proceed further since the accused already confessed his guilt. But, the major who was heading the jury thought otherwise and let the proceeding continue. Gradually, the defendant’s lawyer, brilliantly played by Selim Mahbub, unraveled the dark alleys of so-called disciplined army life characterized by class-struggle, jealousy and vengeance.

Court Martial

Court Martial

Watching such a high voltage drama which was full of twists was an awesome experience. The drama does not have cloak and dagger’s stuff, but defendant lawyer’s, two-thumbs up performance by actor Selim Mahbub, relentless struggle for exposing the truth held the audience spellbound and glued them to their seats till the end. All the actors were brilliant, but Proshanta Mridha, as accused Sipahi Akbar, and Ejaj, as plaintiff Major F A khan, gave an enthralling performance.

S. M. Solaiman's Script

S. M. Solaiman’s Script

The play itself ridiculed the camera trials of military courts during the military rule of former dictator Lt. Gen. Zia. Many of these courts were set up to settle down old scores with officers and soldiers who took part and aligned with the independence struggle of Bangladesh.

A Mitra in Need

Last Friday, I attended a public lecture given by Marxist economist Ashok Mitra. The program was organized by Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA). Ashok Mitra is a true Mitra (friend) of Bangladesh.

When the liberation war broke out his Delhi residence became a safe isle for Bangladeshi leaders and intellectuals. Mr. Mitra introduced Bangladesh’s thinkers like Professor Rehman Sobhan to leading Indian decision makers and bureaucrats.

Professor Rehman Sobhan reminiscing the Delhi days of 1971

Professor Rehman Sobhan reminiscing the Delhi days of 1971

Mr. Mitra was born in Dhaka and a former student of Economics at Dhaka University. He sat for BSS exam and came out with flying colors. But the partition in 1947 changed everything. He moved to India and pursued his postgraduate studies at Benaras Hindu University. He completed his Ph.D. thesis under Professor Jan Bergen at Institute of Social Studies in Netherlands. Later he joined the elegant Delhi School of Economics.

For sometime, he joined politics and became the finance minister of West Bengal during the early years of CPI (M) govt. Soon he was disillusioned with politics and took a back seat.

Mr. Ashok Mitra always feels proud to call himself a Dhaka University student. The reason is that the DU graduates always come out with their brilliant analysis to discard misleading theories and policies that are detrimental to Bangladesh. Moreover, whatever they do or wherever they stay they are never deracinated from their culture.

Ashok Mitra delivering his lecture 'Globalization and Development"

Ashok Mitra delivering his lecture ‘Globalization and Development”

Throughout the lecture and Q&A session, the audience had acquainted with his Marxist view on different issues. To him, Marx called the workers to be “globalized” long before globalization came into being. He thinks the ongoing globalization is a prejudiced one as it bars the free movement of labor. He questioned the definition of development. And not all those progresses made in this globalize world are flawless and desirable. While making a comment on the ongoing financial crisis in Europe, He said the poor have been paying the price for the greed and missteps of few speculators.

Nowadays he likes to spend times in chatting with friends. He also indulges in Bengali literature. In fact, Some of his works received great critical acclaim. He is still a firm believer of a global resurrection of socialism.

Bangladesh owes a lot to Mitras in need like Mr. Ashok, and she has done a great job by awarding Shadhinota Shommonana to Mr. Ashok.

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