Holidays are magical in more ways than one. But nowhere are their magic spells more pronounced than on Dhaka city. As if by a magic wand the long holidays of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha vanish the teeming crowds all over the capital and the long tailback in its streets. Yes, the magic of holiday works -and works so effectively that Dhaka wears a most desirable look free from its usual hustle and bustle and the accompanying sufferings for its inhabitants.
How one wished Dhaka remained what it is during these two yearly holidays! The holidays had to continue indefinitely for the city to remain so. But this is idle imagination. Holidays cannot be prolonged beyond certain limit. So it would rather be wise to find a viable substitute for holidays. What can that substitute be?
The fact is the capital is getting more people than it can accommodate in a decent way. Only during the Eid vacations does it bring to people's notice how unrealistically and precariously it is hosting a population far beyond its capacity. All because of push and pull factors. The push factor is the absence of means of livelihoods for people in places of their origin.
Usually, people in this land are reluctant to leave their families and rural society behind them and go to a place unfamiliar and unwelcoming. But necessity knows no law. The more desperate ones with nothing -no farm land, orchards or even dwelling houses -to call their own, simply embark on an uncertain journey with all members of their families. They have nothing to lose. So they become desperate to take a plunge in the big melting pot -come what may.
The pull factor works mostly for segments better placed, who want to share comparatively better facilities the city has to offer. Students, on completion of their college or school studies, want a break in their life and aspire for higher studies in the best of higher seats of learning. Professionals want to stay here for furthering their careers as well as getting the best schooling and healthcare for their children and themselves.
Thus Dhaka has its lure despite the many negatives that downgrade it as a capital down the scale. It is against all odds, therefore, an alternative to holidays has to be invented or found. Already, some people are deeply frustrated with life in Dhaka city. They have opted for living in small towns or even in villages where there is no need to negotiate thick crowd and anarchy in streets. One of the basic ingredients to take a measure of civilised life is power or electricity. It is now available in villages. Its supply may not be uninterrupted but still it is getting steadier.
However, one swallow does not a summer make. Power alone cannot ensure a stop to exodus from rural homes to cities. People need decent employment in their surroundings. If they find one, they will stay away from migrating to Dhaka or any other city. Decentralisation of administration does not necessarily mean creating large buildings and offices in rural areas. It means allowing local government bodies to push forward policies and plans for development of productive sectors suiting to the special needs of a specific area.
The government has to build a strong communication network. Now that information and communication technology has made a quantum leap, many of the costly infrastructures need not even be considered for construction. Area-specific development of agro-industries or farming or other economic ventures can make the trick. Local government bodies should be delegated power to plan with its population.
Concentration of all kinds industries in two districts has contributed to lop-sided development of the country. There is need for striking a balance and stem the maldistribution of wealth. If area-wise skills and artisanship are taken into consideration, there is possibility of developing industrial villages like those in China. Once this land produced muslin but what is little known is that each village was more or less self-sufficient in all that was required for living.
Time has changed and in a consumer society, such a theory will look now out of date. Better it would be to make the most of the highly advanced technology to come up with area-specific substitutes for holiday magic.