A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social Issue or political one. This may be to carry out, resist or undo a social change. It is a type of group action and may involve individuals, organizations or both. As Escobar has emphasized, there is a widespread view among theorists in the other social sciences that social movements cannot be understood independently of culture (Escobar, 1992: 405). The sociologist Alberto Melucci, for example, argues that today’s social movements are engaged in conflict over symbolic resources (1985). Such writers have thus drawn attention to the fact that the movements which emerged during the 1960s (civil rights, feminism, ecology, gay liberation) were concerned not only with social and economic transformation but also with culture and identity. This frequently involved a redrawing of the boundaries of politics itself and the creation of new forms of political practice.
Nowadays, societies are going through a lot of crises and demanding situations. From east to west, and north to south there are low in cost, ecological, political, religious, monetary crises, and crises of political unrest. At the same time, the arena has seen several moves to alternate the shape of society. Therefore, actions are one shape of protest towards the modern socio-political structure of societies.
In 2013, the world saw a different kind of non-violent protest titled the “Shahbag Movement” in Bangladesh. The movement was demanding justice against criminals of the Independence war of Bangladesh in 1971. On February 5, 2013, the Bloggers and Online Activists Network (BOAN) initiated a call to demand capital punishment for the Secretary-General, Abdul Quader Mollah, of the major Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami. He was sentenced to life in prison on 344 counts of murder, rape, and torture committed during the Independence war by the International Crimes Tribunal, a domestic war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh. The verdict hurt millions of Bangladeshis.
The President of BOAN asked masses of people to occupy Shahbag, a crossroads in the heart of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, through the social networking site, Facebook, to protest against the verdict. The BOAN is not an established organization in the country, most of the people have not heard about it before the move. As Jensen (2006) describes “movements did not occur within established organizations or those decisions could come from the top down” (p. 374). The Shahbag movement was totally different compared to other social movements like Tiananmen Square in some ways. The movement was instigated by ordinary people, initially students and young people of the country, but engaged masses of people.
Shariff (2015) argued that it was never violent, but more a protest using a repertoire of cultural activities and symbols, Vol. 45, No. 4 Asian Profile August 2017 releasing balloons for every martyr of 1971 Independence war of Bangladesh, holding a 3-minute silence, and ongoing slogans, chanting, singing, and performances. Thus, activists of the Shahbag movement staged different kinds of activities to attract the media attention and awaken masses of people against war criminals without using any violent activity.
Intellectuals are described as ‘ideal employees’ who have a deep impact on policymakers and the public, but who are often not directly responsible for the outcomes. Intellectuals and Society examine the record of these idea employees and the circumstances, techniques, and incentives that drive their views that, according to Sowell, have often resulted in a catastrophe for societies where ‘undue influence’ has been permitted for intellectuals. Intellectuals are enlightened people who have smart knowledge of concepts and thoughts as well as society’s issues. They belong to a minority in society, and they are the thinking of the leaders. They can guide the majority to understand and affect their minds on different issues – political, social, and religious. They can be called society’s elites; the articulate class that also expresses their thoughts and knowledge through speeches and texts.
It is said that they are actually ‘ creating culture, ‘ intellectuals are interpreting culture while performers, writers, philosophers, researchers are creating culture, and transmitting culture to individuals. Intellectuals are not as effective as militants and rebels. They are excellent speakers, excellent authors, and clever advertisers; however, they are articulate individuals and thus dominate the minds of those of average intellect. Nevertheless, in government, this critical attitude toward intellectualism represents a basic misunderstanding of the role thoughts and intellectuals play in politics. The common people know very little, but they have some common sense and decency, they do not have the wit to believe their own strategies.
However, they can comprehend what they are being told by the resourceful intellectuals. They are the cultured minority, but they stay the thinkers and ideas leaders. They are unable to take accountability for running governments or social organizations. They have the power of thoughts, not initiative and action. They are unable to exercise power and authority, although they provide ideas on how to obtain and exercise power. Intellectuals are leaders of society and spirituals. They demonstrate how happiness can be gained by a person; how best to lead their lives.
The modern-day Bernard Shaw is a great intellectual irritant. Many of our cherished ideals and conventional morality have been destroyed. They shook us out of our complacency and made us believe in a fresh manner about many values and institutions. Intellectuals are able to reveal governments ‘ lies, analyze behavior based on their causes and motives, and often hidden intentions. In Bangladesh, under an organized banner, the intellectuals have restricted scope to serve society. They are not organized and lack the support of the state. If the state assumes responsibility and brings it under a distinctive umbrella platform, society can profit and become enlightened. They are not incorporated, and the community isolates them. They have their capacity, but they are separated from their fellows and even from the mass issue.
In Bangladesh, many intellectuals do not even want to remain publicly. They live far from their motherland abroad and do not bother with their natives. They do not like mixing up with bad and ordinary people. They always tend to maintain them aloof. They are not engaged in local issues, well, and woes, crises, or dangers. They do not want to alienate themselves from local culture and tend to prevent healthy attempts whereby society can upgrade and alter its ancient idea. Intellectuals ‘ role in society is a complex topic. However, one cannot dispute what intellectuals can have a significant and vital effect, especially in the quickly evolving times of today. Intellectuals, as I see it, are those with varied wisdom and foresight, applying their intellect and forward-looking visions to awaken society.
In nurturing intellectuals, there are three main considerations: knowledge; capacity and desire to awaken society; and doing so for a noble cause or purpose. However, selected media outlets supporting opposition political parties have continued to denounce the Shahbag movement as the government’s well-orchestrated play. The Shahbag movement also called for the boycott of several main journals and television channels –The Daily Amar Desh, Daily Naya Diganta, Diganta Television, and Islamic TV. All these media organizations are regarded as pro-opposition news media.
World-renowned sociologist C. Wright Mills observed precisely that, ‘Every revolution has its own counter-revolution — that’s a sign that the revolution really is.’ We see the in Shahbag protest most of the intellectuals’ support and come forward with the students to support the accused and convicted of liberation crime. They support through social media like Facebook had played a significant part in spreading global news and also wrote a blog about Shahbag events. A Facebook event called for a Shahbag protest was established at this time a human chain that became viral on 5 February 2013 and intellectual strongly support.
Facebook was one of the primary sources of data among its activists about Shahbag protests. Bangladesh used the ‘ #shahbag ‘ Twitter hashtag to provide live updates about the whole protest. Online activists, in reaction, arranged a meeting at Shahbagh Square in the capital. Since then, what they originally hoped would attract between 400 and 500 individuals has grown to over 100,000, with some estimates putting the amount much greater. Despite the threat of violence and intimidation, the protests continue to flourish in the capital and other significant towns.
Professor Muntasir Mamun, Sultana Kamal, Jafor Iqbal, Asif Nazrul, Ak Abdul Momen, Veena Sikri (Ex Indian high commissioner), and so many intellectuals played import role during the protest. The best response is the remark of Professor Abdur Razzak. He had said, ‘Bangladeshi people’s collective will to be freed and their nation-state established.’ (Daily Star, 2014). They want to change our society and by the media and social media, they influence students to come forward. Photographer Reuters Andrew Biraj released ‘live’ pictures of Shahbag mass protests they spread out completely social media and media.
Some of the international intellectuals support this protest as an example – On 18 February, British Foreign Minister Sayeeda Warsi praised the Shahbag Square demonstrations, describing them as peaceful, productive, and non-violent. Suzannah Linton’s post on 27 February in the Fletcher Forum on World Affairs expressed concern over ‘Bangladesh’s bloodlust’ and called on the international community to guide the process towards global standards. Intellectuals (Shahbag protests) still other similarly disturbing issues regarding the accountability of intellectuals. Intellectuals are able to expose governments ‘ lies, analyze actions based on their causes and motives, and often hidden intentions. They have the power of political freedom, access to information, and freedom of expression, at least.
All types of popular protests in Bangladesh include a particular ‘popular intellectual’ category that reflects on social reality, speaks in the name of popular courses, and articulates thoughts that inspire people’s collective action. These people look at the experiences of common intellectuals in societies from an initial perspective. Who operates within networks of social movements linking local, regional, and international arenas and connecting with a worldwide stream of thoughts? Local and foreign media have reported broadly positive about the Shahbag motion.
In conclusion, we can say that intellectual has importance any movement because they support the people. In Shahbag protest, we see that they played a vital role and their revolutionary ideas and motivated them to nonviolent fight for their rights. In Shahbag protest, the intellectuals played a significant part in shaping nationalism. In fact, they were accountable for instilling in individuals the impression of ‘Bangladesh as a country.’ I think intellectuals are agents of change, especially in those areas of the globe where the norm is unjust and aberrant behavior. Intellectuals all over the globe make efficient contributions in significant ways to improve society in their own ways and in a free society; I believe it is simple to forget how essential an intellectual is for a country’s welfare. Their Opinions or behaviors that have had the greatest influence on the course of events.