‘Politicians from either parties of our country have never paid attention to the popular demand’

Anupam Debashis Roy is popular over social media through his video series ‘Choromchitro’, where he critically looks at socio-political and international issues related to Bangladesh. He shared with Syed Tashfin Chowdhury why his video series is gaining millions of views over social media.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Anupam Debashis Roy. Born in Syedpur to a mother and father from the Khulna region, I grew up in Chittagong and went to college in Dhaka. At some point during this scattered childhood, I got interested in politics because I was told to never talk about it in public. I came to the United States for my bachelors and chose to major in Political Science because I was told that anything but engineering would be a waste of time. I took up my first job in politics because someone told me that political science majors never get any jobs.

These foolhardy decisions define who I am. Right now, I am a visiting student at Columbia University in the City of New York and a research intern at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

In my free time, I make videos explaining politics to people who are carefully excluded from the Bangladeshi political discourse under the pretense that it is too sophisticated for them. Some of those people who I do my work for like the work that I do. And that’s me!

 

What inspired you to make the videos that is so popular in social media today? When did you start?

I started making videos as debate lessons for school debaters of the Rajuk College Debate Club. But as the politics of our country became more and more uni-polar and the space for dissent shrank, the opposition to my debate soon became the government propaganda machine. Thus, the video series called ‘Choromchitro’ or ‘The Radical Report’ was born.

 

How many videos have you made till date? Were they all takes on socio-political issues with a bit of humour?

There are a total of 11 videos in the ‘Choromchitro’ series to date and all of them are related to politics, economics or philosophy because those are my academic specialisations. I add a hint of humor to prove that all the big words that politicians use can be boiled down to simple catchphrases and punch lines.

 

How long does it take for you to do the research for each video?

Research is a big part of my professional and academic career, which means that much of what I present in the video comes from my work in real life. Often I base my videos on research that I have already done before for academic purposes and sometimes I just synthesize other researchers’ findings. That is why the duration of the research varies. But most videos that I am proud of take at least two weeks of research.

 

The videos you make are criticism of recent steps taken by Bangladesh government in various sectors as well as international relations. Because you are in the USA, do you receive any backlash for these videos over email or otherwise? How do you deal with them?

Surprisingly enough, the backlash is not very harsh. Of course, there are the occasional death threats and obscene name callings. But most people really appreciate the work I do. People in Bangladesh are tired of the old political cronies on the talk shows and just want a new face with a fresh perspective. But even when there is serious backlash, I take it as a positive that lets me know that people who I actually want to reach with my work are paying close attention to what I am saying. I deal with my opponents by trying to understand their concerns. Because in the bigger picture, there are no opponents, we are all in this to make Bangladesh a better country.

 

Your videos have had over a million views. Do you feel that maybe someday some minister will view any of them and possibly use your suggestions in their policy-making? Does this thought ever influence the video-making process?

I never assume so. The politicians from either parties of our country have never paid attention to the popular demand because they have more important people to pay attention to, i.e. lobbyists, foreign governments and other politicians. I never make my videos for members of the political class, I make them for the common people. Too much energy in our country is spent to keep the subaltern oblivious about the political and economic events that impact them the most. All I intend to do is cut through that smog and bring the truth into the light for everyone to see.

 

Your Facebook profile mentions that you are a foundation member of the Libertarian Party in Alexandria, Virginia. Please share with us a bit about the Libertarian movement in the USA.

I joined the liberty movement in mid-2016 by campaigning for Gary Johnson in the Presidential election and then I interned for Rand Paul, a liberty-leaning senator from Kentucky in the Spring of 2017. I am currently working for Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian candidate for New York Governor’s race and interning with Manhattan Institute, a liberty-leaning think tank. The Liberty movement is about minimal government and maximum popular sovereignty, which translates to opposing wars, foreign interventions, irresponsible spending, and supporting balanced budgets, lower taxes and pro-entrepreneurial public policies. The libertarian movement is gaining ground at a surprising pace in the US. Most Americans are realising that the LP is a better alternative to both the Democrats and the Republicans and many politicians are realising that libertarianism is the only political ideology that is compatible with both economic prosperity and civil liberty.

 

In the near future, do you see yourself ever being active in Bangladesh’s politics?

I most certainly do. I want to work as a campaign consultant for liberty-leaning candidates for the 2019 parliament election in Bangladesh. I have worked in multiple election campaigns over the past year in the United States and I believe that I can help Bangladeshi politicians as well. I intend to work with independent candidates since I am a believer in breaking up the unipolar political trend (be it post-2008 Awami League or post-2001 BNP) and introducing further political diversity in the Bangladeshi parliament. I am also willing to work with any candidate from either party as long as they believe in libertarian values of economic prosperity, civil liberty and freedom of religion and speech. However, whether any candidate intends to follow these ideas or is willing to hire me as a consultant is yet to be seen.