In 1971, Bangladesh appeared on the world map as an independent nation, after sacrificing millions of lives in its Liberation War. There is no room for any miserliness in us -- we must show our love and respect towards those who sacrificed from the bottom of our hearts.
The contribution of freedom fighters is incalculable. We are forever indebted to them for sacrificing their lives for the sake of the rights of the people of Bangladesh. Without any condition, we must pay attention to them and their children.
It is obvious that the families of the freedom fighters -- those who laid down their lives and were severely injured in battle -- definitely went through extreme hardships, while earning members in the family were off fighting a war. It is also true that after the war, these families of valiant heroes were distastefully neglected for almost three decades. There can be no compromise when it comes to improving their lot.
However, there are several ways to compensate them, and it is not just the quota system.
The quota system can be reformed according to the actual statistics of freedom fighters.
It has been noted that we have less than 2% of freedom fighters, compared to the present total population. In total, this could represent 5% of the total population due to the expansion of generation, whereas a quota of 30% is allocated to 5% of the country’s freedom fighter families.
But it will affect 95% of other candidates willing to enter the workforce. Therefore, we should respect them too.
The quota impact
Our respected politicians do not want to understand this fact. They are busy politicizing everything. They need to think logically to solve this issue, which has evolved for quite some time.
This is due to the fact that the quota system has several negative effects on our national development.
1. The realization of the quota in government jobs has created discontent among students all over Bangladesh, which has resulted in student movements in many government and private universities in the country. This has a destructive impact on society and economy.
2. The most brilliant minds of the country are immensely frustrated by the quota system. Consequently, this may lead to a brain drain.
3. In the long run, the country will be run without merit. The children and grandchildren of freedom fighters will lose the spirit of healthy competition.
4. Because of this opportunity, there will be many fake freedom fighters in our society. They will seize this opportunity and build up wealth through corruption.
5. Last but not least, most of us can agree that our freedom fighters did not fight for a quota, they fought for a fair economy, fair political and civil rights without any form of discrimination. With the recent developments, how far have we come after gaining independence?
This is a humiliation for the freedom fighters -- they do not expect to hear nonsense insults, comments that imply that 95% of the country’s population are “razakars.” Throwing around nonsensical words such as these are what make us embarrassed. Therefore, I want to assure the minister: I support reform of the quota system, but I am not a razakar.
There’s a quota of 10% for women. They have a huge contribution to the development of our nation.
But my point is: Why humiliate them by giving a quota of 10%? Are they less meritorious than men? Why not 50%?
Women deserve to be 50% of the workforce in Bangladesh through honest competition. For equality to prevail, we must ensure all facilities are there for women to participate in merit competition.
We must value the merits through competition, which can contribute significantly to sustainable development.
We request all parties concerned to take the appropriate decisions to resolve the problem of the quota system reform as soon as possible. If not, there will be dire consequences in the near future.
An educated and healthy citizen can create a rich nation. Merit should be the main criterion to serve the people of a country -- not the debated quota system that is in place.
Muhammad Mehedi Masud is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia.