Is the quota reform movement about to make a comeback?
On September 11, the Bangladesh Public Service Commission published the circular of 40th BCS. PSC Chairman Dr Muhammad Sadique told the media that a total of 1,903 cadres will be recruited and that the newest decision by the government on the quota system will be followed.
To the average student, this circular creates doubt, as they have no quota reservation with respect to the recruitment examination. Job-seeking graduates and students from all around the country have been demanding reformation within the existing quota system for a long time now, as made evident by the protests earlier this year.
As things stand, 56% of the quota is reserved for the children and the grand-children of freedom fighters, women, and the indigenous. Their demand has been to lessen that percentage down to 20%.
Understanding the needs and rationality of this demand, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April declared a complete abolition of the quota system in recruitment examinations and stated that there will be alternative arrangements for the people who benefit from the quota reservations. In accordance with her order, a committee was formed.
The committee has finally made a decision and gave its recommendation in this respect to the government. On the basis of this recommendation, the government is supposed to publish a gazette notification.
Given that the government is yet to publish said notification, the publication of the BCS circular has created a furor among students, who are planning to assemble once again and create a strong agitation movement against the government for the quick publication of the gazette notification.
Moreover, the publication of the circular being exclusive to freedom-fighter quota holders, by the government-run Sonali Bank, to fill out 286 vacancies, only exacerbates the situation, adding further salt to their students’ wounds.
So, given the situation, any further delay in the publication of the gazette notification will definitely make matters worse and disrupt the law and order in the country. The PM understands the gravity of the situation, which makes any further delay in the publication baffling and entirely contradictory to her earlier statements. The students are not willing to hear about delays, as they have already welcomed the decision made by the committee.
The 11th parliamentary elections are just around the corner, and students constitute a considerable portion of the vote bank. As per information provided by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 30% of all voters are aged between 18 to 30 years.
And most of them are students.
From which we can naturally conclude that further delays and undesirable decisions on the part of the state when it comes to the quota system is going to cost them dearly. There is very little reason to believe that the publication of the gazette would be very difficult for the government, given that all the recommendations and provisions are already in place.
The situation is untenable for students throughout the country, and for the government to finally meet their demands only stands to benefit both parties.
Muhammad Zubair is Research Assistant, Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs.