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The biggest challenges ahead of us

  • Published at 12:01 am January 15th, 2019
Train station
Can they expect proper service?  MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

Corruption and harassment need to end 

No one can deny the fact that the fate of Bangladeshi politics still remains in the hands of middle and lower middle socio-economic classes. Surprisingly, this class represents 80% of the total population of Bangladesh, while 20% considers itself as an elite class. 

No doubt, this middle and the lower middle class is a very crucial factor in the voting politics in a democratic country like Bangladesh, where electoral success largely depends on their support.

Despite the launch of several mega projects, the development of Bangladesh is still out of reach of mass people. These projects include the metro rail project, BRT project, Rooppur nuclear power plant, elevated expressway, Paira seaport, Padma bridge, and many other initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and improving the standard of living of the masses. 

Nonetheless, the bitter truth is that mass people still cannot appreciate the welfare to come from these development projects in Bangladesh -- but why? Indeed, a large portion of the population is yet to comprehend this development. They do not bother to fathom the importance of these mega projects.

Basically, this group of people can be classified into three groups depending on the profession. A group of ordinary people make up teachers, social workers, bankers, and small entrepreneurs. They are not at all greedy and rich, but respectful in society. They like social cohesion, instead of social division and social chaos. 

Their main concern is all about social dignity, social justice, safety, and security of their life, and reasonable prices for essential goods and services.

They are easy-going people with little ambition. However, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detentions, abductions, enforced disappearances, and the absence of rule of law paint a grim picture in their minds.

Besides, they are surrounded by dishonest, corrupt officials. This erodes people’s faith and confidence. They are not only the enemy of the people, but are also destroying the image of the respective political party. Therefore, it is high time for the ruling party to take a stern position and crack down on these elements.

There are groups of people in our society such as the elderly, the disabled, and the extremely poor, who need financial help from the government. However, it is very unfortunate that the allocated amount is rarely disbursed to the right person. The fact is crystal clear that there is a strong corrupt nexus between politically powerful people and local government officials, who have stood in the way of the right thing happening. 

Then there are the extreme poor people who live below the poverty line like farmers, fishermen, rickshaw-pullers, and small scale entrepreneurs, who deserve government assistance for fertilizers, seeds, off-season donations, upgraded technology for agricultural development, training, information, medication, interest-free loans and so on, to run their own businesses.

It is unfortunate that in spite of the huge budget of government for this group of people, these unfortunate people do not receive substantial benefits out of it. 

In most cases, non-farmers receive fertilizers and other facilities given by the government, rather than actual farmers. No interest-free loans are available to this category. While non-farmers receive agriculture loans from Krishi Bank, a large number of farmers, fishermen, widows, freedom fighters, and senior citizens are completely oblivious to the government donation schemes. 

I would certainly say that this is the great failure of the government. The government has been unable to provide people-friendly services to make an effective connection with mass people. They fail to create enough awareness of this agenda among respective groups. 

It is still noticed that mass people are afraid to take any type of government services such as police assistance when in need, and treatment in government hospitals, or any other government services because of the harassment encountered.

Therefore, we sincerely urge the current government: Kindly bring mass people under the umbrella of national development and ensure their basic rights regardless of political thoughts. It is the right time to make sure there are enough people-friendly services and law enforcement agencies, a competent and service-oriented public administration, and zero tolerance of corruption, which will break down the nexus between politically powerful people and local government officials. 

Otherwise, our journey towards a peaceful and prosperous society will be impeded, time and again. 

Muhammad Mehedi Masud is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia.