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Dhaka Tribune

Reform the out-dated, illogical quota

Update : 26 Jul 2013, 05:30 AM

A quota-dominated recruitment system in the civil service cannot ensure the country’s development.

If we look at the existing provisions, the quota occupies 56% of recruitment while merit-based recruitment stand at 44%. This proportion is likely one of the worst in the world, contributing heavily to the lag in the progress of the nation. The system is not only discriminatory and illogical, but also a grave violation of the constitution and the spirit of Independence.

The 30% reservation of government jobs for freedom fighters was first introduced in 1972. Even after 42 years, the state has failed to reform this discriminatory and unconstitutional provision, antagonistic to the spirit of the war of liberation.

The Republic’s constitution in its preamble defined the spirit of the liberation war saying: “…it shall be a fundamental aim of the state to realise through the democratic process, a socialist society, free from exploitation, a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice, political, economic and social will be secured for all citizens.”

The preamble did not sanction any special benefits for freedom fighters or their families, because, they did not fight for special benefits. And when the recent anti-quota movement gained popularity among students in many graduate schools across the country, several freedom fighters said the quota for the dependents of the freedom fighters is derogatory to them.

Our constitution, in article 19(1), reads: “The State shall endeavor to ensure equality of opportunity to all citizens.”

Article 29, titled Equality of Opportunity in Public Employment, says: “There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in respect of employment or office in the service of the Republic.”

In the same article the constitution says the state can make special provisions in favour of any disadvantaged section of citizens for the purpose of securing their adequate representation in the services of the Republic.

In comparison to the total population of the country freedom fighters are only 200,000 or 0.12% and this percentage cannot possibly deserve 30% of total available jobs. It leaves a space for ill-motivated recruitment in the country’s future administrative leader pool.

The ongoing movement against the quota provision in BCS exams demands total cancellation of the provision, but it's not yet subject to fulfillment as there are some disadvantaged sections of citizens like the physically challenged and indigenous population.

I feel it is the high time for reformation of the quota system, as 42 years after independence, it discriminates against some of its citizens.

Maximum posts remained vacant in the last five public service examinations. Yet, 33rd special BCS examination was arranged for recruiting from under-privileged sections only.

Thousands of youths are preparing themselves to serve the country, but the PSC failed to recruit them due to the quota system, and the country, as a result is falling into intellectual bankruptcy.

If we turn our eyes to the recent SSC, HSC and the departmental results in different universities, we easily find that the women do not lag behind in performance, and often perform better than the male peers.

Where Bangladesh has achieved fame for women empowerment and women engagement, why should the government deem them disadvantaged? I feel the quota provision for women is belittling for them, and it undermines their capacity and merit.

The district quota was introduced when the state was divided into 17 district units, but the state is now divided into 64 districts, and according to Dr Akbar Ali Khan, using district quotas are complex. The government can easily erase this provision also.

Indigenous people make up 1.5% of our total population, so it makes little sense that the state reserves 5% of the available seats for them. It is discriminatory against the largely homogeneous Bengali people, and it should be justified.

The 1% quota for the physically challenged people is rational and important as they struggle in attaining higher education and must overcome thousands of hurdles.

We demand to the government, elected mainly by young voters in 2008, to heed logical demands. The demand of the BCS job aspirants is not for illogical benefits for them, nor is it politically motivated; rather, it is for equal opportunity for all, and for restoration of the true spirit of the Independence war and for the betterment of the country.

We call the government to limit the quota to 10% or 15%, and allow more room for meritorious candidates.

If the government fails to recognise the pulse of the youth and their demands, they will reply through ballots in the upcoming national elections.

The system now demands drastic reform, and the accommodation of more meritorious candidates in public service. The government must recognise this problem and take necessary steps. Such reform could be a big leap forward towards a meritocratic society.

Despite Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina’s recent comment on the quota system and the demonstrators, we hope as the chief of Bangladesh Awami League, the party that led the war of independence will not allow this discrimination to continue. 

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