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4 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Our expectations about the New Year

The overwhelming majority of the people hope that things would be much better in 2018
Md. Atiqur Rahman
Our expectations about the New Year

Unity is a must for the sustainable development in our country. That’s why, most of the people of this country have not been able to enjoy the benefits of independence and democracy till now in the country's political power struggle. Ours is a nationalism based on language. The historic language movement was a great step towards teaching the nation how to protest against injustice.

In our great freedom movement people were stimulated by the creation of a new consciousness, secularism, economic and political liberation. These values over the years have become hostage to a few beneficiaries who are still trying to prevent the common people from becoming truly liberated. It must always be remembered that the people of Bangladesh won the independence through shedding blood.

Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of the people have not received the benefits of liberation. It is true that the country has become independent, it has increased production in the manufacturing sector, wealth has increased a lot, employment has increased. All these are positive things. Nevertheless it is also true that many have become rich overnight and corruption remains endemic. Although the present government has directed the ACC to take necessary action in this regard little tangible has been achieved. Also whether the corruption watchdog body is really independent is open to question.

No matter how much the government talks about development the truth is sustainable development cannot be achieved while there is rampant corruption. Corruption undermines good governance and erodes the rule of law. It hampers economic growth and efforts for poverty reduction. Corruption is one of the most crucial social problems that developing countries are confronting today and Bangladesh is no exception. Like most developing countries, Bangladesh suffers from over-population, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and lack of resources. Similarly, Bangladesh has a backward economy, political instability, and corruption at all levels of society and government.

Theft and extortion are the main hindrance in the informal business and trades caused both by criminal gangs and by the police. For example every month millions of taka is collected as tolls from footpath hawkers and traders of Dhaka city. A major portion of this money collected goes into the pockets of the law enforcers.

Small, medium and large-scale industries and business enterprises in the city suffer regularly from political violence. Strikes and hartals stop production sometimes for days together. Organized criminal gangs often break into premises of banks, markets even industries and rob cash money, valuable goods and jewels, etc. Stealing of machinery and equipments from offices are common occurrences. All sectors of these industry and business have to rely heavily on private security forces sometimes with arms. Security personnel are sometimes found to be involved in these crimes rather most crimes in such cases happen through involvement of inside members.

From the tendering stage of procurement in big projects, threats, bribery takes lead and extortion, thefts etc. continue. Private sector development work in any area is hindered by extortion through organized gangs operating locally and centrally.

The city bus terminals are subject to regular extortion by various gangs under the banner of political groups or various associations. The extent of toll collection is such that every bus entering the terminal has to pay a fixed amount of Tk. 25 per trip where actually each vehicle is supposed to pay Tk. 30 per day only. Mini buses, auto rickshaws even rickshaw pullers regularly pay tolls to mastans and the police. The brunt is ultimately taken out of the passengers who have to bear the cost through increased fares.

Violence in education institutions is common and often forces people, even the middle class to send their children to private educational institutions, especially at the university level. Many times in an academic year educational institutions are forcibly closed due to violence mostly for political reasons. If this situation continues, the public education system in the country is bound to fail at some point and may end up in a big loss to the national resources as employment and services provided in these sectors are substantial.

However it is also true that although Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971, it didn’t begin to experience real democratic freedoms until 1991. Even now accountability of powerful political figures is an alien concept. Ninety percent of the country's peace-loving people are being used by the political parties. There have been repeated human rights violations the victims apparently have nowhere to go although the constitution guarantees the security of the life of the citizens and the freedom of the persons.

The attitude of the law enforcers leaves a lot to be desired. The police still follow the Police Act, 1861, principal purpose of which was to serve the British. Rather than focusing on the professional aspect of crime control, the Act overemphasises the constabulary functions of the police. We need a new Police Act, which will focus on professional aspect of crime control and clearly define police role and responsibility. The new Act needs to ensure police professionalism, accountability and modern police management, the proper functioning of which seeks to improve human security and access to justice. It should provide the basis for establishing police as a public-friendly service-oriented organisation, which will be monitored by police-public consultative committees.

Because of lack of proper training and motivation, police do not know that they are the servants of the Republic, which requires its people to be served properly. Members of police force are busy with serving the government officers and party in power, rather than acting in a service-delivery system. Proper training will make them aware about their role of establishing rule of law. As members of an important agency of state and criminal justice system, they are under lawful compulsion to provide proper service to all types of people of the society.

All these must change. The government needs to demonstrate political will to improve law and order conditions in the country. It should also make local authorities responsible to their constituencies to ensure safety and security in their areas. It is the civil society’s duty to create awareness about the need for law and order and engage in actions to pressurize decision makers to take the subject seriously. They can enlighten the government by providing good examples from other countries on dealing with the problem, strengthen local and national link among institutions and coordinate with international groups, build network and partnerships to pressurize government and make elected representatives responsible.

The private sector can contribute by organizing and managing crime and violence protection within their sphere of projects and programmes. The Government with support of donor agencies can start an awareness campaign on the topic. Reduction of crime and violence, improvement of law and order should be an important component of the Government and Donors in their Poverty Reduction Programmes (PRSP) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Bangladesh.

  It is important to end this situation.

The writer is a freelancer, atik@buft.edu.bd

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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