The Historic Youth-quake against a Discrimination -By Salman Riaz

Cover Story

The demand for quota reforms is essential, but total abolishment is not logical. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared to abolish the entire quota system in public service appointments, following her statement made different response to it. Prime Minister has assured to recruit marginal and crippled people through other processes also. But the question remains that how the government will insure recruitment of freedom fighter’s children, even marginal and crippled people? It could be fulfilled by special circular for them, which is protesters’ one of five prime demands to avoid. So it is not clear that the movement is definitely over. In the other sense, this movement is success. The common factors regarding the protesters are that they were young, dynamic and organized. The second common factor is that they are technologically expert. They have been using mobile phones, internet and social media from early childhood.
The social communication of these tech-savvy youth is so strong. They know how to use technology for gathering within short time. While the political parties spend billions of taka on campaigns, advertising, pestering, banners, renting buses and trucks, these young people have displayed their skill in organizing themselves in the shortest time. This is a realistic symbol of Youth quake. The Oxford Dictionary includes a new word ‘Youth quake’, was one of the most discussed words of 2017. This quota reform movement in Bangladesh was exactly that.
Even though the movement to reform quotas started in University of Dhaka, it has spread to universities all over the country. Students from Rajshahi, Khulna, Kushtia, Chattogram, Cumilla, Mymensingh, Barishal etc. are also mobilizing for quota reform. Even private universities have joined their peers from public universities in the struggle. Apparently, the central decisions are coming from the organizers at DU, allowing for coordinated action around the capital and the country. Students everywhere have been facing police brutality and attacks from students of ruling party groups. We heard from friends that there were physical attacks, sexual assault and rape threats by BCL goons in the student halls. Three organizers were abducted by RAB on 16 April, but they obliged to release them due to protesters raged spread out DU Campus.
Though it has been a movement of the young generation, but it has been a test for many. The role of the government, the ruling party, Dhaka University authorities and the law enforcers has been exposed. They have been criticized. Even the media has been criticized. Protesters also raised a common question. They said that Freedom fighters struggled for independence, not for personal benefit. A true fighter always teaches his children to fight with their own abilities. The authenticity of the freedom fighters’ certificates has been questioned before. Whether the actual freedom fighters received certificates or not, nobody knows!
On the other hand, a group has already been actively raised to declare that the quota reform movement is an anti-liberation one! They revealed that who are leading in this movement, they are involved in Jamaat-Shibir politics actively. Even a Daily Newspaper was published news about that. At last they were obliged to apologies and moved away that news from e-papers for raising ultimatum of protesters after couple of hours. It is the power of Youth quake also.

Quota system and
its evolution

In 1972, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman introduced the quotas as a gift for the freedom fighters. Then there was only 20 percent of the merit quota in recruitment of government employees. Besides, 40 percent district quota, 30 percent freedom fighters and 10 percent for war wounded women quota. But on 15 August 1975, after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu and his family, quota system was changed. In 1976, the merit quota was allotted to 40 percent, 20 percent district quota and freedom fighter quota was same at 30 percent. In 1985, again change was made in quota system. In the first and second class government jobs, 45 percent on merit, 30 percent for freedom fighters, 10 percent for district quota and 10 percent for women were preserved. And the first time, 5 percent quota was kept for tribal and minor ethnic groups. On 5 May, 2010, according to revised papers of the Public Administration Ministry, 30 percent for freedom fighters and their children/grandchildren, women quota 10 percent, district quota 10 percent and ethnic group for 5 percent were preserved.
In 2009, the percentage of quota for 64 districts was fixed. This rate is highest for Dhaka with 6.96 percent and Bandarban’s lowest point is 0.14 percent. In 2010, Government ordered that the quota for children of freedom fighters can not fulfill, then those posts will be kept vacant. In 2018, Government ruled that if the quota is not possible due to the absence of any eligible candidate, then posts are filled in the merit order. There are not acceptable of 55 percent quota, while the normal recruitment is only 45 percent.
The amendments brought from time to time can be seen from the fact that the quota has been converted into a complicated matter, and other amendments are not well-intentioned except for the quota for the disabled. As a result, there is a notion among the students and the job-seekers that they will not get the chance for the post of government in spite of their merit. As a result, the movement has recently become very formidable for demanding quota reforms. The general student rights conservation council suspended the ongoing movement by welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement of the quota system totally abolition, it will not be acceptable. This is not the demand of students.

What does say the Constitution?

The main objective of the quota system is to create equal opportunities for the neglected population. Quota matter is mentioned in Article 28 and 29 of the Constitution. But it is not mandatory. Article 28 of the Constitution says that no law can be made that discriminates, discrimination among citizens. Article 28 of the Constitution – the state can not discriminate against any citizen due to religion, group, caste, gender, or birthplace. Article 29 of the Constitution says that there will be equality of opportunity for all citizens to get government jobs or posts. No citizen will be disqualified or discrimination against him for recruitment or position in the public service due to religion, group, caste, gender or birthplace.
According to articles 28 and 29 of the constitution, there may be a quota for women and the backward sections of society. Article 29 (3) stipulates that there can be a quota for the backward section of the citizens, not any backward region. As per the constitution, there is no legal basis of freedom fighters quota. People from all walks of life participated in the liberation war. So the freedom fighters or their offspring cannot be considered as the backward section of the society.
The objection has been raised regarding the freedom fighters quota due to the emergence of forgery and corruption in this regard. Offspring of fake freedom fighters collect fake certificates, spending money and abusing power, and thus they manage government jobs. The number of freedom fighters increases during the rule of different governments, proving the farce around freedom fighters. According to the Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust, the number of freedom fighters was 69,833 in 1986. Later, the number increases at different times. In the beginning of the current government, a list of 202,300 freedom fighters was published. Allegations were raised that there are more fake freedom fighters in the list.
Nothing is said about the system for freedom fighters in the constitution of 1972. This constitution was enacted in the area where the quota system for freedom fighters was not raised. According to article 15, about the social security of the citizens, disabled freedom fighters and family of dead freedom fighters are mentioned (Bangladesh Gonoparishad debate, volume-2, 1972, page-470-1). If this is elaborated, the quota system may be legal for the children of disabled or dead freedom fighters, not for others.

Present Job Situation

According to the latest statistics from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the number of unemployed youth in the country is 2.6 million, of which about 10 percent have graduated and postgraduate degrees. If those who have passed the Higher Secondary added, it will be 40 percent. Despite the GDP growth the unemployment of the youth has increased. Some economists call it an employment-free growth.
More than 200,000 young people apply in the 36th BCS (Bangladesh Civil Service). Among them, PSC recommends the appointment of 2,332 people to different cadres. In other words, one job per one hundred candidates has been elected. They will have to wait for about 34 months till joining the job application. In addition to various examinations, there is a complaint in the election process that police investigation, which are sometimes used to exclude political dissidents. Apart from this, there is recruitment-business in the government posts also.

Where have Solution

In a news release on April 9, mentioned by public administration secretary that in 36th BCS, 70.38 percent were employed in merit quota. It is clear from his words that there are not enough eligible candidates in quota available. If so, why are not those percentage quota reduced? If 70 percent of the people are employed under merit quota, then where is the barrier to determine 70 percent merit quota?
As well as solving the quota problems, the real freedom fighters, their children and descendants have to recognize as their sacrifice and patriotism. In addition to the convenience of the quota of jobs, they have to provide housing, education and medical facilities, easy terms for employment and even cash assistance. But, continuing the controversial quota, none of the noble freedom fighters can stand against the common opponents.
The protesters have five demands. 1. Quota rate ranges from 56 percent to 10 percent; 2. To ensure recruitment from ordinary merit list to vacant post if the eligible candidate is not available. 3. Do not take special recruitment tests at any time. 4. To set up common age limits and evaluation procedures for government jobs And 5. The advantage of quota is not to use more than once.
Five demands are completely logical. The second claim in the government’s latest circular seems to have already been fulfilled. The first demand is ensured by the declaration of Prime minister, but has not published any circulation from the ministry of public administration. So it could be delayed to fulfill protesters demand.
Third claim is strongly logical. After 48 years of independence, participating anyone in competitive exams is strictly contradict to the constitution of Bangladesh. Such arrangements need to be stopped soon. And the context in which it was done has changed now. Therefore, the matter also demands reconsideration. Lastly, the claim that the quota facility is not used multiple times is also highly relevant and considerate. The rest, what the quota will be and how much it will be. Since the main demands of the students are meritorious appointment, the restraint of other quotes can be determined by 80-85 percent of the merit quota. The existing district quota has complicated the whole process. Due to the economic and social development of the districts, disparity is decreasing; therefore the district quota can be integrated into merit quota.
In view of the significant progress of women in society, women quota gradually reduced. Many of the members of the freedom fighters are eligible to be elected to merit quota. Others are not interested in government jobs. So this quota can be significantly reduced from 30 percent. Disability and indigenous quota can be kept in mind, and may even be slightly extended if necessary. However, all the quotes rewritten will be based on accurate statistics. The quota reform is not only for job seekers, but also claims for civil society peoples, because they want to establish good governance. So, quota will be reformed with realistic and fair method, it will be renovated in real and fair, it is everyone’s wish. n

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