How many people are disable in Bangladesh? What are the qualities of budget for disable people? Have any disable people need mental counseling? What are the impacts of covid-19 on disable people? What are their levels of empowerment? What types of empowerment disable people enjoy in our society? Why real empowerment of disable people is necessary for building up a Decent Society? Solution of all these questions are analysed very critically and justifiable way by eminent Economist Prof. Dr. Abul Barkat in his recently published book namely “Boro Prodaye Somaj-Orthoniti-Rastro: Vairuser Mohabiporjoye Thekey Shovon Bangladehser Sondhane (On the Larger Canvas of Society-Economy-State: In Search of a Transition from the Virus-Driven Great Disaster to a Decent Bangladesh).
People with Disabilities are the most vulnerable, exposed, unprotected, and at risk. The adverse effects of COVID-19 have disrupted the life and livelihood of People with Disabilities. Professor Abul Barkat in his latest published book estimates that, out of 170 million people, 1.8 million people are carrying disability in Bangladesh (including lockdown period). It means 10.6% people of our total population. There are visually impaired 38 lacs, physically impaired 71 lacs, hearing impaired 20 lacs, and speech impaired 19 lacs, mental impared 18 lacs and multiple disability 14 lacs. The estimation will be 45 million till 2030 in Bangladesh. Economist Abul Barkat clarifies the people with disability status in the family and society. He also suggested that a “Decent Social System” is possible to build up by empowering of disable people properly.
Professor Abul Barkat clarifies “Decent Social System” is based on a democratic state system, which puts loyalty to nature at the front position; all socio-economic and political foundations should be built on the basis of the influence of nature. There are three foundational component of this concept – (i) Social foundational component owns knowledge rich, free thinking and creativity promoting; solidarity rich; secular; free from all forms of superstitions; rational humans; human well-fairest science; (ii) Economic foundational component includes people’s ownership on natural resources; social ownership on production; filthy rich less; share and market less system; and (iii) Political foundational component includes democracy, lord less state system, social justice, community administration and people’s responsibility to protect motherland.
The fundamental objectives of the theory of decent society are accelerating the process of human enlightenment; creativity promoting knowledge system; instilling high sense of solidarity; process of making human rationality up; making people free from all forms of inequality; free from rent-seeker; making a state for 100 percent people’s ownership and master less civic governance.
Abul Barkat presents eleven principles to renovate decent Bangladesh from covid-19 impacts. 1. We want development-welfare-progression, but the development would be nature-environment oriented; 2. We need economic growth. We don’t need environmentally harmful, socially unjustified, human resources destructive growth; 3. Growth should be inequality reduced; 4. Growth must be employment-creation oriented; 5. Per capita income or growth domestic product is not development. It must be ensure healthy life of women-children-old-marginal-poor-deprived-isolated people; 6. We want to transform the power of youth to real resources; 7. We want positive social impact; 8. People’s ownership on natural resources (land, water body, forest, space resources, coal, gas and mineral) on behalf of nature; 9. We want to uphold human security and equal opportunity for state-society-economy’ development; 10. Promote inequality reduced home grown development philosophy; 11. We want to extract the taste global economic opportunities.
To make Bangladesh a decent one; politically, socially and economically empowerment of disable people is indispensable. Abul Barkat estimates people with disability needs 15,590 crore taka as national budget. It includes supporting elements (2090 crore taka); health treatment (1800 crore taka); employment/education (2300 crore taka); food (5200 crore taka) and process in reduction of disability (4200 crore taka). Abul Barkat suggested eliminating all forms of discrimition and inequality against disable people in Bangladesh; implementing policies for disability reduction technology; eradicating deprivation trap of disable people(powerlessness, vulnerability, physical weakness, poverty and isolation/alienation); promoting principles where people with disability affected by covid-19.
In addition, sustainable development goals (SDGs) include reducing inequality by 2030. In this context, we need apposite strategies, financial support and public participation to achieve this goal. Abul Barkat recommends ensuring opportunities for a full life and full freedom that disable people should enjoy; inclusion of the excluded disable groups; respecting constitutional and justifiable rights; eradicating poverty; breaking deprivation trap; taking disability sensitive program and projects to build up a decent Bangladesh.
Shishir Reza is an Environmental Analyst & Associate Member, Bangladesh Economic Association