Reforms in quota distribution are necessary, the source of the solution is in the hands of the government


Dissatisfaction has again increased with the system of quota distribution in government jobs. After five and a half years, university students and job seekers are once again in a state of agitation demanding the reform of this system. The agitators are making demands every day at different points of the capital. Common people are suffering. Universities have come to a standstill. There is no ‘response’ from the government. Government ministers and secretaries are ‘avoiding responsibility’ as the matter is under trial in the court. The last Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also clarified that there is no ‘justification’ of the ongoing movement demanding quota reform.

However, academicians and former bureaucrats who served in the public administration ministry of the government termed the ongoing movement of students as ‘rational’. They also urged the government to negotiate with the agitators to resolve the crisis. Apart from this, the academicians have given their opinion in favor of ‘rational reforms’ without abolishing the quota completely.

Quotas were justified for a time. Now the situation is different. It is impractical for someone to be established with quota benefits, then to re-grant quota benefits to someone from his family or clan. From that point of view, this movement of students in quota reform is logical. DU’s former vice-chancellor professor Dr. Arefin Siddique

How logical this movement is

In 2018, the teachers also stood by the students in the movement to cancel the quota. They opined that the move was justified. At one stage, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the abolition of the quota system while addressing the National Parliament. Later the Ministry of Public Administration issued a notification clarifying it.

After a long time, the High Court declared the government’s notification illegal and directed to maintain the quota. The matter is still pending. In the meantime, students and job seekers have started the movement. Educationists think that this movement to reform the quota system is also logical. Even former bureaucrats have sought reforms in quota distribution.

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Professor Dr. has served as the vice-chancellor of Dhaka University (DU) for two terms. A.M.S. Arefin Siddique. He thinks that this movement of students is more logical.

The university students and graduates who are studying for jobs today are agitating for quota reforms, there is a lot of justification for this movement. They are extremely against quota. I think that their position is not against liberation war or brave freedom fighters.- Emeritus Professor Dr. AK Azad Chowdhury

Professor Arefin Siddique said, ‘The logic of keeping the quota was there for a while. Now the situation is different. It is impractical for someone to be established with quota benefits, then to re-grant quota benefits to someone from his family or clan. From that point of view, this movement of students to reform the quota is logical.

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Emeritus Professor and former Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University. AK Azad Chowdhury also described the students’ movement as ‘very logical’. He told Jago News, ‘University students and graduates who are studying for jobs today are agitating for quota reform, there is enough justification for this movement. They are extremely against quota. I think that their position is not against the liberation war or brave freedom fighters.

Abu Alam Mohammad Shahid Khan, former senior secretary of local government department. He observed the 2018 anti-quota movement very closely. This time also he said that he is keeping an eye on the demands and movement of the students and job seekers.

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Abu Alam Mohammad Shaheed Khan said, ‘Since the government did not take sustainable measures then (in 2018), a similar movement has been formed with the same demands. It is not possible to say now what will be the end result of the movement. As far back as I can remember—in 2018, the agitators wanted a logical reform of the quota system. The government suddenly canceled the whole thing. This movement is based on that. Like last year’s movement, various parties are saying that the students’ demands are reasonable. Personally, I also find some of their demands reasonable.’

What is the solution?

In 2018, the demands of the protesters were clearly from the government. This time the matter is different. The High Court declared the government’s directive illegal. The country is unstable in the midst of this ongoing legal battle between the executive and judiciary. In such a context, the discussion is going on which way the solution can be.

At present, there can be a discussion about how much quota is required for the family members of the freedom fighters. The government should take the initiative to solve the problem. 2018 notification may also be discussed there. It can also be discussed in the national parliament. If the government wants, there are many solutions. Former Senior Secretary Abu Alam Mohammad Shaheed Khan

Professor Dr. AK Azad Chowdhury said, ‘This time is different than last time. The government canceled the quota. Now the court says it is illegal. Naturally, the government will not say anything about it. I think the government may not go ahead with it (quota reform). In that case, the solution must come through the court.’

Professor Arefin Siddique, however, expressed a different opinion. He said, ‘In a state, various problems and crises will come. The matter is pending in court. Still, the government has something to do here. All problems can be solved through discussion. Good will is needed. I think the government should take the initiative to resolve the crisis. A solution will come if we sit with the students.’

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Abu Alam Mohammad Shaheed Khan said, ‘At present, there can be a discussion about how much quota is needed for the family members of the freedom fighters. The government should take the initiative to solve the problem. 2018 notification may also be discussed there. It can also be discussed in the national parliament. If the government wants, there are many solutions.’

What percentage quota should there be?

When the quota system was changed in 2018, it can be seen that there are 258 types of quotas in different jobs in Bangladesh. However, there are more objections about ‘grandchildren quota of heroic freedom fighters’, ‘pet quota’, ‘women quota’, ‘district wise quota’. Altogether 56 percent of the government jobs are occupied by the quota. In the remaining 44 percent, talent does not get a chance in the ‘campaign trade’ at various times. In that case, there is a discussion in various circles about how much percentage of quota is acceptable. Even academicians and former bureaucrats think it is important to make policies on this.

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Emeritus Professor Dr. According to AK Azad Chowdhury, ‘Total 5 to 10 percent quota can be kept.’ This educationist said, ‘Women in Bangladesh have progressed a lot now. There is no need for massive quotas for them. The children and grandchildren of the brave freedom fighters have received quota benefits in service for many years. They also need logical reforms. As it is the moral responsibility of the state to bring backward castes or groups to equality, quotas have some need. That’s why few percent of freedom fighter quota can be kept by keeping minorities, women and respect. But that is by no means 56 percent. There may be 5-10 percent quota in total.’

Former Senior Secretary Abu Alam Mohammad Shaheed Khan has urged for individual policies in quota distribution in recruitment. He said, ‘quota system is in operation in many countries of the world. It is not more than 10 percent. Adivasi and women quota can be kept in Bangladesh too. A policy needs to be made in this regard through discussion. The policy should also include the frequency of quota benefits. Once someone gets quota benefits, he is no longer a backward class. Besides, research is also needed on how many people have come under the quota benefits so far.’

AAH/EA/GKS