The premier educational institution of Bangladesh, Dhaka University, is in turmoil lately. Here are two newspaper headlines: 1) Violence, Vandalism at DU over Quota Protest, 2) Thursday’s Violence over Quota in BCS Exams: 1,700 BCS Job Seekers Sued.
What is going on there?
The results of the 34th BCS (Bangladesh Civil Service) preliminary examination were published on Monday (July 8, 2013), whereby 12,033 candidates qualified. According to some allegations, some candidates with nearly 80% marks did not qualify, while some candidates with 60% marks qualified! This was due to a quota system where there are allocations based upon what district the candidate is from and if the candidate’s parents were freedom fighters or rape victims during the country’s liberation war in 1971. Only 40% were selected based upon merit!
This has been an on-going phenomenon in Bangladesh ever since its independence in 1971. It is clearly not helping the country. When an unqualified person gets an important position, which involves using a considerable amount of intellect, and which is considered powerful in the third world countries, the result is what I call a monster with two heads, corruption and irresponsibility. No wonder, Bangladesh has earned the distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Bangladesh is a small country, smaller than most of the fifty states of the United States of America. The population is mostly homogeneously Bangla speaking. It is incomprehensible as to why there should be district-based quotas for any kind of positions – government and non-government jobs, school admissions, whatever. Isn’t it narrow-minded to distinguish people in terms of small districts? Isn’t it worse for this narrow-mindedness to be recognized at the government level to the point of putting poorly qualified individuals in important positions?
Quotas for the children of freedom fighters! The idea of quotas for the freedom fighters has been a disgrace for Bangladesh. It has given intellectual responsibilities to people who were not educationally qualified to take up those responsibilities. It has given business licenses and permits to young people who should have been given educational opportunities, so that they could attain the qualifications that were needed to serve their motherland, for which they had the will to give their lives.
Let us compare this Bangladeshi nonsense with what a developed country, the USA, has done.
People who participated in the Second World War as US military personnel were rehabilitated by the GI (General Infantry) Bill of 1944. What benefits did they get? Low-interest loans for housing, low-interest loans to start businesses, payments for attending schools and colleges, and unemployment benefits. Through this bill, millions of GI’s were empowered through education and trainings to be well-to-do citizens and to be worthy leaders of the USA.
In other words, the USA has helped and empowered their war-heroes to live well and to lead the country. In contrast, Bangladesh has corrupted their war-heroes and turned them into incompetent leaders. A lot of good people who had dedicated minds for the country ended up hurting the advancement of the country.
Job quotas, especially BCS job quotas, for the children and grandchildren of freedom fighters and of the war-crime victims is like going one step deeper down the ditch. Even help for them should be tapered down. After all, they are not the people who actually showed the dedication of giving up their lives for the country.
Jobs that are intellectually demanding should be particularly above any kind of quota system. They should be based solely upon merit. Giving out this kind of jobs should not be done for helping or appreciating good/dedicated minds that are not educationally qualified. A true freedom fighter would not even want this kind of quotas. A true freedom fighter would want this kind of jobs only after getting enough quality education and training to do the job well.
The turmoil at Dhaka University is being done by meritorious students that have been treated unfairly. In the bigger picture, the abolition of the quota system for BCS jobs is imperative for the development of Bangladesh; it is more crucial than just for fairness to the candidates. The quota system for BCS jobs is overdue for abolition.
About the Writer: Sukhamaya Bain is a US citizen who was born in a place that is a part of today’s Bangladesh. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry in 1987, and currently works for the US federal government, evaluating chemistry. While being a scientist by profession, he believes that societal justice is vital for the well-being of mankind. Thus, he occasionally writes on sociopolitical issues.