Panellists in a social dialogue in Dhaka on Friday said that citizens deprived of democratic rights were losing their due share on the national resources as the ruling elites continued protecting capitalism-based market economy in the name of development.
Centre for Bangladesh Studies arranged the dialogue on ‘Development model-induced conflicts and questions of democratic justification’ at Bishwa Sahitya Kendra auditorium.
The panellists said that the capitalistic development models could not hide its exploitative character with the colour of neo-liberalism which actually was narrowing individual’s freedom of dreaming.
They said that attractive development models like the sustainable development goals were obviously framed on colonial mindset.
Dhaka University economics teacher Rushad Faridi said that Malaysian politician Mahathir Mohamad-inspired idea of development-prioritised democracy was not applicable to Bangladesh as the country’s economy was dominated by ‘extractive institutions’.
Dhaka University international relations teacher Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan said that political elites and the beneficiaries of neo-liberal market economy helped survival of the exploitative development models.
He said that people’s democratic rights including their due stake on national resources would not be protected in the neo-liberal capitalistic political system.
Citing that beneficiaries of hand pump installation projects across the country later became victims of arsenic contamination, said Dhaka University disaster management teacher Nayeem Gawhar Wara.
He said that people-in-needs in some cases faced multiple social and health problems due to ‘blanket’ development projects.
Rights activists and writer Ilira Dewan said that eco-tourism development at the Sajek Valley in Rangamati actually benefited a certain group while forcing huge number of ethnic minority people to embrace eviction.
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua said that the colonial state system now framed rules to rationalise ‘unlawfully-approved’ development models hindering people’s freedom of choice.
Anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh said that application of the colonial-style development models was narrowing people’s freedom of dreaming about their own future.
Centre for Bangladesh Studies general secretary Arup Rahi moderated the dialogue attended also by researchers, students and social activists.
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