RUTHLESS police action appears to have become a typical government response to any sections of the people that collectively differ with any policy of the incumbents — police actions against the university and college students, public and private, demanding reforms in the quota system in distributing government jobs being the latest example. The university graduates ready to apply for jobs often find the existing quota system a serious impediment towards getting a job on the basis of merits, for 56 per cent of the jobs are reserved for different sections of people based on various identities — gender, ethnicity and district, physical challenges and above all the descendants of the freedom fighters. While the university students have been demanding the reforms of the quota systems for quite some time, they have taken to the streets when the number of jobless among educated youths is on the rise on the one hand and various study reports and expert opinions are being published identifying the quota-system to be a major reason behind gradual deterioration of quality of the public servants on the other. Under such circumstances, any reasonable government would have taken up the issue of national interest for a sound review based on serious studies, seminar and symposium outputs and obviously public opinion. Instead, the incumbents have taken the path of silencing the vocal student demonstrations by using the inhuman police actions the way they are out to silence the opposition political camp/s protesting against the government’s autocratic practices. The banners and festoons carrying the portrait of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have also failed to protect the agitating students from the police batons and teargas canisters. Indeed, a typical autocratic practice.
However, the point that the governing quarters need to note is that the agitating students do not demand abolition of the quota system as such; instead they want ‘reforms’ of the system. Evidently, the students recognise the importance of the quota system as an affirmative action of the state for the marginalised sections of society. Their demand for ‘reforms of the system’ clearly suggests that they want an increased ratio in the quota system for distributing jobs on merit. This, we believe, is a rational demand, which is possible to meet, and with that comes the politically sensitive issue of the freedom fighters quota under which 30 per cent of the government jobs are reserved for the children and grand children of the freedom fighters.
It is indeed very important to reward the freedom fighters who have created the country by all possible means, patronisation of their children and grand children being one. This is, however, not less important to understand that the government should not pursue any policy that would eventually stand in the way of materialising the dreams of the freedom fighters for which they took up arms to liberate the country — the dream of developing the country in all possible directions, for which sets of meritorious and competent public servants remain an important component. We believe that the government should consider reducing the existing share of government jobs under the Freedom Fighters quota while adopting some other additional measures to compensate the descendants of the freedom fighters, and thus positively address the grievances of the new job seekers based on merit.
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