Give women their due: They will turn society into heaven



Pradip Kumar Dutta
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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The whole world is going to observe International Women's Day on 8 March. The history of how it came into being is long. But it could enter the UN calendar only in 1977.

It’s a triumph of the legendary ladies who were ahead of their time and fought for the emancipation of Women's rights in all spheres of life: right to vote, equal wages as their male counterparts, eight hours working day and above all dignity in life. It’s just about a hundred and fifty years ago that these demands started surfacing.

Even in USA, considered as the most advanced country in the world, White women got voting rights only in 1920,Black's even much later. In 1857 the garments workers, mostly ladies, came out to the streets of Chicago for establishing equal wages, reasonable working hours and humane treatment.

The industrial revolution taught Europe many things. Amongst those we have democracy, social justice and freedom from capitalist exploitation. The movements grew in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, England and other parts of Europe. Germans were of course spearheading the workers and peasants movements. By 1848 great German Economist, Philosopher and Political Scientists Karl Marx and Frederich Engels have published their epoch making Manifesto of the Communist Party.

In the manifesto they urged the working class of the world to rise against all oppressive measures of the capitalist owners and revolt. The publication ends with the revolutionary quote," The proletariat of the world has nothing to lose but their shackles whereas they have the whole world to conquer." This electrifying statement energised the working class and they started gaining ground by getting organised in groups. Trade Unions were yet to be formed en masse.

Two prominent German ladies Clara Zeitkin and Rosa Luxembourg came up fighting together with some other brave comrades of theirs to fight shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. They specially put forward the plight of the lady workers in different fields. In America too the voices grew stronger and in 1909 for the first time a day was observed on 28 February to put forward the just demands of the womenfolk. It was a striking success.

And in 1910 in a preparatory meeting of the Second International (to be held in Copenhagen in 1911) a proposal was put forward by Clara Zeitkin to observe an International Women’s day every year to press forward the demands of the women working class. It was passed unanimously and every year it started to be celebrated in different countries but on different dates. It is needless to mention that world socialist movement which was growing by the day in that era was the driving force behind the celebration.

After the establishment of USSR the momentum grew. The day was fixed as 8 March in memory of the Chicago garments workers movement. The whole socialist block and their like minded parties used to observe the day since then in due solemnity. In the Socialist block countries it was a public holiday and a day of celebration, as all demands of equality were fulfilled in those countries.

Persistent follow up by those countries, empowerment of women in other countries and the success of women in every field of life as their male counterparts convinced the world body finally. As mentioned earlier since 1977 UN is observing this day as International Women’s Day and dedicated the day towards recognising the achievements of half of the mankind. The decision was taken in UN General Assembly in 1975.

This year's theme of the day is Invest in Women: Accelerate progress. Let's all acclaim our ladies for their contribution in shaping the world. Long live Clara Zeitkin, the proponent of the day.

Pradip Kumar Dutta: Columnist, Essayist and Traveller

"It is important not to nurture the mentality of revenge to resolve the crisis"



Dr. Mahbub Ullah
Dr. Mahbub Ullah

Dr. Mahbub Ullah

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Dhaka University teacher, distinguished economist and political analyst Dr. Mahbub Ullah said that the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) directive to close all the Universities in the country due to the unstable situation arising out of the student movement demanding quota reform is contempt for the autonomy of the universities.

He feels that it is very important to show the sincerity of the government and related parties to the agitating students to resolve the ongoing crisis and not to harbor any kind of revenge mentality.

This educationist criticized the civil society of the country along with those concerned with the government as the quota reform movement turned into a mass explosion. He said, our civil society is not only divided, but most of them are not able to fulfill their historical responsibilities due to the desire to get the favor of the state.

In an exclusive interview given to Barta24.com on Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Mahbub Ullah talked to  Planning Editor Ashraful Islam.

Barta24.com: Due to the conflicting outcome of the quota reform movement, all educational institutions in the country have been ordered to close due to the unstable situation. The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) directive to close down Universities as autonomous institutions has been criticized. How do you see this...

Dr. Mahbub Ullah: Public Universities are autonomous institutions. And the Syndicate is the highest administrative decision making body of the University. What we have noticed in the past is that when any such crisis arises, the Vice-Chancellor calls a meeting of the Syndicate. After discussion there, they decided whether to close the University indefinitely or for a fixed period. Now it can be said that what happened through UGC does not seem to be in accordance with the general rules or conventions. In this case, the autonomy of the University has been disregarded. It was not desirable at all. The government knows very well that the council formed with the Vice-Chancellor of the Universities has a lot of authority behind it. Be it public or private University. Even the appointment of Vice-Chancellors and VCs of private Universities requires prior approval of the government. They do not happen without the consent of the government. The government could have done this by directing that Universities should be closed in such situations. Then surely the Vice-Chancellor would not have disagreed. Since the Vice-Chancellors are all of the same line..not going that way..Seems that there was a kind of rush. The work must be done quickly. No doubt it is not quite in accordance with all the conventions and precedents of the past.

Barta24.com: 6 people were killed and many injured in clashes across the country on Tuesday around the quota movement. This bloodshed in the student movement could not be avoided?

Dr. Mahbub Ullah: The stand taken by the students on the issue of quota...since 2018, they have never said that quota should be completely withdrawn or abolished. They said they want quota reforms. They want a reform that will play a substantial role in merit assessment. Almost many in the government circles also accept its accuracy. In this situation, what the government could have done from the beginning, since it is correct, is to reassure the students by saying, 'We can understand the validity of your demands. However, many experiments are needed to solve the problem. On that basis, I will give a solution acceptable to all which will be acceptable to you.

There is a justification for those who should get quota, keeping quotas and excluding the rest. Many people say that the number of freedom fighters in the entire population? Then what is their ratio, and do it accordingly. Students said the quota could be a maximum of 5 percent. Some in the political party BNP said it could be ten to fifteen percent. However, it could have been done through a discussion in an atmosphere of compromise in an atmosphere of sympathy. What followed was a matter of inflexibility. A sad thing happened. Many lives were lost, many were injured. However, it should also be remembered that the events of the past few days are not just due to the indifference of the government regarding the quota. On the contrary, it can be said that it is not possible to make any manifestation of the protests that have been accumulating for a long time due to various reasons; there has been an explosion for that. It is sadder than that; the way the students were beaten up is not desirable in any civilized country in a free democratic country. Even then there were outsiders, many who are not students, used. I was once a University student, later a teacher, in our experience, suppression of student movements by outsiders has never happened. This is very reprehensible, sad--unacceptable. Even so, I will say that everyone should be happy so that we can come to a fair solution. And an atmosphere of democracy and tolerance can be restored in the country where everyone, including students, workers and farmers, will fulfill their duties as citizens to their heart's content.

Barta24.com: How do you think the overall situation can be changed in the existing situation...

Dr. Mahbub Ullah: Transition is difficult. When an issue comes to the country, many other issues get involved. That is for our childhood. Problems happen because we cannot handle them properly. Now Universities, schools-colleges-all educational institutions have been closed. We don't know when it will open. By when will the government understand or realize that the environment is open from this point of view, it can be said that the educational life of the students will suffer a lot. Session congestion may occur. Also, public university teachers have their own movement going on. I don't see much light in the way of solving that movement. I don't know how to solve it. That being said, the biggest thing needed to address this is sincerity and not harboring any kind of revenge mentality. To wash away all the ink from the mind with an open mind and take initiative to solve it with sincerity. It's hard to imagine that would be easy, though because the scar or wound that is formed after bleeding cannot be easily wiped off. Wounds on the human body may heal with treatment but scars remain. That is the concern.

Barta24.com: How do you see the role of civil society outside the government in mitigating the crisis?

Dr. Mahbub Ullah: Civil society plays a major role in creating a healthy and tolerant environment in the country. Unfortunately, the civil society of Bangladesh is divided. Not only divided, most of them are unable to fulfill their historical responsibilities because of the desire to gain favor with the state. But during the Pakistan period, even after the creation of Bangladesh, we noticed that the civil society here; Especially educationists-University teachers, lawyers, various professionals, artists-poets and writers have played a big role. Today those who are supposed to be the conscience of the nation are almost silent. Not only are they silent, but they are tolerant of wrongdoing. It is very sad, painful and this situation should change. I hope that in the future many such conscientious people will be created. 

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Crisis resolution requires sensitivity, not provocation



Ashraful Islam, Planning Editor, Barta24.com
Photo: Barta24.com

Photo: Barta24.com

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The heat of the quota reform movement gradually accumulated and culminated in a mass explosion across the country including the capital. According to the latest updates published in the media, at least 6 people were killed in clashes between BCL and police in the capital Dhaka, Chattogram and Rangpur on Tuesday. Many were injured.

Last Sunday (July 13) there was a glimpse of some kind of explosion. On Monday, Dhaka University took the shape of the battlefield and the speculation became reality. On Tuesday, the fire of violence spread across the country. According to the latest news, all schools and colleges in the country have been announced to be closed. BGB has been deployed in several places of the country.

The overall situation and casualties are undoubtedly tragic. We have noticed that for the last few weeks, students have been on the field protesting for quota reforms. So far only the students of public Universities have taken this movement forward, but after the attack on the agitators on Monday, private Universities and even college students have joined the movement.

What has been revealed about the quota reform movement is a kind of dichotomy among the common people. This dichotomy is mainly accentuated by the question of not keeping the freedom fighter quota in the job. Many MP-Ministers of the government or leaders of the ruling party identified the agitators as anti-spirit of the liberation war. But the thing to consider is that although it was possible to take this quota movement to the stage of settlement long ago, no one concerned has taken initiative to solve it. On the contrary, many have found the matter to be stubbornly in its own right. A solvable issue became increasingly complicated in front of everyone.

It is worth noting that, apart from the government or the rulers, no other political party, organization or civil society has taken the lead in mitigating the heat of the movement. Especially the movement developed from a completely non-political platform, why could not a solution or consensus be reached at a relatively stable time, this question is getting bigger now.

In the era of social media dominance, any incident takes no time to reach the masses. But common people don't have time to check how reliable the information spread on social media is. As a result, there is a lot of confusion with the information. This public confusion made matters more turbulent.

Overriding all such facts, the fact that comes into consideration is that neither the government nor the concerned individuals or institutions have taken the quota reform movement seriously enough. And they didn't feel the need to talk to the students who had been protesting for weeks because they didn't take it. Attempts have been made by the government or the ruling party to say that the matter is within the jurisdiction of the courts to decide. How can the government decide there? But when we saw that the court observed that the government could decide on the issue of quota, the government's position remained unchanged.

The movement which has the involvement of a large part of the young generation, that the movement can grow gradually, should not be unknown to the leaders of the ruling party or the Ministers. But why it did not matter to them is the big question. In this case it will not be wrong to say that it is the failure of the concerned.

Another trend observed in recent years is that the head of government or the Prime Minister has to intervene in all matters. But even if there are so many levels of different departments in a government or under it, why couldn't they play a role in resolving the movement? Just as it is not a good sign that all the decisions are concentrated in the chief executive of the country, the lack of duty on the part of the officials is also not desirable. Because of this, many people think that the people involved are silent spectators as one of the reasons for this mass explosion.

We know that all the countries of the world are going through more or less turbulent times due to economic crisis during the war. There is no doubt that the newly created instability of the country will make the situation even worse, as we have been hearing the concerns about the economic crisis of Bangladesh in recent years or months. The country's instability also poses major challenges to foreign investment and trade.

There is no doubt that the stability of the country will be further disrupted in the coming days as the signs of the student movement turning into a mass movement were seen today. On the other hand, the negative role of many influential countries in the world is not unknown in Bangladesh's way forward. Before the student protests in Bangladesh happened, we saw the statement from US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. In the recent past too, the country has shown a tendency to stick its nose in the internal issues of Bangladesh.

With the goal of transitioning from LDC in 2026, Bangladesh is developing as a country with great potential in South Asia, so we need to be vigilant about anything that can hinder development. Where our educated youth are always concerned about the unemployment crisis, considerable sensitization on the quota reform movement was desirable.

Analysts are of the opinion that the crisis could not have reached this far if the discussions with the agitators had started to maintain discipline and study environment in the country's educational institutions. As the government does not take advantage of that opportunity, it is known that opposition political parties or organizations will try to use it. Everyone knows that the Jamaat or the anti-independence forces, which are known as the opposing force in the Great War of Liberation, are active in exploiting this opportunity. But why was that opportunity given to them in ignorance, this is The question is now swirling.

In the current situation, the government Ministers or leaders of the ruling party will surely understand this reality. But what many top leaders of the 14 party alliance and many progressive academics insist today is that the opportunity for dialogue with the agitators is far from over. Young people are the future - not denying this fact, the responsible people should guide their future.

The hindrances created in the past decades to practice the universal history of the freedom struggle in the independent sovereign Bangladesh gained through the Great War of Liberation must be taken into consideration. If the young generation has to take responsibility for not knowing the correct history, then it is the responsibility of the state because the failure of not telling the correct history to the generation rests on the state. Above all, all concerned should work together to resolve this anarchic situation arising out of the ongoing agitation for quota reform. That is why sensitivity is expected from all responsible, not incitement.

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How long will the institutions remain non-functional in the movement of teachers and students?



Kabir Ahmed, Assistant Editor, Barta24.com
Pic: Barta24.com

Pic: Barta24.com

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Even before the start of the quota reform movement, public university teachers and officers-employee movement has been the educational environment of the country. As the students' movement gained momentum, the movement of teachers and educational institutions related to the scheme called 'Pratyaya' of universal pension has withdrawn from the discussion. Although this movement on pension is out of discussion, it is still going on. Teachers and educational staff are on strike since July 1 demanding the withdrawal of the Universal Pension Scheme certificate. They have announced that they will remain in the movement until their demands are met.

The education system of the country is already stagnant. Now the quota movement has been added. This movement is not about education, but about jobs after education. The protestors demand equal opportunities, equal rights. They want government job benefits based on merit and not quota. In their view, this demand is not unfair, although while making a 'fair demand', they are unfairly insulting the country's freedom fighters. Questioning the freedom fighter quota, many have risen to mock the great liberation war and heroic freedom fighters. After half a century of independence, many are mocking the reason for the participation of freedom fighters in the liberation war. This is undesirable, and should be the subject of legal remedies. After the 'Holocaust Denial Act', the long-standing demand to enact the 'Liberation War Denial Crime Act' in the country, if it had been enacted, then the liberation war and brave freedom fighters would not have had to face such humiliation from time to time.

It is well known that after the 2018 quota reform movement, the government scrapped the quota system. In the circular issued on October 4 that year, direct recruitment to the posts of 9th (formerly Class I) and 10th to 13th grade (formerly Class II) would be based on merit. The existing quota system for direct recruitment to the posts of Grade 9 (formerly Class I) and Grades 10 to 13 (formerly Class II) has been abolished. After the circular of the government, 7 students challenged it and wrote a writ. On the 5th of last month, the High Court canceled the circular and ruled. Then on June 9, the state filed an application to suspend the judgment of the High Court. In the appeal verdict on July 10, the court stayed the High Court's verdict and fixed the date for the next hearing of the matter after four weeks.

Since the beginning of the movement, the government has been saying that the court will decide on the quota. Students say that the government has to take a decision. In such a situation, on July 11, the summary judgment declaring the circular issued in 2018 invalid by canceling the quota in government jobs has been published. A bench of Justice KM Kamrul Quader and Justice Khizir Hayat delivered the summary judgment on Thursday. The published summary judgment said that the government can change, reduce or increase the ratio of quota if necessary. And this judgment will not create any obstacle on the government. If the quota is not filled in any public examination, the government can fill up vacant posts from the general merit list. The verdict directed to restore the quota for children, grandchildren of freedom fighters. At the same time it is asked to maintain quotas for districts, women, persons with disabilities, tribal-minorities. The High Court's partial judgment asked to publish a notification in this regard as soon as possible within 3 months of the judgment.

The status quo judgment of the Appellate Division was followed by a partial judgment by the High Court, which appears to leave it entirely up to the government. If the government wants to, it can give executive decisions about the quota. Due to the status quo, the government's circular regarding the 2018 quota has come back in the interim period. But since the matter is pending for appeal hearing and judgment then it cannot be said that it is actually in the hands of the government. Appellate Division's status quo has no effect on the judgment of the High Court; The order to reduce and increase the ratio of quota while maintaining all the quotas is also ineffective. When the High Court gave a judgment in disposal of the writ, when that judgment was stayed by the Appellate Division, then in actual sense the circular of 2018 is also a matter pending before the Appellate Division. Here, therefore, the government can only assure the agitator, but does not seem to be able to decide in the light of the previous circular or the judgment of the High Court (suspended on appeal).

The quota system, the High Court judgment, the stay on appeal—didn't the whole matter get bogged down in legal interpretation and waiting? Now the movement to cancel the quota, pressure on the government for a new decision has become a subject of trial. In such a situation, which way should the agitating students go? If they do not withdraw from the movement, they will be ignored by the highest court of the country, they may be charged with contempt of court; again, giving a new decision on the quota of the government to pacify the agitators may also be tantamount to ignoring the court. Moreover, when the government and the courts have started to look at the matter positively, there is no chance of it being settled on the streets alone.

After the status quo of the Appellate Division, the government's 2018 circular on quota is back. At the end of the hearing, till the verdict of the appeal, the government can follow the circular, but it cannot do anything new with the increase or decrease here. Although the partial judgment published by the High Court was talking about reduction and increase. However, along with the decision to cancel the circular, this reduction-increase issue is also suspended in the appeal. So in the meantime it is not advisable to do anything other than the exact observance of the previous circular. If the appellate judgment advises the Government on abatement, or prescribes otherwise, that will be the case. In the meantime, the government can reassure the agitators and ask the agitators to wait. The protestors have the opportunity to present their statement in court. The court will surely give further instructions after listening to everyone's statement.

If there is no movement on the quota, it will be settled at some point. Hope something honorable for all parties will come from court and government. What will happen to the movement of public university teachers-officers-employees? The education of the country is immobilized by the movement of the university concerned. They are seeking withdrawal of the Universal Pension Guarantee Scheme. Without discussing whether their demand is reasonable or unreasonable, is there no solution? The teachers' leaders claim that they are not able to communicate with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, they are not able to convey their views to the policy makers of the government. That is, the government is not paying attention to this movement. They are not able to meet the prime minister due to various engagements, but why is the education minister not taking initiative on such a big issue? It is his responsibility to play a role in solving this instability and instability of the educational environment.

Be it quota, teachers-officials-employees of public universities, it is the responsibility of the government to protect the logical interests of anyone at any stage. Some may make reasonable claims to protect these interests, some may make unreasonable claims; However, the government should consider all demands seriously. The government will accept demands related to public interest, it will not accept anything that is against public interest - that is consistent. But the mindset of preconceived decisions will not solve the problem, but will make small problems bigger. At the time of teachers' movement, the country was shaken by the students' movement, so there is no room for teachers to look lightly at this movement for pension because this pension movement has already paralyzed the education sector of the country.

There will be multi-faceted problems in the country, but there must be an initiative to solve them. With the quota movement, the pension movement should be given equal importance. Otherwise, the inactive campus will not be operational.

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The ongoing crackdown against corruption will be universal at all!



Ashraful Islam, Planning Editor, Barta24.com,দ Dhaka:
Photo: Barta24.com

Photo: Barta24.com

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The arena of socio-politics is now very busy with corruption. At this time, public enthusiasm for any sensational incident is not limited to tea chat as before. In the realm of social media, any interesting topic becomes 'viral' on social media platforms like Facebook and is instantly flooded with 'likes, comments and shares' of countless people. It is spreading across the world in minutes to hours.

As our expatriates are scattered around the world, they are also getting an opportunity to react to the corrupt. As a result, the illegal wealth of corrupt people, wherever they are in the country or abroad, is coming to light instantly. Therefore, everyone believes that what used to be heard as Divine Justice or the judgment of nature is now becoming a reality. In recent months, the sensational corruption scandals that have emerged in and around some of the most notorious corrupt officials appear to be opening up many new avenues of social science research.

We can see that there is a huge psychological crisis ever since the revelations of the amazing illegal wealth of other former and current government employees including former army chief General Aziz Ahmed, former police chief Benazir Ahmed, NBR officer Matiur or most recently Abed Ali, a former driver of the Public Service Commission. Change is beginning to come.

These people, who are discussed and criticized to cover their corrupt character, did not find a place among the common people even though they tried to arrange religious and social workers. Rather, their hypocrisy has become clear to everyone. As in the past, the public efforts of the influential to protect the corrupt are not very active now, it is well felt. Fearing that the influential may also be trapped, they may not extend the hand of blessing as before.

But the question is, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the National Board of Revenue (NBR) or other related organizations are showing or being forced to show the activism now, where they actually were in the recent past! If we assume that in the formula of 'Enemy's enemy is friend', some enemy of the corrupt may have given the information to the media and encouraged them to publish the report; but before that, where was the activity of these institutions! With the title of 'clawless tiger', they were killing people's tax money for years!

Among the measures taken this time against corruption, the case of confiscation of the assets of the corrupt in favor of the state with the intervention of the court seems to be very promising. But how long this hope of the general public will last, that is the big question!

A lot of things are being heard in the mouth of ordinary people in the past few days. They seem to have quite a watchful eye on the ongoing events. Common people are saying, if the amount of illegal wealth of a few government officials and employees is this, then what amount of illegal wealth can be acquired by the policy-makers who control them! Needless to say, the general public has no question about the validity of this question. According to them, if this crackdown on corruption can be made universal and if it is possible to confiscate the assets of all the corrupt people caught in favor of the state, then it is not impossible to collect money equivalent to the national budget for several years.

But we can well understand that reality does not run in a straight line in favor of common people's opinion. We know that those who influence and gain illegal wealth in the current society and state of Bangladesh are not only members of the administration or the law enforcement forces, but these 'powerful' have violence in every sector of the society and the state. These big fishes are present in all sectors.

Above all those who manage the society and the state from the policy-making level, those politicians are above this debate! Citing countless examples from the past and present, it can be said that politicians are by no means exempt from the ongoing debate on corruption. But if we evaluate the events of the last few months, it appears that the political people are not seeing much in this grip.

That is why it is not unreasonable to raise the question in the public mind that the ongoing anti-corruption crackdown or strict stance of 'zero tolerance' has not yet become universal. Therefore, we hope that there will be an all-out campaign to catch those who have stepped up to acquire illegal wealth through corruption; not against any specific class! Only then will this so-called 'hard stance' be unquestioned.

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