Category Archives: Reform

Anna bhai, Gandhigiri and us

Asif Saleh.

Published in BDnews24 on 30 August.

This piece considers the impact of Anna Hazare’s campaign on Bangladeshi politics.

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Legitimate vs. Authoritarian Policy Making

Syeed Ahamed.

Published in the Forum on 3 January 2011

This piece outlines the history of policy making by elected and un-elected regimes in the past — and opportunities ahead for the current government.

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Sex workers and our moral police

Wasfia Nazreen.

Published in bdnews24 on 13 October 2010.

This piece challenges the hypocritical taboo surrounding sex workers in Bangladesh.

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Going back on their word

Jalal Alamgir
Pulished in the Daily Star on 11 July 2009.

BANGLADESH’S democratic deficit looms large at the local level. Elected union and upazila councils have little power against top-down political and fiscal decisions. In its election manifesto, Awami League wisely promised to empower local-level decision-making. But unwisely, party MPs have moved away from empowering local communities either financially or politically.

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How Devolution Can Change Our Politics

Jyoti Rahman

Published in the Daily Star Forum, March 2009.

This piece examines the benefits of spreading out political power.

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Whither Nationalist Politics?

Jyoti Rahman

Published in the Forum on January 2009

In the election of December 29, 2008, voters unequivocally rejected nationalist politics — the BNP-led alliance garnered around 37 per cent of the votes cast, against the Grand Alliance’s approximately 57 per cent. But what caused the collapse in the nationalist alliance’s support? Most post-election analysis of the BNP politics explores this question. Another question speculates on what will the BNP leadership do after this debacle?

The focus of this piece is broader than just this election, the recent past, or the near future. The aim is to explore what might happen to nationalist politics — by which I mean the political coalition put together by Ziaur Rahman in the 1970s, and its successors in the subsequent decades — over the coming years. Continue reading

What Sheikh Hasina should do now

Mridul Chowdhury
Publised in the Daily Star on 31 Dec 2008.

WE have made history! Not only in the national context, but also in the global context. Just when many were thinking that our country was increasingly falling within the grip of Islamic fundamentalists and that their religion-based fear-mongering campaigning was working, the people of this nation have spoken with decisiveness.
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The Third Platform

 Arif Syed

Published in the Forum (August 2008 )

SINCE 1/11, and shortly prior to that, there had been attempts to launch a third political platform beyond the Awami League and BNP/Jamaat coalition in Bangladesh politics. Long before the end of the BNP government’s five-year tenure, there were murmurs about a “third force” taking over as people could predict the upcoming impasse.

What did people mean when they talked about the third force at that time? Was it: (a) an army coup (like Thailand), (b) a national coalition government heavily backed by civil/international society, or (c) an Iranian-style Islamic revolution?

As it turned out, a hybrid of (a) and (b) happened, with promises of a massive cleanup of corruption and holding of a free and fair election. (I don’t know why it’s always called “free and fair” — free election should mean a fair one — but I guess reality of power struggle is not that simple for us average citizens to understand.) Continue reading

‘National Security Council cannot be good for democracy’

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, a Pakistani academic and author of Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, talks to Syeed Ahamed and Faisal Gazi of the Drishtipat Writers’ Collective.

Published in the New Age (7 July 2008 )

Q: National Security Council is a looming spectre for Bangladesh. What is your view on the matter?

A: A national security council will only institutionalise the military’s role in Bangladesh’s policy process. In every case, this Turkish model which has already been used ineffectively in at least three countries, Turkey, Pakistan and Chile, has undermined democracy by establishing a top-down authoritarian model. No matter what the intention is, the outcome of military authoritarianism cannot be good for democracy.

What has been the role of the NSC in Pakistan and how has it affected civilian administration?
When General Musharraf came to power, he immediately sought the help of the civil administration. The bureaucracy is very self-serving and responds positively to authoritarian rule. It does not have a political agenda and is far happier living with military bureaucracy. Bangladesh must have experienced the same during the 1980s. However, whenever the military starts to expand its control over the civil administration, civil bureaucrats become uncomfortable and non-cooperative. Continue reading

Lessons from the Women Development Policy Debacle

Jyoti Rahman

Published in the Forum (June 2008 )

As part of a program marking the International Women’s Day, the government announced a National Women Development Policy on March 8. The announced policy was condemned by a section of Muslim clerics as un-Islamic. Specifically, the clerics objected to any possible change to the inheritance laws such that women could get equal inheritance rights as men. On March 11, the government announced that it had no intention of passing any law that is “anti-Islam.”

On March 27, the government formed a 20-member committee to identify inconsistencies in the policy as per Islamic rules and suggest steps to remove any such inconsistencies. While the committee deliberated, the clerical opposition continued. Continue reading