Many jobseekers have been staging demonstrations in a few cities for quite some time, demanding reforms in the quota system in pubic services.
They have termed the present quota system discriminatory to jobseekers of all strata and contrary to the value of merit.
However, in Dhaka on Wednesday, law enforcers foiled a demonstration of jobseekers with batons and tear-gas when demonstrators tried to march towards the Secretariat, the administrative hub.
At least 16 protesters were injured and 50 of them detained, according to witnesses.
Rashedul Islam, coordinator of ‘Bangladesh Shadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, alleged that the police attacked them and foiled their peaceful demonstration.
The parishad is leading the anti-quota protest demonstration.
Currently, 56 per cent position in the government jobs is filled by those who are beneficiaries of the quota system. The remaining 44 per cent recruitment are made through merit-based test.
Of 56 per cent reservation, 30 per cent is given to the offspring of freedom fighters. Ten per cent is recruited based on district quota, 10 per cent reserved for women, five per cent taken from ethnic communities and one per cent kept for the people with disabilities.
Apart from the jobseekers who want change in the system, academics and former senior government officials recommend reforms in the existing quota system.
Former cabinet secretary Akbar Ali Khan has made a call a few times for reforms in the quota system. Even in 2008, he suggested raising recruitment in civil service base on merit to 50 per cent from 45 per cent at that time. The ratio of merit-based recruitment has rather come down to 44 per cent in the meantime.
Last month, Khan, also a former adviser to the caretaker government told a seminar that quota system cannot be for an indefinite period in any country.
"There are 257 types of quotas in the country and this kind of system exists nowhere in the world," he added.
In a Prothom Alo article, Dhaka University proferssor Asif Nazrul insisted, "From an ethical standpoint, the quota system in Bangladesh needs to be reformed."
In the current quota system, he argued, the quality of the civil administration is not only downgraded, but also instigates extreme discrimination and injustice which goes against the spirit of the liberation war.
So far only one group of students who introduce themselves as children of freedom fighters are demanding that the existing quota for freedom fighters should remain as it is now.
Under the banner - “We are children of the Freedom Fighters”, they formed a human chain at the National Press Club last week.
However, the jobseekers who oppose the quota system are consistent in their arguments and demonstration seeking a change.
Here are their five-point demands:
- Reducing the quota from 56 per cent to 10 per cent
- Filling in the vacant positions from the merit list if eligible candidate is not found from the quota
- Abolishing the special examination for quotas
- Bringing uniformity in age-limit for government recruitment process
- Stopping the use of quota facility for more than once