Quota reform: What is the government considering?

The students and job aspirants brought out a procession from DU campus demanding quota reform on WednesdayProthom Alo

The government is considering a reform of the quota system instead of completely revoking it. They are preparing accordingly. A report has already been prepared analysing the recruitment rate in government jobs before and after the cancellation of the quota system in 2018. Several ministers say there is discussion within the government regarding the formation of a commission to prepare the proposals for quota reforms.

Although the government and other relevant agencies are reviewing the quota system, the government won’t go for executive decisions to implement this. The government executes it as per the directives of the High Court (HC) and its recommendations. Therefore, the government is waiting for the verdict of the court.

Ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader told the newspersons that the decision of the court will be final. He hoped that the court would pass the verdict considering reality.

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At the same time, the government also feels that the students should return to their class following the court order yesterday, Wednesday. Several ministers of the government have urged the students to leave the streets. The government also thinks that if the students continue with their movement even after that, then it should adopt a little tougher stance as people are suffering due to the countrywide blockades of the protesting students.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, information and broadcast minister Mohammed A Arafat said, “The decision to revoke quota system has been upheld by the Appellate Division order on Wednesday. The government too is ready to take steps as per the directives of the court. So the students should refrain from holding programmes that cause public suffering.”

Government’s assessment

The government cancelled the entire quota system in government jobs in the face of student movements demanding quota reform on 4 October 2018. After that, a relevant government agency analysed the recruitments through quota-free 40th, 41st and 43rd BCS and recruitments in the previous five phases under the quota system.

The analysis shows, the backward communities have been affected by the quota-free recruitments. The rate of women recruitment declined in quota-free BCS as compared to the time when there was quota in government jobs. The rate of recruitment from the families of freedom fighters also declined as a result of revoking the quota system. The cancellation of the quota system also created discrimination in terms of district wise recruitment. The recruitment rate was quite low in several districts. The policymakers of the government are discussing this report, sources said.

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Tougher stance

The students continued the blockade till the afternoon even after the High Court order. As a result, the entire city came to a halt for most parts of the day due to the blockade. The communication system across the country fell apart due to student blockades on roads and railways. Common people immensely suffered for this.

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Relevant sources in the government say the government didn’t obstruct the protesters considering the rationale and sensitivity of the movement. It even took all possible legal steps considering the demand of the protesting students. In these circumstances, the students also should take the government’s sincerity to resolve the issue and public sufferings into consideration. The government expects that the students won’t declare any further blockade programmes.

Reliable government sources say the law enforcement agencies were instructed to be patient and cautious after the anti-quota movement re-emerged. The instructions were the same on Wednesday too.

However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned to the country last night. The law enforcement agency will act accordingly if she gives any new directive.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a reliable minister of the government told Prothom Alo, “Students’ participation in the movement was completely spontaneous at first. It slowly became politically motivated. There are intelligence reports that the opposition parties are instigating the protesters from behind. If the movement continues even after the HC order, then there must be some political agenda behind it. There are discussions within the government about taking a tougher stance in that case.”

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However, the government’s consideration for quota reform isn’t the solution to the problem as they are depending on the court verdict.

But former secretary Abu Alam Mohammad Shaheed Khan feels the matter is completely administrative. So the responsibility to resolve the matter lies with the government.

He said, “Now both the students and government have to negotiate to resolve the crisis.”