Words & Messages

A daunting challenge for the goverment

Mahmudur Rahman | Update:

TCB’s sale of fair-priced commodities is inadequate compared to public demandLittle by little the ignored aspects of decay in our social fabric have grown into significant challenges for the government. The drive for development infrastructure and otherwise is as it should be and the subsequent policies are being addressed. Nonetheless, some of the more basic issues are falling through the net with preventive activity blunted due to the lack of capacity. The softer, yet just as important issues of reinforcing morals and values require time and space backed up by strict monitoring. Corruption has been allowed to spread and become a norm of life due to ineffective measures and lack of timely action.

Social media is often blamed for spreading unrest but the positives in identifying the ills of society are being ignored. Not all of what we read is true and there has to be some form of accountability to free speech. That doesn’t mean heavy handed intervention that stifles free speech and action against irresponsible speech must be publicised as much as, if not more, than accusatory speech. Most policies and laws are antiquated or simply out of date and while we don’t need newer ineffective committees and commissions, there is a requirement of updating them to be ahead of, and not just in sync with, time. That’s why traditional market monitoring fails to loosen the stranglehold that syndicates have on the prices of essentials and the cartel that operates public passenger and goods transportation. We are in a state where a law already passed by parliament requires amendment, the process of which has started. It speaks volumes of the fact that laws are enacted without proper debate and consultations with the relevant parties.

The Anti-Corruption Commission is hamstrung by process and procedures not to mention manpower constraints, and the legal process too is lengthy and cumbersome. Offenders caught red-handed, and there have been quite a few, should be tried in the speedy tribunals for which more benches are needed. Inordinate delays in submitting reports by the law enforcing agencies such as in the Shagor-Rumi and Tonu murder cases cannot be acceptable in a society where law and order is to be strictly enforced.

School curriculum is in bad need of a revamp beyond the demands of certain quarters of society and in tune with modern and forward looking science and arts. Japan has backtracked from an earlier decision to close down the liberal arts section in many educational institutions due to a paucity of students. In its place has come a revised idea of enhancing listening and speaking skills especially in English - and this in a country fiercely protective of its own culture and language. Schools are where education in values should start but the quality of teachers and the lack of investment in their training are major impediments.

Overall there appears to be a surrender by the authorities to the power of syndicates and cartels. The almost pathetic attempt by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh to provide fair priced essentials is too little and inadequate to serve the nation, that too beyond selective places of the capital city. It is leading to simmering discontent among the citizenry that is running out of options in terms of platform of protests and diminishing contents of the family wallet. The challenge is daunting but has to be met head on even if it is at the cost of a development budget that hasn’t been properly costed.

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