Stop “Development”; Now It Is Time For Reform

S Alam

The development discourse has been going on in Bangladesh for the past decade. What do you mean by the development of the country? Only if the country’s roads are developed, which will be built on the one hand and destroyed on the other? Or will there be many power plants – we don’t know the source. Or will the country be the world’s most millionaire production centre? Yes! If they are developed, our country has developed. But are they an improvement?

Development from the United Nations refers to sustainable development. If development is not sustainable, it cannot play a role in the country or society. The definition of sustainable development does not look at:

“Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present while maintaining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It has two main concepts:

* The concept of ‘need’, specifically, the essential needs of the world’s poor, which should be prioritised

* The concept of state-imposed limitations of technology and social organisation on the ability of the environment to meet present and future needs. “- (World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future 1987)

Has our country’s development been done according to people experiencing poverty? How much work has been done with the environment? As a result of so much growth, everything goes beyond our poor people’s purchasing power. The first condition is violated. Only poor people? The Economic Society, in their shadow budget discussion, showed that the lower middle class is disappearing where the middle class could have grown with development.

This is the first part of the definition. Environment is secondary in our country in the name of development. Many trees are being cut down, and Rampal is being built next to the Sundarbans, where everyone is cutting back on coal power; most of our capacity comes from coal. Has anyone thought of future people to show short-term development? At least there are no signs. How many of our development projects have been prepared with the proper role in the environment?

Our per capita debt is increasing as we develop so much. How will repayment be made? There is no plan. We have created oligarchs. Those who are involved in money laundering have destroyed the banking sector. There is no attempt to take a bank loan from them. Instead, these oligarchs are being saved by concealing information.

We have seen such so-called development during the Ayub period as well. The result of that development not reaching the ordinary people is the independence of Bangladesh. So we need reform of the whole country before the so-called development. As Europe emerged from its Dark Ages, restructurings came in all sectors. Restructuring is an ongoing process. But that requires consensus and planning, which we now see by looking at the history of Europe, where their small changes have brought them today. Our country is now at its limit. The problem is that we can walk around like Europe – it is not in people’s dreams. Instead, there is disappointment in everything.

Give some examples of reforms. First of all, consider our constitution. All the country’s political problems start from this constitution. Today’s needs are very different from those of 50 years ago. It is the need of the hour to democratise this constitution in keeping with the needs of modern people.

This country will be the first in the world to produce the most graduates. But are they getting up-to-date education? We send known workers to the world. Couldn’t so many educated unemployed shine our faces outside? Talents are leaving; those at the next level – are looking for government jobs; what about the rest? In the private sector, it is now being said that we are not getting as many competent candidates as we want. So many universities – why is there no good quality research? Why is the question not being asked? BCS education cadres are going to take classes at the National University. They are talented. But why are the students who passed from them not being established as talented? Have teachers asked themselves questions? We will read about this education system daily – reform is fundamental.

When we talk about the health sector, corruption comes to mind. Everyone runs abroad. Our ministers and MPs do not take medical treatment in the country. First of all, they have to stop outside treatment. Suppose there is improvement in this sector. There are medical colleges in all districts of the country, but why is there no hospital where everyone can get all the treatment? This sector is being kept on a wait-and-see basis.

The largest expenditure sector in the country is government salaries and pensions. All the world’s developed countries have privatised most of their non-essential industries. Go on your own. But we are ruining the private sector and keeping the public sector in front of everything. This sector needs complete modernisation. As a Bangladeshi citizen, I can receive service from any office in the country. Why are we with such and such a brother, a relative of a particular person or a political party, or we have to pay for services somewhere?

The real advantage of this country is the cheap labour availability. Then why will our country’s roads, bridges or power plants be the most expensive? Our neighbouring country is several times more than India. Why? There are so many syndicates in the food market – why is the government not taking action in China? Starting from the airport, all sectors of the country need reform. Our backs are bent because of this so-called development. Now STOP and Reform. Development should be of the masses, not of a handful of people. And we do not agree to bear the burden of their sins.


S Alam is a Freelance writer