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14-Points constitutional Proposal
Bangladesh is preparing itself for its next parliamentary election, composed of 300 members. This election is to be held under a non-party, neutral Caretaker government. This is a unique constitutional arrangement in Bangladesh, an arrangement whereby an interim 'neutral' government comes into being for a maximum period of 90 days, and whose job, it is to conduct the parliamentary election.
Our political parties are now prepared to participate in the election, to win it, if possible and subsequently to form the government, which will run the state for the ensuing 5 years.
The party polarisation in this election is between the Awami League and BNP. The third and forth big parties are Jatio Party (JP) and Jamat-e-Islami. Beside these, other small parties are JSD, 11-party alliance, left oriented party alliances, CPB, NAP etc.
Whatever may happen during the election, the political parties are to form the government and opposition in parliament. But the future remains uncertain. Can the party in power guide politics and the economics according to the requirements of the 21st century? Can the opposition raise the aspirations of the people according to the dictates of the 21st century?
In both cases the answer will not be fully positive. Because both the government and the opposition will more of less base their ideas, cultures and beliefs in the parliamentary political model of the 1950s. These in turn have give birth to either presidential autocracy, party-autocracy or military-autocracy. All these were the products of British-Pakistani colonial politics.
Geo-Politically Bangladesh is in very advantageous position.
The objective of this proposal is to create an institutional base to generate a process of participation of all sections of people e.g. professional and occupational people (including workers, peasants, women, tribal people) in the political administrative and economic structures suitable for the 21st century.
It is a fact that in the last 30 years (that is after the independence of 1971) Bangladesh has made progress in economics, education, health, business and industry, agriculture, service sections, cultural fields, information sector etc. the following statistics is a clear picture of the said development.
As a result of these development the differentiation and stratification of our people has become qualitatively different from the past. This means now every individual man or women is identified by his or her work or occupation. This new identification is a socio-political and socio-cultural characteristic of our people.
The only field that
is in politics, political mechanisms lag behind. We are following a model
practiced in other countries of the world in 1941-50s. So we find a major
contradiction between policy making processes (political mechanism) and
and professionals, Women, tribal people etc.
But political themes always suggest a political mechanism corresponding to social and economic developments. So the present day political mechanism and conventional political parties no longer fully represent the hopes and aspirations of various social forces in the forms of different professional and occupational groups. The counties' socio-economic formation has under gone a list of positive changes over the last 30 years, but the political mechanism and party system has not adjusted itself to changed circumstances. This is why the development process frequently gets stagnant.
As a newly emerged country (nation-state) we need national unity. This can't be achieved without accommodating various social forces, women, tribal people etc. in the policy making structures of the country. There is a gap between the thought processes of the old fashioned political parties and that of the comparatively advanced professional-occupation forces and groups.
Bangladesh emerged as a nation-state of the Bengalis in 1971 from a province and hence now has to develop political institutions that reflect this new state. Bengal for the last thousand years maintained a provincial identity except for a short period during the reign of the two Muslim rules in the 13th and 16th centuries. Due to its provincial form it never has the chance to develop as a country with national characteristics. So Bangladesh became independent with all colonial legacies. Only the rulers and ruling parties were changed from those of British and Pakistani rulers and ruling parties. No colonial rule, by-laws were changed (Except University autonomy, upazila [sub-district] Systems). As a result, Bengali rulers and parties like the past colonial masters became the masters of the people.
Due to lack of basic changes at the political mechanism and social level the people who are now identified as professional-occupational people (social forces) have become not only aspirant but the 'sufficient factor' to be in the law making (policy formulation) mechanism along with political parties which are the 'necessary factor' for governance of the newly formed nation-state.
Keeping all these things in consideration the introduction of a new political mechanism with 14 points is suggested below:
Structure of Parliament
Profession, Occupation, Women And Tribal Grouping
Profession and occupation includes all services whether in a civil or military capacity of the Government of Bangladesh. Profession and Occupation includes other services involving different skills and expertise whether in public or in private sectors which are used for the development and advancement of the community.
Structure of National Economic Council (NEC)
The country is currently experiencing a modest annual economic growth of 5%. However, this is not enough to bring a radical transformation in the society. A big push is needed in all frontiers, that is, investment, production and regeneration of income through further investment. We are to look for all the opportunities for rapid economic advancement.
Let us put it this way. There are over one hundred thousand (0.1 million) Non-Resident Bangladeshi (NRB) workers and professionals (out of ten million), who have varying capacities to serve through productive investment in the home country. These one hundred thousand expatriated Bengalis can each organise two hundred thousand US$ ($2,00,000.00) i.e. one crore taka for investment. Thus one billion taka can be made easily avaliable for each upazilla (sub-district) by the NRBs.
For 460 upazillas roughly nine billion US$ can be mobilised and can be distributed for investment in upazilas in 5 years time. This is six times more than what Bangladesh receives as foreign aid annually on the average.
The pertinent question is how to mobilise the NRBs and their investment potentials.
We observe much interest among the NRBs in the general welfare of the country. Wherever our people go, they work hard. They earn enough money which they now send as simple remittance. There are no concerted and meaningful efforts to tab this potential. Periodic appeals by our governmental spokespersons in NRB assemblies during their foreign visits does not work.
A favourable environment has to be created to attract NRB investment. In concrete terms, this means the following:
Investment in some infrastructure investment are late yielding, which do not attract private investment. The public sector has to take care of them.
One billion taka investment in one upazila is going to revolutionise the whole chachments area. Whatever enterprise is built, they will have their forward and backward linkage formations, which would multiply investment five times within a short span of time. This will enhance our economic growth, from the current modest rate of 5% to as much as 18-20%. This means Bangladesh's GDP will be doubled in 5 years time. In terms of employment and other corollary effects this would radically change the socio-economic fabric of out country-side. In this way, we can get rid of the distortions and crises that we have been experiencing so far in the form of rural-urban and urban-urban migration, concentration of resources and population in few centres and increasing disparity and alienation between the city and the country-side.
In a decade Bangladesh will emerge as a middle income country with a per-capita income of over two thousand dollars. This will give us more confidence, self respect and will enhance our image internationally.
Bangladesh is located at the centre of developing South Asia. Its strategic location amongst the surrounding states of India and Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar has put it in a unique situation to steer a process of economic advancement that would bring a large market within its hold. The potential of these surrounding areas also can be properly and evenly developed for their respective economic and cultural growth by forming a sub-regional economic-zone within SAARC.
Bangladesh achieved its independence in 1971. That was virtually our first and most important achievement in our thousand-year history. Independence has opened the 'doors' and 'windows' for overall development.
The recent day Information
Technology (IT) and other scientific and technological developments have
given Bangladesh a new opportunity to stand on its own feet and thus to
be a partner of the new civilisation of this millennium.
Serajul Alam Khan, a political theorist and the founder of the 'Nucleus' (1962) which sprearheaded the war of independence, has put forward a 14-point proposal for adjustments of governance to keep up with the changing national and international political and economic situation. The proposal came as an open letter in Bengali in January 2000 addressed to all political parties, bureaucrats, professional communities, intellectuals, NGO's and leaders of different social organisation in the form of 14 points, many dealing with constitutional restructuring. Serajul Alam Khan along with Abdur Razzak and Kazi Aref Ahmed spread out the network of 'nucleus' formed BLF (Bangladesh Liberation Force), the political wing of 'nucleus', and 'Joi Bangla Bahini', the armed wing of 'nucleus' in 1969-'70 throughout Bangladesh. Later on in 1971 on request from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the BLF high command was reconstituted with Serajul Alam Khan, Sheikh Fuzlul Huq Moni, Abdur Razzak and Tofail Ahmed. This BLF was renamed 'Mujib Bahini' in India during the 9-month armed struggle for the liberation of Bangladesh from the Pakistani occupational Army. 'Nucleus' was secretly organised force for the independence of Bangladesh. It planned and organised mass movements through historic 6-point and 11-point programmes. The 'Nucleus' first made the flag of Bangladesh and hoisted it on 2nd March 1971. It wrote and published the 'manifesto for independence' and worked out its modalities. This was made public on 3rd March 1971. It also selected the national anthem and coined the slogan 'Joi Bangla' as the theme of independence. The 'Nucleus' and BLF leadership helped Bangabandhu to prepare the historic 7th March speech with the words "This is our struggle for emancipation, this is the struggle for independence". The non co-operation movement from 7th to 25th March and a parallel civil administration was also organised by the BLF force under the leadership of Bangabandhu. Serajul Alam Khan from an activist and planner of movements turned into a political theorist using his vast practical experiences. In his theoretical endeavours he collaborated with Prof. Zillur R. Khan, a prominent political scientist, ex-chair and presently Rose Bush Professor in the university of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, USA, who proved to be his best intellectual compatriot after 1980. Both 'khans' are still working together at the theoretical level. In Bangladesh Serajul Alam Khan is generally known as the architect of the Bangladesh independence movement.
Dhaka, April 2001.