Dhaka, Bangladesh
Devolution of power, bicameral parliament seen as solution

Devolution of power, bicameral parliament seen as solution

All-party convention can be forum for decision: Analysts

News Report: If the current purge is civil substitute for the 1/11 episode in Bangladesh's political arena, as indicated, the outcome naturally should be a radical transformation of the polity. A mere purge of a political party can't help. Such is a common consent coming out from flurries of discussions almost in all forums, triggered by a unique move in the political arena-the cleansing drive in the ruling party that exposed something which is enough to illustrate a syndrome born out of an outmoded socioeconomic, political and governance system. What happened at BUET for devious acts of, again, some men of the same party's student wing hot on the heels of the proclaimed purge in national politics led all who speak to call for an overhaul of the entire system-politics, economy, administration and governance structure et al. All of them are of the view that, certainly, individuals have to account for their responsibility but punishing them cannot stem the 'rot' being exposed in all major spheres of national life. Any in-depth analysis should show that, notwithstanding the desperate social, moral, financial and political diseases, the country's structural frameworks stand as an anachronism from the fast-moving global order with innovations by virtue of artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology and so. A nation's curricula, training, economic patterns, lawmaking and judicial systems, governance, state institutions and the like ought to be recast and updated to catch up with the meteoric speeds at which new civilization under what is defined as Fourth Industrial Revolution is marching ahead and up and up. Partnership, inclusiveness, equity, shared prosperity are the mottos of the universal development paradigm of the day, which are also the salient features of the UN-scripted SDGs. Aberrations surely would create imbalances and upsets. "The present system concentrates power and wealth and imbalances in all sectors," says Prof Syed Anwar Hossain, corroborated by many of the analysts, pointing out the discoveries in the current anti-graft crackdown. They also cite the downside of the last parliament election that gave a grotesque majority to the ruling and quasi-ruling 14-party and grand alliances led by Awami League and dwarfed the mainstream opposition. It, they say, gave the ruling quarters in all tiers absolute power that naturally turned 'tyrannical'. Absence of opposition gave many flocking in the fold of ruling party and its fronts a free hand to do as they wish. 'Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely', they cite the dictum. As such, there come suggestions for a system change. Bangladesh was born as a unitary state when the population was 75 million but now it booms to some '180 million' and the governance system ought to be federal, analysts say. They cite prevailing waves of desperate crimes despite tough actions and a restive ambiance in grassroots levels up to districts to substantiate their plea for federal system of government for effective devolution of power and decentralization of administration. In their opinion checks and balances in socioeconomic field and governance can only be brought in the real sense through devolution of power to elective provincial bodies as in other countries, including neighbouring ones. India is a federal state-apart from the union government, there are state governments. And so 'counterbalance' in exercise of power exists, said Brig-General (rtd) Sakhawat Hossain, a former election commissioner. "Bangladesh is now a country of 18-crore people so why not a federal system of government? He posed the question while presenting an analytical situation of a restive countryside with menaces like drugs, strife and bizarre crimes as well as some wrongs at central levels, too, at a talk show. Pakistan has four provinces, Nepal seven and even the tiny Himalayan country like Bhutan has nine provinces. Malaysia is a federation composed of 13 states and three federal territories. There were, however, arguments from a few in the past--when there were suggestions for dividing Bangladesh into seven provinces-that in the case of going for provincial system 'centrifugal forces' may be active against the country's integrity. The proponents now refute such xenophobia and mention that even smaller states do exist independently around the sub-continental-sized country like India. And the time has changed. There are a few natural regional divisions in Bangladesh and those could be brought under administrative bodies with transfer of powers, they say. "Concentration of power is giving rise to many problems-sometimes in extreme forms. It calls for checks and balances," they said in unanimity of opinion. So, once again, call for bicameral parliament with devolution power in provincial system is growing louder now.

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