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THE government has a two-tier administration system. The upper tire is the central secretariat at the national level consisting of the ministries and divisions to provide policies and to perform clearing-house functions. The other tire consists of line departments/directorates attached to the ministries and divisions that are mainly responsible for general administration, service delivery to citizen and implementation of various government development programs at the sub-national level.
The quota system was introduced in the government service by an executive order in 1972, where 45 per cent were reserved on merit, the rest 55 per cent was distributed as 30 per cent for children of freedom fighters, 10 per cent for women, 10 pe cent for districts and 5 per cent for indigenous people. Quota for women was introduced from 1977 but practised from 1982. To recognise the contribution of freedom fighters to the war of liberation, a 30 per cent quota was earmarked. Policy makers of Bangladesh considered the ethnic minoritiy people lesser advantaged and backward in terms of resources and hence, quota in the civil service has been kept for them. 
Now that there have been controversies regarding continuation of this quota system and as result Bangladesh recently experienced a protest demanding reforms in unreasonable government policies regarding recruitment in the government services, the protestor demanded reduction in the percentage of quota in different categories.
However, the nationwide protests for quota reforms culminated in the overall repealing of all quotas in government jobs. After three days of intense demonstrations around the country against quotas in public service, the prime minister announced on April 11 in an address to the parliament that there would be no more quotas for government jobs in future. The prime minister, however, said that the government will make a special arrangement for ethnic minorities and physically challenged people in the public service recruitment system.
The teachers of public universities have said they are in support of reforms to quota system, instead of abolishing it as the quota system is required for unprivileged people like ethnic minorities. They said that 56 per cent quota in government jobs is irrational and students’ demonstrations demanding the reforms to the system are logical.
This kind of protest is not a new and history says that reservation quotas, which is also known as affirmative action, had generated anxiety before as well around the world. It has also eased social tension and economic problems, bridging the gap between the elite and the underprivileged to some extent.
In the United States till 1970s it was thought that the African-Americans were inefficient and ineffective. However, with the state’s affirmative action this underprivileged section has caught up with the country’s white people to large extent. Although collective backwardness is still there, from Bill Cosby to Barack Obama, individual success stories of the African-Americans are literally incalculable.
In South Asia, no country other than India has probably experienced more social tension over the issue of merit versus reservations. Dr Ambedkar, the key architect of reservation policy in the independent India, raised his voice in the parliament in 1927 to address the extreme economic and social backwardness of the Dalits (untouchables), originated in the Hindu social order. The caste system existed in Hindu religion since 1500 BC to 1950 AD when it was abolished in the Indian constitution. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, advocated affirmative action to overcome the country’s social and economic disparities. In 1990, India’s higher education institutions, public sector units and government bodies kept 22.5 per cent of available seats reserved for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes which was raised to 49.5 per cent in 2008 by including reservation for other backward category.
An Economist report shows that the various quotas in India have partly achieved their most basic objectives. In public jobs, for example, members of backward group Dalits constituted only 1.6 per cent of the most senior civil servant positions in 1965 that rose to 11.5 per cent by 2011. The Dalits represent about 16 per cent of India’s population. The report also cited a study of 16 of India’s biggest states looking at the effect on poverty in backward groups of their access to quotas of representatives. It was observed that for ‘scheduled tribes’, greater political clout has led to a small drop in poverty. However, for the ‘scheduled castes’, it has made absolutely no difference at all.
Singapore and Malaysia is a classic case as far as meritocracy versus reservation policies is concerned. Amid racial tension and ideological conflicts, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965. It was widely believed that the new-born country could not survive on its own, due to scarcity of land, water, markets and natural resources. However, in less than four decades, Singapore has transformed itself from a third-world to a first-world country. Meritocracy has been one of the guiding principles of the city state which ensures that the best and brightest, regardless of race, religion and socio-economic background, find a level playing field to develop their fullest potential.
On the other hand, Malaysia’s affirmative action programmes, also known as the Bumiputera policy, that favoured its local Malay community is generally identified as the reason behind the country’s failure to overcome the middle-income country trap.
Canada is a federation composed of 10 provinces and three territories. Every province has its own public service commission, but they are run under the same rules and regulations. Canada extensively practises humanitarian policies as it holds very important humanitarian leadership role around the world. Canada is recognised as having one of the best public services in the world, as referenced in the International Civil Service Effectiveness Index 2017 report. Ensuring the integrity of the relationship between the government of the day and the public servants who provide advice and services to all Canadians, regardless of their political views, is central to the Public Service Commission’s mandate. Canadian PSC’s role is to promote and safeguard a non-partisan, merit based and representative public service that serves all Canadians. The CPSC mandate is set out in the Public Service Employment Act. In Canada, public servants are recruited on the basis of merit principle. There is no quota system. All appointments to and within the public service need to be meritorious. Qualifications and requirements are established in advance. 
While the global experience on the merit versus quota-based development discourse is at best mixed, there is a tendency for countries to move from an affirmative action to a meritocratic system with their economic and social progress. 
Before this abolition of quota system, in the case of Bangladesh, only 44 per cent of job-seekers could compete for civil service jobs through their merit. Fifty-six per cent of positions were reserved for various quotas — the children of freedom fighter (30 per cent), women (10 per cent), districts (10 per cent), ethnic minorities (5 per cent), and physically challenged (1 per cent).
The country’s some of the best civil servants have studied the existing quota system for civil service recruitment. A study by Dr Akbar Ali Khan and Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad (Khan and Ahmad Study) observed that the ‘recruitment of only 45 per cent candidates based on merit is unconstitutional.’
Thus, thus the protest started with a demand to reform the quota system looking at internal realities as well as external experience. 
Since the quota system has been abolished, let us look at the positive sides. We can now hope for adoption of a well-conceived recruitment policy for developing an efficient civil service. Bangladesh has recently graduated from LDC status and hence, we hope that this new step shall help us reach our goals through developing a sturdier, sprightly and open public service.
The constitution of Bangladesh has ensured equal opportunity of jobs to all the citizens and this commitment can be upheld in a better way from now. We should discontinue criticising the decision of the government and move on with more enthusiasm to uphold the position of backward people through ensuring social justice.

Ending the debate on quota system
by Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed
THE government has a two-tier administration system. The upper tire is the central secretariat at the national level consisting of the ministries and divisions to provide policies and to perform clearing-house functions. The other tire consists of line departments/directorates attached to the ministries and divisions that are mainly responsible for general administration, service delivery to citizen and implementation of various government development programs at the sub-national level.
The quota system was introduced in the government service by an executive order in 1972, where 45 per cent were reserved on merit, the rest 55 per cent was distributed as 30 per cent for children of freedom fighters, 10 per cent for women, 10 pe cent for districts and 5 per cent for indigenous people. Quota for women was introduced from 1977 but practised from 1982. To recognise the contribution of freedom fighters to the war of liberation, a 30 per cent quota was earmarked. Policy makers of Bangladesh considered the ethnic minoritiy people lesser advantaged and backward in terms of resources and hence, quota in the civil service has been kept for them. 
Now that there have been controversies regarding continuation of this quota system and as result Bangladesh recently experienced a protest demanding reforms in unreasonable government policies regarding recruitment in the government services, the protestor demanded reduction in the percentage of quota in different categories.
However, the nationwide protests for quota reforms culminated in the overall repealing of all quotas in government jobs. After three days of intense demonstrations around the country against quotas in public service, the prime minister announced on April 11 in an address to the parliament that there would be no more quotas for government jobs in future. The prime minister, however, said that the government will make a special arrangement for ethnic minorities and physically challenged people in the public service recruitment system.
The teachers of public universities have said they are in support of reforms to quota system, instead of abolishing it as the quota system is required for unprivileged people like ethnic minorities. They said that 56 per cent quota in government jobs is irrational and students’ demonstrations demanding the reforms to the system are logical.
This kind of protest is not a new and history says that reservation quotas, which is also known as affirmative action, had generated anxiety before as well around the world. It has also eased social tension and economic problems, bridging the gap between the elite and the underprivileged to some extent.
In the United States till 1970s it was thought that the African-Americans were inefficient and ineffective. However, with the state’s affirmative action this underprivileged section has caught up with the country’s white people to large extent. Although collective backwardness is still there, from Bill Cosby to Barack Obama, individual success stories of the African-Americans are literally incalculable.
In South Asia, no country other than India has probably experienced more social tension over the issue of merit versus reservations. Dr Ambedkar, the key architect of reservation policy in the independent India, raised his voice in the parliament in 1927 to address the extreme economic and social backwardness of the Dalits (untouchables), originated in the Hindu social order. The caste system existed in Hindu religion since 1500 BC to 1950 AD when it was abolished in the Indian constitution. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, advocated affirmative action to overcome the country’s social and economic disparities. In 1990, India’s higher education institutions, public sector units and government bodies kept 22.5 per cent of available seats reserved for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes which was raised to 49.5 per cent in 2008 by including reservation for other backward category.
An Economist report shows that the various quotas in India have partly achieved their most basic objectives. In public jobs, for example, members of backward group Dalits constituted only 1.6 per cent of the most senior civil servant positions in 1965 that rose to 11.5 per cent by 2011. The Dalits represent about 16 per cent of India’s population. The report also cited a study of 16 of India’s biggest states looking at the effect on poverty in backward groups of their access to quotas of representatives. It was observed that for ‘scheduled tribes’, greater political clout has led to a small drop in poverty. However, for the ‘scheduled castes’, it has made absolutely no difference at all.
Singapore and Malaysia is a classic case as far as meritocracy versus reservation policies is concerned. Amid racial tension and ideological conflicts, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965. It was widely believed that the new-born country could not survive on its own, due to scarcity of land, water, markets and natural resources. However, in less than four decades, Singapore has transformed itself from a third-world to a first-world country. Meritocracy has been one of the guiding principles of the city state which ensures that the best and brightest, regardless of race, religion and socio-economic background, find a level playing field to develop their fullest potential.
On the other hand, Malaysia’s affirmative action programmes, also known as the Bumiputera policy, that favoured its local Malay community is generally identified as the reason behind the country’s failure to overcome the middle-income country trap.
Canada is a federation composed of 10 provinces and three territories. Every province has its own public service commission, but they are run under the same rules and regulations. Canada extensively practises humanitarian policies as it holds very important humanitarian leadership role around the world. Canada is recognised as having one of the best public services in the world, as referenced in the International Civil Service Effectiveness Index 2017 report. Ensuring the integrity of the relationship between the government of the day and the public servants who provide advice and services to all Canadians, regardless of their political views, is central to the Public Service Commission’s mandate. Canadian PSC’s role is to promote and safeguard a non-partisan, merit based and representative public service that serves all Canadians. The CPSC mandate is set out in the Public Service Employment Act. In Canada, public servants are recruited on the basis of merit principle. There is no quota system. All appointments to and within the public service need to be meritorious. Qualifications and requirements are established in advance. 
While the global experience on the merit versus quota-based development discourse is at best mixed, there is a tendency for countries to move from an affirmative action to a meritocratic system with their economic and social progress. 
Before this abolition of quota system, in the case of Bangladesh, only 44 per cent of job-seekers could compete for civil service jobs through their merit. Fifty-six per cent of positions were reserved for various quotas — the children of freedom fighter (30 per cent), women (10 per cent), districts (10 per cent), ethnic minorities (5 per cent), and physically challenged (1 per cent).
The country’s some of the best civil servants have studied the existing quota system for civil service recruitment. A study by Dr Akbar Ali Khan and Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad (Khan and Ahmad Study) observed that the ‘recruitment of only 45 per cent candidates based on merit is unconstitutional.’
Thus, thus the protest started with a demand to reform the quota system looking at internal realities as well as external experience. 
Since the quota system has been abolished, let us look at the positive sides. We can now hope for adoption of a well-conceived recruitment policy for developing an efficient civil service. Bangladesh has recently graduated from LDC status and hence, we hope that this new step shall help us reach our goals through developing a sturdier, sprightly and open public service.
The constitution of Bangladesh has ensured equal opportunity of jobs to all the citizens and this commitment can be upheld in a better way from now. We should discontinue criticising the decision of the government and move on with more enthusiasm to uphold the position of backward people through ensuring social justice.

News Courtesy: www.newagebd.net

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