“Social movement is the key option against corruption”
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed
Corruption is nothing uncommon in countries across the world, particularly the developing countries. But in South Asia it is a malaise in many ways. Bangladesh is no exception. Corruption here goes unchallenged and the flaws are basically institutional. To effectively deal with corruption ensuring accountability at all levels is now a major demand in Bangladesh. But who cares. Major political commit to root out corruption before elections. Once elected to power, they forget about their electoral pledges.
We are in severe drought of an ideal leader who would dare to raise his voice against corruption of fast unto death for a right cause. We should recall Maulana Bhasani, who would go on hunger strikes to protest any wrong doing by the ruling government. He also organized a long march to Farakka protesting the building of the Farakka barrage by India. Today, corruption has inflicted us so severely that we don’t have the force of reasoning in us. We lost the power of judgment. The will to speak for the right cause has almost vanished. We lost our minds. Only a corrupt mind involves in vice. How should we guard our minds and souls from the plague of corruption? Let’s all try and find the answer. Everyone knows that nothing moves in government offices and utility organizations without the greasing of the right palms. In the job market the situation is horrendous. Allegations abound that for a teaching job in a non-government primary school, one has to pay a hefty sum of money to the management board.
Corruption can be eradicated only when the leaders of the society will be in the path of Almighty Allah because without morality none can be transparent. Only religion can refrain a person from indulging in corruption. The system should be in police to ensure accountability for actions in both private and public sectors. Adequate provision should be made to bring the defaulters to book. This will definitely reduce the scope for corrupt practices or abuse of power for amassing illegal wealth in shortest possible time. Strengthening local level institution and reduce individuals discretionary power transferring that to groups to stop abuse of power that helps breed corruption. Corruption is obvious in a country where an ordinance like the joint Forces Drive Indemnity Ordinance, 2003 is promulgated. Authority of the people who elect a government through votes must be established. Public authority on the government can ensure transparency as well. Such workshops could be organized at upazila level where the civil society could be reactivated. Awareness and mobilization of public opinion can help the nation get rid of the situation. The election system must be purged of criminalization and influence of black money. The reform of the outmoded election system is a must to eliminate corruption. Eliciting public opinion against pervasive corruption and set up an independent Anti-corruption Commission with adequate power. The man who will head the commission should be an honest and wise men. Enough budgets must be given to the commission for its smooth functioning. To utilize the power of modern information technology to reduce civil servants discretion and make the government more transparent. Holding social dialogue on corruption at village level. Manpower export is one of the main sources for Bangladesh to earn foreign currency. To reduce corruption, the government should ensure employment opportunities and introduce unemployment allowances. The salaries and facilities of police and the people working in the Judiciary should be raised, giving priority to these two vital departments platform should be established with representatives of lawyers, journalists, teachers, students, public servants, trade union leaders, politicians and businessman and from other segments of society. The proposed platform would act as a pressure group and influence the government to take pragmatic and pro-people decision to deal with corruption. The proposed Anti-corruption Commission should be manned by non-partisan honest people and work independently without any fear or favor from the government. Whatever be their political convictions, corrupts must be taken to task. Members of parliament who make laws not flout the laws by dint of their power and positions. Police administration should be allowed to perform their jobs without any political pressure. Corrupt practices of influential people in society should be exposed to general people. Let the people know who are the offenders. Avoiding political appointment, skilled and efficient people should be appointed to ensure transparency and bring dynamism in the administration. A visible and effective action plan is needed to stamp out corruption. Ensuring an honest and intelligent judiciary. We need honest and dynamic police alongside ensuring quick dispensation of justice. Forming a committee to make sure the recommendations are implemented properly. Donors should continue and encouraged other donors to come up with civil society, government and other sections for developing mechanisms to ensure that corruption gets reduced. Follow up meetings should be held to make sure corruption is reduce and transparency done well. Politicians should be honest and remain accountable to the people. They should be truly patriots and accountable to the citizens, society and state. Power should be decentralized. Local government should be strengthened. A powerful committee may be formed to monitor and ensure the sincere activities of local government. Proper logistics support, financial assistance and legal support are essential in this regard. The policymakers and legislators should be accountable. Syllabuses from primary school to class VIII should include chapters on anti-corruption. The police force needs to be strengthened with increased manpower. Awareness needs to be built up at the grassroots level against corruption. The Judiciary must be kept aloof from any political influence for good governance. Accountability must be ensured/enforced at each level from top to bottom to combat corruption. There should be provision of handling down exemplary punishment for corruption. Public should know that corrupts have been brought to book. The disposal of corruption cases should be quick. Power should not be vested in the hand of any individual. Remunerations and salaries of the law enforcing authorities should be fixed considering their responsibilities. There should be seminars/symposiums apart from media campaign to create public awareness. Arranging workshops on anti-corruption with the participation of ruling party MPs, bureaucrats and other groups who are by and large found involving in corruption or who have scopes to indulge in corruption.
One should not pretend that improving governance in Bangladesh would be a painless sources. By sheer necessity the process has to be holistic and indigenous in nature; the process has to be inclusive but at the same time focused. Bangladesh has had many opportunities in the past but the political leadership has repeatedly failed to rise to those occasions to provide vision and strategy. Bangladesh was a land of wealth. It attracted outsiders in the past, who came to plunder. Last 100 year period of Bengal/Bangladesh is replete with social, educational and political failures, and it is important that politicians and citizens alike learn from the past failures but not he trapped by its controversies and interpretations. The real danger is that Bangladesh will be destined to be one of the ghettos of the world if we fail to dismantle the mis-governance brick walls and bottlenecks. Bangladesh can’t be destined to become the provider of labor (brain and manual) for the foreseeable future to come. On the contrary, the vision of Bangladesh should be that of sustained growth and poverty alleviation, with provisions of good quality education and healthcare. Once the basic human freedoms are achieved economic and social development would follow. Bangladesh has no choice but to rise to this challenge.
Writter is Deputy Director General & Commandant (PRL)
Ansar-VDP Academy, Safipur, Gazipur.