Election Manifesto of Ordinary People
Dr. A J M Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan writes for DOT :
The political parties are in the process of preparing manifestos to win the election. What should be in the manifesto? We, ordinary people, demand a manifesto whichpresents a roadmap to fulfill the following needs.
First, the state has to guarantee jobs for every eligible adult based on their levels of skills. Unemployment appears as a major problem for hundreds of families. The unemployment rate which stands at 4.2 percent is the highest in South Asia. Every year the country produces 2.2 million graduates against 1.3 million jobs. The number of educated unemployed mocks at the education system. The election manifesto has to present a roadmap how the state will take measures to created jobs in the private and public sector and encourage self-employment. It should determine yearly targets for job creation and mention the sectors where the jobs will be created
Second, everyone should have the right to a good education. Literacy rate stands at 73 percent and it should be 100 percent by the next 10 years. State investment in education is mere 2.1% of the GDP which is among the lowest in South Asia. Specialized education such as vocational education and job oriented training should receive priority at the secondary and higher secondary level. The manifesto has to commit adequate funding for education and demonstrate plans to encourage vocational education and launch a social movement against the prejudices related to the status of occupation.
Third, the state has to fix a minimum wage for every job which will guarantee a decent life for a family. The manifesto has to declare the minimum wage and stipulate measures to ensure it.The violators shall have to be penalized while those who will comply shall be rewarded.
Fourth, the state has to guarantee a livable home for everyone. The manifesto has to propose a plan to build affordable houses for the poor, low-income people and the homeless, and devise mechanisms to regulate house rents.
Fifth, health care in the country is in a sorry state.The doctor-population ratio stands at 1:2000 while the nurse-population ratio stands at 1:5000. The number of hospital beds per 10,000 people is 3. The state spends close to a mere one percent of the GDP for health care. The manifesto has to offer a plan for developing a universal health care system. It should declare how many new doctors and nurses will be produced and how many new hospitals will be built. Medical schools have to have contents in its curriculum which will teach physicians to treat health care as a service, not as a commodity. It should announce plans to ensure quality care in the hospitals and the quality of medicines. It also has to announce a mechanism to regulate the spiraling costs of medicine. Bangladeshi people spend millions of dollars on health care in hospitals in neighboring countries. Adequate investment in healthcare can help prevent this outflow of such a huge amount of money from the country.
Sixth, the manifesto has to present plans for providing economic protection for people during an accident or unemployment and in old age. Mishaps like accidents causing the death of the breadwinner squash the future of a family. The state has to have mechanisms to protect its citizens in such extraordinary situations and also during the old age.
Finally, the election manifesto has toexpress commitments to ensure a social environment which is free from communalism but full of communal harmony. Minority people including the Hindus, Christians, and ethnic communities must not have to live in fear and ponder leaving the country because of insecurity.
Bangladesh is on the brink of prosperity; however, this prosperity must not usher in a few people’s life leaving at the most people in despair and desolation.
The Writer is Professor and Founder of the Department of Television, Film, and Photography at the University of Dhaka and Executive Director of the Governance and Policy Research Foundation (GPRF), an independent think tank.