Bangladesh has abolished the reservations in the civil service examinations for recruitment of government officials on 11th April 2018 which was a bone of contention between the students and the government.
In a country where the merit quota candidates only had 44% seats available to them and many of the 30% seats had been reserved for children of freedom fighters and almost 80% of them remained vacant in the last completed civil services exam, this has been an appropriate step in filling up of vacant seats and ensuring the mammoth effort of conducting the examination doesn’t go waste. Students also claim that this quota had resulted in all forms of corruption. This also stems from the pressure the different departments and ministries must be facing after it was disclosed by Syed Ashraful Islam, the public administration minister in January this year, that over 3,59,000 government posts were lying vacant.
The Demand by students
”The students’ demands include bringing down the reserved seats from 56% to 10%, filling vacant posts under quotas from the merit list, stopping special recruitment under certain quotas, introducing a uniform age limit in government jobs and transfer of jobs under quotas to a different candidate only on the basis of merit.”
The protests had been going on since February and got more organized on social media, which has seen common mobilization efforts across the globe. These protests took a life of their own when videos of police brutality on students went viral. Students across the country walked out of their classes and expressed solidarity.
While the protest had been called off on 9th April for a month after the government promised reasonable reforms, it once again sparked off on 10th April due to insensitive and callous remarks of minster of parliaments.
The genesis of Quotas in Bangladesh
After gaining its independence in 1971, Bangladesh has repeatedly reformed its quota structure. The Public Service Commissions have a history of bowing to pressure from the political class. The share of merit-based candidates has increased from 20% in 1972 to 45% in 1986 to now 100% in 2018. The quota for the war-affected woman was abolished in 1986 whereas 10% quota has remained for women and 5% for ethnic communities, all of which now stands abolished. The changing lists of freedom fighters and definition of those included under this quota were disturbing to everyone.
Bangla students feel this is a step in the right direction; however, it remains to be seen, how the situation fares out in the coming days. As far as India is concerned, despite clashes in opinion over its legality, our quota system still manages to thrive victoriously.