Expectations from the New Government
Photo: Iqbal Ahmed/ Driknews
Welcome to the 21st century! A time when it is possible to have an African-American man to be the president of the United States, to abolish the age old monarchy in Nepal and to hold parliamentary elections in the secluded Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. A Bangladesh where there hasn't been a Hartal/Strike/Oborodh for two long years!
Yes, everything is possible today, but it will only happen if all of us believe that we will be able to do it. In this election, a lot of change has been promised and expected but there are speculations as to how much change actually will happen when the new government takes power in a couple of weeks time!
In recent times, there has been a growing demand for not electing the marked collaborators of the Pakistani Army in 1971 (Razakars). I personally believe that as much as it is important not to put the Razakars back to power, it is also equally important not to put today's Razakars back to power. And who would today's Razakars be? They are the corrupts, the loan defaulters and the terrorists and any other people for whom getting elected was meant to be an opportunity to fulfil all their personal whims and wishes, rather than an opportunity to serve the nation!
My expectations from the new government would be to minimize corruption and to improvise the communication systems. I believe corruption has been the root of all evil in Bangladesh and minimizing it, if not completely eliminating it, should be the first priority. According to a New York Times report, over 30 billion US Dollars have been poured into this state as foreign aid from 1971 to 2005 and we still continue to have a huge number of people living below the poverty line!
Communication systems between the different cities and townships (and inside them) in Bangladesh has much room for improvement and it is high time that it is done now. A divided expressway between Dhaka and Chittagong is a must and so are a number of flyovers in different locations across Dhaka city.
And lastly, I would want the opposition party not to call any strikes/hartals and oborodhs and think of other peaceful means of protest instead. Both the party in power and the one in opposition should work together to make a beautiful and prosperous Bangladesh that our forefathers had fought for 37 years back.
On a concluding note, I would like to point out that the upcoming election will have a record 31 percent of first time voters, on which we had previously published another cover story (http://www.thedailystar.net/campus/2008/02/03/camspotlight.htm). This week's cover is all about the different expectations young people have, whose votes are likely to have a major impact in shaping up the new government.
So, on Election Day tomorrow (29th December, 2008), go and cast your vote for someone who is most likely to benefit your area the most. This is your chance to play a role in shaping up the new government so do not waste it!
The Only Expectation
Shoaib Mohammad Siddiqui
Remember browsing facebook on December 16th? It was an unforgettable show of love for the country. Thousand of Bangladeshi facebook users changed their profile pictures to national flags of Bangladesh. Like this, the country Bangladesh was always a source of lots of emotion to the countrymen, only except for the politicians who apparently get the responsibility to run the country. You will never find a shortage of pledges from them, and ultimately most of those pledges are not taken care of once they go to the power.
This is a shame for the people of the country who shed their blood and sacrificed their lives for the independence. As a new voter, when I think about my expectations from the next elected government, I cannot expect much. Ultimately, it's all the same. The political bigwigs including war criminals and autocrats, who harmed the country for many years have formed big alliances and it's obvious that, some of them will come to the power. What much we can expect from them? The movement to ensure a free and fair election by the election commission and the caretaker government is praiseworthy but did they succeed? If they did, how can these people prove to be eligible for the election?
Whenever we talk about the country, swirls of emotions blow us away and we expect a lot. But this time around, I personally want to be realistic. My only expectation is that, whoever comes to the power will remember what happened in 1/11 and keep in mind that they will have to face the consequences of what they are doing today. That might at least refrain them from the crimes that they are habituated to committing whenever they get to the power. The same goes for the opposition party. They oppose every single thing the government tries to do whether it is right or wrong. The opposition should keep in mind that the people of our country have not forgotten their heinous activities that easily. It might take 5 to 10 years, but one day they would also have to answer about what they did. Finally, I wish that the informed young generation of the country would be more vocal about different national issues.
Institute of Business Administration (IBA)
Youth has always played an important role in the history of Bangladesh. Even in 2008's election, a good portion of the voters is youth. So, naturally we have some expectations from the new government. We want an uncorrupted government. We hope that the new government would take sustainable steps to take this country ahead. The government should select efficient leaders in every sector such as economy, environment, education etc. They should ensure social security, specially the security of women. We do not want to see more harassment. But one thing that I really feel important is to build more universities for the students. Or to increase the number of seats allocated in the public universities. Every year thousands of students cannot get admitted in any university. As a result they lose one valuable year from their life. This problem should be solved.
To put it in a nutshell, as youth all we want is a healthy democratic government body.
Department of Business Administration
Photo: ZAID AMIR ISLAM/ DRIKNEWS
I think this is the last time that people will give mandate to a political party and whichever party gets it should make the best use of it. Otherwise people will lose all their trust on democracy.
The first thing I expect from all the parties is to stop the blame game and to work together for the next five years with only one agenda that is development of the country. They should never forget that the next five years would be an acid test for them. Just making the ruling party look inefficient to the public will not do this time for the opposition. Rather if the people find the opposition pressing the ruling party more for the development of the country that will help them to come to the power in the next election and that is the true democratic practice.
Secondly, I would want to see a "Five Year Road Map" from the ruling party. They have to clearly say based on our socio economic indicators that where they will lead this country in the next five years. And lastly, all the parties should work together to eliminate corruption and political violence.
Another election is in front of us. However, for the first time voters, this is the first election of our life. Perhaps due to the media hype a lot of attention is being given to the first time voter. Although I appreciate the attention I only hope that the attention does not disappear after the election.
I have read through the manifestos of the major political parties. Surprisingly despite talking a lot about the youth, they did not have any plan for us. They say things about ensuring free education, fighting unemployment, things everyone says before every election. Somehow after reading the same statistics every year, the promises seem vacant.
I am a student, so my thoughts are around the education system. When the next government comes I hope they take time to think while making policies. Every government experiments with textbooks, with the grading systems, but in the end of the day it is always the students who pay the price for their bad decisions. For millions of students who pass HSC every year, how many public universities are there? What would the students do who cannot pursue higher studies in private universities? Making education free in public universities is not the solution, establishing more public institution is. Our education system is barely compatible with the real challenges of life. The system never demands the use of participation.
Most of my friends have no interest in the politics of our country. Why would they? Year after year the governments have done their best to destroy the wealth, environment, and the hopes of this country. So all they want to do is to go abroad. Why do not the manifestos say anything about raising the moral of our youth, about giving us an incentive to stay? Why would we want to leave if we had even the basic necessities of a safe and healthy life? When girls cannot travel alone at night, road accidents take thousands of lives, the price of everyday items keep hiking, the healthcare is inadequate, safety is quite illusive, the youth of Bangladesh have barely any incentive to stay back in the country. All the parties talk about change; I hope that the talk turns into something fruitful, that they would not spend billions for meaningless projects when that money could feed the hungry, or save a life. I hope the party heads would not use their power to gather up all the wealth they can. Or put their relatives in all government institutions, use students to root their authority in universities, and spend the next five years as if our country was a plaything. I hope the opposition can stay in the parliament and voice their opinion, instead of running away calling hartals, commanding the country, the economy, and the lives of the citizens to stand still.
In short, all I hope as a citizen is a little sanity, a little safety, and a little stability. Is that really asking too much?
Department of civil engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
My expectations from the next government and opposition
Mamun Abdul Kaioum
As a first time voter of Bangladesh, I would want to see a free, fair and credible election. Without any definite cause and evidence any party should not complain about the election and boycott the parliament. The two parties should give priority on country's development and work together
As a student I especially expect destructive programs (like strike, clash, terrorism, corruption, nepotism) free campus from the opponent and government. I want a fair and congenial educational environment at campus.
As a citizen of Bangladesh I expect from the government to implement their election pledges. The elected party should pay more attention to youth development and related issues. This year more than 50% of total voters are women. I also hope the next government will take initiative on women development and empowerment. I want a well developed country free from corruption, terrorism, and militants where people will live peacefully.
Voicing the “Change”
Once again the general election of the country is approaching. Being a voter for the first time, I do have a tinge of excitement taking part as a responsible citizen, playing just a fractional role in taking the major decision of the country. Then again, when I think deeper and find myself with the same old parties, with the same infrastructure, and the same predictable outcomes all like new wine in an old bottle- I find my excitement abating. We are entrapped in a vicious cycle it seems.
The very word “politics” now triggers the image of an unhealthy corrupt system in of our minds. I am more worried about the aftermath of the election rather than the excitement of being a first time voter. We do not want the same old violence. We want a peaceful political system that guarantees the basic security of peoples' lives. We want our political leaders to focus on the development of the nation rather than focusing on building private zoos. Really, it is truly disappointing to see the role players taking the country towards a more negative slope in terms of every development activities. We do not want those good for nothing hartals or oborodhs that results in simply nothing but damaged properties. We do not want to be victimized and lose a precious year of our academic life due to utter failure of our education system, the reason being labeled as “Session jam”.
As a student myself, I would say I lost interest and became totally disappointed with the political system because of its complete failure to make any positive move in terms of economics, security of citizens, finance and overall law & order of the country. The major parties still have their student councils and some clusters of dedicated activists, but the active interest among the student community in general seems to be declining big time.
For me, it is truly disappointing to see the name of my country on the top charts of most corrupt countries' enlistment. It is disheartening to see the living cost going sky high making life tougher each day and it is particularly painful to see the failure of justice. We - the students want to be engaged with something truly inspiring that gives us a drive to move forward. We do not necessarily want to be a part of a corrupt system that labels us negatively. And this, I believe is the major reason behind our indifference towards the political system.
It is completely disheartening to have to choose the best from the worst. Limited options are not what we want. Our expectations from politics have reached the lowest level of the glass ceiling. We can merely expect anything positive at all. We want hope- hope enkindling from the kind of political system that will take us a step upward, moving closer to economic efficiency, bit by bit.
Well, one can only hope for a change. But the change can only come when combined amass. And on the eve of the general election, one can only hope for a change, a break from the vicious cycle of corruption.
Our Expectations from the next Government
The manifestos of all the electoral parties claim that each of them is the most suitable candidate for the upcoming elections. However, we do not need such big pledges from the candidates. We just want to be assured that the new Government would be able to fulfill the basic needs of the people of Bangladesh.
The most essential undertaking for the next government would be to ensure food for all by reducing its spiralling price. If we listen to the impoverished people of our country, we would be shocked at their lack of freedom from hunger, a freedom that can only be assured by increasing the productivity and removing the food price. Like food price, traffic jam is also increasing in our country at a great extent. The number of authorized and unauthorized transports is increasing while there is no significant development in the infrastructure. This in turn is creating barriers to effective communication and increasing road accidents.
Photo: AMADUL HAQUE/ DRIKNEWS.
Women and children are poorly treated in our country. One area that the new government needs to develop urgently is the health care sector for mother and children. Since our tradition has been conservative specially women they do not feel free to share their problem with all kind of people. As a result special health care centers and facilities need to be developed to protect both mothers and their children. Before all this can happen, proper education is required so that people can be aware of their most basic rights. Educated people can find out new ways and innovative ideas to bring about the developments in a country.
And finally we want a country, which is free from corruption in all aspects, because corruption acts as the main obstacle in the development of a country. Different political parties have different views and policies to control the country. Their biased emphasis on certain areas brings profit to some, while depriving the others. We do not want such dramatic upsurge in the development of our country, but a balanced improvement in all the sectors.
(Student of BRAC University)
The new Government should care what the Youth wishes for
The world is becoming progressively inter-related, multifaceted and fast changing. Yet many political parties continue to use traditional methods to enforce their leadership despite having negligible success in their term. Why is this? What has forced the strategists and policy makers to give up on rationality and logic?
In view of the fact that politicians in Bangladesh have had a tradition of corruption, the people of the country have had a tradition of accepting it, even expecting it! However, a synopsis of my in-depth interviews with youth groups found that young people have great expectations from the education policy of the country. The young generation still has high hopes of eliminating the corruption, ensuring punishment to the war criminals and of political stability. Most of the respondents hoped that the new Government would give priority to unemployment problem and education in the coming years. In the respondents' heart, a concerned ear and understanding of the dilemma of citizens, responsibility and ability to handle tasks assigned, as well as deep integrity were considered to be the most important criteria in being a good opposition. Issues related to unemployment, education, health, corruption and environmental protection were five areas to which respondents expected the new Government to give priority in the coming years. Issues related to corruption ranked first in their view. The punishment for war criminals and employment opportunity ranked second and third.
In regards to education system, the new Government should upgrade the quality of teachers and reform educational organization and examination system. In regards to improving unemployment, most respondents believed that the new Government should give priority to motivating the economy, while taking a strong stance against corruption. A large proportion of the respondents were looking for more pre-employment training, learning and skill-developed training courses. The in-depth findings highlight that young people have a great expectation that the opposition would be responsible in evaluating the performance of the new Government on upgrading the competitiveness of local people.
Adnan is 23 years old, studying at a reputed private university in Dhaka. He replied:
“I should not cast my vote for anyone this time, because all the politicians are seeking vote for selfish reasons! What is my benefit, if I cast my vote? Why should I give vote? New government will not give me a job. Thus I have to manage a job. Why should I care for the new government?”
There would be plenty of opportunity for the new Government to give attention to the expectations of the youth. Thus we look forward to the arrival of the new Government, and hope that they can meet the expectation of the new generation.
Expectations - Yet to be achieved
After two years of the current government, we are now heading towards the elections. One of the important factors of 29th December parliamentary election is the young and first time voters. Among 81,130,973 registered voters, 30% are first time voters and most of them are students like us. We all are hoping for a brighter country through healthier democracy where there will be no hartals and no corruption.
I would like to convey my thanks to the Election Commission for the 'NO' voting system. We have seen that some of the previous democratic governments did very little for us. Often enough, they broke their election manifestos. So, whoever in government and opposition, they should follow their election manifestos. To select a leader it must be seen how much he or she will work for the country and how he or she has worked before! Many of us think that in this stage of after 37 years of liberation war why we think about war criminals. We should forget their roles during 1971 and work together now. But I strongly oppose this. Why will we do that? I will reject a candidate on first sight if he is a war criminal and will cast NO vote in absence of appropriate candidate. This is my motto to select a candidate in the upcoming election. But in this case my expectations from that government will be to judge the war criminals.
The next government should act in such a way that we, so that they can make a lasting impression on us, the young and first time voters.