Whether Bangladesh is a democratic country or not
* According to Article 7(1) of our Constitution, “All powers in the Republic belong to the people, and their exercise on behalf of the people shall be effected only under, and by the authority of, this constitution.”
* According to Article 8(1) of our Constitution, “There are four fundamental principles of our country. And 'Democracy' is one of them.
* According to Article 11 of our Constitution, “The Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental human rights and freedoms and respects for the dignity and worth of the human person shall be guaranteed, [and in which effective participation by the people through their elected representatives in administration at all levels shall be ensured].
On the basis of above three Articles, it is to be said that Bangladesh is a Democratic Country.
According to Article 55(1) of our Constitution, “There shall be a Cabinet for Bangladesh having the Prime Minister at its head and comprising also such other Ministers as the Prime Minister may from time to time designate”. According to Article 55(2) of our Constitution, “The executive power of the Republic shall, in accordance with this Constitution, be exercised by or on the authority of the Prime Minister.”
It seems that the Cabinet in Bangladesh is like a solar system where the Prime Minister is the sun and the others are planets because by virtue of Articles 55(1) & 55(2) the appointment of Cabinet Ministers, removal of Cabinet Ministers, the size of Cabinet Ministers- all things depend on the sweet will of the Prime Minister. According to Article 70(1) of our Constitution, “A person elected as a Member of Parliament (M.P.) at an election at which he was nominated as a candidate by a political party shall vacate his seat if he resigns from that party or votes in Parliament against that party.”
One of the basic principles of Democracy is “Liberty”. And this basic principle is nabbed by Article 55(1), 55(2) & 70(1) of our constitution. So now the question arises whether Bangladesh is a Democratic Country or not.
Mohammad Rayhan Uddin
Law Department, Premier University, Chittagong.
Family planning: It's a right
On 11 July 2008, people around the world observed the 19th World Population Day in different ways. This year's theme “Family Planning: It's a Right; Let's Make it Real”, gives us a chance to build awareness about the importance of family planning within a wide range of development issues, including gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights- especially for those who often have the hardest time getting the information and services they need to plan their families, such as marginalised population and young people.
In 1968, world leaders proclaimed that individuals have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and timing of their children. Forty years later, modern contraception remains out of reach for hundreds of millions of women, men and young people. Though population growth rates are slowing but remain above the level required for population stabilization.
One hundred years ago, the territory that is now Bangladesh had a population of around 29 million, at the time British left the sub-continent in 1947, the population in the territory had risen to 42 million. Over four decades, the population doubled from 51 million in 1961 to 130 million in 2001. From 1960 to 1980s Bangladesh achieved great success in family planning activity. Initial progress came with the reduction of fertility from 6.0 in the mid 1970s to 3.0 in 2004. The Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) increased from 8.5 percent in the mid 70s to 58 percent in 2000. But it remains stagnant, while we expect our CPR rise to 70 percent. Surprisingly Bangladesh is the world's most densely populated nation with around 1,000 people living in one square kilometer and 3 million people are being added annually in the country. In this alarming situation Bangladesh on Friday observed the world population day with suggestion for adopting 'one child policy'.
Let us focus on the aspects of human rights attached to population planning. Family planning directly ensures rights of women particularly their empowerment. Indirectly it ensures human development, reduces poverty, reduces stress on the environment and finally ensures a person's living with dignity. Population growth affects our entire development initiative. Planned population growth means more time for governments to make the necessary investments in human development through education and health care, and allows them to spend more per person on these and other vital social services. At this stage we should review our perception again that family planning is not a matter of population control it also reduces poverty and ensures human rights in all aspects. Every year 190 million women become pregnant and 50 million resort to abortion. Researchers estimate that universal access to family planning could save the lives of about 175,000 women each year. Increasing birth intervals to at least 36 months could also prevent the deaths of 1.8 million children under 5. In that way family planning ensures child rights under the Child Rights Convention and also women rights. Initially family planning makes pregnancies safer and more predictable. Consequently family planning makes women to pursue productive work, frees women to further their education and enable families to devote more resources to each child, improving family nutrition, education levels and living standards.
So we can say when people can plan their families, they can plan their lives. They can plan to beat poverty. They can plan on healthier mothers and children. They can plan to gain equality for women. They can ensure their rights at every stage. High-level political and financial commitment to promote family planning is urgently needed at the global, regional, national and local levels. If the population is stabilised with the state resource then state can provide equal opportunity for the people. We should make the campaign that it's a matter of human rights indeed. If the MDGs are to be met, the international community must restore family planning to the top of the development agenda.
Senior Programme Officer, Management and Resources Development Imitative (MRDI)