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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Letters

The law shall rule…

“The people said to Gideon, rule over us, you and then your son and then your son's son …but he said to them 'I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you”- The Old Testament.

An inbuilt human nature is to submit readily to an earthly power or authority. Stronger humans, and arrogant governments, exploit this weakness but exceptional leaders, philosophers of freedom, activists, and sacrificing individuals have always promoted a message to the people, that neither the strong nor the absolute, or the majority, will rule the people but simply laws that are just.

Democracy never evolved easily. It took numerous sacrifices and hard work of individuals to motivate people against sovereigns and authoritative governments.

The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century created greater economic opportunity in Britain. As a result, a new class of entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and merchants had emerged who opposed the absolute power of the landed aristocracy and monarchy.

Queen Victoria in the 19th century did not willingly surrender her sovereign authority for greater good of the people, but people's discontent led to a series of passages of Acts in Parliament diminishing her sovereign power, until a modern system of constitutional monarchy emerged during her era in Britain.

Greater economic freedom and progress permitted the common English to assert their individual democratic rights. In the same way, a better off economy will impel the Bangladesh people to claim theirs.

Presently, in Bangladesh's politics and public life, the right to criticise, or to differ, is never without the fear of physical injury or deadly threats. Political activists and prominent leaders dread to differ with their absolute bosses or even their offspring.

For those who dare to speak, the price is high and usually means an expulsion, physical terrorization, or both. Only independent but efficient courts, a well-paid police force free from political control, and an open media can guarantee the vital voice of dissent. Mere elections however widely participated, or accepted at home and abroad, will not create a secure environment where politicians and their organisations would be legally bound to tolerate dissent, or sufficiently punished when violating it.

Dr Kamal Hussain deserves praise for saying rightly, and bravely, that he refuses to worship any political leader even if the whole country were doing so. He is the first important politician to say it, and people would one day remember him and reject the idolization of the powerful. However, improvement in economic matters is necessary to trigger a process of change in people's intellect. Years ago, Dr. Hussain paid the price when the Awami League expelled him for differing with the party chief, Sheikh Hasina.

Political reforms, as attempted after 1/11, could succeed but a deteriorating economy has become a barrier though an opportunity if rightly undertaken.

The government's benevolence, or the largest budget in our history, will not speed up economic progress unless the economy is broadly liberalised. People must be free of control and excessive authority. There must be individual economic and monetary freedom, with security fully ensured by the laws of the country. Speedy liberalisation of the economy will revolutionise every aspect of our lives, as the Industrial Revolution did for Britain and much of the world.

Price spiral is certainly controllable but not by conventional policies. Our theoreticians are firm believers in conventional economics. They ignore the 'informal' side of the economy that universities in the West, whom we follow, seldom teach, as their systems are adequately open not requiring thriving informal sectors to combat restrictive policies.

Global inflation, or the boom and bust phenomenon, will end but only when the US monetary system will collapse, or when they choose to reform it radically. Our self-doubting leaders and economists will surely wait for direction and then advocate change, not before.

It is possible to stabilise our market prices but we need to abandon the present monetary order, or allow parallel and competing monetary systems to operate liberally and freely. But, do we have the courage to do so, or our economists the understanding about what economic laws the people want, or the country needs.

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