Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Protests spark debate over quota system

Reservation of seats in public exams has triggered a debate among academics and experts after some unsuccessful examinees in the 34th BCS preliminary examination blocked roads, throwing traffic out of gear, in protest against the quota system, on Wednesday. Most experts, however, have given top priority to merit in the selection of candidates.They say the quota system exists in different countries and it has been there in Bangladesh even before the Independence. Some of them say that reservation of seats could be minimised, while others maintain that most of the quotas is unconstitutional and against the principle of fairness.
Dr Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, Emeritus professor of the Dhaka University English department, said, “I don’t support the quota system. It should only be given only to backward ethnic minorities.”
About women quota, he said, “It is not necessary now. Our women are no longer lagging behind. It is not acceptable that 56 per cent seats will remain reserved. This will be a huge disadvantage for meritorious students. Such a system would encourage mediocrity and incompetence in public service.”
“The PSC has taken a good decision by cancelling the results of the 34th BCS preliminary exams. It is unfair to have the quota system,” Ali Imam Majumder, former cabinet secretary, said.
“There was quota system before Independence, albeit in a limited scale. The present 56 per cent quota in the civil service is totally unfair. What is shocking is that a lot of posts are lying vacant if candidates on the quota are not available. This has greatly hampered the administration’s work. We have to get rid of the system,” he added.
Akbar Ali Khan, former adviser to the caretaker government, said, “Most quotas are unconstitutional and against the principle of fairness. The merit quota should not be below 50 per cent at any cost.”
“Thirty per cent seats were reserved for freedom fighters in 1972 for government jobs and the age limit was 32 for them. It was a right decision then, considering their contribution to the country’s Liberation War.
But it is absolutely unfair to give special opportunities to their children after so many years,” he added.
“No quota should be permanent. There must be a limit on every quota. When there were 17 districts, there were district quotas. Now there are 64 districts, but that quota is still there. However, there is no reservation for ethnic minorities and disabled persons in parity with the population,” he observed.
Prime Minister’s Public Administration adviser HT Imam, however, thinks otherwise. Talking to the BBC, he said, “I support the quota system. Our women are still lagging behind. Women’s quota should be increased. The backward hill tracts population should be given more opportunities. If the selection is made only through merit, backward people would not get jobs.”
He further said that the PSC would review the 34th BCS preliminary exam results, so that no one could get extra benefits out of it.
“I was against the quota system when I was a PSC member. I have seen how a candidate in the top segment of the list sometimes do not get a job, while a candidate who fared badly and was placed at the bottom of the merit list got the job just because of the quota. Is it justified?”  said Dr M. Mohabbat Khan to the BBC.
Meritorious candidates are being deprived of their chances due to the quota system, he added.
“The government should set up more universities for women and tribal people. It would be more beneficial than the quota system,” he suggested.

-With The Independent input

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