These two sectors bred some new elite classes who didn’t carry any meaningful social base earlier. A section of uncivilised social parasites, locally known as Jamir Dalal (Land Broker) and Adam Bepari (Manpower Dealer), emerged as the determining factors in the economy. With huge kickbacks, they began to occupy the political spaces also. Thus an immoral process of the economy began to rise, which Dr Akbar Ali Khan defined as ‘Shuyorer Bacchader Orthonity (Economy of Bastards)’. I would rather dare to dub it a ‘criminal economy’.
— writes A. R. Farrukh Ahamed
By born, no one is criminal. Some humans may be defined as criminals though they are not solely responsible for their being criminals. The causes behind their being criminals are mainly economic deprivation, then the social backwardness as its consequence. They are just the victims of existing economic as well as social systems. No one can be guilty until society calls him guilty. It is nothing but the culture of lawlessness in a self-centred society when the economy is itself an exploiting machine for personal profit or state bureaucracy. In a society where culture is nothing but an attire to cover the truth under the carpet, it is so easy to grow up here as a criminal. By depriving a large portion of the total population of their right to profit, claiming ownership of the country is just a mockery or fun for a just, fair and equitable state.
Now take a look at the time of Bangladesh where its independence is now in question only due to nourishing an economy which is criminal in nature. The government may pass many laws like ‘Digital Security Act (DSA)’ or maybe, in the future ‘Smart Security Act (SSA)’, but those will not help the people to admit their freedom with no bar of hunger or starvation. It started with our inception as a new nation in 1971. After 50 years of independence, it is no wonder here to get the people like Bashontis wearing nets or a flower seller in the national monument at Savar for a photo pose of total deprivation. It is because the citizens of this country have not got their due portion in economic development, let alone their ownership of the country as a whole. Still, they are subjects of a kingdom under the guise of Republic Bangladesh where a few elites are controlling the whole authority depriving the majority economically. A few have become the owners of the country, but the ordinary mass who are the real owners are oppressed by the so-called businessmen, bureaucrats and politicians.
To protect the economic inheritance left by the Pakistani owners after the independence in 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared all the assets as state wealth. Almost all economic activities became nationalized. The private enterprises got frustrated with that process.
After the brutal assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, without adopting a proper economic and industrial policy, the Bangladesh economy began to flourish with two major business sectors. They are real estate development and manpower businesses. These two sectors bred some new elite classes who didn’t carry any meaningful social base earlier. A section of uncivilised social parasites, locally known as Jamir Dalal (Land Broker) and Adam Bepari (Manpower Dealer), emerged as the determining factors in the economy. With huge kickbacks, they began to occupy the political spaces also. Thus an immoral process of the economy began to rise, which Dr Akbar Ali Khan defined as ‘Shuyorer Bacchader Orthonity (Economy of Bastards)’. I would rather dare to dub it a ‘criminal economy’. Last but not the least, these new Zamindar class people thought of themselves as the owners of the country with an illegal nexus of self-seeking uneducated political leaders and bureaucrats. The process still continues unabated.
The Constitution of Bangladesh acknowledges three ownerships i.e. personal ownership, state ownership and cooperative ownership. But very unfortunately in these three ownerships, there is no space for community partnership for the ordinary masses. As a social being, every person belongs to a community, and he/she should have certain privileges in that community, especially being a responsible stakeholder for every enterprise taken by any member of that community. A society develops on the basis of its economic activities whereas culture is the reflection of the social norm. The personal belief and the tradition inherited from the ancestors define a man’s lifestyle. Whether a man believes in God or not is not a question of his survival. The fact is the financial ability of a person determines his existence in society as either well-off or impoverished, not his education or wisdom. In that case, society must have the responsibility to uphold the dignity of its every member, and therefore, it must ensure all its members of acquiring the due ownership of each and every enterprise operating in that society.
After fifty-two years of our independence, Bangladesh with an average growth of 6.4 per cent over the past six years has already become an emerging economy. Now, the country is poised to become a trillion-dollar economy by 2040 even if its growth drops to 5 per cent during this time and if a 10 per cent growth continues, the country may reach this milestone by 2030. But Bangladesh has remained a country with substantial income inequality in all its manifestations even after 52 years of its independence. A small section of society enjoys most of the country’s wealth depriving the larger sections.
Besides, the high GDP growth over the past few years has been unable to create sufficient jobs. In other words, the country is witnessing a phase of jobless growth as the poor people are not getting enough scope for productive income-generating employment activities. In fact, the economic growth in recent years has been far from inclusive.
Now having the socialist economy abolished in the decade of 1990s, in the present capitalist economy, the existence of traditional socio-economic ideologies is being destroyed tremendously. Society is now only serving the interest of its wealthy members. Therefore, social justice has been declining so fast against expectations.
Now to save the country, it is imperative to define the society on the basis of community engagement in economic activities. There are manufacturing units, service sectors, businesses, institutions, agriculture and so many others which are truly the enterprise of some innovative persons. These are, in fact, social institutions that belong to people of all classes beyond cast and creeds. We have to ponder an economy which ensures its ownership to all giving due respect to the entrepreneurs. We must uphold the dignity of innovation and entrepreneurship. The nature of the economy must not be profit-mongering, rather should be profit-sharing. The surplus value of the products should be proportionately distributed among all stakeholders. Thus the social ownership of the economy will develop which is not mentioned in our Constitution but need to note in no time.
(The writer is a social researcher).