বর্তমানে সর্বাধিক ব্যবহৃত ৫০ টি সাইট
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গুরুত্বপূর্ণ দেশি ওয়েবসাইট
এর মধ্যে আমি আপনাদের দুইটি ওয়েবসাইট সম্পর্কে বলব। বাংলাদেশ সরকারের ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশ গড়ার উদ্দেশ্যে একটি বড় পদক্ষেপ হচ্ছে এই তথ্যকোষ(www.infokosh.bangladesh.gov.bd )। এখানে আপনি আপনার প্রয়োজনীয় সকল তথ্যই পাবেন। কৃষী, স্বাস্থ্য, শিক্ষা, আইন ও মানবাধিকার, নাগরিক সেবা, অকৃষি উদ্যোগ, পর্যটন, পরিবেশ ও দূর্যোগ ব্যবস্থাপনা, বিজ্ঞান ও প্রযুক্তি, শিল্প ও বাণিজ্য এবং কর্মসংস্থান এইভাবে তথ্যগুলাকে সাজানো হয়েছে। মূলত গ্রামের মানুষ যারা ইন্টারনেট সম্পর্কে তেমন ধারণা রাখে না তাদের কথা মাথায় রেখে ওয়েবসাইটটি বানানো হয়েছে।
দ্বিতীয় সাইটটি এই মাসেই প্রথম চালু হয়েছে। এলজিইডি’র ওয়েবসাইটে(www.lged.gov.bd/viewmap.aspx ) এখন থেকে দেশের সকল উপজেলার পূর্ণাংগ প্রসাশনিক ম্যাপ পাওয়া যাবে। চাইলে আপনি আপনি হাই রেজুলেশন ফরম্যাটে এগুলা ডাউনলোডও করে নিতে পারবেন।
২৪ ঘন্টার খবর
প্রযুক্তি বিষয়ক ওয়েবসাইট/ব্লগ
মোবাইল সেবাদাতা প্রতিষ্ঠান
ওয়াইম্যাক্স সেবাদাতা প্রতিষ্ঠান
কেনা-বেচা নিয়ে ব্লগ
বাংলা নাটক ও সিনেমা
হোটেল, গেস্ট হাইজ, ট্যুরিজম
অনলাইন গিফট শপ
ফেন্ডশীপ মেকিং ছবি-৩২৩
1. Introduction and Background
It is recognized by all that for the sustenance and institutionalization of democratic tradition, values and culture in the polity, an efficient, result oriented, gender sensitive, transparent, corruption free and neutral public administration and a participatory and decentralized local government system are the essential prerequisites. Even though there is disagreement among scholars and practitioners as to the meaning, nature, strategies and outcome of the administrative reform efforts, the developing countries believe that effective public administrative systems are essential for achieving the national objective of development (Khan, 1998). On the other hand there is general agreement today that a devolved self governing LG system is a crucial component of the democratic set up essential for the success of a pro-people development agenda (Khan, 2000).
The goal of public administration in Bangladesh like any other developing country is development. But there is debate among different authorities about how the government will achieve this goal-either directly by itself or with the help of others assuming the role of facilitator/controller or partner. This debate has become intense in recent days as profound changes have taken place in the international arena. The achievement of the government in the last three decades is being evaluated by different quarters using development as the most popular parameter. But it is to be noted here that governments in the post-colonial period especially in the South Asian sub-continent assumed this crucial responsibility on the foundation of the colonial administrative apparatus that they inherited from their colonial masters. The administrative structure developed during the colonial period had very limited goals and objectives to achieve. As a result, after 1947 and more so after the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, the government has enormously expanded its organizational network for achieving the goal of development. But on account of weak political authority devoid of popular support base for a great number of years, the administration became more powerful or rather all powerful. It failed to transform its paternalistic administrative culture into one that is suitable to meet the needs of an independent democratic country (Hussain and Sarker, 1995).
Over the years, different commissions/ committees were constituted to reform/ reorganize and strengthen the role, structure and functions of local governments in Bangladesh. However, a follow up review clearly indicates that no significant attempt have been made to operationalize/ implement the major recommendations of these reform commissions/committees. Again, there has been frequent policy changes and rearrangements of the tiers of local government. At the same time, these bodies are alleged to have been exploited by both democratic and military national governments as means for political mobilization and consolidation of power as against the development of a genuine autonomous, decentralized local government institution (Khan, 2000).
Mainstreaming women through gender specific policies is an acknowledged precondition for achieving meaningful development in any developing country like Bangladesh. Yet it is only recently that this issue has been recognized as such in the context of policy reforms in both administrative and local government arenas. With respect to administrative reform, it can be said that gender issues have been totally neglected. The recommendations of various commissions/ committees do not reflect any serious concern for mainstreaming women in the administrative process. Nevertheless there has been some minor efforts towards these ends through stray government policies and affirmative actions. On the other hand, in the context of local government, women’s concerns had surfaced intermittently and were highlighted in the government reform agenda as evident in the last Local Government Reform of 1997. However there are serious lacunas in gender balancing both in terms of governance policy and reform agenda.
This policy brief analyses the past efforts for administrative and local government reform in Bangladesh. It also highlights a few concrete issues that should be given due attention for reforming public administrative and local government system. In the end, specific recommendations are formulated for reforming and making these institutions more efficient, accountable, transparent and people centered to suit the demands and needs of the hour of an emerging democratic polity. These issues have been viewed in the context of parliamentary democracy and changed national and global socio-economic environment. In line with the scope of the policy brief this report has been organized in two sections: Administrative Reform and Strengthening of Local Government.
2. Brief Review of Administrative Reforms in Bangladesh
Since the emergence of the country, a number of commissions and committees (for details, please see Annex-A) were constituted by different governments for administrative reform and reorganization to suit the needs of their respective policy declarations. The development partners also prepared several reports toward that end. A review of the major efforts is summarized below.
The first political government in Bangladesh felt it necessary to rationalize and transform the provincial administrative system it had inherited into a national system which would be able to shoulder the responsibilities of a new born sovereign nation. Accordingly, the government constituted a Committee known as the Administrative and Services Reorganization Committee. The committee reviewed the administrative system thoroughly and proposed a comprehensive structure to enable it to undertake increasing development responsibilities. The recommendations were not, however, implemented due to resistance from different quarters. The subsequent military government in 1976 constituted a commission called as the Pay and Services Commission for recommending measures for administrative reform. The recommendations of the Commission were partially implemented. The Commission recommended for the introduction of an open structure system in the secretariat administration and creation of 28 cadres in the civil service. While the cadre principle was implemented, there was, in essence, a failure to introduce open structure system in the secretarial administration. The martial law government of General Ershad appointed a Committee for examining the organizational set up of the ministries/divisions, departments, directorates and other organizations. The Committee recommended reduction of the number of ministries/divisions, and of staff at the lower levels of secretarial administration, reduction in the layers of the decision making and fixing the supervisory ratio, formalizing and regularizing recruitment processes, emphasizing the principle of merit in promotion, delegation of financial and administrative powers down the hierarchy and providing training for officials. But major recommendations of the Committee were not implemented (Khan, 1991). Later, the martial law government appointed another committee, known as Committee for Administrative Reforms/Reorganization (CARR). The Committee recommended for renaming of Thanas as Upazilas (sub-districts), upgrading the Sub-divisions into districts and installation of elected local governments at district, Upazilla and union levels for the transfer of development functions to these elected local bodies. This time, the government implemented most of the recommendations of the Committee. It upgraded Thanas into Upazilas and sub-divisions into districts. It introduced democratic governance though limited in scope at the Upazila level. In 1987, a Cabinet Sub-committee was formed to recommend policy measures for implementing recommendations of the Secretaries Special Committee on the Structural Organization of the Senior Services Pool (SSP) and the Secretarial Committee relating to the problem of unequal prospects of promotion of officers of different cadre services. The Committee recommended the abolition of the SSP and certain other measures to improve prospects of promotion of officers of various cadre services. The government accepted the recommendations of the Committee and abolished the SSP in 1989. In the same year, another committee was constituted to reexamine the administrative structure and the man power position. The Committee found that 7000 officers and employees were surplus in 37 departments and offices. On the basis of its findings, the Committee recommended the abolition of 27 departments (Khan, 1991; USAID, 1989; Ali, 1993).
During the tenure of the last government, an empirical study was conducted and two committees were constituted to look into problems of public administration and recommend measures for reforms. The Public Administration Sector Study was sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with a view to suggesting an open, transparent, accountable and performance oriented administrative system to support parliamentary democracy. The Four Secretaries Committee and Committee for Restructuring Ministries/Department were constituted by the government. The areas of investigation of these committees and study included secretarial administration and work procedures, ministry-department relationship, ministry-corporation relationship, project cycle, organization and structure of government, decision making, accountability, human resources development, financial management and corruption. Recommendations made by them were of multifarious nature corresponding to the nature of the problems.
The present government constituted the Public Administration Reform Commission in 1997 with the mandate to recommend policies, programs and activities to improve the level of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency in public organizations and to enable them to fulfil the government’s commitment to ensure socio-economic development and reach out its benefits to the people. The Commission made three types of recommendations, interim, short term and long term for administrative reforms in areas such as, defining of mission and functions of the public offices; affirming professionalism in the civil service; performance monitoring and result oriented performance, audit of government agencies; delegation of powers to subordinate and field offices; open and free access to government documents and reports for the sake of transparency and accountability; separation of judiciary from the executive; separation of audit from accounts; simplification of outdated laws, rules, regulations and forms (GOB, 2000). The Government has implemented some of the interim recommendations of the commission. The cabinet in a recent meeting accepted in principle the other recommendations of the commission.
4. Major Issues of Administrative Reform in Bangladesh
The importance and significance of various reform efforts can not be denied as these have addressed to a large number of issues relating to public administration in Bangladesh. But it is believed that the following issues should be taken into consideration while attempting for any comprehensive reform effort in the future.
4.1 Role of Government
The role of government in terms of dimension and nature of involvement in various activities has direct bearing on any reform effort. With respect to size and functional involvement, the Government of Bangladesh has assumed an all pervasive character. The lack of private initiative, which is a historical phenomenon, as well as government’s compulsions, especially just after the emergence of the country, provided the basis for the extended role and functions of the government. As a result, the role and functions of the government in Bangladesh has become all encompassing from the centre to the grassroots level. Its traditional functions also termed as regulatory functions (maintenance of law and order, collection of revenue and administration of justice) now constitute only a small segment, though their importance has not been reduced at all; rather increased manifold, of the voluminous functions of public administration. But by the nineties of the last century, some major and qualitative changes have taken place both in the internal and external environment of the country. The thrust for the reduced and limited role of the government is recognized nationally and internationally. In the economic sector, local private, and international and multinational initiatives are quite successful in various ventures while the government is found unsuccessful in managing and running public enterprises. On the other hand, a large number of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), national and international, are shouldering some service and development responsibilities and also demonstrating better performance in their own spheres (CDRB and DPC, 1995). All these realities are now considered as the reflection of the freedom of individual belief and rights-two lofty ideals of modern day democracy. Thus there are both objective and subjective reasons to review the role and functions of the government.
4.2 Public Policy Commitments
Public policy commitments generally reflect the hopes and aspirations of the people and the demands of the time. These commitments are made in a democratic polity by the political parties both in power and aspiring to go to power. Public policy commitments are later translated into administrative actions. In Bangladesh, it has been observed that the public policy commitments made by the government are not pursued wholeheartedly. The institutional mechanisms, both internal and external, are also weak to monitor the translation of these into concrete administrative actions. Internal mechanisms include, administrative and political will of the government and effective administrative monitoring system. On the other hand, external mechanisms are specific parliamentary standing committees and effective role of the political parties in parliament and constructive role of the press and media. Moreover, public policy commitments lack consensus especially of the opposition political parties. As a result, public policy commitments made by one government are, in many cases, scraped or set aside by the next government that comes to power.
4.3 Neutral Governance
Currently neutral governance has become a common concern of politicians, administrators, academics and common people as every body are beneficiaries of it. Neutral governance is essential for the sustenance, growth and development of democratic polity. Modern day parliamentary democracies are based on multi party system. Under the system, a number of political parties with varying ideologies and agenda compete for assuming the state power or forming the government through the electoral process. Political parties stay in power so long as they enjoy the support and confidence of the people. The public administrative system that symbolizes permanency and continuity has to function under and at the direction of different political parties at different points of time. Under the above reality, the administration must ensure neutral governance. The concept of neutral governance with respect to a developing country like Bangladesh could be viewed from the perspective of Maintenance of Law and Order/Enforcement; Administration of and Access to Justice; and Planning and Execution of Development Programs.
4.3.1 Maintenance of Law and Order/Enforcement
Maintenance of law and order is essential for ensuring neutral governance. Broadly speaking, maintenance of law and order has two aspects viz., maintenance of public peace, investigation and trial of criminal cases (GOP, 1960). The above involves both executive and judicial functions. Three elements are involved in it, the police, the magistracy and the judiciary (Ali, et.al., 1983). The maintenance of public peace does not mean prevention and control of any special type of crime. This deals with general law and order situations that may even be disturbed by non-criminal activities. Though crime may be committed, the real nature of the emergency here may be political or economic or communal. On the other hand, the investigation and trial of criminal cases may be described as prevention; investigation and detection; and prosecution of crime. It is believed that first of all crime should be prevented. If not prevented then the crime is committed. Once a crime is committed it must then be investigated and detected. The successful investigation leads to prosecution. Besides these, the police perform many other functions that have direct or indirect bearing on the maintenance of law and order/enforcement. Some of these are: execution of processes of criminal courts, regulation of crowds and traffic and other duties to meet emergency situations.
To ensure neutral governance with respect to the maintenance of law and order/enforcement, the police administration should enjoy freedom from interference from any quarters. If interference are made Police administration can not function or discharge its duties and responsibilities without fear or favour. But in recent years, it has been alleged that the law enforcing agencies have been subjected to influences of various kinds to meet the political ends of the parties in power. Such practices seriously erode the confidence of the people and directly violate the principle of neutral governance, above all, they encourage the police particularly at the lower echelons, to take advantage of such biased position of the authorities to convert the opportunity for unrestrained personal gains. And this is what has happened in Bangladesh.
4.3.2 Administration of and Access to Justice-Rule of Law
Administration and access to justice is a primary requirement for establishing the rule of law in the country. Again, the rule of law must be considered as an important dimension for sustainable democracy, accountable administration and equitable development. In the area of administration of justice in Bangladesh, the judicial system is subjected to some fundamental and procedural problems. Although there is constitutional provision for the separation of judiciary from the executive, concrete steps are yet be taken to separate the two especially at the lower level. It has been reported that now a bill proposing the separation of the judiciary and the executive is pending in the parliament for enactment. The combination of the executive/police and authority of criminal justice in the hands of the executive government was the innovation of the colonial power and it was specifically designed to meet the colonial purposes. However, non-action to separate the judiciary from administration helped accentuate bureaucratic authoritarianism and interference in the judicial process especially at the lower levels. Moreover, certain constitutional provisions require collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Supreme Court in the area of personnel management of the judges. Interference of the executive branch in the personnel management of the judiciary hampers judicial independence. In Bangladesh, successive governments meddled with the affairs of the judiciary to serve their narrow political ends. This state of affairs has seriously eroded the confidence of the people in the impartiality of the judicial process.
Access to justice is another precondition for establishing rule of law in the country. Easy and timely access to judicial redress is essential for limiting or arresting the high handedness of the executive organ of the government. Repressive and sweeping laws also limit the private citizens’ access to the judiciary. Moreover, the structural and institutional inefficiency of the judicial system has created manifold problems which fails to check the excesses of the executive arm and the bureaucratic authority and to safeguard the civil rights of the people at large.
4.3.3 Planning and Execution of Development Program
Another dimension of the concept of neutral governance is the neutral or impartial planning and execution of development programs. In developing countries like Bangladesh, initiatives for balanced development of the different parts of the country should come from the government. Moreover, for obvious reasons, the government has to shoulder the major responsibility with respect to economic and social sector development. But it has been observed that, in many cases, development programs are undertaken and executed to serve the narrow party interest of the political party in power at the expense of the national interest. The other phenomenon that is very much in existence in Bangladesh is that the people who are associated with the ruling party are awarded with various contracts relating to the execution of the development programs. Such practices breed corruption and the quality of the execution of the development programs also suffers. Sometimes, a nexus is developed between the political parties, government executing agencies and the implementers/contractors that results in waste and unnecessary cost escalation of development projects. But the concept of neutral governance with respect to planning and execution of the development programs suggests that national, not narrow party and or other interests, should come into prominence in the planning and execution of the development programs. The legitimate policy bias should not pervade the concept of neutral governance with respect to planning and execution of specific development plans and projects. It is natural that different political parties will have different policies and programs but this does not mean that their implementation should any way suffer from any partisan application.
4.4. Provider of Services
Government’s role has changed with the passage of time. In the beginning, the basic purpose was to maintain the steady state. As such, the role was basically regulatory in nature. The concentration was on revenue collection, maintenance of law and order and administration of justice. The administrative system that Bangladesh inherited from the British in 1947 was developed for assuming the above stated roles. Then the government for the first time was called upon to shoulder new responsibilities in addition to its earlier role in traditional/regulatory administration. In the sphere of traditional administration, the emphasis was on maintaining steady state so that the nation can strive for better life both at the individual citizen’s level and also at the national level (Hussain, 1986).
With the changed scenario, a new dimension was added to the role of the government, i.e., development administration. The assumption of this new role was necessitated with the rising expectations of the people. Government at this stage, in the absence of any other alternative choice, had to intervene in different sectors (broadly, economic and service) of the national life to ensure all round national development. The situation in 1947 was such that there was virtually no private sector and entrepreneurial capacity of the private citizens was almost non-existent. Under compulsion, the government had to intervene in all sectors. This phenomenon continued through out the Pakistani period. Another point should be noted here that during this period whatever capacity developed in the private sector was confined mostly to the erstwhile West Pakistani (now Pakistani) nationals (Ahmed, 1980; Jahan, 1977)
After the emergence of Bangladesh the situation was even worse. The institutional business enterprises and industries were mostly owned by the Pakistanis and these were left behind by them. The government had no choice but to nationalize those. On the other hand, government of the time also opted for a mixed economy. Consequently, the government’s roles and functions increased manifold. Besides, this period also witnessed the creation of a number of public enterprises especially in the economic sector (Sobhan and Ahmed (1980). In the service sector the government’s role and functions also increased considerably. The government ultimately became the main provider of services to the people. After the change of government in 1975, Government’s policies regarding its role underwent fundamental changes. Emphasis was put on the development of private initiatives in all sectors of national life. In the economic sector, thrust was given for the development of private entrepreneurial class (Ahmed, 1980). At the same time, the government went for the denationalization of different state owned enterprises. This period also saw the rise of a large number of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). These organizations started to take active part in development and service sectors especially at the grassroots level. In spite of all these developments, the government in Bangladesh still remains the primary providers of services in all sectors.
The all encompassing role of the government resulted in mismanagement and overburdening of the administrative system. Now the time has come to redefine and delimit the role of the government as provider of services and also to look for alternative strategies for providing these to suit the demand of time.
4.5 Civil Service
An efficient and effective role of civil service in a developing democratic polity is of vital importance. The efficiency of public servants is a sine qua non for managing the affairs of the state. On the other hand, the involvement of the public servants must not transcend the boundary of the democratic framework. However, bureaucratic efficiency depends on conducive political and bureaucratic environment and culture suiting the needs of the hour; existence of the democratic values in the administrative system; and existence of mechanisms to have checks on bureaucratic excesses.
4.5.1 Bureaucratic Norms
In multi-party democracy, public servants have to perform functions, such as, to inform the ministers and parliament with complete and accurate data presented objectively and in time; to advise ministers by analysis of data and appraisal of options in which they can have confidence; to implement ministerial decisions and to administer resultant decision; and to be responsible to minister and parliament for their actions (or inaction) with particular reference to the safeguarding of public funds and ensuring effective value for money (Stowes, 1992). With respect to the bureaucratic norms of the civil service in Bangladesh experience reveals that these are adhered to a very limited scale. A number of socio-economic and political factors, including historical peculiarities have impeded the growth of accountable structure of administration in Bangladesh. As a result, the ‘high office arrogance’, unethical behaviour, gross inefficiency, failure to respect legislative intent and failure to show initiatives have become apparent in the civil service of Bangladesh (Hussain and Sarker, 1995).
4.5.2 Decision Making Process
Efficient decision making procedures are part of the professional and result-oriented administration. The organization and structure of the government and public service and administrative culture have bearing on the decision making system. In Bangladesh, the Rules of Business outline the basic provisions relating to the distribution of responsibilities among different units of government. Under the existing arrangement of the governmental administration, the ministry is responsible for formulating policies. The directorates/departments/statutory bodies and field offices implement policies. In fact, the existing arrangement implies a policy formulation-implementation dichotomy. Interestingly, such a dichotomy has a corresponding relationship to the structural arrangement of the system, resulting in the conflicting relationship between generalists and specialists. There is also confusion about the nature of decisions. It is difficult to draw a demarcation line between the policy decisions and the operational decisions. This confusion complicates the disposal of cases. This, along with centralized tendency in administration causes delay in decision making. Jurisdictional infringement, buck passing, distortion of priorities, employee disorientation and misallocation of resources are many of the factors responsible for such a state of affairs (Huda and Rahman, 1989). The other important aspect that may be noted here is that the discourse on decision making is confined only to the bureaucratic structure. For instance, there is no indication in the Rules of Business regarding the role of parliament members in decision making particularly at various administrative levels, without violating the separation of power policy.
Corruption has been and continues to be an unfortunate integral part of administrative culture in Bangladesh. But in recent times, it has taken an all pervasive form. A recent donor sponsored study reflecting on the harmful effect of bribery, corruption, kickbacks and under the table payments for various administrative decisions and actions noted that the per capita income in corruption free Bangladesh could have nearly doubled to US$ 700 (currently it is estimated to be US$350) (Transparency International, Bangladesh, 2000). Government officials especially, involved in development projects, service delivery, enforcement and regulatory agencies at all levels are reported to be colluding with private bidders and contractors and service seekers and consequently amassing vast illegal incomes in the bargain.
The reasons for such corruption can be summed up: Firstly, because of institutional weaknesses, civil servants involved in corrupt practices, in most of the cases, are not taken to task and they indulge in corruption with impunity. Moreover, even if found guilty, they have never been adequately punished nor compelled to return to the state their ill-gotten wealth. Secondly, for quick service delivery, citizens in general, now do not mind to pay bribes and kickbacks. Thirdly, there is now social acceptance of corruption. Fourthly, barring occasional public procurements, the representatives of the people, i.e. politicians especially those who are in power, are not very enthusiastic to take effective measures to curb corrupt practices in public dealings. Rather in many cases, it is alleged that they have become party to various dubious deals.
4.6. Administrative Accountability
Government policy decisions are implemented through bureaucratic mechanisms; as such, administrative accountability is essential for good government. In developing polity, there is a tendency on the part of the public bureaucracy to exercise power in an authoritarian manner. Bangladesh bureaucracy is also no exception to that. Authoritarian organization culture still persists. Democratic values are still lacking in the bureaucracy. This is due to the colonial legacy that the administration inherited and lack of experience of the bureaucratic system to function under broader democratic political environment. There is a marked lack of clarity and in deed there is an imbalance between the role of bureaucracy and the role of public representatives and political leaders in the policy making and overall governance system. No systematic measures have been taken so far to streamline the institutional integration of popular interests and technical expertise at all levels of government. As a result, efficiency and accountability suffer under democratic political leadership. The arrogance of high office, unethical behaviour, failure to respect legislative intent and apathy towards work have been rampant (UNDP, 1993). However, elaborate measures should be undertaken to curtail bureaucratic excess. Its role should not go beyond the limits that may thwart democratic ideals and practices. Some of the measures could be through the effective roles of the parliament, media and the civil society.
4.6.1 Role of Parliament
Bangladesh has again gone back to the parliamentary form of government after amending the constitution (GOB, 1998). Under the present system, the executive branch is responsible to the parliament and that the peoples’ representatives must have sufficient voice in the design and formulation of public policy. In Bangladesh, the parliament is primarily concerned with enacting legislation and ratifying decisions that the executive has already taken. Thus, it is clearly observed that peoples’ representatives have no substantive role in policy formulation. The role of parliamentary committees is very significant in this regard. These statutory committees are expected to scrutinize various aspects of government actions. Moreover, they should function in such a manner so as to ensure transparency of vital government businesses. However, in Bangladesh, the parliamentary committees so far have failed to play the vital role in making the administration accountable. Some important committees such as, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Estimates, Committee on Public Undertaking and other standing committees on various ministries are not performing well enough to ensure accountability of executive government. Committee meetings are not held regularly and ministers in many cases do not attend the meetings. More importantly, the decisions of the committees are not followed by actions.
The other feature of Bangladesh politics is the excessive reliance on exercising executive authority by keeping the parliament in the dark. In most cases, policy issues are not discussed in the parliament. This weakens parliament’s authority to hold the executive accountable to it.
Another interesting feature of Bangladesh politics is that the opposition political parties oppose the ruling party for the sake of opposition only. Moreover, boycotting/non-participation in the sessions of the parliament has also become a regular practice of the opposition political parties. But to have healthy political environment and to hold the party in power responsible for the actions/inaction, opposition political parties should play a positive role both within and outside the parliament.
4.6.2 Role of Media
Role of media is very important in ensuring administrative accountability. Information about government actions are largely reported through the media both electronic and print. By ensuring free flow of information, the media also ensures transparency of administrative actions. Currently, the print media is enjoying considerable freedom in Bangladesh. They bring lapses and excesses of the executive to the notice of the public and thereby making them accountable. But exclusive government control over state run mass media like radio and television run contrary to the concept of free flow of information and transparency. Such exclusive control has negative bearing on ensuring administrative accountability. In Bangladesh, both radio and television are solely owned and controlled by the government. As a result, these two media are acting as the spokesmen of the government or rather the party in power. Impartial information and views, in most of the cases, are not usually broadcast. Moreover, views of the opposition political parties and groups do not receive proper and adequate attention of the state run radio and television. As we know, the role of media by facilitating the free flow of information of all government actions is very essential for ensuring executive and administrative accountability. The reforms which, according to the press reports, are on the anvil appear to fall short of expectations of the nation in as much as the government control on the state run electronic media remains virtually overlooked.
4.6.3 Role of Civil Society
From a functional perspective, there is a general tendency to treat civil society as one of the three sections that constitute a nation - the other two being the public sector or the government and the private sector or the profit-seeking enterprises. Very broadly, civil society can be defined as those organizations that exist between the level of the family and the state and enjoy a degree of autonomy from the state and the market, and provide a counter-balance to the power of the state and the market. Civil society may also be viewed as organized activities by groups or individuals either performing certain services or trying to influence and improve the society as a whole, but are not part of government or business (Jorgensen, 1996). In Bangladesh, civil society includes indigenous community groups, mass organizations, cooperatives, religious societies, trade unions, and professional bodies.
Given the dynamics of the political process, it is indeed difficult to set a prescribed role for the civil society in Bangladesh. The role of civil society, in fact, depends on the nature of the demand and prevailing conditions of a polity. However, areas of involvement of the civil society in the context of Bangladesh are policy advocacy, mobilization of public opinion, demand creation, active participation in policy formulation process, bridging the gap between citizens and government, pressurizing the government with the help of the media, supporting the popular movement in favour of a given policy issue, lobbying with the donor groups/development partners, playing the role of mediator/ arbitrator between citizens and government, and policy analysis, etc.
Civil society, by its actions, performs as pressure group in the polity in attaining administrative accountability. In the true sense of the term, the civil society is only emerging in Bangladesh. In recent years, the civil society has made some limited but positive contributions towards ensuring executive and administrative accountability. But it has been observed that some groups of the civil society movement are politicized and divided on political lines. Though there has been a steady and random growth of the civil society organizations, there is virtually no active network of them to look after collective interests of the people. More concerted efforts are needed to organize and further develop the civil society institutions so that they can play an appropriate role in making the executive and the administration accountable to people.
5. Brief Review of Local Government Reform in Bangladesh
Local Government is acknowledged as a highly viable mechanism through which democratic processes and practices can be established and participatory development ensured (Khan, 2000). The constitution of the country provides for the creation of the local government bodies at every administrative level but presently it exists only at the Union (Union Parishad (UP) level only (GOB, 1998). The local government institutions in Bangladesh owe their origin to the British rule in this part of the world. Originally intended to maintain village peace and order by local initiative, the Chawkidari Panchayet Act of 1870 was the first step taken in this regard. Subsequently, the Local Self‑ Government Act 1885, the Village Self‑ Government Act 1919, and the Basic Democracy Order 1959 provided the foundation of the local government bodies. During the Bangladesh period, legal framework like Presidential Order no.22 of 1973, Local Government Union Parishad and Paurashava Act, 1973, Local Government Ordinance 1976, The Local Government (Thana Parishad) Ordinance 1982, the Local Government (Union Parishad) Ordinance 1983, 1986 institutionalized the existence of these bodies.
In recent years, three different Commissions/ Committees were constituted in 1993, 1997 and 1999 to reform/ reorganize and strengthen the role, structure and functions of local government in Bangladesh (for details, please see Annex (B). However, it has been observed that no significant attempts have subsequently been made to operationalize and or implement the major recommendations of these reform commissions/committees.
The recommendations of the LG Committee 1993 were not implemented. Some of the more progressive recommendations of LG Commission, 1997, and that of LG Finance Committee, 1999 did not receive a place in the subsequent LG Acts providing for a four-tier system. In effect, the major reform attempts through LG Acts failed to put in place a real decentralized LG system.
In effect, LG in Bangladesh remained weak and perpetually dependent upon central government through various means of political and administrative control. Almost all of the major LG reform efforts, as a matter of fact, mostly addressed the secondary issues, i.e, number and level of tiers, relationship between tiers, composition, distribution/ share of functions among the tiers and central government etc, at the expense of the substantive/ core issues like devolution of authority for enabling LG to operate in an autonomous manner. For example, personnel management including mechanisms of effective accountability of deputed government officials and other personnel whose recruitment are finally approved by the national government functionaries; the other issues such as, resource generation, management and utilization remained out of the purview of the reform agenda.
Since the emergence of the country there has been frequent policy changes and rearrangements of the tiers of local government. At the same time, these bodies are alleged to have been exploited by both democratic and military national governments as means for political mobilization and consolidation of power, and not allowing them to operate as autonomous, decentralized local government institutions. The above has also been reflected in one of the important observations of the Honourable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
...since independence from the British rule, these institutions fell victim to party politics or evil designs of autocratic regimes, passed through the ordeal of suppression, dissolution or management of their affairs by official bureaucrats or henchmen Government of the day ‘(GOB, 1992)
An overview of the growth and evolution of local government units in Bangladesh establishes the fact that these have all along been under the strict administrative control of the public bureaucracy and the close political control of the national government/ party in power. They never enjoyed the freedom to choose development projects and work without the direction and control of the bureaucracy. As a result the local bodies could neither become politically/financially viable nor could they gain any credibility in the eyes of electorate.
6. Major Issues of Local Government Reform in Bangladesh
Studies and experiences reveal that local government bodies had never been, in the past, and even so in liberated Bangladesh, "self-governing" bodies in the true sense of the term. These could simply be labeled as extensions of the national government with guided and limited local participation. Consequently, local government units have always been institutionally and financially weak, poorly managed and lacked social and political credibility. The importance and significance of earlier reform efforts with regard to local government lie in contributions towards some incremental strengthening of the system. However, there is a consensus that the following issues should be taken into consideration in any future attempt to reform and reorganize local bodies to make them truly decentralized, institutionally effective, financially viable, participatory, gender sensitive, transparent and accountable local government institutions.
6.1 Role and Functions
Traditionally, LG in Bangladesh have limited jurisdiction especially over some specific but again very limited developmental functions. The area of regulatory administration has always been kept aside from the purview of the role and functions of these bodies (Hussain and Sarker, 1994). Most of the developmental functions for which LG units are made responsible under the legal framework, such as, family welfare, education, public health, social welfare, etc., are administered by different agencies of the national government. For example the UP have no authority other than reviewing and reporting to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), a national government functionary. UPs virtually have no scope to get involved in the implementation of development projects initiated by these agencies at the local level. The exact relationship between the field level units of various government departments and the LG is inadequately/vaguely defined.
Local level infrastructure development is one of the important functions of the LG. These projects are generally implemented through food aid and grants received from the national government. Food aids are channeled thorough different agencies of the national government. In this area, for example the role of UP as a LG unit is again limited to the selection of the possible projects only. Such selected projects are finally approved by the UNO in consultation with the Upazila Engineer (UE) and the Project Implementation Officer (PIO). The above type of scenario clearly suggests that the role and functions of LG units are restricted in the area of development administration. In addition the other functions of the LG units are again subjected to bureaucratic supervision and guidance (Khan, 2000).
6.2 Center – Local Relations
In the context of the LG, central-local relations have always been an issue. In Bangladesh, statutorily, central-local relationship as provided in the statute has historically been authoritative in nature. This may be due to the colonial legacy and the absence of democratic government at the centre for a considerable period of time. The central or the national government primarily exercises its control over the LG bodies through its field level government functionaries such as the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the UNO, heads of district and Upazila administration respectively. In addition, LG units are further controlled through a plethora of intricate and complicated orders and circulars from different agencies/ ministries which very often contradict the original legal framework.
Under the law, again, the national government is also empowered to carry out inquiries into the affairs of local government institutions. And after such inquiry, if the government considers that a LG unit is ‘unable’ to discharge its duties; or ‘failed’ to meet its financial obligations; or otherwise exceeds or abuses its power, then the government may declare such LG bodies to be suspended for a period as may be specified by the law. This provision allows the district administration to axe an LG unit such as the UP at any time and consequently, make them extremely vulnerable to the political and administrative whims of the government.
In addition, the central government also exercises substantial financial and administrative control over the local government institutions in different ways. The annual budgets of the LG units are scrutinized and approved by different levels of central government gaencies. Again in the case of UP authority over the appointment and payment of salaries of the staff is held by central government bureaucracy. In the internal functioning of LG , the national government functionaries also exercise control over them. For example, the Local Government Ordinance requires, a UP to constitute a number of Standing Committees and for the formation of any additional committee it needs the formal approval of the DC. The above facts in the context of UP, reveal that the LG units in Bangladesh are being constantly controlled by the national government through various mechanisms for almost every aspect of their operation and functioning. Such practices, in reality, have turned the local government institutions in Bangladesh into mere extension of the national government and of their various functionaries.
6.3 Resource Mobilization: Central and Local
In Bangladesh, local government bodies have been chronically resource poor. The LG regulations empowered them to mobilize resources from local sources through assessment and levy of taxes, leasing of local Hats and Bazars, water bodies, etc. But they do not receive the total resources generated from their entitled sources. For example, in the case of UPs, of the revenue generated from the leasing of the rural market, 25 percent is retained by national government, 10 percent by the Upazila, and 15 percent is earmarked for the maintenance of the market, and the rest 50 per cent is the entitlement of the UP. Another feature of financial control is that the UNO receives funds transferred from UP mobilized resources like share of land transfer tax, market lease money for retention in the accounts maintained by him for later distribution to UPs on basis of prescribed government guidelines. This projects that the UPs virtually have no direct control even over resources generated from its jurisdictions. Such practice of regulating and controlling of the financial resources by the national government functionaries keeps the LG units ever resource poor and resource dependent on the national government (Khan, 2000).
The local government institutions are entitled to Annual Development Plan (ADP) block grants from the national government. The local government regulation hold strict instructions that the block grant must be used specifically in certain sectors determined by the central government. This pre-determined sector allocation seriously limits the scope of local level planning as well as the flexibility of local bodies to utilize the financial resources for satisfying the immediate needs of the community. This also runs contrary to the concept of functional autonomy of the LG units.
6.4 Institutional Capacity
Institutional capacity includes both human competence and logistics. Relevant studies reveal that the overwhelming majority of the chairmen and members of LG units lack knowledge and understanding of the operational procedures and functions of these bodies (Aminuzzaman, 1998). They are also unaware of the intricate rules as regards to budgeting, planning, and resource management. Moreover, for example, Union Parishads are required to maintain and preserve more that 100 registers (for general office management, village courts, test relief programs, food-for-work programs, VGDP and RMP). It is a huge task considering the managerial capacity of the said LG unit. In effect, very few registers are actually maintained. This is due to the fact that very little effort has been taken over the years to impart training in the relevant fields of local institutional operations to the elected officials and salaried staff particularly the Union Parishad Secretaries. Moreover, relevant institutions have inadequate facilities and the training modules are also out dated. Most of the LG units have inadequate physical facilities.
6.5 Accountability and Transparency
Accountability and transparency of operations and functions of the LG units are essential for ensuring their credibility to the electorate. This can only be achieved through adequate supervision and monitoring. Legally the Monitoring & Evaluation Wing of the Local Government Department of the Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRD&C) is responsible for monitoring the functions of the local bodies. But it has been observed that the monitoring mechanism of the said wing is weak, inadequate and ineffective. The other mechanism is through the inspection and visits by the field level government functionaries, such as, the UNO and the ADLG. But their functions are more of controlling nature than of monitoring. The relevant LG regulations prescribe that UPs are to ensure public display of (in the UP notice board) the budget and major decisions of the UP meetings particularly with regard to development projects. But this practice is almost absent in most Union Parishads.
7. Conclusion and Recommendations
In this policy brief, an attempt has been made to review and analyze the efforts made for bringing about reforms in public administration and local government systems in Bangladesh since its emergence as an independent country in 1971. In the process, it has been observed that unfortunately these reform efforts fell short of expectation in bringing about desired changes in the public administration and local government systems of the country for a number of reasons. But for the sustenance and institutionalization of democratic tradition, values and culture in the polity, an efficient, result oriented, representative, participatory, gender sensitive, transparent, corruption free and neutral public administration and local government system are required. There is a consensus that broad and holistic reform efforts has to be initiated in the light of the changes that have taken place in the national and global arenas. As such, the following recommendations are put forward for reform of public administration and local government in Bangladesh.
Recommendations are presented into three categories: Pre-election, Short- term and Long- term. The Pre-election category would include recommendations that are to be implemented or actions to be initiated during the tenure of the Caretaker Government and specific election pledges that are to be made by the political parties intending to contest in the ensuing general election. On the other hand, recommendations that are grouped under Short and Long-term are to be implemented by the party (s) that would form the Government after the general election.
Role of Government
In Bangladesh, the role of government in terms of dimension and functional involvement has assumed an all pervasive character. There are both subjective and objective reasons to review the role and functions of the government.
Caretaker Government may not play any role in this respect. The Constitution says as follows: “The Non-Party Care-taker Government shall discharge its functions as an interim government and shall carry on the routine functions of such government with the aid and assistance of persons in the services of the Republic; and, except in the case of necessity for the discharge of such functions it shall not make any policy decision”. (For details, please see, Article 58D of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh).
Political parties should make pledge to:
- Determine the scope and functions of the government in the light of the new realities posed by globalization and free market economy with sufficient safety-net for the disadvantaged
Undertake thorough study (s) to:
- Identify areas from where the government should withdraw its interventions
- Suggest mechanisms for the withdrawal of government interventions
Prepare appropriate plan and strategy for the implementation of the recommendations of the study (s) and complete the implementation of the said plan in the long term
Constitute a commission to suggest strategies to bring about commercial viability of the state owned enterprises (SOEs) especially those providing utility services as for some obvious reasons these would remain as SOEs for some more years. And after careful examination, the commission’s recommendations should be implemented in the long term
SOEs in the manufacturing sector should be privatised and/ or handed over to cooperatives
Public Policy Commitment
In a democratic polity, public policy commitments are made by the political parties both in power and aspiring to go to power. In Bangladesh, the institutional mechanisms, both internal and external, are weak to monitor the translation of the commitments into concrete administrative actions.
Political parties should make pledge to:
- strengthen Parliamentary Standing Committees especially, the Committee on Public Commitments, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Undertakings and Public Estimates Committee
- Implement recommendations of studies undertaken so far by the GOB and other agencies on activating, and capacity building of the Parliamentary Committees
- Elect Members of Parliament belonging to opposition parties as Chairs of at least 50 per cent of the important Parliamentary Standing Committees, including Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Undertakings and Public Estimates Committee
- Institutionalize the measures taken for the strengthening and capacity building of the Parliamentary Standing Committees
- Annually publish the Parliamentary Committees’ reports
Neutral Governance: Law and Order and Enforcement
To ensure neutral governance with respect to the maintenance of law and order/enforcement, the police administration should enjoy freedom from interference from any quarters. Simultaneously measures must be taken to ensure their accountability and transparency of action.
Provide all possible aid and assistance to the Election Commission for holding the general election of the members of Parliament by ensuring the:
- recovery of all illegal arms
- rule of law
- neutral and non-partisan public administration in all relevant areas
- peace and order in all polling stations
- use of all enforcement agencies including Defense Forces for the maintenance of strict discipline and order for the conduct of free and fair election
- facilitate the discharge of functions of the election- observers both from within the country and abroad
Political parties should make pledges to:
- establish the rule of law by ensuring non- partisan neutral administration of law
- allow the enforcement agencies to maintain complete neutrality of their action by ensuring strict merit based recruitment; transfer and promotion based on performance only
- reformulate, update and strictly enforce the Code of Conduct for the personnel of the enforcement agencies
- undertake ethical and moral boosting measures for the personnel of the enforcement agencies, including advanced training matching the contemporary demands and the needs of democratic society
- strengthen the capacity of the enforcement agencies by modernizing logistics and material support
- undertake measures for the expeditious disposal of all civil and criminal cases and investigation of all criminal offenses
- set up independent watchdog commission/committee to assess and evaluate the performances of the enforcement agencies
- Reformulate, update and implement the Code of Conduct of government servants
- Identify and initiate phase wise implementation of ethical and moral boosting measures such as, advanced training
- Separate investigating police officials from other police officials at different Thanas under metropolitan areas in the short term and in all Thanas of the country in the long term
- Appoint the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) as the Officer in Charge in Thanas under metropolitan areas in the short term and in all Thanas of the country in the long term
- Initiate the strengthening and capacity building of the enforcement agencies by providing modern logistics and material support
- Initiate awareness development programs on citizens’ rights and protection under the law against arbitrary government actions including police actions
- Appoint a permanent independent Commission/Committee to review the adherence of the enforcement personnel to the newly formulated and updated Code of Conduct
- Annual publication of the report of the review commission/committee
- Complete all other measures initiated in the short term
Neutral Governance: Administration and Access to Justice- Rule of Law
In the area of administration of justice in Bangladesh, the judicial system is subjected to some fundamental and procedural problems. Again, easy and timely access to judicial redress is essential for safeguarding the civil rights of the people.
Political parties should make pledges to:
- Separate Judiciary from the Executive Branch of the Government
- Expedite law reforms including land administration laws
- Ensure expeditious disposal of all civil and criminal cases by different courts
- Take appropriate measures/steps ensuring complete separation of the Judiciary from the Executive branch of the Government;
- Make necessary resource allocation for the purpose
- Establish more courts to try civil and criminal cases in the metropolitan areas in the short term and through out the country in the long term
- Place the judiciary under the Supreme Court instead of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary affairs. For facilitating the Supreme Court to discharge its newly assigned functions a Supreme Court Secretariat be established
- Take appropriate steps to ensure elimination of mal-practices in the process of accessing and securing justice
- Ensure completion of law reforms
An efficient and effective role of civil service in a developing democratic polity is of vital importance. But a number of socio-economic and political factors, including historical peculiarities have impeded the growth of accountable public administrative system in Bangladesh.
Political parties should make pledges to:
- Allow the civil service to remain completely neutral by ensuring strict merit based recruitment; transfer and promotion based on performance only
- Reformulate and update the existing Code of Conduct for the Civil Servants
- undertake ethical and moral boosting measures such as, advanced training
- ensure that the decisions are made expeditiously in all matters concerning the governance. The frustrating delay that has vitiated the national life should not only be done away with but all those responsible for such state of affairs should be punished
- Reformulate and update the existing Code of Conduct for the Civil Servants
- Identify different moral boosting measures such as, advanced training and initiate phase wise implementation of those in the short term and institutionalize those in the long term
- Formulate and introduce simplified decision making process at different levels of administration
- Fix specific and detailed criteria regarding eligibility and qualification through appropriate legislation for appointment to constitutional posts such as the judges, Chief Election Commissioner and Members, Comptroller and Auditor General and Chairman and Members of the Public Service Commission. At present, these are subject to wide discretion of the appointing authority
- Establish independent Review Committee to evaluate the adherence of the Civil Servants to the newly formulated Code of Conduct
- Timely prepare and publish ministry wise Annual Review Reports so that the civil society can react to them as and when necessary
- In respect of certain offices, the Government may consider the introduction of the fixed tenure system including the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP)
Corruption has been and continues to be a vicious, yet an integral part of administrative culture in Bangladesh. It has been observed that the institutions that are responsible to take steps to curb corrupt practices are not taking any effective measure. There is also wide allegation that in many cases, have become themselves parties to various corrupt deals.
Political parties should make pledges to:
- Create a constitutional body to fight all types of corruption
- Introduce Salary Scales based on Cost of Living Index
- Convert real wages of all forms into money wages
- Separate Audit from Accounts
- Strengthen and build capacity of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General
- The Bureau of Anti-corruption be turned into Bangladesh Anti-corruption Commission (BACC), an independent legal entity. The Commission shall have a Chairman with the rank and status of a Minister/State Minister. Besides, the Chairman, the Commission shall consists of 2 full time Members, and 3 part time Members from amongst the secretaries to the government and members of the civil society. The executive authority of the Commission shall vest with a full time official to be designated as the Director General to be drawn from the judiciary/civil service/ civil society. All officers and staff of the Commission should be drawn on the basis of deputation from various BCS cadres with no provision for direct recruitment. The deputed officials should be imparted with adequate training in civil and criminal law. Appropriate Rules of Procedure should be framed for the smooth operation of the BACC
- Initiate the process of introducing the Cost of Living Index based compensation package
- Initiate the process of converting real wages into money wages
- Ensure transparency in all procurements including defense procurements. All high priced defense procurements should be placed before the cabinet for approval
- Initiate the process of separation of the Audit from Accounts
- Initiate measures for institutionalizing the strengthening and capacity building of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General including modern logistics, training and the introduction of the modern accounting and auditing procedures
- Annual publication of the report of the Bangladesh Anti-corruption Commission and submission to the parliament
- Complete various measures initiated during the short term
Media and Civil Society
Civil society, by its actions, performs as pressure group in the polity in attaining administrative accountability. In the true sense of the term, the civil society is only emerging in Bangladesh. In recent years, the civil society has made some limited but positive contributions towards ensuring executive and administrative accountability. But it has been observed that some groups of the civil society movement are politicized and divided on political lines. Though there has been a steady and random growth of the civil society organizations, there is virtually no active network of them to look after collective interests of the people.
Political parties should make pledges to:
- Grant complete autonomy to Bangladesh Beter and Bangladesh Television on the basis of the last Broadcasting Commission Report
- Introduce a Government Advertisement Policy Code
- Repeal laws and regulations hindering the free flow of information
- Support and create conducive environment for the growth and development of a vibrant civil society
- Establish a commission to be known as the Bangladesh Broadcasting Commission. The envisaged Commission should be de-linked from the Ministry of Information. In the short term, it should be organized as an autonomous body and in the long term as a constitutional legal entity having no relationship with any Ministry of the Government.
- Grant more licenses for the establishment of more radio and television stations and channels in the private sector ensuring national security and preservation of national culture
- Constitute a committee consisting of the Information Secretary, Director General, Department of Films and Publications (DFP) and eminent personalities from the press and media and civil society to determine the principles of award of advertisement and distribution of newsprint quota
- Repeal the Official Secrets Act of 1923
- Except where national security is involved inquiry reports of all types be it of a department or under the Commission of Inquiry Act whether on any individual or on the omission or commission of a certain institution should be made public
- Identify measures for the growth and development of the Civil Society organizations in the country
- Implement measures initiated in the short term
- In order to examine the NGO operations in the country and make them more effective in their tasks of poverty alleviation and other activities undertaken for social development the present format and the regulatory instruments should be reviewed and properly reformulated in order to make their activities transparent and accountable not only to the donors but also to the people of this country. It should be examined whether the funds received by them are treated as Public Fund or otherwise. Lacunas in it should be removed by law. The law should also seek to ensure that there is no socio-cultural conflict that may arise out of their activities
- Implement identified measures for the growth and development of the civil society organizations in the country
In Bangladesh, a politically empowered and financially viable local government system is yet to emerge. Historical experiences suggest that political parties in power, time and again, have failed to live up to their commitments in establishing truly decentralized LG system in the country. This has happened due to the fact that the country experienced long spells of military rule. As a result, politicians at the national level lack confidence and feel insecure in sharing powers and authorities with LG units. Again, because of this the local government elections have not been allowed to be held on the basis of participation of political parties.
The colonial legacy and the long absence of political leadership at the state power even after the creation of Pakistan in 1947 and emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, in turn, strengthened the already powerful bureaucracy. The lack of confidence and sense of insecurity of the national level politicians combined with bureaucratic unwillingness to extend supremacy of the peoples’ representatives down to the local level perpetuated the practice of having weak and centrally controlled LG system. The country has had two consecutive elected governments since 1990 and is preparing for electing the next one. At this crossroad of institutionalization of democratic governance, demands should be put forward to political parties to make firm commitment reflected in election manifestos for the enactment of appropriate legal measures for the establishment of a devolved LG system with adequate functions, powers and authority and the provision of resource sharing between the national government and LG units in the country.
Political parties should:
- declare their political commitment to initiate concrete legal measures for ensuring the establishment of decentralized local government system in the country and express this in explicit terms in their respective election manifestos. The committed LG system should be based on the principle of devolution of power, authority and functions; resource sharing; and with appropriate mechanism for effective representation and participation of women and other disadvantaged groups
- Reach consensus on the number of tiers of local government and make legal provisions of elections to all LG units (tiers) simultaneously
- Reach consensus on having elections to LG units on party basis
- Ensure establishment and continuity of local government units once decided upon
Commission an independent Task Force with recognized experts in the field of local government drawn from academics and practitioners. In this respect, empower the Task Force to formulate and initiate legal reforms. A framework of a decentralized LG system is suggested below:
Local Government Tiers
In consideration of practical advantages in the context of the circumstances prevailing in the country it is best to have a two tier system of LG, at the Upazila and Union levels. At present, there is enactment for a 4- tier system with only the Union Parishad being functional. Until, it is legally reformed to a 2- tier system, it is recommended that that the Upazila Parishad be activated in the light of the suggested framework. From the past experience of the operations of the Upazila system it can be expected to become viable and people focussed with appropriate modifications in the light of the proposed devolved LG units with adequate powers, authority and finances to independently plan and implement policies. On the other hand, Union Parishad is the oldest LG institution in the country and over the years this tier has earned a wide acceptability to the rural community.
Powers and Functions
The whole range of functions of government should be divided into three categories namely, Reserved, Transferred and Residual. The national government would retain the functions under the Reserved list. While functions under the Transferred list would fall under the jurisdiction of LG. On the other hand, functions under the Residual List may be placed under the local government. This division of functions has to be materialized by transferring powers from the national to the local government through specific and clear-cut provisions in the reformed LG Act. In this context, the relevant schedule of the First Upazila Ordinance may be looked into.
The tiers of LG decided upon must have access to their own finances in the reformed system. Historically, the Union Parishads and the short lived Upazila Parishads have had taxation authority over certain specified fields and right to revenue income from leasing market places, water bodies, and Ghats etc., which should continue with necessary adjustments in all tiers of the new system. The revenue collected from these legally sanctioned sources has to remain in the accounts of the respective LG units and used for purposes decided by them within the legal framework. An effective mechanism of accountability of the expenditures from such funds has to be ensured by regular auditing and reporting. Apart from this right of Local Resource Mobilization, each of the new LG units should have stipulated share of the central government revenue earmarked in the national budget to be distributed on the basis of a pro rata population strength and other relevant criteria. This share of revenue should be determined by a high level committee including representatives from relevant quarters and experts on local government revenue matters to be constituted immediately after new government’s assumption of power.
Human Resources (Personnel and Staff)
For carrying out the functions transferred to LG units the national government officials from the relevant line ministries should be deputed to LG units. It must also be understood that without effective controlling authority over the deputed national government officials a LG unit becomes toothless and can not function with authority. As such, these deputed officials must be made responsible and accountable to LG units. One effective means of achieving it is by making the mandatory provision of the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of such officials to be initiated and signed by the Chairpersons of concerned LG units so long they are on deputation. And this ACR will be the basis for onward career development of the deputed staff. In addition, LG units should have the authority to hire and fire necessary staff / officials of its own.
From the very inception of the local government system in this country, the LG unit at the Union level existed for most of the time and under every regime. The population and size of both the Upazila and Union are also considered to be adequate to become viable as LG units. More importantly, Upazilas though remained in operation only for a brief period of time, has raised people’s expectation and aspirations as a viable LG system.
More importantly again, considering resource constraints and limited staff employment capacity of LG, the proposed deputation system of central government officials to LG units would serve both the objectives of cost effectiveness and ensuring professional competency in service delivery. This fact has also been acknowledged by the major commission/committee on LG reform and also reflected in the subsequent LG Acts. However, this provision of deputation must be associated with the appropriate mechanism of control by the LG units as mentioned in the preceding section.
The following specific suggestions are made for the proposed LG system:
- By laws, official orders, circulars and instructions to be issued from time to time to operationalise the LG system must strictly be consistent with the sprit of the changed LG legal framework
- The Members of Parliament (MPs) shall not be involved in any manner with the affairs of the LG units because this violates the Principle of Separation of Power
- Specified number of seats for women have to be reserved at every tier of the proposed LG system. The chairman and members including women members should be directly elected to all LG units
- Elections to LG units should be contested on political party lines
- The elected members of each of the local government units shall be given distinct portfolios on the basis of functions given to them
- The public accountability through the mechanisms of transparency of LG functions and financial management i.e., budgeting and development planning and implementation thereof shall be activated and regularly monitored
- The committee system which is essential for ensuring effective participation in the affairs of the LG by both male and female members shall be activated
- Women’s political empowerment through participation that has been initiated by the amendment of the LG Ordinance 1997 and by the subsequent statutory orders specifying their roles in the LG has to be opertionalised and institutionalized
- Reorganization and building capacities of the national training institutes like NILG, BARD and RDA should be initiated in the light of the proposed LG system
- The LG units should the provided with legal authority to supervise and monitor the activities of NGOs/CBOs and other development actors operating within their territorial jurisdictions
- Take measures for enactment of laws and if necessary amend the constitutional provision of having local governments at all tiers of administration in the light of proposed LG reform. The amendment shall also incorporate the revenue sharing arrangement between the national and local governments
- Take measures for election of all LG units through the Election Commission
- Constitute an independent Local Government Commission comparable to the University grants Commission (UGC) with appropriate powers and authority to look after the affairs of the LG including allocation of financial resources and monitoring and supervision.
- Institutionalize measures for the strengthening and capacity building of LG units at all tiers by providing modern logistics, material support and appropriate intensive training on various aspects of local government and administration
Ahmed, Emajuddin (1980), Bureaucratic Elites and Segmented Economic Growth: Pakistan and Bangladesh, Dhaka: University Press limited
Ali, A.M.M.S (1993), Aspects of Public Administration in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Nikhil Publishers
Ali, S.M., et.al., (1983), Decentralization and People’s Participation in Bangladesh, Dhaka, National Institute of Public Administration
Aminuzzaman, Salahuddin , “State of Art of Local Government in Bangladesh”, Asia Profile, Vol.12, No.2 1998
Centre for Development Research, Bangladesh (CDRB) and Development Planners & Consultants (1995), Survey of NGO Activities in Bangladesh, a report prepared for the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Dhaka, Mimeo
Government of Bangladesh (GOB) (2000), Report of the Public Administration Reform Commission, vol. 1
Government of Bangladesh, (Modified up to 1998), The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Government of Bangladesh (GOB), 1992, Dhaka Law Report (AD) 319
Government of Pakistan (GOP) (1960), Report of the Provincial Administration Commission
Huda, A.T.M.S. and Rahman, M.A. (1989), Delay in Disposal of Cases: A Structural Analysis of the Bangladesh Secretariat, Savar: Public Administration Training Centre, Mimeo
Hussain, A. (1986), Emerging Pattern of District Administration in Bangladesh: Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Punjab University
Hussain. A., Sarker, A.E. and Rahman, M. (1994), ‘Governance in Bangladesh: An Analytical Review’, Theoretical Perspective, 1.1
Hussain. A., Sarker, A.E. (1995), ‘Public Administration in Bangladesh: A Quest for Reform’, Journal of Administration and Diplomacy, Vol. 3, No. 1 & 2, January-December
Jahan. R. (1977), Pakistan: Failure in National Integration, Dhaka, University Press Limited
Jorgensen, Lars, (1996), “What are NGOs doing in Civil Society?” in Andrew Clayton (ed.), NGOs, Civil Society and the State: Building Democracy in Transitional Countries, INTRAC, Oxford
Khan, M.M. (1991), Politics of Administrative Reform: A Case Study of Bangladesh, New Delhi, Ashish Publishing House Khan, M.M. (1998), Administrative Reforms in Bangladesh, Dhaka, University Press Limited Khan, Z.R. (2000), ‘Decentralized Governance: Trials and Triumphs’ in Raunaq Jahan (ed.) Bangladesh: Promise and Performance, Dhaka, University Press Limited
Khan, Z.R. (2000), ‘Strengthening Local Government: Recent Experience and Future Agenda’, keynote paper presented at the CPD-CARE Dialogue held in Dhaka, Dhaka, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
Sobhan, R. and Ahmed, M (1980), Public Enterprise in an Intermediate Regime, Dhaka, BIDS
Stowes, K. (1992), ‘Good Piano Won’t Play Bad Music: Administrative Reform and Good Governance’, Public Administration, 70. 3
United nations Agency for International Development (USAID) (1989), Public Administration Efficiency Study, in five volumes, Dhaka, USAID and GOB
Transparency International, Bangladesh (2000), News Scan Database Report (January-June, 2000) (in Bangla), Dhaka, Transparency International, Bangladesh
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) (1993), Public Administration Sector Study in Bangladesh
Education and Human Resource Development : A Comprehensive Approach from Islamic Perspective
--Professor Abdun Noor,
Department of Public Administration,
University of Chittagong
“O my Lord: Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous”
The disenchantment with the development experience which emphasized purely physical model of capital during the last century, led the development scholars to shift emphasis to human resources as the basis for the study of development. The World Bank expert Mahbubul Haq observed: “ After many decades of development, we are rediscovering the simple truth that human beings are both the means and end of econ omnic development”.1 This has brought into focus the fact that human element is both an input and objective of development. While the outcome of development is seen as the betterment of human lives, it is also human ability that provides that input for developmental growth. It reminds one to the writings of Adam Smith, who before the Industrial Revolution, argued that efficient use of labour would lead to high production, growth, and a rising standard of living. More than two hundred years later, a nation’s most important resource—its people — is still the key to economic opportunity and social improvement. Human resource development in this sense, is the process of developing human skill or competence in producing goods and services in the society.2 For example, Mr. X is a human being. When he learns the techniques of producing iron from iron ore, he becomes a human resource or input for further production. Similarly, scientists, engineers, agronomists, doctors, judges, administrators, teachers and journalists etc., who are engaged in producing goods and services in the society in one way or other, are all human resources. These critical inputs of a nation, ultimately determine the character and pace of its economic and social development.3
The mechanism through which the transformation of skill in human being is carried out, is called education. Education, therefore, forms the basis for the prosperity of a nation.4 In various empirical studies, education has been regarded as the vehicle for social transformation,5 as essential for nation building, for modernization,7 for political development,8 for economic growth,9 and for institutionalization of political freedom.10 The word education has been derived from a Latin word educare, which means to develop form within. According to an UNDP expert, education has got two important purposes : i) development of physical skill and intellectual competence of men; and ii) pursuance of humanity and the cultivation of character in every person.11 Islam, the religion of God which invites mankind to believe and obey only the God and follow His guidelines revealed through the last Prophet(Prophet Muhammed SM), has put maximum emphasis on education for fuller development of man as human being in order to effectively play the role of God’s vicegerent on earth. This paper attempts to present a comprehensive approach to human resource development from Islamic perspective.
Theoretical Framework of the Analysis
Men need various Goods and Services like food, shelter, clothing and medicine etc., for their survival in the society. These goods and services are produced through human efforts which necessitates physical and intellectual skills. Thus physical skill and intellectual competence of individuals are essential for producing goods and services that are necessary for our survival. On the other hand, the pursuance of human qualities such as honesty, integrity, love and compassion for others etc., are necessary in order to distribute those goods and services with justice and human considerations. Therefore, to have a just and welfare society, human beings need to be both productive and humane. Similar views have also been expressed by the Greek philosopher Plato about two thousand and five hundred years ago. His great disciple Aristotle, in a striking passage said : “Men when perfected (through education) is the best of animals; but if he be isolated from Nomos and Dike, he is the worst of all”.12 Nomos and Dike are Greek words for human qualities like honesty and integrity respectively.
From the above discussion, it becomes clear that education is not only goal oriented, but also a value laden process. Education in any society should, therefore, be guided by certain values or philosophy upheld by it. In the backdrop of unprecedented economic growth, side by side with unequal distribution of resources and acute poverty in the contemporary world, the International Commission (Willy Brandt Commission) for the survival of mankind on this planet observes :
“... the new generation of the world need not only economic solution; they need ideas to inspire them ... They need a belief in man, in human dignity, in basic human rights; a belief in the values of justice, freedom, peace, mutual respect, in love and generosity, in reason rather than force”.13
Thus the process of human resource development through education, is an integrated process containing three componets : i) development of physical skill and mental capability of the individuals; ii) development of human qualities like honesty and integrity, love and compassion etc.; and iii) ideas or values of justice and welfare of mankind as the guiding principles or ideological motivation behind the system of education. Within the framework of the above theoretical perspective, the following analysis is devoted to present Islamic views regarding education and human resource development.
Islam and Education
Islam is the combination of a belief in Almighty Allah (STA), as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; and a code of behaviour based on the total submission to His authority and the guidance of Prophet Muhammad (SM). Thus the massage of Allah as contained in the Holy Qur’an, together with the Prophetic Sunnah [Words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (SM)], formed the basic codes or guidelines for the whole of mankind in their drive towards a just and welfare society. According to the description of the Holy Qur’an, man has been created from matter (which includes mud, water, fire and wind) (6:2), but has also been infused with a part of the Divine Spirit (15:28-29). The matter and the spirit together constitute the invisible human self which has been sent to fulfil his obligation as the Khalifa or Vicegerent of Almighty Allah (STA) on earth (Al-Qur’an, 2:30; 35:39). Islam, therefore, advocates a system of education for the harmonious development of matter and spirit in order to prepare man for fulfilling his sacred mission on this planet.
It was Islam that gave the common man not only the right to learn, but made it obligatory for everyone to acquire knowledge. In the very first verse of the Holy Qur’an revealed to mankind, the importance of reading and writing as the only means or custodian for acquiring of knowledge has been expounded in a very clear and decisive manner for the development of inner qualities of man: “Read with the name of thy Lord, who createth, createth man from a clot. Read and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teacheth by the pen: Teacheth man that which he know not” (96:1-5). What a beautiful prayer is the one which the Qur’an teaches man: “...and say: my Lord! increase me in knowledge”(20:114).It further says:
“Are those who learned equal to those who are ignorant” (39:9)?
“Those truly fear Allah amongst His servants who have knowledge” (35:28); and
“God will exact those who believe, and those who are given knowledge” (58:11).
The Prophet (SM) proclaimed that seeking of knowledge should be the duty of every Muslim man and woman (Ibn Majah); he or she must continue to acquire knowledge from cradle to grave (Iman Ghazzali); and follow it wherever they can acquire it.14 Therefore, development and search for knowledge is enjoined in Islam as a sacred religious obligation. Prophet Mohammed(SM) was the first teacher of the school of Ahl-Al-Suffa, started by him adjacent to Masjid-i-Nababi at Madina after the Hijra( Migration from Mecca to Madina).
Stages of Human Development and the Corresponding Role of Education in Islam
Social and behavioural scientists have classified the thought and behaviour process of men into physiological, psychological and actualization planes, depending on the hierarchy of their needs.15 According to the Holy Qur’an, human life process has got three stages of growth and development. The first stage is called the nafsul ammara (12:53), wherein one remains attached to the animal propensity and natural desires (i.e., level of physiological needs like food, clothing, shelter, sex instinct, etc.). The second stage is the nafsul lawwama (75:2), wherein one falls into a conflict situation between the moral judgement of should or should not, good or bad, etc. This internal conflict between mind and conscience, the former arising from the animate (matter) and latter arising from the soul(spirit), is the microscopic conflict base of human life.16 The highest stage of human life is called nafsul mutmainna (89:27), wherein a man chooses the good and gets over the side of the conscience and thus endeavours to achieve the highest satisfaction.17
Corresponding to the three stages of human development as depicted in the Holy Qur’an, education in Islam has got the following three perspectives:
1. Development of physical and mental competence of the individual in order to exploit the bounties of Allah (STA) for the benefit of mankind ;
2. Understanding of his creator through the study of natural phenomena and the development of love and obedience to Him; and
3. Development of spiritual qualities or virtues in order to play the role of vicegerent of Allah (STA) in establishing justice and doing welfare to mankind.
The succeeding section of the article gives educational dimension of Islam to the three stages of human development
1. Education : As the Means of Developing Physical and Mental Competence of the Individuals
In the first stage of human development called, nafsul ammara(Impelling stage), men are needed various goods and services for their survival, or in other words, essentials for their physical growth and development. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (STA) says: “He it is who has created for you everything on earth” (2:29). Islam, therefore, provides all sorts of motivation to explore, develop and use those bounties of nature for human welfare. The Qur’an further says:
“And We have given you(mankind) authority on earth, and appointed for you
therein a livelihood...”(7:10;15:20-21);
“And the earth We have spread out (Like a carpet); set thereon firm mountains, made to grow all kinds of things in due balance. And We have provided therein means of sustenance to you ...” (15:19-20);
“And it was He who has made the sea subservient that you may eat fish that is fresh from it Ó (16:14); and
“He has made subservient to you whatever in the Heavens and the Earth and granted you His bounties manifest and hidden” (31:20 ; also see 4:32-33; 16: 12-14; 22:65 and 45:12).
On one hand, Islam reminds us of our duty of worshipping the one who has created us and provided the bounties of nature to meet our various needs, and on the other hand, it tells us of the need for effort in this world of cause and effect. The above verses of the Holy Qur’an make clear that :1) all natural resources are provided by Allah (STA); 2) the object of providing natural resources, is to benefit all mankind ; and 3) men have been encouraged to explore and develop those natural resources by every available means and to use them for their benefit. These verses also imply that the development of necessary knowledge and technology, or in other words, development of physical and mental capabilities of men, is necessary in order to explore, mobilize and utilize the natural resources provided by Allah (STA). For example, in one place of the Holy Qur’an, Allah (STA) has mentioned the name of iron which has got many beneficial use for mankind (57:25). But for producing iron from iron ore, one has to use one’s skill which comes through IIm (learning). He is to apply appropriate Hikma (technology) in order to make the production process efficient. That is why, Allah (STA) says : “wamai yutiya al-Hikmah faqad utia Khairan Kasi’ra” (Al-Qur’an, 2: 269), that is to say, those who have been granted the knowledge of science and technology, are indeed, granted abundant good. The incentive to exploit and use natural resources, is also connected to the following instruction from Allah (STA):
“And man hath only that for which he maketh effort”(53:39);and
“When the prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the bounty of God” (Al-Qur’an, 62:10).
Islam is, therefore, regarded as distinct from all other religious systems because it embraces life into its totality. Both the material and spiritual aspects of life is insisted upon as the natural basis of life. The Holy Qur’an says to mankind: “Seek the abode of the Hereafter in which Allah hath given and neglect not thy portion of the world and be thou kind even as God hath been kind to thee...”(28:77). It further teaches to pray“Our Lord! give us the good in this world and the good in the hereafter”(Sura Bakara, 2: 201). Thus unlike Chatholicism, material prosperity or full appreciation of this world and its goods is fully desirable in Islam, though not as a goal in itself. Islam also leads man towards a consciousness of moral responsibility in everything he does.
We may recall that the first act of the Prophet of Islam after settling down in Madina, was the construction of a mosque with a portion reserved for the purpose of a school(the celebrated Suffah) which served the day as a lecture hall, and during the night as a dormitory for students. There is a mistaken belief among a section of the present day Muslims that education in Islam includes only the religious education. But the first practical example provided by Prophet (SM) was that the war prisoners from the battle of Badre, were asked to teach the Muslim children the art of reading and writing as ransom for their release. The Prophet(SM) further asked his followers to go if necessary, to China for acquiring knowledge. This shows how much importance Islam attaches on skill development at the initial stage of human development. This skill is imperative for acquiring knowledge and information. But Knowledge in Islam, is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end. It has to be beneficially applied. The Qur’an proclaims that a man who has not used his knowledge properly and wisely, is like an ass carrying books (62:5). When knowledge is correctly and judiciously applied, it is called wisdom.18 The Prophet (SM) is reported to have said : “The believer is always searching after wisdom”. If we look at the contemporary world, it proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the most important factor that led to the rapid development of the industrialized West, is their scientifically and technically qualified human resources. On the other hand, the chronic backwardness of the Muslim world can be mainly attributed to its lack of sufficient number of scientifically and technically qualified personnel. In a survey conducted more than a decade ago, it has been found that the Muslim ratio of scientists per one million population is 46 percent lower than that for the third world as a whole; only 45,136 scientists are engaged in research and development in all the Muslim countries combined compared with 34,800 in the tiny state of Isreal alone or over four hundred thousand in Japan; and less than one percent of the all scientific papers published annually in this world, are by the Muslims!19. Despite the repeated call by the Qur’an to educate and pursue scientific studies, the shameful state of affairs of the contemporary Muslim world in education vis-a-vis other nations, is presented in the following tables (Tables 1& 2).
Muslim Rate of Literacy Compared with Other Categories of Nations
Mean rate of literacy (%)
% aged 3-19 in school
% aged 25+ (no school)
Third World nations
Source: Ghulam M.Haniff, “Muslim Development at Risk:The Crisis of Human
Resources”, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences,Vol.9,No.4,Winter 1992.
Comparative Date On Advanced Education And Muslim Ratio of Scientists And Engineers vis-a-vis Other Nations
% aged 20-24 in higher education
Scientist-Engineer ratio (Per million)
Third World nations
Source: Ghulam M. Haniff, ibid.
The data presented in the above tables are of more than one and a half decade’s earlier. But it seems that no remarkable improvement could be made in the landscape of the Muslim world from the above scenario although they possess sixty per cent of the world’s resources. In order to salvage the muslim Ummah from the present malaise, Ahmed Zewail, an Egyptian-American noble laureate, the only one among the 1.3 billion Muslims with that honour, has felt the need for an “education jihad”—a campaign among all the Muslim countries to strive for excellence in literacy and education in modern science.20
2. Education : As the Means of Understanding the Creator as the Absolute Truth
After fulfilling his physiological needs, an individual is raised to the second stage of human development called, nafsul ammara(Conscious stage), which may be compared to conscience. At this stage, his desire is based on the sense of love or belongingness. The basic questions that arise in one’s mind at this stage are: Who is my Creator? What is the mystery behind the creation of this universe? Who is behind all these that are happening around? No child is needed to be introduced to his mother. Through the sucking of mother’s breast, he/she can easily understand his/her mother. Similarly, through the consumption of innumerable bounties of God scattered throughout the world, man’s conscience is raised about his Creator.
The most important pillar of the Islamic faith, is the belief that man has been created by Allah (STA), who is also the sustainer and sovereign Lord of the universe. He is the absolute truth and absolute reality. To understand this basic principle, the Qur’an provides ideological motivation for the study of natural phenomena and pursuit of empirical study in order to discover the laws of relationship among the phenomena. About 750 verses or one-eight of the Qur’an, is devoted to encouraging men to observe, think and use their intelligence in finding out the facts and laws of nature as indicated by the repeated use of the words: Tandhur (Observation), Tabassur (Understanding) and Ta’aqqul (Rationalization). The Qur’an says that there are signs for believers in the earth. All scientific knowledge have come through the study of natural phenomena and lead us to conquer the forces of nature. This knowledge is obtained through observation, reflection and experimentation. The powerful impetus given by the Holy Qur’an to the study of nature and surrounding realities, and to reflection and reasoning for discovering the signs of the absolute truth (i.e. Allah), can be discernible from the following verses :
“Assuredly in the creation of the Heavens and the Earth; and in the alteration of the night and day; and the sailing of the ships through the ocean; and in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, giving life to the earth that is dead; and in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters throughout the earth; and in the change of winds; and in the clouds that are made to do service between the sky and the earth; (Here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise” (2: 164; also see 3: 190-191) ;
“We (Allah) will show our signs to them in the horizons of the external world and within themselves (i.e. men) until it becomes clear to them that it’s the truth” (41:53);
“Travel on earth and see how He originated Creation” (29:20) ;
“And (further), you see the earth barren and lifeless, but when we pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs). This is so, because Allah is the reality, it is He who gives life to the dead, and it is He who has power over all things” (22:5-6);
“And Allah has bought you forth from mother’s wombs knowing nothing- but He has endowed you with hearing and sight and minds so that you might have cause to be grateful (to Him)” (16:78);
“O mankind ! if you have a doubt about the resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babies, then (foster you) that may reach your age of full strength, and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age” (22:5) ;
“A sign for them is the earth that is dead: We do give it life, and produce grain therefrom, of which you do eat” (36:33) ; and
“Men who celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the Heavens and the Earth (with the thought): ‘Our Lord! not for naught has thou created (all) this” (3: 191).
The above verses of the Holy Qur’an indicate the signs of Allah and His greatness revealed in the widest diversity of nature. Their perusal and understanding necessitates man to study and understand the different branches of science like geography, astrology, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology and meteorology, etc. That is why, Ibne Rushed (Known in the West as Averroes), a 12th century Muslim scholar, said that the correct understanding of the Qur’anic verses about the universe and creation, could only be possible through a good knowledge of science and philosophy.21 This view has again got reflection in Maurice Bucaille’s observation that: “Modern scientific knowledge, therefore, allows us to understand certain verses of the Qur’an which until now, it has been impossible to interpret’’22
That is why,Islam from the very beginning, Islam directed people to cultivate science. It is now well recognized that Muslim scientists were the pioneers of modern scientific method which later on, revolutionized the scientific and technological knowledge in the world.23 They received guidance and inspiration from the Holy Qur’an for developing scientific method, the basis of which was observation, reflection and experiment in studying the natural phenomena. Muhammed Hamidullah in chapter “Contributions of the Muslims to the Sciences and Art” of his book, Introduction to Islam(1981) has given detail explanation as to how the revelation of different Qur’anic verses immediately prompted the Muslim scholars to scientific investigation for understanding their meaning properly. For example, the Qur’anic verses of Sura Nisa regarding the Muslim law of inheritance led the Muslim scholars to acquire the knowledge of accounting and mathematics. Similarly, the verses regarding the stars and moon(2:169 and 3:1910-191) led to the development of Astronomical knowledge; the verses 22:5-6 to Agronomy; verses regarding human creation out of a drop of sperm in verses 22:5 and 16:78 to Embryology; and verse regarding travel and earth formation in 41:53 to Geography and Geology etc.. Hamidullah observes:” If(Islamic) belief demands the cultivation of the theological sciences, the other requires a study of the mundane sciences. For the service of worship, one faces towards Mecca, the service must be celebrated on occurrence of certain determined natural phenomena. This requires knowledge of the elements of geography and astrology. Fasting also requires the understanding of natural phenomena, such as the appearance of the dawn, the setting of the sun, etc. The pilgrimage necessitates knowledge of the routes and the means of transport in order to proceed to Mecca. Payment of the Zakat requires knowledge of mathematics, which knowledge is also necessary to calculations for the distribution of the heritage of the deceased. Similarly there is the fundamental need of the understanding of the Qur’an in the light of historical facts and allusions and references to the sciences contained therein. In fact, the study of the Qur’an requires first of all a knowledge of the language in which it is compiled(the linguistic sciences) and its references to various peoples demand a knowledge of history and geography, and so on so forth.” In the glorious period of Islamic civilization, the leading Muslim scientists like Jabir-ibn-Hayyan, Al-Razi, Ibn-Sina, Ibnal Haitham, Al-Biruni, Al Khawarizmi, Al-Jazari, Al-Farabi and many others adopted an approach of ‘controlled experimentation’ which is the essence of modern scientific investigation and discovery. They believed that the quest for knowledge and systematic study of physical universe, were essential for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness of Allah (STA). It is to be remembered that this enlightenment among the Muslims took place at a time when scientific investigation was discouraged and put under strict control of the Christian Church in Europe.
3. Education: As The Mean of Developing Spiritual / Human Qualities for Playing The Role of Vicegerent on Earth
Once man understands his Creator and develops love and obedience to Him, he becomes earnestly desirous to know his role on this planet. This is the final stage of human development called, nafsul mutmainna(Spiritual stage), where he seeks to get highest bliss through righteous deeds. It has been described in the Holy Qur’an that man has been created in order to fulfil his obligation as the Khalifatullah or Vicegerent of Allah (STA) on earth (2:30). As His Vicegerents, what role have men have been asked to perform? This has been specified in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
“Say! O, Children of Adam! ....My Lord hath commanded justice’’ (7:29) ;
“O David! We did indeed make thou a vicegerent on earth : so judge thou between men in truth (and justice): nor follow thou the lusts (of the heart), for they will mislead thee from the path of God’’ (28:26) ;
“O you who have attained to faith! Obey Allah, and pay heed unto the Apostle and unto those from among you who have been entrusted with authority; and if you are at variance over any matter, refer it unto God and the Apostle if you(truly) believe in God and the Last Day. This is the best(for you), and best in the end”(,4:59);
“Good commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you that ye may receive admonition” (16:90) ;
“You are the best of peoples, evolved for (the welfare of) mankind; enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah” (3: 110) ;
“Those who have faith (in God) and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures; their reward is with God : Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever” (98:7-8; also see 22: 14 ; 4:57 ; 122,124 ; 96: 6 and 30:14-15).
The above verses of the Holy Qur’an present a definite world view of man and his duty on this planet. The point seems to be that as the vicegerent of Allah (STA), man’s main responsibility would be to worship Allah in the form of establishing justice in society and the promotion of human welfare. It is further stated that Allah (STA) has from time to time, sent His Messengers with Scriptures (The criterion of right and wrong) in order to guide mankind in performing the above duties (Al-Qur’an, 57:25).
To establish a just and welfare society, Islam urges mankind to nurture the Godly attributes of honesty and integrity, love and compassion, sympathy and affection, etc. among themselves. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (STA) says: “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds” (95:4). So it is man’s duty to preserve the pattern on which Allah (STA) has made him. That is why, Prophet (SM) has urged his followers: Takhallaku-bi-akhlaqila, which means, ‘colour yourself in the attributes of Allah’ (STA). However, the most widely quoted attributes of Allah (STA) is Rahman-ur-Rahim, which means kindness and compassion (Al-Qur’an, 1:1).
Islam further believes that mere knowledge of right and wrong would not automatically motivate men to promote right and control wrong. There should be a spiritual framework and altruistic urge to do righteous deeds. That is why, we have been reminded that we will have to provide an account to the Almighty Lord in the Day of Judgment for all of our actions during the lifetime on earth (Al-Qur’an, 2:281). Islam also teaches that this worldly life is not an end in itself. There is also a long and endless life after death, the good of which depends on our performance in the worldly life. This is the ideological motivation behind education and desired social behaviour propagated by Islam. The Islamic perspective of education and human resource development corresponding to the three stages of human development is been depicted in the following Tables (Table-III & IV).\
Role of Education in Different Stages of human Development
Stages of Human Development
Hierarchy of human Needs (Abraham H. Maslow)
Educational Objectives and Islamic
Approaches in Different Stages
Directives in the holy Qur'an
Nafsul Mutmainna (Spiritual Stage)
Development of spiritual or human virtues
3: 110; 7:29; 16:90; 57:25; 98:7-8
Second or Middle Stage
Nafsul lawwama (Conscience Stage)
Realization of Ultimate truth and development of love and obedience to it
2:164; 3:190, 191; 16:78; 22:5-5; 29:20
Nafsul Ammuara (Impelling Stage)
Development of physical skill & mental competence
2:29,269, 4:32-33; 15:19-20; 16:12-14; 22:65; 31:20:45:12-13; 53:39; 62:10
Source: The above Table has been prepares by the author based on the structure provided by Abraham H.Maslow and the Holy Qur’an. For details,see Abraham.H.Maslow, Motivation and Personality, Second Edition(New York:Harper and Row,1954); The holy Qur’an, text, translation and commentary by A.Yousuf Ali(Bintwood Maryland:Ammana Corp.,1983).
In the foregoing analysis, an attempt has been made to present Islamic world view of man and his consequent role in the society. According to the description of the Holy Qur’an, man has been created from matter and later infused with a part of the Divine Spirit. Islam, therefore, advocates a system of education for the harmonious development of matter and spirit in order to prepare man for fulfilling his sacred mission as the vicegerent of Allah on earth. The educational philosophy of Islam is based on Tawhid(God consciousness), which provides a broad framework to guide man’s relations with nature as well as fellow human beings.
According to the Holy Qur’an, human life process has got three stages of growth and development : nafsul ammara (Impelling stage), nafsul lawama (Conscience stage) and nafsul mutmainna (Spiritual stage). Corresponding to these three stages of human development, education in Islam has got the following perspective: 1) development of physical and intellectual competence of men in order to exploit the natural bounties for the benefit of mankind; 2) understanding the Creator through the study of natural phenomena and the development of love and obedience to Him ; and 3) development of spiritual virtues in order to play the role of vicegerent of Allah. As the vicegerent of Allah on this earth, man’s mission includes the establishment of Adle (justice) in mutual exchange relationships of society, promotion of Ihsan(human welfare), “Ta’muruna bil ma’rufe”(doing and asking others to do what is right )and “Watanhawna onil munkare”(avoiding and forbidding others from doing what is wrong). He is to fulfil his mission within the frame of reference of the divine guidance (i.e. the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah).
Man has further been cautioned that the life process doesn’t end with this physical world. It continues further and that mankind will have to account to their Creator in the Day of Judgement for all of their deeds, on the basis of which, they will be rewarded or punished.24 This in short, is the ideological motivation behind education and human resource development in Islam,
Education in Islam is, therefore, a value laden process – it is the means to an end and not an end in itself. The Prophet of Islam prayed to Allah Almighty: “O Lord! we seek refuse from that knowledge which carries no utility.25 Therefore, Islam recognizes only that knowledge which is useful and beneficial to mankind and which helps man to acquire Taqwa (God consciousness), and ultimately become Mohsenun, the highest level of human development (Al-Qur’an 2: 177, 189; 3: 114;, 23: 1-11; and 6: 162). Taqwa is a moral principle which indicates that proportionately man has to avoid bad and vicious deeds and has to be inclined towards good and virtuous deeds. Allah (STA) wants man to be moral. And man can only maintain its moral standard by means of Imam-bil-Allah (Faith in Allah) and Amal-al-Salih (Virtuous deeds).
The above discussion may be summarized by quoting a beautiful Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SM), where it has been said that man can understand the beauties of Iman (Faith) when the following three knowledge/ behaviour patterns have been integrated in him: 1) love for Allah (STA) above all and love for His Prophet (SM) ; 2) love for mankind for the sake of Allah (STA) ; and 3) feeling of hatred towards evil deeds as he fears the fire of hell.26
1. For details, see Khadija Haq and Uner Kirdar (eds.), Managing Human Development (Islamabad: North-South Roundtable, 1988), p. ix. Also see UNDP, Human Development Report, 1990 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).
2. UNDP, Budapest Statement on Human Resource Development in a Changing World(New York, 1987), pp. 10-25. For further details about human resource development, see Frederick H. Harbison, “Human Resources Development:Planning in Modernising Economics,” in International Labour Review, Vol. 85, No. 5, May 1962 ; and Khadija Haq and Uner Kirdar (eds.),Human Development:The Neglected Dimension (Islamabad : North-South Roundtable, 1986),
3. Michel P. Todaro, Economic Development in the Third World, Second Edition (New York: Longman , 1973), p. 330.
4. Frederick H. Harbison, Human Resources as the Wealth of Nations (New York:Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 3.
5. Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1958).
6. Richard Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship (New York: Doubleday & Co.,1969).
7. Cyril E. Black, The Dynamics of Modernization (New York: Herper and Row, 1966).
8. David E. Apter, The Politics of Modernization (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1967).
9. W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963).
10. William McCord, The Springtime of Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963).
11. Ryokichi Hirono, “Human Resources Development and Mobilization in the Asia-Pacific Region,” Technology and Development, No. 2, 1989, p. 5. Professor R. Hirono of the Seiki University was the Director of the Bureau for Programme, Policy and Evaluation of the United Nations Development Programme.
12. The Politics of Aristotle, translated by Ernest Barker (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 120-121.
13. North-South: A Programme for Survival, the Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues under the Chairmanship of Willy Brandt (London: Pan Books, 1980), p. 12.
14. Quoted by M.A. Kazi, “The Pursuit of Scientific knowledge in Islam,” Islamic Thought and Scientific Creativity, Vol. 1, No.1, January-March, 1990.
15. According to motivation theorists, the needs, wants and desires which exist within an individual make up his internal motivation. These forces influence him by determining his thoughts which in turn, lead to his behaviour in a particular situation. Once a need is fairly satisfied, man is then motivated by the next higher level of unsatisfied need. For details, see Abraham H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality (New York: Harper and Row, 1954). Maslow arranged man’s needs in a hierarchy of importance ranging from lowest physiological needs to psychogenic safety, love (social), esteem (ego) needs and finally, self-actualization.
16. See Moinuddin Ahmed Khan, Political Crisis of the Present Age: Capitalism, Communism and What Next? (Chittagong: Baitush Sharaf Islamic Research Centre, 1990), p. 47.
17. For further details, see The Holy Qur’an, text, translation and commentary by A.Yusuf Ali (Brentwood Maryland: Amana Corp., 1983), pp. 1969, 1735. Imam Ghazzali (RA) has also classified man’s propensity into three : 1) Animate; 2) Satanic ; and 3) Angelic. He advised the mankind to strive for overcoming the animate and satanic propensities in order to be fortunate in understanding the beauties of Allah (STA). For details, see Huzzatul Islam Hazrat Imam Ghazzali (RA), Kimia-e-Sa’adat, vol. 1, translated into Bengali by Moulana Nurur Rahman (Dhaka: Emdadia Library, 1976), p. 34-35
18. It also helps to distinguish between truth and reality, error and falsehood, see M. A. Kazi, op. cit., p. 14.
19. For details, see Ghulam M. Haniff, “Muslim Development at Risk : The Crisis of Human Resources,” in The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 9, No. 4, Winter, 1992.
20.Ahmed Zewail, born and raised in Egypt is now a naturalized American citizen who holds the Linus Pauling Professorship at the California institute of Technology. He was awarded the 1999 Nobel prize in chemistry for developing the femtoscope, which photographs the actual moment of molecular binding of chemicals. For details of his interview with the NPQ editor Nathan Gardels see “Road Map to a Muslim Renaissance”, accessed through internet on February 20,2008.
21. See Averroes, On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, translated by G. F. Hourani (London, Luzae, 1976).
22. Maurice Bucaille, The Bible. The Qur’an and Science, translated from French into English by Alastair D. Pannell and the Author (Indianapolis: American Trust Publication, 1979), p. 251.
23. W. M. Watt concludes that without Muslim (he uses ‘Arab’) contributions, European Science and Philosophy would not have developed when they did, see his, The Influence of Islam on Medieval Europe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1972), p. 43.
24. Allah (STA) says: “And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly” (Al-Qur’an, 2:281 ; 55: 31 ; 64:7 ; 82:4-6 ; and 99:7-8).
25. Al-Hadith, Ibn Majah (Sunan, Under No. 250).
26. Sahih Bukhari, qouted by Serajul Haque, Imam Ibn Taimiyah And His Projects of Reform, translated into Bengali by Muhammad Mujibur Rahman (Dhaka: The Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, 1987), p. 167.
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