Crumbling physical infrastructure deals with tangibles that money can solve. Crumbling political infrastructure relates to intangibles that respond less well to this incentive, writes MR Daradi
OUR physical infrastructure — roads, bridges, highways, rivers, ports, etc — are in bad shape and crumbling. The same thing perhaps can be said about the political infrastructure.
The jewel in any country’s crown is parliament. Ours is dysfunctional, costs a lot, and gives negligible returns.
Partisanship pervades the bureaucracy. The police are best avoided. The Rapid Action Battalion inspires dread. An overburdened judiciary means delayed justice. War crimes proceedings grind on tortuously. BCL mayhem provokes instability inside and outside campuses.
Power is centralised in the Prime Minister’s Office. The unelected advisers are super mandarins through whom papers flow but not water.
Electricity production is better. But the furnace oil-dependent new power stations will burden our foreign exchange earnings for years while tariff increases to rein in budget deficits will stoke inflation and public discontent.
The taka that deteriorated substantially from this January will probably remain under pressure for the rest of 2012 as high inflation persists, remittances level off, readymade garment exports stagnate with recession overseas and POL bill pinches with crude likely to remain high under prevailing Middle East tensions. A war over Iran will probably devastate our economy along with others.
The government’s overreaction to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition’s March 12 public meeting has set the stage for an existential war between the two parties, with no holds barred or prisoners taken that is reminiscent of 1971.
Governing Bangladesh is not easy. But making things worse is public disquiet about the texture and tone of India-Bangladesh relations.
This arguably started over transit — maybe earlier — but came into focus with the failure of the hyped Teesta waters agreement.
Tipaimukh evokes reservations. Adviser Gowher Rizvi’s plea for a scientific and rational discourse is well taken. Perhaps he can set an example by issuing a whitepaper. He has the data and resources.
The above issues, added to pending ones like maritime boundary, trade imbalance, etc, reflect strategically a detached disdain by Delhi towards Dhaka — nothing new here — that is brought into sharp focus by the tactically inexplicable BSF killings of our citizens.
It is scandalous India can’t stop them. Or won’t. One wonders whether allowing the Border Security Force to run amok is a deliberate Indian policy.
Is the intention to show up the Bangladesh government’s inability to protect its citizens? To not-so-subtly remind us that Indian bayonets having helped liberate Bangladesh entitle Delhi to do what it likes on our borders?
If so, this is odd diplomacy, counterproductive and won’t win hearts and minds. Chanakya would not have approved.
The BDR mutiny left a major state security organ in shambles. It is to be hoped that there’s no adverse impact of the alleged army coup on the professionalism and morale of the officer corps and other ranks.
Like all of India’s South Asian neighbours, and smaller countries adjacent to big ones, Bangladesh is understandably wary and leery about India. Delhi-Dhaka relations have oscillated but generally languished.
This is not good for both. We stand to lose more in and from a fractious relationship. But this will hardly redound to India’s benefit.
Over time, it’s not inconceivable that an unintended consequence of the deteriorating relationship spills over to form part of a contiguous belt of low-intensity insurgencies east-west from Seven Sisters to Paschim Banga and north-south along Nepal/Bihar/MP corridor, in addition to Kashmir.
The current Awami League-led administration laudably took steps to improve relations with India. But it seems to have put the policy of give and take on its head: Dhaka gives; Delhi takes. Unilateralism is unsustainable.
There is growing public perception that this policy has short-changed us and compromised our sovereignty. Perceptions matter. They shape opinion and ultimately response. It’s in the short- and long-term interests of both countries to alleviate this perception.
Crumbling physical infrastructure deals with tangibles that money can solve. Crumbling political infrastructure relates to intangibles that respond less well to this incentive.
The current and future administrations have their work cut out for them.
Equipped with sticks and sharp weapons, activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League roam Elephant Road, bottom, while the police charge into a BNP procession at Karwan Bazar in the capital Dhaka on March 12… the government’s overreaction to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition’s public meeting has set the stage for an existential war between the two parties, with no holds barred or prisoners taken.
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