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Job reservation: B’desh SC suspends job reservation for a month after massive protests

Job reservation: B’desh SC suspends job reservation for a month after massive protests

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: The Bangladesh Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended for a month the government’s 2018 scheme to provide job reservations in civil services for certain categories after massive nationwide protests by students calling it discriminatory and demanding merit-based employment, the media reported.

Earlier this week, thousands of angry students threw up barricades across key intersections in Dhaka, as well as blocking major highways connecting the national capital with other cities. Some laid logs on a railway track in the capital, disrupting train services to northern parts of the country.

The protests have been called the Bangla Blockade.

The 2018 quota system reserves over half of well-paid and massively over-subscribed civil service posts, totaling hundreds of thousands of government jobs, for specific groups, including children of liberation war heroes.

Irate university students have for long been protesting against a recruitment system that they say favors children of war heroes and certain groups for high-paying government jobs.

A third of the posts are reserved for the children of those who fought to win the Islamic country’s independence in 1971. Some are also reserved for women, ethnic minorities, and the disabled, the reports said.

This, critics say, unfairly benefits the children of pro-government groups that support Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who won her fourth straight election in January 2024.

She is the daughter of Bangladesh’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Bangladesh’s top court temporarily suspended the quota system on Wednesday, but protests are expected to continue until it is permanently removed. The system, halted following similar protests since its introduction in 2018, was reinstated by a separate court just last month.

Student leaders have pledged to continue their stir until a “permanent solution” is found.

Early in July, PM Hasina condemned the agitation, saying students were “wasting their time,” adding there was “no justification for the anti-quota movement.”

Bangladesh, which was once one of the poorest countries in the world, is now one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. Its per capita income has tripled in the last decade and the World Bank estimates that more than 25 million people have been lifted out of poverty over the last two decades.

But its economy spun into turmoil in mid-2022 following the pandemic and the global economic slowdown.


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