Development sans freedom unsustainable: Experts

FE Report | Published: March 15, 2019 09:56:26 | Updated: March 15, 2019 18:27:10

Construction work of the metro rail project in the capital going in full swing — FE/file

Leading economists and political scientists observed on Thursday that economic development at the expense of individual freedom is not sustainable.

Citing a historical perspective, political adviser to the prime minister HT Imam said Awami League has always been a victim of political violence.

The party is thus committed to ensuring a violence-free political culture, he added.

"All the electoral reforms aiming to ensure a free, fair and universally acceptable election were initiated by the Sheikh Hasina-led government."

Mr Imam was speaking as the chief guest at an international conference styled 'Justice for all: Rethinking political development for stability and peace' in the capital.

The International Political Science Association (IPSA) and local think tank Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) co-hosted the event in the PRI conference room.

Rosebush Professor Emeritus Zillur R Khan of Wisconsin University presented a keynote there.

Mr Imam said one of the reasons behind the Awami League's landslide victory was its pro-people programme like social safety net.

"It covers around 50 million people and the allowances given to the underprivileged and vulnerable groups of society under these programmes are distributed in a transparent manner," he pointed out.

Mr Imam said the government believes in freedom of the press and it is Hasina who, after assuming power in 1996, paved the way for private TV channels to grow.

Keynoter Prof Khan said given the winner-takes-all approach to political and economic development in least developing countries, the task of ensuring a balanced political development has become vital for leaders.

"But this task cannot be accomplished without an equitable allocation of resources, which involves a deep commitment of leaders to justice and fairness."

To ensure justice in the evolving global order, Prof Khan said, powerful countries must be genuinely committed to helping the disadvantaged countries through sharing knowledge and technology.

Political scientist Prof Ataur Rahman of Dhaka University said although many are trying to establish a theory that individual freedom can be compromised for economic development, this is not acceptable.

It is universally established that economic development without human freedom is not sustainable, he observed.

Mark Farha, who obtained his doctorate degree from Harvard University, said too much concentration of power has triggered vices like racism and extremism.

The wealthiest Arab countries in the Gulf are exploiting the popular discontent of other Arab countries for serving their own interests, he added.

PRI economist Dr Ashikur Rahman said political development in a state is defined by factors like order, rule of law, merit-based appointment and democracy.

PRI chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar delivered his welcome speech in the first session while Dr Ahsan H Mansur made the opening address in the second session.

Dr Mansoor stressed the need for equal access of all to economic activity.

"The spirit of the war of independence was to create an equitable society and we have to do that," he said.

At the event, Ittefaq editor Tasmima Hossain said women empowerment here has come a long way and women are more empowered now in various sectors than the past.



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