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Rise of investment free capitalism in Bangladesh

Written By: HarunurRashid
27/05/2013 21:04

The freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for an independent Bangladesh hardly knew that their blood would create a country where capitalism would have a free, unfettered rise. Along with political freedom what they had foremost in mind was economic freedom for the entire population. But since the inception of our liberation, things went awry and a strange kind of capitalism has had an astounding rise. I call it strange because capitalism by definition is related to trade that brings profit and at times loss if things go wrong, but the main drive behind it is profit. In Bangladesh however, there has been a rise of a class of people who never invested any capital but reaped a golden harvest as profit.
In independent Bangladesh, politics in general has played a role behind the rise of this nouveau rich class. Immediately after independence, the industries and factories were nationalised. Party members with no experience were placed as administrators of these establishments that could not keep their wheels running. Soon the industries came to a grinding halt. The machineries were sold and some people became super rich overnight. Some ten/ fifteen years later it was decided that these industries would be de-nationalised. Interestingly, the factories that were running and earning profit were sold out at a throw away price.
The ‘enemy properties’ were leased out to party members who now owned properties worth millions. People who did not have enough money to own a rickshaw now sported latest model cars.
Party members of all the ruling authority/class/party became middle men between the administration and the business class. And the middle men obviously had nothing to invest except his intelligence and contact with the political authority. So out of a deal of say one million, a ten per cent commission would bring him an instant tax-free one hundred thousand. Needless to say, the separation between the administration and the party was completely disregarded to the great detriment of national interest.
This vicious circle involved all three classes of people – the bureaucrat, the middle man and the business man – all getting their share of the national pie.
Some one might ask, why include the poor bureaucrat? Instead of answering that question, may I ask how that bureaucrat manages to pay for the education of his son/daughter in a North American university?
Then comes the perverted practice of extortion by party members. I am not pointing finger at any political party. All parties are made of the same stuff. Support for someone is the capital the extortionist invests. And so he must get his pound of flesh whether you like it nor not. So it is not unusual to hear from a minister that the price of rice has gone up because of extortion at different points of the route through which the rice comes to the city. The police is helpless – the poor officer has got used to the maxim – give me the identity of the man and I will give you the article of the CrPC under which he is to be prosecuted.
Even the banks are not above the influence of the party. You are a law abiding citizen and would like a loan for a valid business concern. But for you there will be a hundred and one question regarding your collateral. But if you can get the right connection and have a deal with him, the rest is not your headache. You can get a loan of nearly 3500 crore from an ordinary branch without any question asked about the collateral.
You must have heard about the Government controlled banks having written off some default loan a few days ago. These “Khelapi dacoits” as our esteemed columnist Badruddin Umar would say, are strutting abroad in broad daylight in the streets of Dhaka. In the police records they are all absconding.
Our students, I mean those who engage in party politics, find it easier to earn their bit of profit by intimidating the teachers if they are members of a political party. No tender of a university can be floated without their interference which at times leads to internecine conflicts, even murder.
While some people chant the slogan of the ‘Liberation Spirit’ in the city parks, I find the sons and grandsons of those unfortunate peasants who crawled the muddy fields to get the Punjabi soldiers within the range of their three-naught-three, still tilling the soil to provide food for these new breed of rogue capitalists.
Some bitter critics claim that with the foreign aid received so far from 1971 onwards till today (2008), we could build some 30 Padma Bridges! The growth rate is no index to the actual economic status of the people – nearly half the population in Bangladesh live below poverty line.

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About HarunurRashid

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  • Name: Professor M Harunur Rashid
  • From: Dhaka
  • Nationality: Bangladesh
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    Professor Harunur Rashid is a Cambridge Gradute, former professor of North South University, now Teaching English at International Islamic University Chittagong(IIUC), Dhaka Campus. Contributing as an Associate Editor of The Independent and former DG of Bangla Academy.


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