Democracy is for Development of the people: Perspective of Bangladesh.
Democracy is for Development of the People: Perspective of Bangladesh.
Key Note Speaker: Atikul Islam.
Founder and Research fellow at Center for Strategic Analysis, CSA.
Center for Strategic
What is democracy?
The origin of democracy as an idea and a practice
go back to the city state of Greece. The term
democracy comes from the Greek language and
means "rule by the (simple) people".
Democracy is a form of government in which a
constitution guarantees human rights , freedom
of expression, justice, free fair election and
independent court of law.
"A constitution [or politeia] may be defined as ‘the
organization of a city [or polis] in respect of its offices
generally, but especially in respect of that particular office
which is sovereign in all issues. . . . In democratic cities, for
example, the people [demos] is sovereign. . . . [W]hen the
masses govern the city with a view to the common interest,
the form of government is called by the generic name . . . of
‘constitutional government’. . . . Democracy is directed to
the interest of the poor [only, not to the interests of
everyone--WR]." (Aristotle 1995, 97-101)
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) defined
democracy a “Democracy is the government of the people,
by the people and for the people”.
"Democracy [is] not majority rule: democracy [is]
diffusion of power, representation of
interests, recognition of minorities." (John
Calhoun, as paraphrased by Roper 1989, 63)
Churchill on democracy (1874-1965)
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-
wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is
the worst form of government except all those
other forms that have been tried from time to
Democracy - Key Elements
In order to deserve to lebel modern democracy, a country needs to
fulfill some basic requirements - and they need not only be written
down in it's constitution but must be kept up in everyday life by
politicians and authorities:
• Guarantee of basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-
vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups
(especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons.
• Separation of Powers between the institutions of the state:
Government (Executive Power),
Parliament (Legislative Power) und
Courts of Law (Judicative Power)
Emergence of Democracy:
• The so-called "democracies" in classical antiquity
(Athens and Rome) represent precursors of
modern democracies. Like modern
democracy, they were created as a reaction to a
concentration and abuse of power by the rulers.
Yet the theory of modern democracy was not
formulated until the Age of Enlightment
(17th/18th centuries), when philosophers defined
the essential elements of democracy: separation
of powers, basic civil rights / human
rights, religious liberty and separation of church
• Freedom of opinion, speech, press and mass media.
• Religious liberty
• General and equal right to vote (one person, one vote)
• Good Governance (focus on public interest and
absence of corruption). (http://www.democracy-
Democracy, human rights and
The rights you have simply because you are human. Human right is the
political right of every individual. Democratic government needs to ensure
the rights in the below:
• Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement
for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every
organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive
by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and
freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to
secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both
among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples
of territories under their jurisdiction.
• Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards
one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
• Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in
this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as
race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or
social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction
shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international
status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be
independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of
• Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
• Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade
shall be prohibited in all their forms.
• Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.
Human Rights Violation
• In the recent time, abduction and killing are
the hot topic of people’s discussion. After
finding seven dead body from Shitalakkhay
including panel Mayor Nazrul Islam and
lawyer Chandan Sharkar. Newspaper, media
civil society and people are raising voice
against abduction and extra judicial killing.
European Union about human rights
situation in Bangladesh.
• The European Union yesterday expressed deep concern over the recent incidents
of abduction, murder, disappearance and extra-judicial killing in Bangladesh, and
called for bringing the culprits to justice through proper investigations.
EU Ambassador William Hanna said the community had voiced concern in recent
weeks over extra-judicial killings and harassment of human rights defenders.
He was also worried about the conditions of minority communities, full
implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord and the human rights of
Expressing concern at the recent disappearance of British national Mujibur
Rahman Mujib in Sunamganj, Nick Low, acting High Commissioner of the
UK, demanded that the government apprise them of the circumstances of his
disappearance and the progress in the probe.
Nick Low also called upon the authorities to take steps for Ilias Ali's safe return to
his family, and clarify the circumstances of the BNP leader's disappearance two
years ago. (The Daily Star. Sunday, May 11, 2014).
• “The country is at a critical juncture. Fear and anxiety are
consuming people and society. We too are anxious and
concerned,” said NHRC Chairman Mizanur Rahman.
Immediate and strict steps should be taken to improve law
and order. The state could be blamed for this situation but
the government alone cannot be responsible for protecting
human rights, he observed.
• The NHRC boss urged all to play their roles in protecting
people's rights. According to legal aid and civil rights
organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, at least 39 people have
disappeared in the first quarter of this year and there have
been allegations that law enforcers were involved in
abductions. (The Daily Star, 11 May, 2014).
• Around 20 people have been killed at different
places of the country and many others have
been injured. The killing of 20 people in one
day marks a serious law and order breakdown.
But we are not taking it seriously because loss
of life and limb seems to have been a normal
fact during the recent political protests. (Write
up on 10th Jatiyo Shangshad election. Atikul
Islam. New Age. January, 13, 2014).
Human rights and Development:
Human rights is a political right that means to
ensure human rights is the duty of
government. Every individual in the present
society have some basic human rights from
the government. None has to face
abduction, extra judicial killing, innocent
victim of law enforcement agency.
• Judiciary needs to go on with sovereignty. None has to
influence judiciary with political power or economic
power. We have to uproot crime but not criminal. In
the present society, we are focused on mostly
correction not only punishment and a man is innocent
until he is proved as criminal by Court. Extra judicial
killing needs to be banned. Criminal needs to be
arrested not to be killed by RAB. RAB can injure
someone to arrest in case of gunfight but killing him is
a human rights violation. Everyone has right to get
justice from court. Every individual is part of our
society, so ensuring basic human rights can cause
development of society.
Democracy, freedom of expression and
Though majority of the people influences in
electing government, minority people have to
get chance to raise their voice. The elected
government can pass any law, rules and
regulations to rule over the society because of
their majority participant in the Jatiyo
Shangsad. But opposition parties need to raise
voice freely to critique any injustice, law, rules
and regulations for the betterment of the
New ICT LAW:
• The ICT (amendment) Ordinance, 2013 provides for penal action in section
57, which says, “(1) If any person deliberately publishes or transmits or
causes to be published or transmitted in the website or in electronic form
any material which is fake and obscene or its effect is such as to tend to
deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant
circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in
it, or causes to deteriorate or creates possibility to deteriorate law and
order, prejudice the image of the State or person or causes to hurt or may
hurt religious belief or instigate against any person or organization, then
this activity of his will be regarded as an offence. (2) Whoever commits
offence under sub-section (1) of this section shall be punishable with
imprisonment for a term which may not be less than seven years and
more than fourteen years and with fine which may extend to Taka one
crore.” It also suggests that offences under sections 54, 56, 57, 61 are
cognizable and non-bailable. (M.D Munir. The Financial Express. 22
Freedom of Expression and
• In democracy, government is elected by the voting of majority of the
people. So majority of the people’s mandate prevails over other people.
For example, 51% vote of a society win over other 49% vote. Opinion and
willing of the 51% people rule over 49% people. But the 49% people have
the freedom of expression. They needs to critique any government
policy, law, regulation, activities etc. They can raise voice to take attention
of the human right activists, development
workers, researchers, government and not government organizations.
• Newspaper, radio, television, magazine, website, blog, social network etc.
needs to remain sovereign. No rules and regulations should be made to
ban any of these media. If any of these scatter wrong news, it has to be
taken under law and order and should have chance to be rectified. To err
the human being, so if any wrong is done mistakenly needs to be rectified.
But banning permanently of any newspaper, electronic
media, blog, website etc will be a violation of freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression free people from the
domination, injustice, exploitation etc. So for the development of the all
people, it needs to be ensured.
Democracy, Justice and Development.
• Justice needs to be ensured in every sector of
human society. Justice is needed to reduce
crime, violence etc. Any law violation is
defined as crime. Law is a universal
phenomenon for human society. There are
penal law, corporate law, business
law, institutional law etc. In every
sector, justice is needed to ensure
development of society.
• Justice is needed to prevent crime like
terrorism, killing, abduction, mugging etc and in
same way, justice is needed to prevent polluted
food and beverage, to prevent market
monopolization through collecting available
goods of the market, to prevent uncertified
doctor for mistreatment of the patient, to
prevent medicines that are out of order. So
justice is needed very much for the security of
the people and for the overall socioeconomic
Democracy, free fair election and
• The link between democracy and free fair
election is captured in article 21(3) of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which
• “The will of the people shall be the basis of the
authority of government; this will shall be
expressed in periodic and genuine elections which
shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall
be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting
10th Jatiyo Shangshad Election, 2013.
• THE elections to the 10th Jatiya Sangsad were
held on January 5, with candidates belonging to
the ruling Awami League and its allies having
already been declared ‘elected’ unopposed in 153
of the total 300 seats. The elections were well
and truly a one-sided affair as only the AL-led
alliance and some independent candidates had
fielded candidates. How can we call it democratic
where more than half of the seats were filled
before the election day and where 52 per cent of
the electorate had no role to play? (Atikul
Islam, New age, 13 January, 2013).
Supporters of ruling Awami League-backed candidates have occupied more
than 30 out of 47 polling centres at Chhagalnaiya upazila in Feni.
Vote rigging and ballot stuffing at different centres marked the fifth phase
of upazila election in the district, reports our correspondent.
The AL-men captured the centres and ousted the agents of other aspirants
from the centres between 8:00am and 9:00am soon.
At Pathannagar Government Primary School, unidentified youths with
firearms stamped 600 ballot papers around 3:30am, said the upazila
election presiding officer Ahmed Ulla. (The Daily Star, 31 March, 2014).
Free and fair election is precondition for democracy.
Ensuring vote casting with proper security and prevent
any false vote casting through muscle power is
essential for practicing democracy.
Vote is the opinion of the people to elect who is skilled
and honest enough to lead the society to development.
Majority of the fellow citizen don’t take wrong decision
to elect their leader. Autocratic leader who want to
keep on their power through forcing can dominate
through autocracy. But majority of the people cannot
be dominated in the democracy.
Critique of Democracy:
Democracy is runed under weapon of military.
Democracy is the rule of illiterate people.
Toward Democracy fro the people:
• Democratic government those who ensure human rights, freedom
of expression, free fair election, justice under independent court of
law are really for the development of the people. There is no other
government system is as good as like democracy that can ensure
people’s development. Extreme privatization causes development
of the few people dominating others. So Government management
of different business institutions can cause welfare of most of the
• The third way: The Renewal of Social Democracy. Anthony
Giddens, 1999. He wrote about British Society.
• Democratizing democracy.
What kind of leadership is needed for
practicing better democracy:
• Article 26 of the universal Declaration of human
Education shall be directed to the full
development of the human personality and to
the strengthening of respect for human rights
and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote
understanding, tolerance and friendship among
all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall
further the activities of the United Nations for the
maintenance of peace.
Democratic leader have to be compassionate.
Those who can respect the logical opinion of
both majority and minority people and can
take into action. Education is needed very
much for the development of society.
Education is needed for the development of
every citizen. It is a basic right for both man
• Education can lead people to do right choice for
their development. Educated people can elect
skilled and educated leader for their society.
Democratic leader needs to be researcher to
understand people and to take right initiative for
the development of a society. What initiative has
to be taken in priority have to be find out through
research. Research is needed for any progressive
development. How a society may develop have to
find out first through research and then initiative
has to be taken.
Why politicians need to be equipped
• The present world is runned by the strategy. US is leading
the rest of the world through strategies and policies. They
are accumulating capital through business strategies like
TICFA, GSP etc. World bank and IMF is boosting their capital
from all over their world through various strategies. They
are influencing the strategies such as monetary
policy, budget, industrial policy, agriculture policy of the
countries of the world. They are leading developing
countries through policies like structure adjustment policy.
They are accumulating capital through foreign aid, foreign
investment, multinational corporation etc. The tista water
distribution treaty, satellite channel regulation, vegetable
and food export and import strategy impact greatly on the
development of society.
• Education policy, health policy, budget, agriculture, industry
etc. impact development of a society greatly. What policy
will develop society that has to be find out first for the
society. For example, how agricultural man will develop
from agriculture, how both owners and workers of
industries will develop, how education system will develop
for better education has to be find out first through
research. As a whole socio
economic, political, environmental etc. condition varies
from society to society. So what initiative have to be taken
for the society have to be find out through research.
Politicians play key role in democracy to develop any
society. So they have to be equipped with researchers and
strategists for the development of the society.
Who can solve political dispute
through dialog not through anarchy:
• Politicians those who understand society and
people through research and those who can find
out strategies or solution for the betterment of
the people and society through research and free
thinking can do better dialog and solve political
dispute through dialog not through anarchy.
Details academic methodology of research is
must for the politicians, I am not talking this. But
they have hear from people and think for the
betterment of the people.
In democracy, there is chance of domination
to the minority of the people by majority. But
freedom of expression, human rights, justice
etc. needs to be ensured for every man and
woman, if democracy is really for the
development of the people.