Rethinking the Quota System in Public Service: A Critical Analysis

Rethinking the Quota System in Public Service: A Critical Analysis

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Here are some comments on the quota issue based on past experience and expertise. During Bangabandhu's time, when the freedom fighter quota was introduced, it was not linked to the spirit of the Liberation War. The interim recruitment policy of 1972 had a 30 percent quota for freedom fighters.

It was called “interim” because the quota was for a short period. After 350 posts were filled by freedom fighters on the basis of merit through the Public Service Commission in 1973, there was no justification for extending this provision further.

This is why in 1977 all but one member of the Pay and Services Commission opposed the quota system in the public service. Only one member of the Commission spoke in favour of retaining the quota, gradually reducing it over a period of 10 years from 1987 and then abolishing it.

Yet in 1997 this quota system was extended even further, to include children and then grandchildren of freedom fighters, and to leave these positions vacant if they were not available. These decisions greatly reduced the scope for recruitment through merit-based competition in favour of quota beneficiaries.

The extent of quota is also a matter of consideration. In the latest system, 56 per cent recruitment was through quota and only 44 per cent through merit. Renowned freedom fighter Dr Akbar Ali Khan, as the head of the Regulatory Reforms Commission, researched the quota system in March 2008.

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