|Democracy in Crisis
ISBN 984 70220 0005 9 2008 268pp 215x136mm HB Tk.500.00 US$27.00
The liberal democratic values and the constitutional system have suffered serial reversals in Bangladesh, accompanied by a trend towards authoritarian and unaccountable government. The failure of the political system and politicians is blamed conventionally. That alone cannot explain the reversals sufficiently; the deep conflict of secular nationalism and liberal democracy with communal and authoritarian political culture explain the political and constitutional regresses.
The revisionist history explains the revival of communal politics and rise of fundamentalism, military coup de’etat and hegemony, constitutional change which introduces communal elements and undermines the fundamental human rights and freedoms, and the struggle between the people for their democratic rights and the organizations of the State which unlawfully arrogate power and use it to suppress those rights.
The election due in 2006 was aborted because the institutions of the State had been suborned and politicized badly. Even the minimum changes necessary for an honest election exceeds the legitimate tenure and function of Caretaker Government sanctioned by the Constitution. The government must set the limit finely or its legitimacy will be strained. Its claim to legitimacy is contingent and retrospective, not prior procedural.
The book analyzes the current constitutional and political crisis in multi-political cultural and multi-disciplinary perspectives including political practices and philosophy as well as jurisprudence. The main conclusions are that the ultimate sanction of democracy is the people who would retrieve and assert their power if the constitutional actors and the institutions continue to fail.
Masihur Rahman Ph.D studied at Dhaka University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, and Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His earlier publications include Integrated Rural Development (co-authored with John D. Montgomery of Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge, Mass., 1980), Political Economy of Income Distribution in Sri Lanka (Dhaka: The University Press Limited, 1987), Structural Adjustment and Social Protection of Workers (ILO-ARTEP, 1993), and Structural Adjustment, Employment, and Workers (Dhaka: The University Press Limited, 1994). His articles have been published in journals at home and abroad. Since 2002, his columns has been published in newspaper and journals published in Dhaka.
A career civil servant, he had held many important offices of government including Secretary of Internal Resource Division and Chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR), Secretary of Economic Relations Division, and Secretary of Statistics Division and Director General of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). He had represented the government as Alternate or Acting Governor at Asian Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Islamic Development Bank, and World Bank. He had been Chairman of Evaluation Committee of IFAD (mid-1980s) and Vice-Chair of the annual meeting of IDB in 2001. Dr. Rahman retired from government service in 2001 and lives in Dhaka.