Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cultivating a Politically Diverse Generation of Leaders

It is time to ensure demographic and occupational diversity in the political system of Bangladesh. File photo: Star


Cultivating a Politically Diverse Generation of Leaders

It is time to ensure demographic and occupational diversity in the political system of Bangladesh. File photo: Star

The absence of healthy democratic practices often results in the removal of spatial structural concerns within political parties and governance structures in society. The case in Bangladesh is no different. The focus of the analysis is on leadership because of the top-down nature of how the two major parties have established themselves as major electoral machines over the past four decades. Yet, it is equally important to take an in-depth look at the demographic composition of people holding top political positions in these organisations. At the end of the day, politicians and parliamentary representatives make public policies, which shape the lives of the future generation. And without understanding and criticizing what approaches they represent, it is impossible to develop a state-society relationship that molds inclusive, pro-people and need-based policy-making.

Let’s dive into some numbers for reference. The Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Awami League is the apex policy making body of the ruling party; Of the 17 active members of the CWC, only three are under the age of 70. On the other side of the aisle, the Standing Committee of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – which serves as the de facto collective leadership-based decision-making body in the absence of the apparently ailing and judicially convicted party chief Khaleda Zia – does There is not a single member whose age is less than 70 years. Hence the most prominent policy makers of the two major political parties include senior citizens representing the wartime generation. And while our debt to them remains absolute and timeless, how can we fully expect a generation that represents a minority in the context of a youthful demographic that characterizes the majority population in Bangladesh? To respond to the wishes and desires of the generation?

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Every major demographic indicator indicates that Bangladesh’s population is extremely young. About 18.56 percent of its citizens fall in the age group of 15-24. 40.72 percent of the population falls in the age group of 25-54. Whereas only 6.82 per cent of the population is 65 years and above. And yet, it is this specific demographic of senior citizens that is representative of the status quo of policy making and political leadership in the country. According to data provided by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the average age of a national parliament elected in 2018 is 59.48 years, with only 10.57 per cent MPs aged 45 and below. No matter how harsh it may sound, political giants of the past have undeniable authority in governing and shaping the future of the nation.

If a generation of like-minded individuals cultivate and describe the future of the entire nation, we will be at a standstill; The lack of demographic diversity is deeply related. However, a core fundamental competency of the older generation of political leaders, which remains in leadership roles today, stems from their experience and expertise in grassroots politics. From the 1970s to the 2000s, this particular segment of the political leadership, standing alongside Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, developed itself into shrewd and capable political actors based on their experience in student politics and activism-based ventures. Still, 21st century politics is widely different; More policy and less politics is perhaps the need of the hour. More than street movements or traditional picketing, politics has shifted towards outreach on social media and there is a general need to portray party politics as a vehicle of transformative policy change rather than merely partisan ideological forces. Therefore, with an aging political leadership and a growing young population, this decade may represent a crucial and crucial transition point in the history of Bangladesh – the passing of the political baton from the wartime generation to those whose focus is on this. But there should be peace, unity, accountability, democracy, social development and human rights.

This brings with it a unique opportunity to induct new and intellectually competent faces from a wide variety of professions and grassroots systems into the political landscape. But when it comes to the diversity of professional backgrounds in politics, the figures are even more worrying. For example, 61 percent of businessmen in the current parliament are elected MPs. The growing dominance of the business elite indicates the power of money in defining political decisions in the country, with more than 82 percent of MPs formally registered. Box (millionaire), according to Shujan. Therefore, while there is an urgent need to bring the younger generation into positions of political influence and authority – particularly within the internal ranks of the two major parties – it is equally important to provide opportunities to individuals outside the realm of entrepreneurship. To become an active political actor.

The older generation of political leaders was traditionally supported by the business elite. From general elections to party funding mechanisms, there is no doubt that money has historically played an important role in ensuring the sustenance of the two-party system in Bangladesh. However, today we are witnessing a direct integration of entrepreneurial interests into the political landscape and parliamentary politics. And the motive for raising financial capital, bypassing concerns about conflicts of interest by using politics as an uninterrupted money-making vehicle, could not be apparent to the naked eye.

In short, demographic indicators and political data show that Bangladesh is at a unique crossroads when it comes to the evolving political system led by the wartime generation. On the one hand, our two major parties and parliament fail to represent the modern demography of Bangladesh; Add to this the business elite who dominate the political system in particular. On the other hand, given that the sun is setting on the careers of the war-time generation of political leaders, the nation has an opportunity to include a new generation of new, capable and more concerned leaders in the political landscape. The major challenge of institutionalizing democratic practices and the practice of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections also remains absolute.

So, keeping these concerns in mind, it is time to ensure demographic and occupational diversity in our political system. And this can only be done with the proactive decision of the older generation to groom and hand over a new generation of capable political leaders slowly but surely.

Mir Aftabuddin Ahmed is a banking professional based in Toronto, Canada.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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