Ali Riaz has written a commentary on the controversy surrounding the public service quota system service in Bangladesh. The piece, titled “Quota reform: Beyond the demands,” was published on April 25 in The Daily Star.

The issue, he explains, is that in the wake of demonstrations by students and jobseekers demanding reform of the system, the Prime Minister announced the abolition of all quotas. Currently, more than half of all positions are allocated to various categories of quotas. The PM’s decision is viewed by many as impulsive and contrary to the principle of affirmative action stipulated in Bangladeshi Constitution.

Riaz argues that demands for reform can be attributed to the failure of the country’s economic policies. Such policies, he notes, have engendered growth in the numbers of jobless in recent years. Bangladesh, which has seen an average annual GDP growth rate of 7 percent for more than a decade, has a high rate of unemployment among its youth, particularly among the educated. Riaz also criticizes the supporters of the ruling party for vilifying the leaders of the movement and creating a further schism in the society. Repressive measures by the government against the leaders and supporters of the movement is reflective of the government’s reliance on force to intimidate and create a sense of fear among students, Riaz opines.