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Brahmaputra literary festival in search of an identity

Nava Thakuria
in Guwahati, Assam
 
Series of resourceful programmes along with cultural activities in front of enthusiast audience turned the venue of 1st Brahmaputra Literary Festival into a confluence of creative writers, energetic journalists, committed filmmakers, active theatre personalities, dynamic publishing professionals etc to attract a sparkling gathering for three days at Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra in northeast India.
The pre-historic city of Guwahati welcomed over 15 eminent authors from 10 foreign nations along with over 150 writers from different parts of the country for the three-day literary festival starting on 28 January 2017. Organised by the National Book Trust India in association with Assam government, the festival featured over 50 panel discussions, many book release and readings, a number of cultural events including film screenings based on literary creations.
 
First literary festival
First of its kinds in the alienated Northeast region of India, the festival received overwhelming response from the participants hosted in six venues inside the cultural complex that include Tagore Hall, Pandita Ramabai Hall, Premchand Hall, Subramania Bharathi Hall, Nalinibala Devi Hall and Bezbarua Hall. With this unique festival, the expanding city has emerged as an important venue of literary festivals have lately been held in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Ajmer, Jammu etc.
The festival was formally inaugurated by the Union human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, celebrated Japanese author Randy Taguchi, Konkani author Damodar Mauzo, Arunachali writer Mamang Dai, NBT chairman Baldeo Bhai Sharma, its director Rita Choudhury, the State chief secretary VK Pipersenia addressed the gathering under a pleasing winter sky.
It was preceded by a spectacular literary carnival welcoming the participants to the festival venue in the southern part of the ancient city.  Eminent authors including Neal Hall from USA, Alessandra Bertini and Carlo Pizaati from Italy, Nicolos Idier and  Francois Gautier from France, Subramani from Fiji, Dhunpal Raj Heeraman and Ramdeo Dhorundhur from Mauritius,  Selina Hossain, Shaheen Akhter and Urmi Rahman from Bangladesh, Rajiva Wijesinha from Sri Lanka, Raj Heeramun, Ramdev Dhoorandhar and Niranjan Kunwar from Nepal, Yugyen Tshering from Bhutan and many others participated in the discussions and bared their hearts on different relevant issues.
Many prominent writers from the mainland India including Narendra Kohli, Rami Chhabra, Vimala Morthala, Khalid Mohammed, Subhash Kashyap, Makarand Paranjape,  Bhagirath Mishra, Amar Mitra, Binod Ghosal, Angana Choudhury, Mirza Ali Baig etc also participated in the festival.
Likewise, resourceful personalities like  Manju Borah, Leena Sarma, Khalid Mohammed, Jahnavi Barua, Ravi Singh,  Preeti Gill, Nabin Baruah, Bhaskar Dutta-Baruah, Dipa Choudhuri, Bela Chandrani,  Utpal Borpujari, Rabijita Gogoi, Arup Jyoti Choudhury, Nanigopal Mahanta, Arup Borbora, Shiela Bora, Basab Rai also took part in various discourses.
 
A grand occasion
A number of famed Northeastern creative personalities and journalists including Arup Kumar Dutta, Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi, Sanjoy Hazarika, Dhruba Hazarika, Kula Saikia, Jnan Pujari, Prabuddha Sundar Kar, Wasbir Hussain, Phanindra Kumar Debachoudhury,  Pradip Phanjoubam, Monalisa Chankija, Dileep Chandan, Anuradha Sarma Pujari, Maini Mahanta, Mrinal Talukdar, Prasanta Rajguru, Aniz Uz Zaman,  Sananta Tanty, Srutimala Duwara, Monikuntala Bhattacharjya, Nilim Kumar, Suparna Lahiri Baruah,  Geetali Borah, Monalisa Saikia, Juri Borgohain etc were also present on the occasion.
As part of the festival, few acclaimed movies including Adajya (Assamese feature film, directed by Santwana Bardoloi) and  Mirzya (Hindi film, directed by  Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra) were screened at the venue. Moreover, distinguished film maker Mehra, Bollywood film stars of yesteryear Asha Parekh and Shatrughan Sinha and film writer Shahid Rafi  interacted with the art appreciators.  The glamour queen of Kati Patang,  Teesri Kasam, Dil Deke Dekho, Mera Gaon Mera Desh etc movies, Ms Parekh repented that she did not take the opportunity to perform in a movie of great Bengali film maestro Satyajit Ray. The Oscar winning film maker offered a major role to Ms Parekh for his movie Kanchanjungha, but she had to refuse it because of her busy schedule in Bombay (now Mumbai). The former chairperson of national film central board now regrets that she had actually lost a life time opportunity with that refusal.
On the other hand, the actor turned politician Sinha  claimed that he had the experience of  Uphas (making fun), Upeksha (neglect), Tiraskar (criticism) and Daman (exploitation) in his filmy life. He also commented that his biography titled Anything But Khamosh was an honest revelation of a struggling performer in the glamour world of Mumbai.
Terming the Brahmaputra Literary Festival a grand occasion for the people of Northeast India to celebrate, the New Delhi-based daily newspaper Pioneer reported that with the festival the region has also joined the league of glamorous literary festivals across the country, which is a reason to rejoice after decades of turmoil and conflicts.
 
Fascinating experience
The Pioneer also added that there should have been a literary festival in the region long before and now the festival would rediscover the literary and cultural extravaganza of all the states of the alienated region.  The newspaper expected that the literary festival, proposed to be an annual affair, would help in channelizing new ideas and their dissemination simultaneously.
Earlier the NBT director Ms Choudhury also expressed hope that the festival would focus not only on languages and literatures, but also on cultures, society, politics, performance traditions, music, identity and the regional media. Herself a Sahitya Akademi Award winning author, Ms Choudhury also added that Assam aimed to make the festival a landmark event in the country’s literary calendar. She opined that after years of conflicts, the people of the region received a fresh air of friendliness, accomplishment and joy.
Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, while posting in her blog after participating in the festival, has termed the endeavour a refreshing experience.  It had a crackling good mix of regional writers from all over India along with a few international delegates. It was heartening to note how all the guests were treated at par. The hospitality arrangements made by the organising committee were impeccable.
Talking about the Lit Mart, which was conceived and  inaugurated by Ms Choudhury, the admirer described it a fascinating experiment at the venue.  Assam Governor Banwari Lal Purohit graced the closing ceremony, where Gauhati University vice-chancellor Dr Mridul Hazarika, eminent Italian author Carlo Pizaati, famed Indian author Narendra Kohli along with few others were also present. Introducing himself not as a writer, but a vivid reader, Governor Purohit also recited few poems from Hindi literature.
The curtain came down on 30 January evening with a long poetry reading session among the delegates on an exotic cruise over the misty Brahmaputra river. The setting sun and its reflection on the wavy river water articulated a final goodbye to the visitors with the promise to meet again in near future somewhere.
 
The writer is a Guwahati, Assam-based journalist

Comment

Nava Thakuria
in Guwahati, Assam
 
Series of resourceful programmes along with cultural activities in front of enthusiast audience turned the venue of 1st Brahmaputra Literary Festival into a confluence of creative writers, energetic journalists, committed filmmakers, active theatre personalities, dynamic publishing professionals etc to attract a sparkling gathering for three days at Srimanta Shankardev Kalakshetra in northeast India.
The pre-historic city of Guwahati welcomed over 15 eminent authors from 10 foreign nations along with over 150 writers from different parts of the country for the three-day literary festival starting on 28 January 2017. Organised by the National Book Trust India in association with Assam government, the festival featured over 50 panel discussions, many book release and readings, a number of cultural events including film screenings based on literary creations.
 
First literary festival
First of its kinds in the alienated Northeast region of India, the festival received overwhelming response from the participants hosted in six venues inside the cultural complex that include Tagore Hall, Pandita Ramabai Hall, Premchand Hall, Subramania Bharathi Hall, Nalinibala Devi Hall and Bezbarua Hall. With this unique festival, the expanding city has emerged as an important venue of literary festivals have lately been held in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Ajmer, Jammu etc.
The festival was formally inaugurated by the Union human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, celebrated Japanese author Randy Taguchi, Konkani author Damodar Mauzo, Arunachali writer Mamang Dai, NBT chairman Baldeo Bhai Sharma, its director Rita Choudhury, the State chief secretary VK Pipersenia addressed the gathering under a pleasing winter sky.
It was preceded by a spectacular literary carnival welcoming the participants to the festival venue in the southern part of the ancient city.  Eminent authors including Neal Hall from USA, Alessandra Bertini and Carlo Pizaati from Italy, Nicolos Idier and  Francois Gautier from France, Subramani from Fiji, Dhunpal Raj Heeraman and Ramdeo Dhorundhur from Mauritius,  Selina Hossain, Shaheen Akhter and Urmi Rahman from Bangladesh, Rajiva Wijesinha from Sri Lanka, Raj Heeramun, Ramdev Dhoorandhar and Niranjan Kunwar from Nepal, Yugyen Tshering from Bhutan and many others participated in the discussions and bared their hearts on different relevant issues.
Many prominent writers from the mainland India including Narendra Kohli, Rami Chhabra, Vimala Morthala, Khalid Mohammed, Subhash Kashyap, Makarand Paranjape,  Bhagirath Mishra, Amar Mitra, Binod Ghosal, Angana Choudhury, Mirza Ali Baig etc also participated in the festival.
Likewise, resourceful personalities like  Manju Borah, Leena Sarma, Khalid Mohammed, Jahnavi Barua, Ravi Singh,  Preeti Gill, Nabin Baruah, Bhaskar Dutta-Baruah, Dipa Choudhuri, Bela Chandrani,  Utpal Borpujari, Rabijita Gogoi, Arup Jyoti Choudhury, Nanigopal Mahanta, Arup Borbora, Shiela Bora, Basab Rai also took part in various discourses.
 
A grand occasion
A number of famed Northeastern creative personalities and journalists including Arup Kumar Dutta, Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi, Sanjoy Hazarika, Dhruba Hazarika, Kula Saikia, Jnan Pujari, Prabuddha Sundar Kar, Wasbir Hussain, Phanindra Kumar Debachoudhury,  Pradip Phanjoubam, Monalisa Chankija, Dileep Chandan, Anuradha Sarma Pujari, Maini Mahanta, Mrinal Talukdar, Prasanta Rajguru, Aniz Uz Zaman,  Sananta Tanty, Srutimala Duwara, Monikuntala Bhattacharjya, Nilim Kumar, Suparna Lahiri Baruah,  Geetali Borah, Monalisa Saikia, Juri Borgohain etc were also present on the occasion.
As part of the festival, few acclaimed movies including Adajya (Assamese feature film, directed by Santwana Bardoloi) and  Mirzya (Hindi film, directed by  Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra) were screened at the venue. Moreover, distinguished film maker Mehra, Bollywood film stars of yesteryear Asha Parekh and Shatrughan Sinha and film writer Shahid Rafi  interacted with the art appreciators.  The glamour queen of Kati Patang,  Teesri Kasam, Dil Deke Dekho, Mera Gaon Mera Desh etc movies, Ms Parekh repented that she did not take the opportunity to perform in a movie of great Bengali film maestro Satyajit Ray. The Oscar winning film maker offered a major role to Ms Parekh for his movie Kanchanjungha, but she had to refuse it because of her busy schedule in Bombay (now Mumbai). The former chairperson of national film central board now regrets that she had actually lost a life time opportunity with that refusal.
On the other hand, the actor turned politician Sinha  claimed that he had the experience of  Uphas (making fun), Upeksha (neglect), Tiraskar (criticism) and Daman (exploitation) in his filmy life. He also commented that his biography titled Anything But Khamosh was an honest revelation of a struggling performer in the glamour world of Mumbai.
Terming the Brahmaputra Literary Festival a grand occasion for the people of Northeast India to celebrate, the New Delhi-based daily newspaper Pioneer reported that with the festival the region has also joined the league of glamorous literary festivals across the country, which is a reason to rejoice after decades of turmoil and conflicts.
 
Fascinating experience
The Pioneer also added that there should have been a literary festival in the region long before and now the festival would rediscover the literary and cultural extravaganza of all the states of the alienated region.  The newspaper expected that the literary festival, proposed to be an annual affair, would help in channelizing new ideas and their dissemination simultaneously.
Earlier the NBT director Ms Choudhury also expressed hope that the festival would focus not only on languages and literatures, but also on cultures, society, politics, performance traditions, music, identity and the regional media. Herself a Sahitya Akademi Award winning author, Ms Choudhury also added that Assam aimed to make the festival a landmark event in the country’s literary calendar. She opined that after years of conflicts, the people of the region received a fresh air of friendliness, accomplishment and joy.
Jaya Bhattacharji Rose, while posting in her blog after participating in the festival, has termed the endeavour a refreshing experience.  It had a crackling good mix of regional writers from all over India along with a few international delegates. It was heartening to note how all the guests were treated at par. The hospitality arrangements made by the organising committee were impeccable.
Talking about the Lit Mart, which was conceived and  inaugurated by Ms Choudhury, the admirer described it a fascinating experiment at the venue.  Assam Governor Banwari Lal Purohit graced the closing ceremony, where Gauhati University vice-chancellor Dr Mridul Hazarika, eminent Italian author Carlo Pizaati, famed Indian author Narendra Kohli along with few others were also present. Introducing himself not as a writer, but a vivid reader, Governor Purohit also recited few poems from Hindi literature.
The curtain came down on 30 January evening with a long poetry reading session among the delegates on an exotic cruise over the misty Brahmaputra river. The setting sun and its reflection on the wavy river water articulated a final goodbye to the visitors with the promise to meet again in near future somewhere.
 
The writer is a Guwahati, Assam-based journalist

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Deeper understanding of democracy–II

F R Chowdhury in London
 
In Bangladesh they often say with pride that they follow the Westminster type of parliamentary democracy. That is why my comparison has been mostly drawn with practice and procedures followed in the United Kingdom. I stated earlier that I visited no less than fifty different countries all over the world. In many of them I had the opportunity of visiting Bangladesh missions. The thing that always caught my attention is the portrait of the prime minister in the office room of the ambassador/high commissioner.
On one occasion, I asked the ambassador about it and he explained it was being done as per government directive. I did not ask any question. Whether there was truly any such directive or it is the ambassador’s personal enthusiasm, the practice of displaying the prime minister’s portrait is wrong. The ambassador represents the country and the head of the state. He brings presents his credentials signed by the head of the state i.e., the president. It would be appropriate to display the president’s portrait as everything is done in his name.
 
Functions of state
The foreign minister is the head of the foreign affairs and the prime minister is the head of the government. It is understood the ambassadors/high commissioners will conduct their routine functions under the guidance and supervision of the government but the fact remains that the government itself is functioning in the president’s name. The missions therefore, should display the portrait of the father of the nation and that of the current head of the state.
Earlier, I dealt with relations between the state and the government.  I said that the president as the head of the state appoints a government (elected by the people) to run the state in his name. Today I intend to discuss the relationship between the government and the civil servants. The civil servants are the state’s employees. They are appointed by or on behalf of the president. However, their services are always placed at the disposal of the government no matter which government is in power. In the greater interest of the state, the civil servants should render their services to the government with utmost sincerity and devotion.
The government develops its policy and takes up plans for new projects. The civil servants execute those to the satisfaction of the government. The government (respective minister) provides the general guidance and supervises the work done by civil servants. Civil servants have defined roles and responsibility. They shall work under the law of the land and guidance of the government. The ministers can oversee. The minister may raise question, ask for explanations or even take disciplinary action against a civil servant if s/he fails to do something or does it wrong. What the minister cannot do is to tell in advance what to do or how to do.  The minister cannot even exert his/her influence over the civil servant in respect of delegated function.
 
Functioning of a ministry
The civil servant must work in a free and fair way without any fear of political influence. Any attempt by the minister to dictate over the civil servant would mean unlawful interference and acting beyond the powers.
I was a civil servant in the UK for many years. I was originally employed through the then CSC (Civil Service Commission) in the marine division of the department of transport. Later my services were transferred to the newly created MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency) as this agency headed by the chief executive designated as the national maritime administration. The chief executive was responsible for execution and compliance of the provisions of the merchant shipping act and would report to the government (secretary of state for transport). In other words the chief executive was responsible and answerable to the minister.
It is to be noted that the chief executive was never made answerable to the permanent secretary (in Bangladesh it’s known as secretary to the government). The permanent secretary would step in only when the minister would send a particular matter to him. We issued all approvals, exemptions or extensions under the provision of the law and such documents would normally be signed by an officer not below grade-7 on behalf of the secretary of state. This is how all delegated functions and duties were executed. I never saw any routine matter being forwarded to the ministry for their knowledge and action as compared to in Bangladesh, most matters are forwarded for “saday obogoti abong poroborti nirdesh”. I never saw any specific instruction in advance on any matter from the ministry. Sometimes we came across papers received by the ministry and then forwarded to us for their disposal under the law. Such papers would be forwarded to us with no comments, views or advice.
 
A case study
The home secretary (secretary of state in charge of home affairs) appoints a director for nationality and immigration. With the appointment of the director, all powers vested in him (home secretary) under the law are automatically delegated to the director. The director, of course, remains responsible and answerable to the secretary of state. The secretary of state will ensure proper supervision and monitoring as he remains responsible to the prime minister and the parliament. Anything going wrong; the minister shall take the blame and resign.
Now here is an example of the true spirit of democracy functioning.
There was a secretary of state for home affairs named David Blanket.  He had a Filipina domestic aid. This lady had a pending case with the home office about her residential status. It is not known if the minister was aware of it. Whenever, the minister asked for her, she was away in the home office. The minister got very angry. One morning he asked his secretary to ring up the immigration director to find what the problem was. The minister was told the problem had been resolved.
In a day or two the minister faced a question in the parliament accusing him of exercising his influence over the immigration director in discharging his duties. The minister said that the telephone call was merely to know the status of the case. The answer was not acceptable because a minister was not supposed to inquire about a pending case. The minister’s action was regarded as unwanted interference in discharging public duties and considered unethical on the part of a minister. The minister apologised and tendered his resignation. This is true spirit of democracy.
As a minister Mr. Blanket had every right to see into the matter in case of an appeal to him against the decision of the director. He could overturn the decision or even call for further explanation or even take disciplinary action against the director. However, he could not interfere in a delegated function. The democratic system has every provision for check and balance. But there must be clear evidence of every job being discharged in the right manner by the person responsible for it under law of the land.
 
System of check and balance
The police act of every country clearly defines the role and responsibility of the force in ensuring law and order. With the appointment of an inspector general or director general, all powers vested in the government are automatically delegated and transferred to the IGP or DG, as the case may be. A good law will evidently state that the IGP or DG shall ensure execution and compliance of the provisions of the law and shall eventually be responsible and answerable to the government (secretary of state or minister).
The minister will oversee so that the force acts diligently. He may even hold review meetings with senior officers to review their performance and give general guidance without prejudice to any hidden political agenda or motive. The minister shall ensure that the police force is never used directly or indirectly for political gains. The minister shall always bear in mind that he is a part of the government appointed by the head of the state to run the state on his behalf. All citizens must enjoy equal justice, rights and opportunities. The minister can question any action but cannot advice in advance about any course of action.
This system of check and balance should continue at every level. The IGP or DG should also allow the regional/ area heads to work with an open mind without any fear, prejudice or influence. He (IGP or DG) is to oversee and monitor to ensure proper compliance at every level. He can raise questions or ask for explanations or even take disciplinary action where necessary. What he cannot do is to tell in advance what to do or how to do. This chain of command is the essence of democracy.  Nobody should say I was advised to do so. Everybody should stand for what s/he has done. This will reduce chances of corruption to a large extent.
 
How system work
In the United Kingdom there is IPCC (Independent Police Complaint Commission) to look into any death in custody or application of violent force by police. As I have stated in part – I of this series that in Bangladesh the Commissioner of Human Rights should have the powers to order judicial inquiry into all such cases. Extra judicial killing in the name of gun battle is not acceptable in any civilized society.
I will mention in my article about the bad practice by police in Bangladesh of publicly parading persons apprehended by them in front of media and camera. The worst is to divulge information obtained from such persons. These people must be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The police should produce them to a court with supporting evidence including confession, if any. Human dignity must be respected.
I am surprised as to why the Bangladesh minister never asked police as to why BNP was never given permission for political gathering in Suhrawardi Uddyan when BAL, Chatra League and even Jubo League were given such permission. This certainly does not reflect fair treatment without prejudice to political consideration. The government is supposed to be for the whole nation and not for a particular political group or party.
Bangladesh urgently requires legal and administrative reforms to establish rule of law. We must have proper system to enjoy the fruit of democracy. Deeper understanding of democracy must be reflected in our social and political lives. I shall soon come with part – III of this series dealing with other aspects of democracy. Mean time I would like to hear other views on the matter from the readers.
 
The writer lives in London. His contact: fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com

Comment

F R Chowdhury in London
 
In Bangladesh they often say with pride that they follow the Westminster type of parliamentary democracy. That is why my comparison has been mostly drawn with practice and procedures followed in the United Kingdom. I stated earlier that I visited no less than fifty different countries all over the world. In many of them I had the opportunity of visiting Bangladesh missions. The thing that always caught my attention is the portrait of the prime minister in the office room of the ambassador/high commissioner.
On one occasion, I asked the ambassador about it and he explained it was being done as per government directive. I did not ask any question. Whether there was truly any such directive or it is the ambassador’s personal enthusiasm, the practice of displaying the prime minister’s portrait is wrong. The ambassador represents the country and the head of the state. He brings presents his credentials signed by the head of the state i.e., the president. It would be appropriate to display the president’s portrait as everything is done in his name.
 
Functions of state
The foreign minister is the head of the foreign affairs and the prime minister is the head of the government. It is understood the ambassadors/high commissioners will conduct their routine functions under the guidance and supervision of the government but the fact remains that the government itself is functioning in the president’s name. The missions therefore, should display the portrait of the father of the nation and that of the current head of the state.
Earlier, I dealt with relations between the state and the government.  I said that the president as the head of the state appoints a government (elected by the people) to run the state in his name. Today I intend to discuss the relationship between the government and the civil servants. The civil servants are the state’s employees. They are appointed by or on behalf of the president. However, their services are always placed at the disposal of the government no matter which government is in power. In the greater interest of the state, the civil servants should render their services to the government with utmost sincerity and devotion.
The government develops its policy and takes up plans for new projects. The civil servants execute those to the satisfaction of the government. The government (respective minister) provides the general guidance and supervises the work done by civil servants. Civil servants have defined roles and responsibility. They shall work under the law of the land and guidance of the government. The ministers can oversee. The minister may raise question, ask for explanations or even take disciplinary action against a civil servant if s/he fails to do something or does it wrong. What the minister cannot do is to tell in advance what to do or how to do.  The minister cannot even exert his/her influence over the civil servant in respect of delegated function.
 
Functioning of a ministry
The civil servant must work in a free and fair way without any fear of political influence. Any attempt by the minister to dictate over the civil servant would mean unlawful interference and acting beyond the powers.
I was a civil servant in the UK for many years. I was originally employed through the then CSC (Civil Service Commission) in the marine division of the department of transport. Later my services were transferred to the newly created MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency) as this agency headed by the chief executive designated as the national maritime administration. The chief executive was responsible for execution and compliance of the provisions of the merchant shipping act and would report to the government (secretary of state for transport). In other words the chief executive was responsible and answerable to the minister.
It is to be noted that the chief executive was never made answerable to the permanent secretary (in Bangladesh it’s known as secretary to the government). The permanent secretary would step in only when the minister would send a particular matter to him. We issued all approvals, exemptions or extensions under the provision of the law and such documents would normally be signed by an officer not below grade-7 on behalf of the secretary of state. This is how all delegated functions and duties were executed. I never saw any routine matter being forwarded to the ministry for their knowledge and action as compared to in Bangladesh, most matters are forwarded for “saday obogoti abong poroborti nirdesh”. I never saw any specific instruction in advance on any matter from the ministry. Sometimes we came across papers received by the ministry and then forwarded to us for their disposal under the law. Such papers would be forwarded to us with no comments, views or advice.
 
A case study
The home secretary (secretary of state in charge of home affairs) appoints a director for nationality and immigration. With the appointment of the director, all powers vested in him (home secretary) under the law are automatically delegated to the director. The director, of course, remains responsible and answerable to the secretary of state. The secretary of state will ensure proper supervision and monitoring as he remains responsible to the prime minister and the parliament. Anything going wrong; the minister shall take the blame and resign.
Now here is an example of the true spirit of democracy functioning.
There was a secretary of state for home affairs named David Blanket.  He had a Filipina domestic aid. This lady had a pending case with the home office about her residential status. It is not known if the minister was aware of it. Whenever, the minister asked for her, she was away in the home office. The minister got very angry. One morning he asked his secretary to ring up the immigration director to find what the problem was. The minister was told the problem had been resolved.
In a day or two the minister faced a question in the parliament accusing him of exercising his influence over the immigration director in discharging his duties. The minister said that the telephone call was merely to know the status of the case. The answer was not acceptable because a minister was not supposed to inquire about a pending case. The minister’s action was regarded as unwanted interference in discharging public duties and considered unethical on the part of a minister. The minister apologised and tendered his resignation. This is true spirit of democracy.
As a minister Mr. Blanket had every right to see into the matter in case of an appeal to him against the decision of the director. He could overturn the decision or even call for further explanation or even take disciplinary action against the director. However, he could not interfere in a delegated function. The democratic system has every provision for check and balance. But there must be clear evidence of every job being discharged in the right manner by the person responsible for it under law of the land.
 
System of check and balance
The police act of every country clearly defines the role and responsibility of the force in ensuring law and order. With the appointment of an inspector general or director general, all powers vested in the government are automatically delegated and transferred to the IGP or DG, as the case may be. A good law will evidently state that the IGP or DG shall ensure execution and compliance of the provisions of the law and shall eventually be responsible and answerable to the government (secretary of state or minister).
The minister will oversee so that the force acts diligently. He may even hold review meetings with senior officers to review their performance and give general guidance without prejudice to any hidden political agenda or motive. The minister shall ensure that the police force is never used directly or indirectly for political gains. The minister shall always bear in mind that he is a part of the government appointed by the head of the state to run the state on his behalf. All citizens must enjoy equal justice, rights and opportunities. The minister can question any action but cannot advice in advance about any course of action.
This system of check and balance should continue at every level. The IGP or DG should also allow the regional/ area heads to work with an open mind without any fear, prejudice or influence. He (IGP or DG) is to oversee and monitor to ensure proper compliance at every level. He can raise questions or ask for explanations or even take disciplinary action where necessary. What he cannot do is to tell in advance what to do or how to do. This chain of command is the essence of democracy.  Nobody should say I was advised to do so. Everybody should stand for what s/he has done. This will reduce chances of corruption to a large extent.
 
How system work
In the United Kingdom there is IPCC (Independent Police Complaint Commission) to look into any death in custody or application of violent force by police. As I have stated in part – I of this series that in Bangladesh the Commissioner of Human Rights should have the powers to order judicial inquiry into all such cases. Extra judicial killing in the name of gun battle is not acceptable in any civilized society.
I will mention in my article about the bad practice by police in Bangladesh of publicly parading persons apprehended by them in front of media and camera. The worst is to divulge information obtained from such persons. These people must be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The police should produce them to a court with supporting evidence including confession, if any. Human dignity must be respected.
I am surprised as to why the Bangladesh minister never asked police as to why BNP was never given permission for political gathering in Suhrawardi Uddyan when BAL, Chatra League and even Jubo League were given such permission. This certainly does not reflect fair treatment without prejudice to political consideration. The government is supposed to be for the whole nation and not for a particular political group or party.
Bangladesh urgently requires legal and administrative reforms to establish rule of law. We must have proper system to enjoy the fruit of democracy. Deeper understanding of democracy must be reflected in our social and political lives. I shall soon come with part – III of this series dealing with other aspects of democracy. Mean time I would like to hear other views on the matter from the readers.
 
The writer lives in London. His contact: fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com

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