Hill Voice, 10 October 2018, Dhaka, Bangladesh: On 4 October 2018, the government had abolished the quota system for the 1st and 2nd class government services along with other quota categories including that of indigenous peoples.
The gazette notification regarding the decision of the government was in a direct response to the countrywide protests of the Quota Reform Movement that demanded reforms in policies concerning recruitment in government jobs.
The movement demanded to bring reforms to the existing recruitment system that kept 56% of jobs reserved for entry positions which included 30% for children/grandchildren of freedom fighters, 10% for women, 10% for district quota based on population, 5% for indigenous peoples and 1% for persons with disabilities, while leaving only 44% for entry on merit basis. The Movement insisted for a reform to bring down the freedom fighters quota to 10% and filling up the vacant quota positions by candidates from the merit list.
However, the government responded with the policy of completely abolishing the quota system in the 1st and 2nd class government jobs. The decision, in fact, axed any chance for ensuring representation of underprivileged groups such as indigenous peoples, women and persons with disability in the 1st and 2nd class positions of the state apparatus.
Regrettably, ever since the quota for indigenous peoples was introduced in 1985, it had never fully been maintained. The studies2 conducted by Ferdous and Islam showed that indigenous candidates were deprived during the recruitment processes covering 10 years they studied.
According to these studies, only 271 (0.66%) out of stipulated 2,051 (i.e. 5%) positions were filled with indigenous candidates between 24th and 33rd Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) recruitment examinations.3 Although the actual figure of the recruited candidates was very trivial as compared to the percentage enshrined in the policy, at least a handful of indigenous candidates could fulfil their dreams of serving in the public service.
However, the new decision regarding withdrawal of reservation had forced young indigenous job-seekers to a situation of an unequal competition with their mainstream counterparts. Given the remoteness as well as testing challenges on way to claiming their fundamental rights and freedoms, which also consumed a big chunk of their energies, indigenous youths were left with barely minimal toil to face their “mainstream” competitors in the public service examinations.