Collective welfare through fundamental resources

By Shishir Reza

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF AGRARIAN-LAND-AQUARIAN REFORMS IN BANGLADESH

 cover_Krishi_Vumi_Jola _for_WebISBN: 978-984-34-0949-2

Author: Dr. Abul Barkat

Publisher: Mukto Buddhi Prokasana

Economist professor Abul Barkat has written a book on ‘agrarian-land-aquarian reforms’ that was published by Muktobuddhi Prokasana. This book in Bangla, entitled ‘Bangladeshe krishi-bhumi-jola sonskarer rajnoitik aurthoniti’ (Political economy of agrarian-land-aquarian reform in Bangladesh (November, 2016)’ focusses on a real state of affairs− status and reality of khas land, char land, reformson agriculture, land and wetlands, reality of enemy property and vested property act, ecological impacts of prawn culture, land rights of women and fishermen, fundamental rights of religious minoritiesand development-deprivation trap in the rural areas.

Barkat dedicates this book to the people who dedicated their life for agrarian-land-aquarian revolution like-Baba Tilka, Shudhu Marma, Kanu Marma, Moni Shingho, Mawlana Bhashani, Barin Dutta, Amol Sen, Jungle Shaotal, Jogendra Mondol, Birsha Munduand and others.

The author scientifically estimates the political economy of khas and char land status and injustice towards mass people, religious minority peoples, indigenous peoples, marginal farmers, fish collectors and women. Officially, we observe that there are 16 lakh 86 thousand 957 acres of khas and char land. But author highlights, agricultural khas land is around 12 lakh, non-agriculturalchar land is another 26 lakh and there are 12 lakh acres of wetlands. The total amount of khas lands thus stands at 50 lakh acres.

He pointed out that sometimes the official story hides a real story. Executive authority says that 44 per cent of 12 lakh land has been distributed among marginalised people. But professor Barkat stressed that 88 per cent khas lands, char land, water bodies are encroached by rent-seekers and land grabbers.

This slim volume highlights the deprivation trap on the hindu minority people in Bangladesh. From 1964 to 2013, around 11.3 million hindu left our country due to religious prosecution and discrimination which means, on an average 632 hindus left Bangladesh each day and 230,612 annually. Author says, if the current rate of exodus continues, no hindu would be left within 30 years in Bangladesh.

This book provides a real account of Balumohal, Jolmohal, Chingrimohal, Pathormohal, tea gardens, prawn culture in south-west, land laws etc. Our has four fundamental resources – land (jomi), Forest(jungle), water (jal) and Human resources (jonomanush). The people who cultivate these resources are not the owners actually. Their rights are vaporised through the perverse philosophy of neo-liberalism and the extremes of free market economy.

Hindu minorities are deprived from their rights through the enemy and vested property act, about 48 groups are alienated by demographic engineering, rights of workers at tea estate are violated, crisis in char land leads to urban migration and increases urban poverty, local farmers and fishermen do not receive the real price for their products, land rights of women are in crisis and coastal ecological security is currently under threat due to prawn culture. There is also an outcome of contract farming between local farmers and national or international companies.

If we utilise the fundamental resources: land, water bodies, forest and human resources through proper policy configuration and implementation, public participation and power decentralisation and give back the fundamental rights to farmers, women, fishermen, indigenous peoples, religious minorities peoples and marginal peoples – the total production from land, water and forest will be high and the development would be sustainable, the author thinks.

We identify how ‘statistical politics’ can be undemocratic towards human and humanity. If we reform land-water-forest sectors through home grown strategies, all – environment, water, land, forest, farmers, fishermen, women, minorities will be socially includedfor collective welfare.In addition, it is a socio-political decision to ensure land, water, forest, minority and others’ security and land rights of women.

The book contains many keywords – which are infrequent in contemporary literature. Such as, population politics, statistical politics, demographic politics, enumeration politics, corporatocracy, archaic economic system, conscientisation, enemy property, vested property, political engineering, demographic engineering and others which makes it an insightful and exceptionally effective book.

The author assimilates the thoughts of different illustrious thinkers − Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Plato, Isiah Barlin, Thucydides, George Hegel, Oliver Gold Smith, Noam Chomsky, Marcus Tulius Cicero, Jonathon Swift, George Orwell, Stiglitz, Nicholas Taleb, Amartya Sen and Van Schendel etc. This six chapters of the book can be a guideline toward intellectual stimulation, inclusive thoughts and of course, create new dimension of political and economic research.

 The writer is an associate member of the Bangladesh Economic Association and an environment analyst