Stability and Development / GM Quader

3 May, 2023 12:00 AM

Stability is necessary for the development of a country. There should not be any doubt about the said statement. But it is seen that some incumbent governments and the ruling party reiterate this statement every now and then, mostly out of context. Interestingly, it is found that they do it for a purpose of their own. They tend to distort reality to some extent to suit that purpose. They want everybody to accept that continuation of the incumbent government under the same leadership is stability. As such, remaining in power by the incumbent government under the existing leadership ensures well-being or development of the country. So, as per them, it does not really matter how the clinging to power is managed. In this way, the above statement is used to justify the continuation of the existing government with the same leadership even by using irregular means.

The root of stability lies in socio-economic situations. An undisturbed atmosphere for economic prosperity and social harmony is stability. Mostly a country based on good governance, meaning a country based on the rule of law and social justice provides stability. Effective political leadership with political will is needed to achieve that goal.

In most cases, necessary political will is generated in a government and its leadership when it is accountable to the people. Accountable government has a compulsion to reflect the desires of the people in their actions or else they bear the risk of going out of power. This pressure ultimately leads to good governance.

In that sort of situation, the government, specifically the head of government, generally cannot last for a prolonged time. Sometimes a system is designed so that no leader is allowed to continue beyond a fixed time limit. That is done to avoid allowing too much time for the head of government to become an authoritarian ruler. History shows it is always a possibility.

Otherwise also, people tend to look for a better alternative in case there exists a scope for change of government or its leadership. But it needs to be noted here that a change of government or leadership will not disrupt stability in any way. So, the test of the stability of a country is -it remains insensitive to any sort of change of government or leadership.

In fact, the continuation of the same government with no change of leadership does not necessarily ensure political or socio-economic stability. Stability so ensured can at best be termed artificial and/or superficial. This stability may end up heading for a big and/or violent disruption in case of a change of power.

It is very unlikely that government and/or leadership which like to continue in power by any means will have that intention or capability to provide good governance. On the contrary, this sort of government and its leadership generally favours cronyism with an ulterior motive of fulfilling selfish interests by indulging in corrupt practices.

They tend to establish disparity and deprivation in society, to use repressive measures and to create an atmosphere of frustration and terror aiming to contain any discontentment. In order to be able to do all these, this type of government taking advantage of a long period of being in power somehow manages to centralise all authorities to become authoritarian.

All state institutions lose their respective independent authority and become subordinate to the head of government. The entire governing system becomes dependent on one single central point i.e., the head of government. This makes the system vulnerable. It resembles a big structure supported by a single pillar instead of many. In case of any tilt of that pillar, the structure is greatly disturbed and if that pillar collapses for any reason the structure, however strong it may seem, falls apart. This makes that type of government quite unstable and vulnerable to serious and violent consequences on change.

Coming back to the initial statement ‘Stability is necessary for the development of a country’, it is found that not only the word ‘Stability’ but also the word ‘Development’ is misinterpreted. People who misinterpret the meaning of the word ‘Stability’ also do the same to ‘Development’. Development is referred to as infrastructural development only.

This is also done for a purpose, which is to glorify the performance of the leader and government and ultimately to justify staying in power. In addition, they use their type of ‘development’ to extract extra financial benefits for them from common citizens.

But infrastructural developments are just a part of development or a means to support development. Those are not real developments. Developments really refer to the improvement of the day-to-day livelihood of the average citizen of a country.

Generally, infrastructures are required for the development of a country. But, if those cannot bring any positive change in the livelihood of people directly or indirectly, that type of infrastructural development is in no way supportive of development. The development of infrastructures should not be considered even a part of development. Sometimes, infrastructural developments can become a financial burden and counterproductive to real development.

Many infrastructural development projects are taken in the name of development. Feasibilities are, often alleged, not done properly. Big money is invested either from public exchequer or by taking loans locally and/or from foreign sources. During implementation also allegations of irregularities and corruption come up. Many a time budget is exceeded. Ultimately the cost of the infrastructure surpasses the benefit. Common citizens are left with a heavy burden of debt against a disproportional or no enhancement of their quality of life.

Continuation of power for a government or an individual for a long time does not necessarily ensure stability. But it poses the risk of authoritarian rule. The development of infrastructures does not always guarantee real development. The development of a country, in true sense, is the improvement of the quality of life of common citizens. Infrastructural development without proper accountability may lead to corrupt practices and could become counterproductive to real development.

The writer is chairman of Jatiya Party and deputy leader of the opposition in parliament