Inflation and the junta

The regime in Dhaka “tilts at windmills”

The dictatorships in the subcontinent have had to contend with public unrest due to the global rise in food prices. They’ve done it in characteristic style. The Burmese generals cracked down hard on protesters. The Pakistanis sent troops to warehouses and flour mills, acting rather late in the day. The Bangladeshi regime, meanwhile, is caught between going the repressive way and the costs of being bracketed with the ill-reputed juntas of the region.

Mashuqur Rahman writes that they blamed ‘a foreign body’ for stoking labour unrest, arrested Mehedi Hasan, a trade unionist, and forced him to confess. Confess what? Well, that he did his usual job of collecting information of collecting information about worker’s problems and reporting it to Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), which “represents 178 American colleges and universities who buy garments from brands with factories in countries like Bangladesh. WRC defends the rights of garment workers against abuse. Its reports hold the garment factories’ feet to the fire”.

Meanwhile food prices are rising, and calls for subsidies are becoming louder. Bangladesh’s generals know that they need international assistance in order to make food available and affordable. So it is not surprising that they decided to release Mr Hasan.

3 thoughts on “Inflation and the junta

  1. Sushanta,

    The rise in food prices—which is global, and will be sustained over the next few years—requires governments to make difficult political decisions. One the one hand they will need to ensure food is available and affordable; on the other reduce subsidies which might otherwise poke a deep hole in their finances. They’ll need to find funds to support the subsidies in the short-term, and reduce this over time (which means that they’ll have to ensure that incomes rise by a greater extent).

    Here’s the rub: it will be extremely difficult—if not impossible—for an unelected dictatorship to carry this off. Democracy is a necessary condition for a country to ride through this successfully. It’ll need a lot more than an elected government, but that’s the starting point.

  2. Elections must be held ASAP. Only an elected government will decide about the extraconstitutional acts this unconstitutional government has indulged in. All it’s illegal acts must be held accountable and if needed the perpetrators should be indicted. All extrajudicial killings and abuse of emergency powers must be accounted for. The army and the current CTG must not be allowed to bypass the yardstick of law and justice which should be exercised equally on all sections of society.

    The army’s wings should be clipped once and for all. This has become a monster devouring Bangladesh’s annual budget by depriving the mainstream commonfolks of rural Bangladesh.

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