Renowned economist Rehman Sobhan on Monday said that Bangladesh needs to move beyond the traditional class of the worker and owner and understand that this production process has become integrated.
“The notion that we have a dynamic garments sector - the creation of inspired capitalists who have now transformed our export opportunities - is a very profound misconception of what is happening,” he said, speaking at “Beyond Neo-Liberalism: Visions for Post-Capitalist Social Order in Bangladesh” at Dhaka University.
Oranized by Nagorik Uddyog, the discussions included the President of Gano Forum Dr Kamal Hossain and Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman, Dr Mirza Hasan, Dr Sohela Nazneen and Kazi Ali Toufque and was chaired by rights activist Sultana Kamal.
Dr Kamal Hossain spoke about the sacrifices made to achieve independence: “More than 200,000 women were raped during the war, and we won our independence because of their sacrifice. We can no longer have an argument about gender equality when the constitution clearly states both as equal.”
The contributions of women, who have come out of the villages, have in fact become the competitive edge
Speaking about the dreams they had for independent Bangladesh, Professor Emeritus Dr Anissuzzman said: “We wanted a country where the talents of every citizen would be nurtured by the state.”
He lamented the current state of affairs in the country, hoping that all exploitation will end and the nation can head towards a more egalitarian future.
Speaking about the nuances of capitalism and its misconception, Rehman Sohban further said: “The contributions of the working class is the most important, particularly the women who have come out of the villages and who have in fact become the competitive edge of the garment industry. It is not that our entrepreneurs are a good deal more efficient than Chinese entrepreneurs or Indian or Pakistani entrepreneurs that we are successful. It is because we have enormously hardworking dedicated workers, particularly women who are willing to live in slums, who are willing to walk to work for two hours, who are willing to work at subsistent wages and this is what creates competitive capitalism in Bangladesh and contribute to our successful export story.
“It is our migrant workers who are again being exploited, before they leave our shores who risk their lives in unimaginable ways that are now our main sources of income generation.
“These are the dynamic elements that have to be taken into account in the reconstruction of a post capitalist society. Now how do you locate them in a system where the huge and creative contribution they are making is adequately rewarded. Because the real problem in our society and in other societies, is fact that you live at the end of the day in an elite dominated deeply unjust society.”