CHAPTER XII

RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS

12.1 Introduction

12.1.1 Development or growth implies change in the relevant field. Any such change affects the status quo in terms of position, entitlement, benefit or loss and expectation of the relevant people. The relevance is connotive of their roles or ambits of work as producers, consumers, change-agents or interested citizenry. In addition, change initiates, carries and at times completes transformation of the environment and the eco-system. Control of river flow, use of ground water, mining of hard rock and coal, building roads through hills and forests, use of insecticides and pesticides, and other manifestations and ramifications of the development drive transform the natural backdrop and the environment hitherto untouched, unexploited, unmoulded out of quiet serenity and stately tranquillity acquired over years of motivational and technological stasis and so much adored by the naturalists.

12.2 Need For Resolution of Conflicts

12.2.1 The resulting change in the status quo, the environment and the eco-system has to be accepted and supported by those who are affected or benefited, touched or hurt. As the theory has it, a change is justifiable when benefits emanating out of it are socially assessed to be more than costs or hurts it imposes. In the process those who benefit may do well by carrying with them those who may be adversely affected or are indifferent. Non-acceptance of, and opposition to changes yield conflict, which may ,at times and on occasions, lead to rebellion. The process of acceptance and gaining support is a process of resolution of conflicts. If conflicts are not resolved yielding acceptance of, and support for the change, the scope of the latter does not widen desirably, and its rate immerses back into the status quo, the unchanged environment and the undisturbed nature or even worse. On the other hand, if conflicts are resolved institutionally and without disruptive societal abrasions, stability in socio-economic management is attained and sustained, the role players in all relevant fields of production and consumption are provided with an enabling environment and motivation to contribute their best and the desired change takes place to the end of socio-economic development of the society. All these contribute to increase of capital accumulation or creation of productive capacity and increase in efficiency of resource use. In the context of participatory planning, resolution of conflicts, around the planned change in the status quo, the environment and the nature is important in as much it defines, lays out, widens and sustains the conduit of change or development. Indeed, resolution of conflicts is the spirit of participatory planning.

12.3 Existing Elements of Conflict

12.3.1 In the situational context of Bangladesh, a number of elements contributing to the process of resolution of conflicts exists: contiguous location (excepting a few small enclaves) of the country, linguistic unity (excepting some areas in the hill districts), constitutionally accepted democratic ideals and commitment to prosper in freedom and rapid improvement in roads and tele-links throughout the country in recent years and demonstrated public support for them have brought the constituents of our society closer and made it more cohesive. To the end of sustaining and strengthening solidarity these positive elements ought to be further applied and used. Opening up of remote areas in hilly districts by roads and telelinks, signing of peace treaty with the insurgent tribals in hill tracts, connecting the offshore islands with regular water transports, and out reaching tribal communities in Mymensingh and Rajshahi regions through spread of education and communication facilities will have definite contributions in removing conflicts latent in some regional differences and disparities. The opening of the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Bridge in June ’98 will serve as the single most unifying bond between the southern and the northern regions of the country. Despite these well identified positive elements, in a number of areas, especially in the process of formulating and implementing planned socio- economic change, possibilities of conflict need to be recognised and steps delineated to resolve them over time.

12.4 Conflicts in Objectives and Mechanics

12.4.1 To start with, by way of enumeration, there may be conflicts while determining the Plan objectives. Conflicts on this count may arise in terms of both vision and mechanics. The vision of the society 15 or 20 years hence is likely to be different to different persons or groups. The enterprising and the rich may like to work for a society different from the one aspired by the labour or the poor. The expectations of the landless are likely to be different from that of the land-rich. The consumer's views of societal interest may be different from that of the producer's seeking protection. The difference in mechanics may centre round relative emphasis to be given on relevant indicators as well as variables of growth: this may demand answers to questions like those pertaining to, for example, employment creation or productivity generation, protection or liberalisation, generation of surplus in agriculture for financing investment in industrial development and others.

12.5 Constitutional Guidelines

12.5.1 The basic objectives of planned growth is constitutionally defined in Bangladesh. In Article 15 of the Constitution, provision of basic needs in terms of food, clothing, shelter, education, health service, gainful employment, reasonable recreation and social security to the citizenry through planned economic growth is accepted as a fundamental responsibility of the state. In this process, the state is to pursue (a) emancipation of the toiling masses, the peasants and the labour, and the backward communities from all exploitations (Article 14), (b) gradual removal of disparity in standard of living of the rural and urban areas through promotion of an agricultural revolution, provision of rural electrification, development of cottage and other industries and improvement of public health (Article-16),(c) adoption of free and compulsory education and removal of illiteracy (Article-17), (d) equality of opportunity and removal of social and economic inequality between man and man, equitable distribution of wealth and uniform level of economic development in all areas (Article-19), and (e) creation of conditions in which unearned income cannot be enjoyed (Article-20).

12.6 Promoting Consensus

12.6.1 Determined constitutionally as aforesaid, the objectives of planned growth have to be taken as given by all role players. In other words, the vision that we all have is the vision of a society meeting the basic needs of the people in an exploitation-free informed environment encompassing social, economic and opportunistic equality. Within their broad frame, discourses and deliberations in the parliament, political parties, professional associations, local government bodies and research institutions are likely to build up consensus on components of these objectives and relative emphasis to be given to them in changing contexts. In this process the parliament may serve as the apex deliberative body taking into account deliberations and discourses in other bodies. Deliberations in the parliament will yield legislative decisions on policies, projects and programmes and manifest as contributions of the relevant political parties to the national strive at planned economic growth for meeting the basic needs of the people as mandated by the constitution.

12.7 Mechanics of Growth

12.7.1 There are two main components of mechanics for attaining the set objectives of planned development. In the first place, the constitution has laid down a set of premises. These are: (a) affirmation of the national will to prosper in freedom (preamble); (b) recognition of the people as the source of all powers of the Republic (article-7) and owners and controllers of all instruments and means of production and distribution (article-3); (c) meeting basic needs of the citizenry through attaining a constant increase of productive forces' (article-15); (d) return to individuals on the principle of `from each according to his abilities to each according to his work'; and (e) taxation and authorisation of expenditures under the authority of the parliament (articles-83 and 90). Secondly, subject to the conditions set by the constitution, causative process of change in one sector because of changes in the inter-related ones is to be taken into account. Elsewhere, aggregatively these intersectoral relations have been spelt out in their composition and effects, changes and ramifications. In the present context, these, in turn, are implicative of gains or losses for individuals and groups and thus need to be understood, evaluated and accepted. The question centring round distributive justice vis-a-vis incentives for productive investment, or increase in defence expenditure vis-a-vis investment in education, for example, will have to be answered in this context.