A critical review of democracy and governance challenges in Bangladesh with special reference to a human rights-based approach for the development of the marginalized Indigenous women and children.

Author: Lawrence Besra

Besra, Lawrence, 2015 A critical review of democracy and governance challenges in Bangladesh with special reference to a human rights-based approach for the development of the marginalized Indigenous women and children., Flinders University, School of Social and Policy Studies

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Abstract

This thesis contributes to understanding the complex process of the marginalization of the two most disadvantaged Indigenous communities, namely the Santal and Oraon of North-Bengal, Bangladesh. The thesis demonstrates that as a result of the fragile democracy and governance system in Bangladesh, the human rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised Indigenous people have increasingly become a cause for concern. This research applies a Critical Systemic Approach that combines qualitative and quantitative research relevant to research questions to understand the life chances of the most marginalized people through narratives of their lived experiences. It has revealed that the non-recognition of the Indigenous people in the national constitution and their exclusion from participatory democracy, governance and from mainstream development intervention have undermined their life chances in the country, which in turn, has resulted in land dispossession, a low level of literacy, and systemic exclusion from access to health care and other social services. This thesis finds that the future of the Indigenous people in this study cannot be assured until their equal citizenship rights are achieved. The thesis makes a case for their recognition in the national constitution in terms of human rights legislation to address a protective land tenure policy, provision of primary education in their mother languages, and equitable access to primary health care and social services, all of which are vital for the existence of the diverse Indigenous communities in Bangladesh. Finally, this research argues that the state has a responsibility to emancipate the Indigenous people in the mainstream policy domain and sustain equal opportunities and human rights for everybody irrespective of religion and ethnicity under the existing laws in Bangladesh. Thus, the voices and the life chances of the culturally diverse Indigenous communities would be protected in the emerging democratic state of Bangladesh.

Keywords: Systemic marginalization and social exclusion of the disadvantaged Indigenous communities in Bangladesh, structural discrimination and deprivation, limited access to citizenship rights in Bangladesh.
Subject: Policy and Administration thesis, Development Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: School of Social and Policy Studies
Supervisor: Associate Professor Janet McIntyre