Transparency, a very commonly used word in the present world, actually makes the people conscious about their duties and responsibilities. At the same time, it inspires the people to observe how others are performing their duties.In a true democracy, transparency brings the truth in front of the people. But in a third world country, like Bangladesh, it is not practiced as much as people speak about it. As transparency is the main enemy of corruption, so persons hanker after illegal wealth or power always hide transparency. In politics, transparency is rarely practiced. This term very often, is used as one of the tools to give false hope to the general mass especially for the personal gains of the so-called politicians. Ultimately the country suffers believing these people who are supposed to serve the country as well as its people.
What we see in Bangladesh? Does transparency exist in all sectors of Bangladesh particularly in public sectors? In fact it is not so easy to be transparent willingly or unwillingly while doing anything in Bangladesh. Perhaps we are not patriotic, committed, honest or sincere in all walks of our life. General people sometimes care, sometimes avoid these ideologies. However, there are persons, though the percentage is very negligible, like to be transparent in their words and works. An environment, which can encourage and promote people to be transparent, should be established and nurtured.
Here, we are going to say few words about a transparent election system as the people are now-a-days talking a lot as the next parliamentary election is coming nearer. The Election Commission of Bangladesh is also meeting now and then peoples from all sectors of the society. They are sharing their views, putting suggestions and sometimes expressing their dissatisfaction. These meetings, which are commonly organised by the Election Commission, would continue as required. It is expected that this practice is not beneficial only to the Commission, but also to others especially political parties.
It is acknowleged by everyone that the practice of a fair and transparent election system is very important for the transition of a country to democracy. This practice gradually becomes the national character of a country. In reality, the country is then known as a democratic country in the world. On the other hand, if the desires of the people are not reflected in the election, then many questions are raised by the public about the election process. Those who are elected in this kind of election do not represent the people in real sense. This means that democratic trends are hampered by restraining people’s democratic rights. It increases the chance to abuse power as well as inhibit the dignity of the country in the world. So, fair and transparent election system is very important for the establishment of democracy in a country.
The people of Bangladesh are well aware of country’s ongoing politics. The general public think to vote for the right person so as the politicians think to attain power through elections. Not only the political parties, but the general people also arrange regularly various programmes in this regard. These arrangements might not be peaceful always. Sometimes it reaches at a stage that many people forget their own duties and responsibilities to the state or to others. Burning, vandalism, hartal, etc cause various losses from economy to life. There is no need to give any details of those here. Every person of Bangladesh is more or less aware of such events.
We can overcome this situation by using modern technology. The present government is moving forward for rapid development of the country by implementing modern technology in all sectors of the country. If it is done in the case of elections, then it will deepen its involvement with government's thinking and development plans. It may be another technological revolution for the country as well as its people. But it is true that there is no alternative to a strong Election Commission to implement the proposed procedure.
We know that the present government is using modern technology in providing national identity cards. In this case, fingerprints are taken along with photographs. During the preparation of voter lists, fingerprints and photographs of the voters would be taken directly, or the photographs and fingerprints given for the national identity card will be collected from the concerned authority. The photographs and fingerprints will be stored in the Election Commission's data bank.
During the election, a voter will first show his National Identity card to the polling officer. Then, to take the ballot paper, the voter's finger should be placed on a particular machine supplied by the Election Commission. The ballot paper will be printed automatically once his fingerprint matches the data stored in the device. Then, the voter will enter into a secured hiding room in the polling centre with that ballot paper to seal it against the candidate(s) of his/her choice. After sealing the ballot, the voter will come out of the hiding room and push the ballot into the ballot box kept in front of the polling officer. Just after that, the voter will leave the polling centre. Technology will ensure that ballot paper will not be printed out unless voters' images and fingerprints match with data stored in the computer. A voter's fingerprint will print ballot paper only once. After that, if the voter places his fingerprints on the machine, ballot will not be printed any more. It is possible to create this software.
However, it is needless to say that the system, whatever it might be, will not make an election transparent or corruption free unless the government and its officials who are related to voting are not committed to transparency. And most importantly, the entire process of election could not be smooth and successful unless it gets full support and cooperation from all corners especially political parties of Bangladesh.
The writer is a former ambassador and secretary