We live in a pseudo-secular society, where even state cannot be trusted,
says Professor Rehman Sobhan

Professor Rehman Sobhan, noted economist and Chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue said, “Nobody trusts anyone. You cannot trust anyone if the state cannot be trusted, which is the case in Bangladesh as we live in a pseudo-secular society where there is no rule of law and profound lack of democracy, which is not expected after 43 years of independence.”

Speaking as the Chief Guest at the dissemination seminar on Religion, Minority and Trust: Evidence from a field Experiment in Bangladesh and India, jointly organized by Institute of Governance Studies and BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University along with International Growth Centre on 9 March, 2014, he also observed, neither the transcending rigorous secularism nor any religious denomination matters with the minority of any category - religion, ethnicity or class - due to the muscle power that exists and the state is not protecting anyone from any misdeed.

In the keynote speech, Dr. Minhaj Mahmud, Head of Research, IGS & BDI, BRAC University delivered a presentation on the research he led among people of 18 villages mostly inhabited by the Hindus and the Muslims. The villages are located in Dhamrai and Manikganj while data was also collected from two villages of South 24 Parganas and Diamond Harbour in West Bengal, India.
Dr. Minhaj added, they studied trust through 'incentivised trust games' participated by the people of both Hindu and Muslim faith in the two neighbouring countries and found that trust matters more with regard to the majority-minority status in this context, not with religious identities.

In order to build and promote trust and reduce fractionalization within the society, he stressed on improving government institutions and affirmative action policies to attain positive impacts on growth and more importantly on development.

Eminent economist and BIDS Research Director, Dr. Binayek Sen pointed out that there exists multiple identities among people and they can act differently based on settings and contexts. As the Panel Discussant, he added, functioning government institutions and the rule of law in society are very important in building trust.

IGS & BDI Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman chaired the event.

Freedom fighter Zia Uddin Tarique Ali, Prof Ajoy Roy of Dhaka University and, BIDS Researcher Anwara Begum, Dr. Faustina Pareira, Director, Human rights and Legal aid division, BRAC also spoke at the seminar.

Academics, Researchers, Experts, Politicians, Representatives from Think Tanks and Donor organisations, civil society members and journalists also attended the programme.

The event was widely covered by both the electronic and print media. Some of the links of the news coverage of the programme are given below:

The Daily Star

Daily Prothom Alo

Daily Dhaka Tribune

Daily Observer

The Financial Express

Daily Kaler Kantho

Daily Bangladesh Protidin

Daily Alokito Bangladesh

Daily Arthoniti Protidin

Daily Samakal