Roundtable Discussion | Evolving State Society Relations in Bangladesh after the Pandemic: Where Are We Now

The Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme in Bangladesh (CLEAR), BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) jointly organized a roundtable on “Evolving State Society Relations in Bangladesh after the Pandemic: Where Are We Now?” at Hotel Bengal Blueberry in the city.

The roundtable deliberated on citizenship issues pertinent to CLEAR findings on state-citizen engagement at the local level, exploring implications for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in light of political shifts. The discussion focused on three thematic areas, i.e. digitalization, autonomy issues at the local government level, and trust in NGOs/CSOs and their evolving roles.

Dr. Imran Matin, Executive Director of BIGD, served as the moderator, while Dr. Sohela Nazneen, Senior Fellow and Programme Lead for the COVID-19 Learning, Evidence and Research for Bangladesh at the Institute of Development Studies, delivered an insightful overview of the CLEAR research findings.

CLEAR research highlighted a generally positive assessment of official efforts to collect feedback from citizens. The widespread approval of the aspiration to systematically listen and respond to citizens was acknowledged, although the effectiveness of these efforts remained a subject of contention. Additionally, the research indicated that specific groups, particularly those in low-income urban areas and those newly impoverished due to the pandemic, were not adequately covered by these measures.

Participants at the event engaged in discussions on the role civil society continues to play between state and society. The dialogue resulted in suggestions on how CSOs can further support the government in enhancing governance, service delivery, and citizen engagement, drawing lessons from the pandemic to better respond to future crises.