THE term officer on special duty (OSD) when applied to a government official is deemed … a stigma … as is evinced in our political culture…. Once an officer is made an OSD his services are put on hold indefinitely without assigning any reason…. OSDs used to be a phenomenon … for administrative reasons. But in the last two decades under political governments in Bangladesh, they are perceived to be more the victims of political considerations…. A report in this paper on Sunday highlighted that 457 high-ranking government officers have been made OSDs during the tenure of the present government and this is their highest number ever under any government. The … practice of having to pay for OSDs … is costing the public exchequer Tk2m every month. But money perhaps would be found as trifles if one realises the … invisible loss to the country’s development had their services been utilised.
On the other side, there is this human perspective as well ... the OSDs live a life of … agony in the prime of their fitness and experience as they travel through a dark tunnel with no light in sight…. It is speculated that most … cannot realistically expect posting under the remaining tenure of this government. Thus, some of them have gone into voluntary retirement from sheer frustration. Of course, the government can cite the example of its predecessors…. But … if one accepts the principle that one wrong does not justify another, then the present huge tally of OSDs ought to … lead to a quick response…. It would be only fair for the government to start immediately a process of impartial scrutiny of the background of the present crop of OSDs and those who would be found otherwise competent and possessing reasonable integrity should be given posting at the soonest…. —(June 25)