Hiren Pandit: The Awami League promised to extend modern amenities to every village by creating self-employment for the youths there. Its manifesto was announced with the slogan “Smart Bangladesh: Unnoyon drisshoman, barbe ebar kormoshongsthan” (where development shines, accelerating employment) on December 27. The ruling party has prioritised 11 issues in its efforts to build a smart Bangladesh, essayist and researcher Hiren Pandit notes.
Read more: Election manifesto: AL to create self-employment for youth in villages
These are—creating employment opportunities, keeping the prices of commodities within the purchasing range, establishing consistency between incomes, keeping the youth involved in the transformation and development of the country, taking measures against money launderers, eliminating bribery and corruption, bringing debt-tax-evasion and confiscating the illegal assets of the corrupt.
Apart from this, in agriculture, service, economic, and industrial production sectors, ensuring the fundamental rights of third-gender people have also been given importance.
The manifesto says that to eliminate urban and rural disparities, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman added this promise to the constitution that the state will take effective measures to achieve a radical transformation of rural areas through the development of the agricultural revolution, the electrification system in rural areas, the development of the cottage industry, education, the communication system, and public health.
Considering the village as the central philosophy of development and prosperity, this topic was included with special importance in the election manifesto of the Awami League in the last election, Pandit noted.
Roads have been paved and expanded in each upazila, connecting each village to the upazila headquarters and the upazila to the district headquarters and national highways. Electricity supply has been ensured in every village. Drinking water and sewage systems have been ensured, which will be further improved and expanded. The government has borne the cost of primary and secondary schools. Financial assistance is being provided for teachers’ salaries in private schools, he wrote.
Fifty-bed hospitals are being upgraded to 100 beds in upazilas. Community clinics are taking healthcare to the doorsteps of rural people. Computer and internet service centres have been established in every union. The people of remote villages are communicating with people in other districts and countries using internet.
The expansion of communication, electricity and internet services has accelerated rural production and market systems. Agricultural inputs are readily available, markets for agricultural products are expanding, agricultural technology is expanding to meet rural needs, and the development of cottage and small-scale industries is accelerating. Activities in both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors have expanded manifold.
Better roads, communication, clean water, modern health care and medical treatment, quality education, improved sewage and waste management, increased electricity and fuel supply, computer and high-speed internet facilities, as well as expansion of markets for quality consumer goods, including electrical appliances, will provide every village with all the facilities of a modern city.
Encouragement and support for the installation of biogas plants and solar panels on a group basis to ensure a reliable energy supply will continue, the essayist notes.
At the village level, agricultural machinery service centres and workshops will be set up to expand rural mechanisation services and through these, productive employment programmes will be expanded by training rural youth and agricultural entrepreneurs. In addition to these services, loans, and investment assistance in materials for marginal and small entrepreneurs in the private sector to manufacture and market light machinery will continue.
Cultural, sports and recreational programmes will be enhanced in line with economic development in the villages. Self-employment measures will be taken in villages to reduce the tendency of the young people to migrate to cities. The government will give all possible support to encourage the youth in agriculture, industry and business.
The government has initiated a massive campaign to deliver all civic benefits of the cities to the villages. It has undertaken it as an idea to change the life and economy of the village. Under this mega programme titled “Amar Gram Amar Shohor” (my village my city), many goals have been set like building road connectivity, telecommunications with internet connectivity, health centres, drainage and waste management.
Much of the village land remains fallow and fish are not farmed in many ponds. There are no fruit or forest trees on either side of the rural roads. The yards of the houses are not used for productive activities. Due to a lack of motivation, lack of information, and lack of skills and technology, rural areas are wasting a lot of natural resources including human resources, Pandit notes.
Under this programme, apart from crop cultivation, a fish farm and a dairy farm will be set up in each village. A community building will be built in each village where there will be small-scale warehouses to store the produce.
Flat facilities for housing, a union revenue collection system, cultural centre water and sanitation and a sustainable energy system will be developed in villages as well as in cities.
Our beloved motherland, indomitable Bangladesh, is moving forward with the commitment to implement the goal of sustainable development without leaving anyone behind. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu promised that the state will take effective measures to achieve comprehensive changes in rural areas through the agricultural revolution, electrification of rural areas, development of cottage industry and other industries, and development of education, communication system, and public health to continuously eliminate urban and rural disparity in an independent country, Pandit writes.
By including it in Article 16 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, he committed to permanent and firm affirmation. Bangabandhu realised that erstwhile East Pakistan, our Bangladesh, has immense potential. He made the country independent by uniting the Bengali nation with his talent and strong leadership. He saw that all facilities were city-centric. He dreamed of developing the villages of Bangladesh as modern and planned villages. He adopted the first five-year plan keeping this principle and ideal of moving forward without leaving anyone behind.
Every village should have improved roads, communication facilities, safe water supply, health care and medical facilities, quality education, ensured electricity and fuel supply, improved sewage and waste management, computer and high-speed internet facilities, the market for quality consumer goods including electrical appliances, banking facilities, rural employment, plans to ensure city amenities by expanding community spaces and recreational facilities are being implemented.
According to the annual report of BBS, 64.96% of the people of Bangladesh live in villages. Out of this, 7.6% of people migrate to cities from villages every year. Due to this, the pressure of additional population in the city is increasing every year. Citizen facilities are shrinking day by day. City dwellers are being deprived of the minimum civic services they deserve.
In 2041, the population of the country will be more or less 22 crore. Currently, agricultural land is decreasing at the rate of 0.5%-1% in the country. A large part of it is being converted into housing. Food security will be compromised in the future due to a reduction in agricultural land. Besides, the biodiversity of the village will be lost. Therefore, if city services are ensured in populated villages, people’s coming to cities will decrease.
Surplus workers in rural agriculture are changing their occupations in later years by engaging in more modern service sectors. All these surplus workers are primarily involved in trade, transport and personal service activities in rural and urban areas. Besides, many workers in the rural agricultural sector are leaving with jobs in Middle Eastern countries. As a result, the wages of rural agricultural workers are increasing. The quality of life of rural people is increasing more than before.
We have many achievements in many fields. As proud citizens of Bangladesh, we have free movement around the world. Our advancement on the highway of development by removing various obstacles around us is all Bangabandhu’s contribution. If we had not been an independent country, we would have been crushed by Pakistan today. We can think about everything independently because we have an independent country, Pandit says.
We have won the Liberation War. We are a victorious nation. As a victorious nation, we can keep our heads high in the world. We will not bow down to anyone. Bangabandhu repeatedly said that by utilising the wealth that we have, we will build ourselves and we will walk with our heads high in front of the whole world. This will be the most important step for the people of this country. This is how our beloved motherland, nurtured by Bangabandhu, will progress, he notes.
He writes Bangladesh has achieved prosperity under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She has been able to present to the people the benefits of the shelter project, Amar Bari Amar Khamar project, women empowerment and overall development of various sectors and has been able to make people understand that she is implementing the dream of the father of the nation. Bangabandhu’s firm promise to build ‘Sonar Bangla’ is moving forward, our dear motherland Bangladesh will achieve SDG by 2030 and become a developed country by 2041.
Meanwhile, works are underway to improve and modernise the quality of life of citizens and easily obtain citizen services, education, health, management, work methods, industry, trade and production, economy, and social and cultural lifestyle digitally, under the digital Bangladesh project. As technology has become accessible to every citizen of the country, technology-based services are being made available to the marginalised groups. Technology has become a pervasive medium in all citizen services and lifestyles, he adds.
In response to the fourth industrial revolution, the information technology sector of Bangladesh has emphasised various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. With the help of information technology, young people are building small and big IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services and other organizations. Besides, some major achievements including Bangladesh’s first satellite in space have taken the country to a unique height in the eyes of the world. Bangabandhu’s ‘Sonar Bangla’ is no longer a dream but now a visible reality, which will go further with ‘My village my city’ programme. All civic amenities will now be available in the villages, Pandit says.