Youth’s role in building ‘Smart Bangladesh’

Hiren Pandit: After successfully implementing the pledge to build Digital Bangladesh, Bangladesh is now moving forward with new programmes. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working relentlessly toward the implementation of SDGs by 2030 and building a Smart Bangladesh by 2041. A cost-effective, sustainable, intelligent, knowledge-based, innovative Smart Bangladesh will be built on the four main foundations of Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society.

To be an ideal human being, the qualities that everyone should have are honesty, devotion, hardworking and philanthropic attitude, humanity-compassion, humility-non-arrogance and courage. Bangabandhu himself was an idealistic man. The liberation of the exploited and oppressed people of Bengal was the main goal and ideal of his life. He had to struggle throughout his life to achieve his goal.

Youth is a time of courage, struggle and creativity. Breaking the old and reforming something new is like the religion of youth. Young people should come forward with courage and honesty in this reformation of society. The youth will initiate a revolution of change at all levels of society and the collective efforts of the youth are the most effective in this regard.

Bangladesh is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and becoming a developed and smart Bangladesh by 2041. But for that, we have to pay more attention to employment. Everyone in society including the government party, opposition party, and civil society has the responsibility to create employment. Job creation is a major challenge; the education system of the country should be kept free from fraud and corruption and the country should be taken forward. Our education system is not able to meet the demand for skilled and educationally qualified workers in the labor market.

The government has already taken steps to formulate many well-thought-out action plans. Efforts are underway to invest more in technical education, information and communication technology to bring education up-to-date with the challenges of the 21st century, from schools to universities. Emphasis is placed on increasing youth employment and entrepreneurship and self-employment.
The government wants to build the future Bangladesh as a smart Bangladesh, where manpower will be smart, everyone will learn to do everything online, the economy will be an e-economy, where the entire money management will be done on digital devices. Our education, health, and employability will all be through e-governance. Digital devices will be used in everything including e-education, and e-health. We will be able to do that by 2041 and work is going on with that in mind.

Technology started affecting people’s daily life, culture, business and production long ago. Due to scientific, technical and technological progress, the development of the world is at a great pace. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman deeply understood its importance. Bangabandhu got time to run the state for only three and a half years. At such a small timeframe Bangabandhu did not have the scopes to implement the planned initiatives and activities including agriculture, education, health, information and communication technology, in the construction of his dream Sonar Bangla.

50 years of independence in 2021, Bangladesh has become ‘Digital Bangladesh’, which started in 2008. Bangladesh today has achieved a revolution in the spread of modern information technology. Digital Bangladesh is no longer a dream but a reality. Digital Bangladesh is moving forward in the journey of Smart Bangladesh 2042 by defining four specific main pillars of connectivity for all, skilled human resource development, e-Government and ICT industry promotion for the implementation of Digital Bangladesh. Currently, the number of internet users in the country is more than 130 million and the number of mobile connections is over 186 million.

More than 16,000 entrepreneurs are currently working in around 8,800 digital centres across the country to deliver services to people’s doorsteps, where 50 percent are women entrepreneurs. As a result, on the one hand, the inequality between men and women, on the other hand, the inequality between the rich and the poor and the inequality between rural and urban areas are being eliminated. The government is investing Tk 500 crore in the next five years to develop the startup culture in the country and pave the way for startups to utilize innovative opportunities. Ten Startup Ecosystem has been developed by providing talented young entrepreneurs with interest and collateral-free equity investment and various facilities including training, incubation, mentoring and coaching. Some 2500 startups including Bikash, Pathao, Chal-Dal, Sure Cash, Sahaj, and Paperfly are actively working by creating about 1.5 million more jobs. Our youth was not familiar with this culture even 10 years ago. Just in seven years 700 million dollars have been invested in this sector.

Bangladesh has a good position in online labour force in the world. Before 2009, none of the government services in Bangladesh were digital. But currently, all the basic information and services of all government departments are available on the website. Along with this, all government information verification and storage and various services and applications are being conducted online. In the meantime, we have launched an inter-operable digital transaction platform ‘Binimay’ (Exchange). Nowadays, banking services have reached the fingertips of every customer. Many jobs are being created through digitization. Money from freelancing is fueling our national growth. A modern digital banking system has been developed in the country through the use of information technology. All these are the benefits of digital Bangladesh.

The fourth revolution is underway where artificial intelligence is used to manage human intelligence and willpower, factory production, agriculture and all daily activities and the world. Bangladesh is not far behind. Preparations are underway to create a smart Bangladesh by 2041. But along with smart devices and technology, citizens also need to be smart in thinking, behaviour and culture. Constantly we commit many mistakes, irregularities, injustices and injustices without our knowledge, which can be corrected with a little desire. We can contribute to making Smart Bangladesh.

The government’s steps include the Delta Plan for 2100 and the plan for 2021 to 2041. In other words, a framework and plan have been formulated for how Bangladesh will develop from 21 to 41. Generation after generation of this delta is saved from climate shock, the country is developed and they can live smartly independently and beautifully in developed countries. The government is doing that. Now everything depends on the strong leadership of our new generation, especially the youth and young women, Bangladesh will move forward, so there is a lot of responsibility on the youth society. The power of youth is the development of Bangladesh. This was the 2018 election manifesto of Awami League. Onus lies on all to develop this strong leadership of the young society.

Hiren Pandit is an essayist, columnist and a researcher

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