Hiren Pandit : Currently, the world is in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where nature, technology, and people are intertwined. Bangabandhu’s birth, education, and information technology ideas were based on one formula. He did not make a mistake in thinking about the country’s education and information technology infrastructure. When the foundation of independent sovereign Bangladesh was laid in 1971, the Background of making Bangladesh based on information and technology was laid under the leadership of Bangabandhu. He initiated the development of the information and communication technology sector with the aim of achieving rapid economic growth.
One after another, spectacular academic buildings, Sheikh Russell Digital Laboratory, Hi-Tech Park, etc. are being established in every educational institution for technology-based education. In this continuation of educational development, the fourth industrial revolution-friendly, action-oriented, innovative and knowledge-based world-class education curriculum has been recently launched, which has been launched from this year. In addition, the revolutionary progress in the spread of education that is being praised by the world court is that the literacy rate has increased to 75.6, outstanding progress in women’s education and ability, etc.
The present world is making unprecedented progress using technology. Bangabandhu was able to understand this matter long ago. He wanted an education system through which the country’s young children could be educated in the right way from the beginning and become skilled in technology and innovation. Therefore, Bangabandhu formed an independent Modern Education Commission under the leadership of Dr. Kudrat-e-Khuda on July 26, 1972.
Bangabandhu after the liberation war, brought a war-torn country to the door of development at lightning speed. He was able to realize from the beginning that there is no alternative to the practice of science in order to make Bangladesh a modern science-minded and advanced state. Bangabandhu inspired and encouraged educationists, researchers, scientists and students across the country in various ways in the field of science and technology despite being busy with state work. In the field of science and technology of the country, he took steps to focus the scientists on inventing new ideas and technologies.
On August 19, 1973, at the national conference of Chhatra League at Suhrawardy Udyan, he advised to become a real person by getting basic education and education in agricultural schools and colleges and engineering schools and colleges instead of BA, MA pass. He knew that there is no alternative to science and technology education to create golden people. Bangabandhu realized that in order to make the conventional education system modern and science-oriented, such a traditional scientist and educationist should be given the responsibility to formulate and implement a science-based modern, modern education policy.
Bangabandhu was indeed a pragmatic and visionary politician and policymaker. He initiated development in every sector quickly to build a modern, science-based, and developed Bangladesh. Much of the progress that has been made in the field of science and technology in today’s Bangladesh began at the hands of Bangabandhu. That a politician was modern and visionary in his science-technological thinking or vision, and we see the proof in his actions. Bangabandhu’s scientific ideas and contribution to the progress and development of science and technology in this country have undoubtedly been remembered forever by the Bengali nation. After independence, Bangabandhu gave importance to higher education in building the country. He gave equal importance to technical education starting from the primary. It plays a major role in building a ‘knowledge-based society’.
The philosophy of the great liberation war in 1971 is also the philosophy of human liberation, the philosophy of building a non-discriminatory economy society. From the technical side, we can see the far-reaching plans of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1973, the membership of Bangladesh in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU deals with the formulation of international rules for the allocation of satellite circles or frequencies, and coordination and cooperation in their allocation, and the other is the establishment of satellite stations. On June 14, 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman inaugurated the Betbunia satellite.
When Bangladesh became independent in 1971, the third industrial revolution was going on in the world. Bangabandhu saw that many countries in Europe and Asia were reaching the peak of development by exploiting the potential and opportunities of the third industrial revolution. In addition, the invention of the Internet in 1969 increased the speed, influence and power of this revolution. Some countries in Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea, began to exploit the opportunities created by the advent of the third industrial revolution.
Office work, business, transactions, agriculture, medicine, education, and many tasks of daily life are becoming fast and easy with the help of modern technology. We are now so much dependent on information technology that we cannot go a single day without information technology. Bangabandhu realized many years ago what we understand now. Bangabandhu’s efforts to make education universal without restricting it to any class were noteworthy. He thought that education should be uniform, mass-oriented and universal i.e., education for all. No one will be illiterate; everyone will be literate.
His daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and his grandson Sajeeb Wazed Joy are relentlessly playing a role in realizing this dream of Bangabandhu. As an example, we see when Bangladesh owns the 57th communication satellite in the world. This satellite was named ‘Bangabandhu-1’. Meanwhile, the operation of the Bangabandhu-2 satellite is going on successfully, which is scheduled to be launched this year.
When Awami League formed the government again in 1996, importance was given to technological development. At that time, various measures were taken, including the withdrawal of duties from computers, and licensing of new mobile phone companies to break the monopoly market. Then on December 12, 2008, Awami League’s election manifesto ‘Din Badaler Sanad, Charter for Change announced the vision of creating a digital Bangladesh by 2021 and it was time to implement it after coming to power.
Digital Bangladesh’s first goal is to build an inclusive and digital society and bring its benefits to remote areas of Bangladesh. Everyone has to work together to face the new challenges of tomorrow. Be self-sufficient as well as collaborative. We have to work together to solve problems and innovate, then it will be much easier for Bangladesh to move forward. Bangladesh is moving towards the fourth industrial revolution. Sajeeb Wazed Joy, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Information and Technology, recently pointed out that we have the capability to lead the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and so Bangladesh has emphasized fields like Artificial Intelligence, Book Chain, IoT, Nano Technology, Biotechnology, Robotics, Microprocessor Design. We have to work together on the path of new innovation, only then we will move forward.
39 world-class hi-tech parks have been constructed to increase investment in information technology in the country. Investment in these parks has many opportunities including tax exemption, a hundred percent ownership guarantee for foreigners, and income tax exemption. A number of benefits are provided to foreign investors. Those who want to take advantage of infrastructure by investing in factories or information technology can invest here. Currently, some companies including Samsung have started manufacturing products in the country. Bangladesh is the eighth largest consumer market in the world, with a large middle class. There are huge opportunities for startups here. He believes, within the next 5 to 10 years, mobile handsets made in Bangladesh like Made in China or Vietnam, will see ‘Made in Bangladesh’ on the hard drive. The IT sector of Bangladesh will one day surpass the garment export sector. Digital Bangladesh is working on a target of $5 billion in IT product exports by 2025.”
Digital Bangladesh is basically the modern form of Bangabandhu’s Golden Bengal. Prime Minister’s IT Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy is leading the implementation of the Prime Minister’s vision. When Digital Bangladesh was announced, people’s perception of it was vague. Many have laughed and joked about it. But with its implementation, people’s ideas started to change. Currently, digital Bangladesh has become an integral part of people’s socio-economic and personal life.
In 2008, the number of internet users in the country was only 8 lakh. Bandwidth usage then was 8 gigabytes per second (Gbps) and in the last year, 26 thousand 49 Gbps bandwidth usage was recorded in the country. According to the latest data from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), more than 13.5 million people use the Internet in the country. Out of this, about 12.5 crore use mobile phones and about 1 crore use broadband and PSTN internet. In 2008, there were about 56 lakh mobile phone users in the country. Now the number of active mobile SIMs in the country is more than 186 million. At that time there was a 2G mobile network in the country. And now after 3G, 4G, 5G network has been launched this year. In 2008, the cost of internet bandwidth per Mbps was Tk 78 thousand. Now it is only 60 rupees. 772 remote areas have been brought under the coverage of internet services at the Union level through the fiber optic cable of the INFO government project and through Bangabandhu Satellite-1. As a result, people in remote areas have now become accustomed to mobiles and computers in everything from personal communication to business, agriculture, education, and health.
Bangabandhu Satellite-1 has 26 KU band and 14 C band transponders. All regions of the country, waters of the Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia are covered. A huge amount of foreign exchange is being saved every year due to the use of the Bangabandhu satellite in television channels and the DTH services of the country. Besides, some television channels in Honduras, Turkey, the Philippines, Cameroon and South Africa are using transponders. High-speed internet facilities are being provided in hilly, haor and grassy areas of the country through this satellite. This satellite will work as an alternative even if the mobile network is down during major natural disasters.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a research fellow