About 30 percent of the total population of Bangladesh is youth. According to that, there are more than four and a half crore young men and women in the country. Bangabandhu had many thoughts about the youth. He imagined a lot about young people. He thought that the youth should be developed as good human beings and ideal citizens of the country. The youth will become an ideal force. By this ideal man, he means a person who will possess advanced human qualities and will be followed by others.
To be an ideal human being, the youth must be honest, devoted, hardworking, kind, compassionate, empathetic, unselfish and courageous. Bangabandhu himself was an ideal man and an idealistic and exemplary leader. The liberation of the exploited, oppressed and downtrodden people of Bangladesh was the main goal and ideal of his life. He was fighting to achieve that goal. He has been repeatedly imprisoned and tortured while talking about the rights of the people of Bengal. Prison and torture became a regular chapter of his life. Bangabandhu’s thoughts, views, dreams, and deeds were all for the welfare of the people of this country and for the liberation of his motherland. Bangabandhu’s ideal in politics was to sacrifice for the people, not to lead a personal happy life. Bangabandhu used to give the highest place to principles and ideals in politics. The aim of his politics was not merely to go to power; it was to achieve the rights of the Bengalis or to achieve liberation. He believed that the youth should be strong in this power.
In the national youth policy of Bangladesh, people aged between 18 and 35 have been termed as ‘youth’. Youth is the pillar of a nation, the craftsman of civilisation, culture, and development. The youth are physically and mentally strong, possess advanced knowledge, and are pioneers of change in society. A large part of those who sacrificed their lives in the great Liberation War was the youth. He assimilated the hopes, aspirations, pains, and traditions of the Bengalis in his consciousness. The youth of Bengal was in his heart. He drew the design of success by relying on the youth. He wished that the youth of this country develop themselves efficiently, be career-oriented, be aware of their responsibilities and build a golden Bengal.
Bangabandhu has given importance to education to raise the youth properly. He wanted a people-oriented, science-based, and technical education system. He urged the youth to study as well as perform various duties. Addressing the youth on August 19, 1973, he said, “My sons (the students and youths) continue your study attentively and learn something from your study. No matter how much you chant slogans (Jindabad and murdabad), there is no benefit if you do not learn your lessons properly and read books attentively. And in the rest of the time help your parents. Don’t be ashamed to take the helm with your father in agriculture and other works because you are learning to wear pants (modern dress). Look at the world. In the villages, plant some eggplants saplings next to the houses, plant some gourd saplings and plant some coconut saplings. Help your parents a little. There is no benefit in just passing a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or Master of Arts (MA). We have to work for the welfare of the people of the country.”
Bangabandhu loved the youth. He tried to instill that dream among the youth. He used to give advice and instructions to inspire the youth with the idea of patriotism. In his speech on the founding anniversary of the Chhatra League in 1971, he said, “The people of Bengal, especially the young community, need to know our history. A boy in Bengal who does not know the traditions of his predecessors cannot be a true Bengali.”
The great chapter of the political life of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was his youth. Deep in his youthful thoughts is the philosophy of Bengal, Bengali, the ultimate liberation of Bangladesh and the leadership of Bengalis in the world with their heads held high. Bangabandhu wanted the youth of Bengal to become ‘Golden Boys’ and build ‘Golden Bengal’. He called upon the youth to choose the path of honesty and patriotism by awakening self-criticism, self-control, and self-purification.
After independence Bangabandhu took various plans in this regard. The importance of the technical and vocational education that Bangabandhu spoke of is even relevant today. Bangabandhu’s youthful thoughts and ideas are also relevant in building a skilled youth force suitable for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What is needed now for the current Fourth Industrial Revolution is to build a new generation and skilled youth who know technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and IoT.
Keeping Bangabandhu’s dream in mind, the Awami League government under the dynamic leadership of the prime minister is making continuous efforts for the development of the youth. The last election manifesto of the Awami League has given enough importance to this issue. Among the pledges made in the election, the manifesto is the effective implementation of the National Youth Policy formulated in 2017, the formation of separate youth departments and a research center under the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the increase of the ministry’s budget allocation. In addition to providing necessary technical education and training for youth employment, there are plans to expand the scope of the ongoing national service program.
These election promises are undoubtedly very interesting, attractive, and encouraging. Properly covered, it will withstand many adverse conditions. If the Ministry of Youth and Sports monitors the progress of implementation of every aspect of the Awami League’s election promises it will bring a good outcome. The government has to be committed to implementing the plan. Employment is an important issue for young people. But they have to attain working skills. However, our country lacks such a plan. The literacy rate in Bangladesh has indeed risen to a commendable level, although this achievement has not significantly reduced the country’s unemployment rate. The main reason for this is that our education system has not developed according to the needs of the country.
There should be a national plan so that a student can find a job at the end of their studies. Career-oriented education plans will help young people arrange the necessary training and action. Our youth must hold and protect the spirit of the Liberation War. This country was born in 1971 with the blood of our youth and there is no compromise with that consciousness. For many reasons, youth is an infinite force in our country. That power is for the development of the country, to move the country forward in the right direction. Above all, they will build Bangladesh as a prosperous country. Under the leadership of our youth too, Bangladesh will one day take its place in the ranks of the developed world and the Golden Bengal of Bangabandhu’s dream will be materialized.
The writer is a Columnist and Research Fellow