Hiren Pandit: Bangladesh Awami League has announced the manifesto ahead of the 12th national parliament election. The slogan of this year’s manifesto is ‘Smart Bangladesh: Development will be Visible and Employment will Accelerate this time’. The ruling party has prioritized 11 issues by promising to build a smart Bangladesh. Creation of employment, keeping the price of goods within the purchasing power, establishing consistency between incomes, keeping the youth and youth society involved in the transformation and development of the country, taking measures against capital smugglers, eliminating bribery and corruption, bringing debt-tax-evasion and confiscating the illegal assets of the corrupt.
Highlighting the various developments of the Awami League government in the past years, the three-term Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, I am responsible for all the mistakes and errors in the course of government management in the past 15 years. Success is yours. Look at our mistakes with a forgiving eye. We promise to learn from past mistakes and conduct future operations under your expectations. She said, I have lost my parents, brothers, and relatives and I came into politics only to finish the unfinished work of my father, the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and put a smile on the face of the people of this country.
Sheikh Hasina has always fought in the struggle for democracy. She has repeatedly returned from the brink of death. She brought the Awami League to power as a popular party after 21 years in 1996 and has been working tirelessly to institutionalize democracy in Bangladesh. The impossible task that she made possible by forming the government in 1996 was to bring the assassins of Bangabandhu to justice and later in 2010 to bring the war criminals to justice. The opportunity came to carry forward the ideology of the Bengali nation.
Bangabandhu took over as the Prime Minister and began the task of rebuilding the war-torn country in 1972 on 12 January. Only three and a half years later, on 15 August 1975, when he was brutally assassinated, the development of the country came to a standstill again. Bangabandhu’s daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana survived the barbaric assassination on 15 August 1975 as they were abroad. After a long 6-year exile, Sheikh Hasina came to the country in 1981 with the responsibility of the Awami League. She turned mourning into power and jumped into realizing the economic and political rights of the people of the country.
She won the election of 1996 and formed the government and adopted the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1996-2002). She signed the Hill Tracts Peace treaty, built the Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna, and took steps to alleviate poverty and achieve food dependence. She achieved great success in alleviating poverty by adopting and implementing social safety net programs for distressed people, such as distressed women and widow allowance, old age allowance, disability allowance, Hero freedom fighter’s allowance, shelter project for the homeless, my house my firm project under the 10 special initiatives of PM Sheikh Hasina.
Taking over as Prime Minister for the second time on January 8, 2009, she worked tirelessly to implement the Sixth Five-Year Plan, the MDGs, and the First Perspective Plan. She was re-elected in the February 5, 2014 elections and got a chance to take the country forward by forming the government. Prime Minister took 10 special initiatives. Prioritizes poverty, hunger-free society, housing, education, medicine, employment, social safety net, and digitization in the country. The shelter project has provided shelter to 8,86,617 families till now. In the Mujib birth centenary, she has given 66,189 families a single home as a gift of the year. About 17,500 community clinics are at people’s doorsteps to provide health care.
Now Bangladesh is the third-largest producer of rice in the world and is also self-sufficient in fish, meat, eggs, and vegetables. Bangladesh ranks second in terms of the growth rate of fish production in inland open water and Bangladesh ranks first among 11 Hilsa producing countries. Today, the benefits of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ have spread from urban to villages and working for Smart Bangladesh by 2041
Bangladesh has achieved many unprecedented successes. Our beloved motherland is moving forward by overcoming various obstacles. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken up several mega projects. The Padma Multipurpose Bridge was inaugurated on 25 June 2022, and the train journey started in October 2023. This will revolutionize communication with the South part of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Satellite-1 contributes to boosting the country’s economy by providing all citizens with a wide range of telecommunications services (direct-to-home TV, radio, telemedicine, education, and internet access), Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Dhaka Metrorail Project, Matarbari Deep Seaport Construction Project, Rampal Coal Based Power Project, Bangabandhu Tunnel Construction Project, work of 100 economic zones have been built. An elevated expressway, 39 high-tech parks, and IT villages have been built. The eighth Five Year Plan has been adopted. The villages are being equipped with all civic amenities. Today we have become a country with self-respect in the world holding our heads high.
The UN has announced the transition of Bangladesh from LDC to a developing country. On the golden jubilee of independence, the UN has made a final recommendation to make Bangladesh a developing country and WTO member states including the EU will extend their support for another few years with all facilities including Tarif. According to the World Economic Forum, Bangladesh will be the 24th largest economy in the world by 2030. According to the second perspective plan, in 2031, there will be no one to call Bangladesh extremely poor.
Bangladesh moves to developing countries. Per capita income is 2793 USD, human resources, and economic fragility— the criteria for these three indicators determine the eligibility of developing countries to be listed. Bangladesh has achieved the desired qualifications in these three indices. Even in the COVID-19, Bangladesh’s per capita income has stunned the whole world by maintaining economic continuity. Which has multiplied the acceptance. There have been positive changes in women’s education, women’s empowerment, healthcare, and maternal and child mortality. Women are now contributing at all levels including social, political, and economic. Women in rural areas are not lagging in the touch of technology. They are also moving forward in parallel. Which has brightened the image of Bangladesh in the world.
angladesh is moving forward on the path of building a Golden Bengal of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu. The young generation is the leader of the future state. To turn the young generation into human resources, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education is being introduced for career-oriented education. The state must give due value to the knowledge, skills, experience, desires, and opinions of the youth.
Bangladesh has reached a newer height in the international arena and transformed the country into a safe and peaceful abode for the next generation. The present government is working tirelessly to build a hunger-and poverty-free developed and prosperous Bangladesh as envisioned by the Father of the Nation.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given 4 milestones, the first is the vision of Digital Bangladesh in 2021, which was achieved to some extent the second is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, the third is to build a developed Bangladesh in 2041 and the fourth is the Delta Plan for 2100. Architect of Digital Bangladesh Sajeeb Wazed Joy has been making an outstanding contribution to the implementation of these plans at a young age.
One of the dreams of the Father of the Nation about the Bengalis was to liberate the motherland and build a hunger-free, poverty-free golden Bengal. The first dream was materialized by Bangabandhu. The greatest achievement of the Bengalis is the independence of Bangladesh, which he has brought. At present, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s wise and visionary leadership, Bangladesh is fast moving towards realizing the second dream of the father of the nation. With dedication, honesty, and efficiency Bangladesh is surpassing many countries in the world today.
All citizens have to work for a developed Bangladesh, free from hunger and poverty (achieving SDG-1 end poverty and SDG-2, Zero Hunger) and uphold the spirit of liberation war and secularism which the Bangabandhu dreamt of. Bangladesh has limited resources, and more population compared with its geographical borders. Bangladesh today is a role model of development to the world.
Bangladesh has also strengthened its position in space. The launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 has added a new dimension to our science and technology. The inauguration of Metrorail and Padma Bridge are both development milestones. Successfully combating the coronavirus pandemic, education, communication infrastructure, gas, electricity, women’s education, 100% increase in salaries and allowances of employees, health care, achieving self-sufficiency in food production, social programs for backward communities, helpless, elderly and widows. The Awami League government under the leadership of the successful statesman Sheikh Hasina, who has made Bangladesh stand at the top of South Asia and the fifth place in the world, including the country in the ranks of the developing world, is the contribution of the Awami League government.
Digital Bangladesh is already working to improve and modernize the citizens’ quality of life and facilitate the citizens. Services, education, health, management, working methods, industry, trade and production, economy, social and cultural life in digital mode. As technology has become accessible to every citizen of the country, arrangements are being made to reach marginalized people as well. Technology has become a trusted medium in all civic services and livelihoods.
In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the IT sector of Bangladesh has focused on various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. Bangladesh is trying to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index for the next five years. One Country One Rate program brings internet access to people at affordable cost.
With the help of information technology, young people are building small and large IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services, and other enterprises. Besides, some major achievements including Bangladesh’s first satellite in space have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the world. Bangladesh’s position in the world economy is now 33rd. Bangladesh is now the fifth fastest-growing country in the world. The once ‘bottomless basket’ is set to become the world’s 25th largest economy by 2036. But soon after independence, there were concerns about the economic future of Bangladesh. This concern was mainly spread by the Pakistan government which was defeated in the war of 1971.
Padma Bridge was inaugurated in June last year after overcoming many hurdles. This bridge directly connects 21 districts of the southern region with the capital Dhaka and other parts of the country by road. The largest pigeon bridge in the southern region was inaugurated last October. In November last year, 100 bridges in 25 districts of the country were opened for traffic. Many highways in the country have been upgraded to four or more lanes. Others are in progress. The tunnel under the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram, the Metrorail and the Express-way have been launched.
A nuclear power plant has been constructed and satellite Bangabandhu-1 has been launched now work is underway for satellite Bangabandhu-2. Bangladesh has significantly improved its global SDGs ranking, moving from 120th to 101st place in just seven years. According to the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023, Bangladesh has ranked 101 among 166 countries in 2022 whereas its ranking was 116 in 2019. One of the goals of the SDGs is to eradicate poverty, ensure food security, ensure good health, improve education, and prevent gender inequality. Bangladesh’s overall score in this year’s SDGs index is 83.5%. Last year the score was 63.27 percent. When SDGs were adopted in 2015, Bangladesh’s score was 59.01 percent. Bangladesh ranked 101 out of 166 countries in the world.
Bangladesh has already become an example in various social progress indices. Intensive management of natural disasters, use of microcredit and its role in poverty alleviation, tree plantation, positive changes in social and economic indicators, etc. have become exemplary examples. Bangladesh has the success to surprise the world. In particular, education, women’s empowerment, reduction of maternal and child mortality and birth rates, provision of toilets and health facilities for the poor, and immunization of children are among the activities. When the crisis in Bangladesh is intense when everything revolves around uncertainty, black clouds gather in the sky of Bengal, then Sheikh Hasina is our last hope.
The writer is a, columnist and researcher