After successfully implementing the pledge to build Digital Bangladesh, Bangladesh is now moving forward with new programs. 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.
After independence, Bangabandhu took various plans. He spoke about technical and vocational education for the development of the youth society, its importance is even greater today. Bangabandhu’s youth mentality and thinking are also relevant in developing skilled youth for the fourth industrial revolution. Bangabandhu had many thoughts and dreams about the youth. He thought that every member of the youth should be made an ideal person. They will become an ideal force. By this ideal, he means a person who will have good human qualities and will be followed by others. That is, everything that is socially good, noble and benevolent will exist in every member of the youth society. About 30 percent of the total population of Bangladesh is youth. According to the current population, there are more than 4.5 crore young men and women in the country.
To be an ideal human being, the qualities that everyone should have been 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. The goal he has struggled to achieve throughout his life.
He has repeatedly been jailed and persecuted for speaking about the rights of the people of Bengal. Imprisonment and persecution became a regular chapter in his life. Bangabandhu’s thinking, consideration, dreams and actions were all for the well-being and welfare of the people of this country, for the liberation of the motherland. Bangabandhu was an ideal example of sacrifice in politics and not enjoyment. He gave the highest place to principles and ideals in politics. The aim of his politics was not merely to come to power, but was directed toward the realization of Bengali rights or national liberation. He believed that the youth should be empowered in this capacity.
Bangabandhu chose democracy-socialism and secularism as political ideologies. He made this ideology the national ideology. He thought that Bangladesh would be an ideal state, which would have the foundation of democracy-socialism and secularism. In light of this, the constitution of 1972 accepted the four principles of state nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism.
The National Youth Policy of Bangladesh defines the age group of 18 to 35 years as ‘Youth’. Youth can be called the pillars of a nation, the builders of civilization and development. The youth are physically and mentally strong, have enlightened knowledge and are the vanguard of the struggle for change in the state society.
A large part of those who sacrificed their lives in the Great War of Liberation was the youth. Young Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s school was Bangla, Bengali and Bangladesh. He imbibed the thousand years of hope, pain, protest and tradition of Bengalis in his consciousness. The youth of Bengal was his soul.
Bangabandhu drew the pattern of success by relying on the youth. He has always wished that the youth of this country can make themselves competent, be action-oriented, be aware of their responsibilities and build a golden Bengal.
Bangabandhu gave the greatest importance to education in order to develop the youth properly. Bangabandhu wanted a mass-oriented, science-based and technical education system. He used to urge the youth to perform various duties and responsibilities besides studying. In 1973, in a speech of the founding anniversary of the Chhatra League, he said – “The people of Bengal, especially the young community, should know our history. A son of Bengal who does not know about the heritage of his past descendants cannot be a true Bengali.”
The current fourth industrial revolution requires the generation of skilled youth who know technology-robotics, artificial intelligence and IoT. But in this case, more awareness is needed so that the generation of artificial consciousness and attitude does not develop. According to Bangabandhu, the true-skilled, honest and patriotic youth inspired by the Bengali spirit is the wealth of the country.
Among the pledges mentioned in the 2018 Awami League election manifesto is the effective implementation of the National Youth Policy formulated in 2017. Formation of a separate youth department and a research center under the Ministry of Youth and Sports and increasing the budget allocation of the Ministry. There are plans to expand the scope of ongoing national service programs besides providing technical education and training for youth employment.
These election promises are undoubtedly very interesting and encouraging. This commitment will have a wider role in youth and youth empowerment. But there should be a national plan so that a student can easily find work after graduation. Action-oriented education planning will help provide the necessary training and employment to the youth. The youth must retain and protect the spirit of the liberation war. There is no compromise with that spirit. For many reasons, the youth is considered as an infinite energy for the country. That energy should be used for the development of the country and to move the country forward in the right direction.
The youths of the country have a glorious role in all the movements and struggles and progress of Bangladesh. Just as the youth did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the establishment of democracy in this country, including the struggle for independence from the great language movement, they are also relentlessly engaged in the struggle for economic liberation. Even during the global ‘Covid-19’ pandemic, the enthusiasm of our youth has kept our economic progress alive.
Youth is a time of courage, struggle and creativity in human life. 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.
The achievements of the youth of our country are many. Youth are advancing in sports, art, literature and culture. The youth of today are the policymakers of the future. Therefore, the participation of the youth in all welfare activities of the state and society is necessary. If the young society sleeps, the shadow of dark clouds will never move from the sky of the society immersed in irregularities and corruption.
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 every 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.
The more our young community learns to use these digital devices, the faster they can move the country forward. An initiative has been taken to train the youth by taking various aspects of the fourth industrial revolution. Specialized labs are being established in every university in the country. The establishment of 57 such labs is in progress. The establishment of the Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubation Center in 64 districts and 10 digital villages is in progress. 92 Hi-Tech Parks, Software Technology Parks are under construction. 6,686 Digital Centers and more than 13,000 Sheikh Russel Digital Labs have been set up across the country.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has transformed the country into Digital Bangladesh. Future Smart Bangladesh is also working towards Sheikh Hasina’s government. In 2008 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told us to give digital Bangladesh. Today Bangladesh has become digital Bangladesh. He is also making relentless efforts for Smart Bangladesh he is talking.
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 this time, the wise and prudent statesman Bangabandhu did not 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 centers 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. 2500 startups including Bikash, Pathao, Chal-Dal, Sure Cash, Sahaj, and Paperfly are actively working. Who created about 1.5 million more jobs. Our youth was not familiar with this culture even 10 years ago. In just seven years, 700 million dollars have been invested in this sector.
Bangladesh has a good position in the online labor force 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.
Equal participation of men and women, ensuring access to technology for all irrespective of rich and poor, and reducing the gap in access to urban and rural services were all the main objectives and goals of our Digital Bangladesh. Inclusive development in Digital Bangladesh has made it possible to reach remote villages with the internet, through the implementation of initiatives like Union Digital Centre, employment of women entrepreneurs has also been ensured. Thanks to inclusive development and technology, now anyone can work freelancing even in the village. All this has been made possible by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s progressive technology, and inclusive development 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, behavior 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. It is the responsibility of all to develop this strong leadership of the young youth society.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a researcher