Taking over as Prime Minister for the second time on January 8, 2009, Sheikh Hasina 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. The Prime Minister took 10 special initiatives. Prioritizes poverty, hunger-free society, housing, education, medicine, employment, social safety net and digitization in the country. Today, the benefits of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ have spread from urban to villages.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned four pillars of building Smart Bangladesh. These are Smart Citizens, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society. The government wants to build Bangladesh as a Smart Bangladesh, where every manpower will be smart. Everyone will learn to do everything online, the economy will be the e-economy, where the entire money management will be done on digital devices. She mentioned, “Our education, health, 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 people of Bangladesh have confidence in Sheikh Hasina to build a Smart Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina has transformed the country into a digital Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina’s government will also be able to create a Smart Bangladesh. In 2008, Sheikh Hasina told us to give digital Bangladesh. Today, Bangladesh has truly become a digital Bangladesh.
Per-capita income is now 2824and human resources and economic fragility� the criteria for the cited indicators determine the eligibility of developing countries to be listed. Bangladesh has achieved the desired qualifications in these three indices. 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. Bangladesh is moving forward on the path of building a golden Bengal. 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.
Sheikh Hasina has given four milestones, the first is the vision of Digital Bangladesh in 2021 which is being achieved to a great extent, the second is to achieve the SDGs in 2030, the third is to build a developed Bangladesh in 2041 and the fourth is the Delta Plan for 2100.
By 2041, Bangladesh will be a developed country, with a per-capita income of more than, 12,500. Bangladesh will be a golden Bengal, where poverty will be a thing of the past.The next two decades will see changes in the way agriculture, industry and commerce, education and health, transportation and communications, business practices and performance patterns are achieved. The benefits of this continuous change have been emphasized in the Vision of balanced distribution at all levels of society.
Towards a High-Income Economy, the dream cherished by the Father of the Nation to build a prosperous Bangladesh free from poverty and hunger, free from corruption and exploitation has been taken as an inspiring start.To achieve this goal, it has set a target of 9.02 percent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) over the next two decades. Following this path of growth, Bangladesh 2031 will be an upper-middle-income country.
The potential population of Bangladesh in 2041 will be 213 million. Those with a per capita income of at least 12,500. Extremely poor people with a daily income of less than 2.18 will be reduced to 0.6 percent. The poorest people, who have a daily income of 3.20, will have 2.59 percent. Making the seemingly impossible possible.To this end, strategic work has been committed for export-oriented industrialization, increase in agricultural productivity, expansion of the city, efficient energy and infrastructure, creation of skilled manpower, etc.
The four pillars of good governance, democratization, decentralization and capacity building will be the main agenda to achieve Vision 2041. Digital technology-based revenue administration will be built to increase it to 50 percent by 2041. In 2041, the amount of investment will be 48.6 percent of GDP, which is currently 32.6 percent. Export revenue should be increased from the desired 50 billion dollars in 2021 to 300 billion dollars in 2041.
Connection ofMetrorail in an urban communication system, upgrading the current average speed of highway corridor from 25-30 km / h to 60-100 km / h, upgrading of all railway lines to broad gauge system and installation of modern traffic signals, ship’s ‘anchor day’ and Steps will be taken for the next two decades to improve navigability through development, dredging, river management and dam construction, installation of additional runways and taxiways at airports and periodic collection of tolls from highway users.
Urbanization and development are very deeply and positively related. Due to high economic density, urban areas are the driving force of growth. Like developed countries, in 2041, 80 percent of the total population of Bangladesh will live in cities. Preparations for this are described entitled Measures of Urban Variability in a High-Income Economy. The government has taken a plan to expand all the facilities of the city to the rural areas under the policy ‘My Village My Town’. Instead of Dhaka-centric urbanization, emphasis has been laid on the balanced development of many urban centers.
Ensuring sustainable environmental development and building a climate-sustainable nation and unleashing the possibilities of a �Green Economy� in a dynamic vibrant delta, sets out on climate adaptation efforts. Tidal fluctuations, salinity, floods, river erosion and tidal surges are regular features of Bangladesh, which hinder development. Under the Delta Plan 2100, the current plan focuses on the extraction of Blue economic resources (fisheries, seaweed, mineral resources).
We are currently witnessing an incredible systematic fundamental change (paradigm shift). This change is taking place along the path of the digital transformation of the conventional system. With the advent of sophisticated technology, digital transformation is taking place at a rapid pace. In the fourth industrial revolution, you can see that it is being printed from your 3D printer and brought to the fore. While there will be challenges to this fundamental change in the system, it will not necessarily pose a threat to those countries that will use state-of-the-art technology and improve efficiency in digital transformation.
The ambitious ‘Smart Bangladesh 2041’ concept has been formulated with an emphasis on its extensive use.Critics might say the plan is too ambitious. Whether in personal life or the management of the state; if there is no ambition to achieve any goal, it will be floating in the river like a boat without a sailor. The implementation of such an ambitious modern programme will be ‘impossible’ or ‘difficult’ after the announcement of Digital Bangladesh 14 years ago; many such words were heard. Criticism of Digital Bangladesh was also strong from the ruling party’s political opponents. But overcoming all criticism, Digital Bangladesh is now a reality.
In implementing Digital Bangladesh, we have got a new sector called Digital Economy. We have witnessed the launch of the Bangabandhu satellite in space. The implementation of the ‘Smart Bangladesh 2041’ vision may see another sector called the space economy. Home-made satellites are being sent into space. With such ambition, Smart Bangladesh 2041 is not just a vision; the previously announced ‘Vision 2041’ also emphasizes building a space economy.
The plan to build a space economy has to be applauded for two reasons. First, given the current global realities, Bangladesh will have to launch more different types of satellites into space for space research and expansion of the economy and information technology. Second, investing in satellites is profitable.
Three important aspects of the Smart Bangladesh vision- are a knowledge-based economy, an innovative nation and building an inclusive digital society. There are proposals for its deliberate implementation. The construction of the national knowledge shuffle required for the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution; Building infrastructure for conducting knowledge-based activities; Establishment of international startup mentors and business coaches at the local level and the establishment of an Alternative School for Startup Educators of Tomorrow and Center for Learning Innovation and Creation of Knowledge.
In building an innovative nation, emphasis has been placed on capacity building, quality innovation and control. It is proposed to set up Self Employment and Entrepreneurship Development (SED) and Content Engineering and Linkage Lab (Cell) as new initiatives to create entrepreneurs. In building an inclusive digital society, emphasis has been placed on ensuring the inclusion and empowerment of people from all walks of life. The ICT department has already taken various initiatives to implement the Smart Bangladesh vision.
- Hiren Pandit is a researcher and columnist