Published:  12:45 AM, 13 September 2018

A 'different Bangladesh' marching forward towards greater hope

A 'different Bangladesh' marching forward towards greater hope

Rabindranath Tagore had always been an optimist. He spoke of hope in all his songs, poems, essays, plays and short stories. Rabindranath Tagore's optimistic poetry and songs have all along inspired us in building up our nation. Our father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a great fan of Rabindranath Tagore's songs and literary works. Whenever Bangabandhu went to jail, he never forgot to take with him books by Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Bangabandhu wrote in 'Karagarer Rojnamcha' (Prison Diary) on 27 July 1966 that Rabindranath Tagore's following words gave him some relief: "It is not my prayer to save me during trouble. Rather I pray not to fear troublesome times."

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was never afraid of danger which is why he became the hub of hope for countless numbers of people. Bangabandhu spoke of the sufferings, fury and hope of Bangladesh's people on 7th March 1971 saying, "We will liberate this country with Almighty Allah's grace."

The entire Liberation War of 1971 was fought on the basis of the hope and confidence that emanated from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Indeed he became the symbol of hope and aspirations of a fighting nation during those difficult days of 1971.

Bangabandhu, with high hope and spirit, worked for reconstructing the economy and administration of the war-torn country after independence. Besides introducing a state of the art constitution for the Republic he was farsighted enough to formulate education policy, agricultural policy, industrial policy, space policy, foreign policy and policies for all other sectors within a short span of time by virtue of his unwavering optimism.

Despite huge challenges in the spheres of governance today's Bangladesh is marching forward at a faster pace in light of that hope holding the hands of Bangabandhu's capable daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Public welfare used to be at the center of the policymaking thoughts of Bangabandhu. We can see a similar presence of public interest in the domain of policymaking by Sheikh Hasina. The whole world is now looking at a different Bangladesh with wonder at its rapid socio-economic development. Even Pakistan also intends to replicate the inclusive development strategy of Bangladesh pursued so skillfully under the firm and dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the capable daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proven her visionary leadership as a stateswoman by launching the Delta Plan 2100 a few days ago. The young generation of Bangladesh needs to be introduced to the political wisdom, competence and dedication of Sheikh Hasina. The Delta Plan 2100 includes detailed strategies to resist river erosion, river management, water supply throughout urban and rural areas, waste management, flood control and many more essential elements of water management in a deltaic context. It is a long term master plan for the soil, human beings and natural resources including water of Bangladesh.

The Delta Plan 2100 has been formulated keeping in mind the water management of Netherlands as Bangladesh is a riverine country. This plan will cost 3 lakh crore taka. The implementation of this plan will protect people from the adverse effects of climate change, environmental disasters and will address ecological vulnerabilities that exist in char areas (sandbanks) and coastal regions of Bangladesh.

Appropriate use of the water resources of Bangladesh, land, public health, ecological features, food safety and other necessary elements have been incorporated in the Delta Plan 2100 to sustain the development and consolidate the survival of Bangladesh leaving no one behind. Integrated policies, impediments and decision-making challenges have been underlined under this plan.

All people of Bangladesh will have to participate in the implementation of this mega plan, not just the government. The private organizations besides the government authorities will have to work hand in hand to materialize the Delta Plan 2100.

Research-oriented institutions, universities, intellectuals, analysts and citizens from all walks of life will have to play their roles efficiently for this purpose. Bangladesh has meanwhile strengthened its foothold by materializing different projects to deal with the climate change issue at its own cost. Moreover, by means of chalking out the Delta Plan 2100 Bangladesh has further mounted its moral height on the global stage.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina showed the dream of Digital Bangladesh to the people of Bangladesh during election campaign of 2008. Many people had doubts about it at that time. But now Digital Bangladesh is an undeniable reality. Internet connections, mobile banking, agent banking, emails, cell phones and other technological blessings have in the meantime reached all corners of Bangladesh.

The economic growth of Bangladesh, particularly during the past decade, has simply been stunning. It is rated now as one of the three fast growing economies of the world. Bangladesh has been achieving socio-economic development goals one after another under Sheikh Hasina's leadership during last several years which brought laurels for her and the country inside Bangladesh and abroad.

The whole world now looks at Bangladesh as a role model for development for which credit primarily goes to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her commitment for the people of this country. Bangladesh is now working hard to attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030 following its remarkable performance in achieving MDGs.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already built a strong platform for upgrading sound innovative skills, attracting  local and foreign investments and promoting socially responsible development schemes during last ten years. It makes us optimistic about an even brighter Bangladesh in the days to come when poverty will be totally eradicated, average longevity will further rise and the whole nation will become self-sufficient in food and other basic needs.

Bangabandhu once said, "Mothers will smile, children will play." Agriculture sector of Bangladesh has meanwhile made fantastic progress with mechanized cultivation. We are now self-reliant in the production of rice, vegetables and fish. 95% of our agricultural land is now cultivated with mechanized tools.

Yet, we still need to push for further mechanization in harvesting of cereal crops and as well as milking of cows. Remittances from expatriate Bangladeshis are no more utilized only for unproductive expenditures in the rural areas. In fact, most of the Remittances is invested in productive small and medium enterprises like digging of ponds, raising poultry firms and buying mechanized equipments for farming.

Advancement in livestock is strikingly remarkable. Cattle from foreign countries were not much imported during this year's Eid Ul Azha. Rural economy has, indeed, become exceedingly vibrant. People across villages are now leading their life with happiness and affluence.

More and more girls besides boys are nowadays going to schools and colleges in cities, towns and villages. People are getting healthcare services from community clinics. Ordinary citizens are being able to take good food. Surely, people are taking advantage of density dividend and the rural-urban connect is obvious.

A great deal of advancement has taken place in leather, textiles, ceramic, medicines and jute sectors during these ten years. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has revolutionized electrification. While the electricity production went up to five thousand megawatts during hundred years before 2008, the same figure more than tripled during the last decade.

Thus Sheikh Hasina has freed most part of Bangladesh from the darkness by providing greater access and as well as ending frequent load-shedding. Now the government is paying special attention to the production of renewable fuels and making energy available to everyone across Bangladesh.

The readymade garments sector is being gradually transformed into a green industry, thanks to the proactive push by the developmental central bank of Bangladesh. That doesn't mean milk and honey are flowing everywhere. We still have many challenges to overcome. Every year we will have to generate employment for more than sixteen hundred thousand people. And this is possible only if we help develop more entrepreneurs who will pry employment.

The government alone cannot create so many jobs. Also we need to develop skills for our employees if we want to remain competitive in a globalized market. We will have to further diversify our exports and expand the market beyond Europe and America.

We must look towards Asia in expanding our export market. We also need to double our agricultural production by 2030 as indicated by SDGs. We have to fight the malpractice of defaulted loans and establish good governance and transparency in our banking sector to maintain desired financial stability.

It is a matter of enormous hope that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken up practical initiatives to achieve  most of these goals. The mega projects including construction of Padma Bridge, Metro Rail, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant and special economic zones are being implemented in full swing. However, a peaceful political environment is a pre-requisite for timely completion of these projects.

If we work with  right kind of devotion, diligence and integrity, we will  certainly be able to transform Bangladesh into a  developed country by 2041. We should , therefore, cherish high hope and remain confident that we will make it overcoming all the hurdles on the way.

Our Prime Minister has been working relentlessly to sow the seeds of optimism and trust to overcome political and economic challenges. Bangabandhu gained the fountain of hope from the optimistic verses of Rabindranath Tagore. That's why I would like to quote a few lines from Rabindranath Tagore while concluding this article.

"We do not have clarity in our life. There is no sketch in broad terms to what extent we can expand our hope and capabilities. People's strength is boosted with their right to hope. The power of human beings gets wider when their ground of hope is deep and comprehensive.

The greatest thing the society can give us is hope. Humans move towards their goals with the force of their optimism. Hope is the ultimate power that drives people towards success. This is the most vital precept". (Collected from 'Works of Rabindranath Tagore', Thirteenth Volume, "Aim and Education" Page 699).

The writer is an eminent economist and Bangladesh Bank's former Governor. Email:

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