Published:  03:12 AM, 28 September 2021

Windows of democracy and Sheikh Hasina's birthday

Windows of democracy and Sheikh Hasina's birthday
Bangladesh became independent on 16 December 1971 through the bloodbath of a war that continued for nine months under the charismatic leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. During the Liberation War of 1971, it became vivid who are Bangladesh's allies and who are our foes. On the other hand, the most painful tragedy in Bangladesh's history hit us hard on 15 August 1975 when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated with most of his family members. Bangladesh lost its path and became distracted after Bangabandhu's murder. Autocracy and misgovernance gripped the country in Bangabandhu's eternal absence. Bangabandhu's two daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana miraculously survived the assassination as they were abroad at that time.

Sheikh Hasina came back to Bangladesh in 1981. She gradually reorganized all the politicians and activists who believed in the spirit of the Liberation War. After long twenty one years, Awami League came back to power in 1996. The country's lost glory was recovered through Awami League's victory in the election of 1996.

However, conspirators at home and abroad caused Awami League's defeat in the election of 2001. Fundamentalists and communal gangs unleashed a spree of horror all over Bangladesh by tormenting religious minorities as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won the polls of 2001. A Hindu girl named Purnima like many other girls belonging to the minorities was raped. Professor Gopal Krishna Mohuri, who was a college principal, was killed by BNP goons. This is how a repression on religious minorities came down during the years while BNP and Jamaat nexus was in power.

Radical groups and their accomplices carried out the horrendous 21st August 2004 grenade attacks to assassinate Sheikh Hasina but Sheikh Hasina once again survived though many Awami League leaders and activists were killed. There were many other attempts on Sheikh Hasina's life but Sheikh Hasina often says that she lived on by Almighty Allah's grace and the prayers of her country's people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also says that she does not fear death.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with Indian Premier Narendra Modi.

Another vicious assault was made on Awami League's rally at Laldighi in Chittagong on 24 January 1988. Sheikh Hasina was present over there at that time. Around 30 people got killed in that shooting.

Acute load shedding, lack of good governance, militancy, terrorism and many other socio-political ailments clutched Bangladesh while BNP-Jamaat was in power. Sheikh Hasina had to eradicate all these maladies after gaining a landslide victory in the election of December 2008 under a non-partisan caretaker government.

Vision 2021, Vision 2041 and Sheikh Hasina's 75th birthday are divine gifts to Bangladesh. We have meanwhile graduated from the least developed countries (LDC) and become a middle income country through the relentless efforts of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Widespread electrification, digital technologies and mobile internet have inundated Bangladesh during the reign of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh is now a proud member of the global village. The country's economic wheels and infrastructural progress have been expedited. The entire world now views Bangladesh as a development role model.

Electricity will be further expanded all over Bangladesh through the implementation of India-Bangladesh joint power plant at Rampal and the nuclear power plant in Rooppur which is being materialized under the supervision of Russian scientists. Per capita income of Bangladeshi people has crossed 2000 dollars. The government also earned applause by conducting a drive across Bangladesh against narcotics. Nevertheless, the banking and financial sectors are still suffering from woes, graft and anomalies. Financial experts have called upon the government to take immediate steps to streamline all banks and financial institutions so that banking and financial disorder does not affect Bangladesh's economic growth.

It may be recalled that the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty (CHTPT) was signed in December 1997 while Sheikh Hasina was the country's premier. She made it happen and thus peace and stability were restored in Chittagong Hill Tracts. Sheikh Hasina also earned the title "Mother of Humanity" by sheltering over one million Rohingya refugees on the soil of Bangladesh. Thus Sheikh Hasina has obtained the characteristics of a real stateswoman. My article on Sheikh Hasina titled "Sheikh Hasina and Raoul Wallenberg in History" was admired by the Cabinet Division which appeared in The Asian Age on 16 October 2017.

But there is still anti-government propaganda on social media and in other ways to undermine the government's achievements. A Nobel laureate who has no contribution in the country's sports arena and wanted to obstruct the construction of Padma Bridge was awarded Olympic Laurel. It is a reflection of the fact that there is a vicious circle involving economic and administrative viruses hidden in the ruling authorities. It has been observed that Nobel Prize was conferred to a number of controversial figures. According to many analysts at home and abroad, Sheikh Hasina deserves Nobel Prize for her selfless work for the people of Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina has recently received SDG Progress Award for Bangladesh's satisfactory performance in attaining the objectives of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bangladesh has to remain aware of the direness of debt trap diplomacy. There are some fanatical parties including Hefazat-E-Islam who do not recognize manmade constitutions. These parties want to run the country according to Islamic Shariah. It is a threat to communal harmony. India and Soviet Union (now Russian Federation) comprehensively cooperated with Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971. But a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed with Chinese Communist Party in 2019 though no such accords were signed with India or Russia who are our proven allies. History shows that China explicitly opposed Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971. China recognized Bangladesh after Bangabandhu's assassination.

With the increase of export and remittance, foreign currency reserve has gone up from 7.4 billion dollars to over 45 billion dollars. Ten taka bank accounts for farmers, school banking for children, agricultural loans, small and medium enterprises loans, agent banking, mobile banking etcetera have broadly upgraded people's economic status. The base of the economic pyramid has indeed become very strong during the tenure of Sheikh Hasina's government.

Poverty has been eradicated comprehensively while average longevity has also increased to 72 years. A lot of dynamism has been added to rural economy which has expanded the domestic market. Number of people belonging to middle and upper classes has increased too. A number of initiatives have been taken up by the government for people's social protection. Everybody knows about Sheikh Hasina's dedication towards the ordinary masses.
Sheikh Hasina is round the clock occupied with thoughts and concern over the welfare of the country's citizens. The people of Bangladesh have full confidence on Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh will continue to rise incessantly as long as Sheikh Hasina holds the helm of the country with her courage and the hope she has instilled in the minds of her countrymen. The expectations which were in the dark in the past are now coming true under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladesh has made a great deal of progress with all parameters under the outstanding leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Socio-economic growth, agricultural development, women empowerment and infrastructural advancement all over the country have amazed everyone. Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of democracy and a sign of hope for the people of Bangladesh. She is one of the global leaders who never turn back in the middle of adversities.

Sheikh Hasina's only family member now is her younger sister Sheikh Rehana. Sheikh Hasina regards the people of Bangladesh as her closest and dearest ones. At this moment Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is overseas to represent Bangladesh in the United Nations. People of Bangladesh would be highly delighted if Sheikh Hasina could stay in Bangladesh during her birthday. I offer my best wishes to Sheikh Hasina for her long, healthy and successful life on this auspicious occasion.

While concluding, I would like to quote a few lines from Rabindranath Tagore who once wrote "On this birthday of mine I would like to stay close to my beloved buddies whose love is the highest form of sacraments in my life and I will take with me people's last blessings."

The writer is a diplomat, entrepreneur, author, sports organizer and Chairman, Editorial Board of The Asian Age.

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