50 years of independence: Basking in development glory

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Published on March 26, 2021
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March is a significant month in the history of Bangladesh’s creation. Today marks the 50 years of this great country’s glorious independence. On this day in 1971, by getting inspired by the March 7 speech of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country started fighting for its independence. Since then this great nation went through lots of ups and downs and now finally after 50 years of its independence, Bangladesh is now a role model of development in front of the world.

Throughout the nine-month liberation war with West Pakistan, the country earned its independence. People fought for their freedom because of the economic, political and cultural conquest by the West Pakistanis over them. Therefore independence was about achieving democratic monetary societal and cultural rights. Within three years of independence, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed along with most of his family members in August 1975, by a group of misguided junior army officers, in an attempt to overthrow the government. Following this ruthless killing, a sharp division in political ideology began to take root in the country.

Though Bangladesh’s voyage in the immediate post-independence era has not been trouble-free at all. The country witnessed political instability and turmoil in the form of Bangabandhu and other leaders assassination and also went through military rule for many years. Things were made back to worse with extensive corruption and bad governance.

In terms of the economic situation in 1971, Bangladesh inherited a weak economy. It was primarily an agricultural focused economy with very low productivity. The country had an undersized industrial and services sector with a fast-flowing population and an overall meagre infrastructure. Levels of peoples income were very low, with that little savings and mere investment were leading to low growth. On top of it the nine-month war had cost significant harm to the economy.

In spite of such adverse conditions and restraints on resources, Bangladesh has made remarkable economic and societal advancement since its independence. Now ahead of the golden jubilee celebration of its independence, Bangladesh now stands tall and finally found some stability under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, worthy daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

To start with, the growth rate of the country’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) has been very impressive. The country’s GDP was only $6.2 billion in 1972. The GDP at the current prices of Bangladesh will stand at $338 billion in 2021. And according to recent research by the UK's Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), it will be double its size by 2030, which will make Bangladesh the 28th largest economy in the world.

On average, the GDP of Bangladesh has climbed up from about 3% in the 70s to 7% since 2010. Just before the pandemic where the world’s economy was on its way down, the country crossed the 8% GDP marking. Though the pandemic still slowed Bangladesh’s economic growth, its GDP growth is still predicted to upsurge faster than that of other countries. According to a report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh’s per capita GDP in 2020 was $1888 and its neighbour country India’s per capita GDP was $1877, which is a very remarkable achievement.

Since Sheikh Hasina came to power, the per capita income has nearly tripled. She first came to power in 1996 and then got re-elected in 2008. Since then, experts opine that the country has invested heavily and put its focus on enhancing the lives of women and girls. Currently, 98% of children have finished primary school with more girls in secondary than boys. On average life expectancy in Bangladesh is 72 years against Pakistan’s which is 67 years, and Bangladesh has also exceeded its neighbouring country India on combating child undernourishment and reproductive health, according to World Bank data.

The biggest achievement of the last 50 years has been the transition from a least developed country to a developing country. Most of the credit for this remarkable economic achievement in just 50 years of independence goes down to the astute leadership of the current premiere and she is now thriving Bangladesh from a developing country to a developed nation.

In some sectors, Bangladesh achieved astonishing achievement over the years that include the ability to deal with natural disasters, successfully recovering from economic recession, giving allowances to freedom fighters and being self-sufficient in food and living and finally settling maritime disputes with the neighbouring nations.

In the government’s quest for digital Bangladesh, a revolutionary change has taken place in the IT sector, which is propelling the nation towards digitalization in every sector, which includes health, judiciary system etc. People now carry out a lot of work online at home and this happened due to the pandemic, which we can say is a blessing in disguise in this revolution. Maximum upazilas of the country have been taken under the internet connectivity to serve rural people in various sectors, which many could not have even imagined a decade ago.

Bangladesh is also rapidly improving in other sectors as well. According to UNCTAD’s survey, Bangladesh is in pole position in the countries that carry out ship recycling. The nation’s export segment is moving ahead at a great pace and Bangladeshi medicines are now being exported to 148 countries of the world, which is a commendable achievement. Bangladesh is also one of the fastest rising countries when it comes to the energy sector and is also the 5th largest employer in the solar power sector.

All in all, there has been a lot of achievements that this great nation has achieved and witnessed over its short independence stint of 50 years. There is still a long way to go and the future is only looking bright with Sheikh Hasina at the helm. Ahead of Bangladesh’s golden jubilee independence celebrations, the people of this country should celebrate its accomplishments with great pride. With more hard work and dedication from people of all strata in every sector and under the leadership of the current premiere, Bangladesh can only look forward to being a successful nation in years to come.