Bangabandhu's Initiatives to Build War-torn Bangladesh

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Published on December 11, 2021
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Hiren Pandit:

Bangabandhu was released from the prison in Pakistan on 8 January 1972 and left for London on 9 January. On the morning of January 10, Bangabandhu made a short break in Delhi and left for Dhaka. The plane touched down at Tejgaon Airport at 3 pm. From there, it took Bangabandhu two and a half hours to reach the Historic Racecourse ground through the love and affection of millions of Bengalis. Bangabandhu reached home at 7:00 pm out of millions of people in the Racecourse.

After such a long journey, long formality, public meeting, exchange of emotions, and tears, from 11 January, Bangabandhu started running the country without a moment's delay, ignoring all the fatigue and emotions. On the same day, twice met with the Cabinet, and many important decisions were taken, including the drafting of the Constitution.

At the beginning of the discussion about the Constitution, the issue discussed that the basis of the political and economic system of Bangladesh will be Bengali nationalism, democracy, socialism, and secularism. The election manifesto of 1970 stated that socialist development and change should be brought into the economy of the country. Economists explained that it was the way to develop the country's economy through poverty alleviation and inequality elimination and planned development measures.

It was on this basis that the budget of the then Finance Minister Tajuddin Ahmed for 1972-73 was formulated, which reflected the principles of the Constitution. Some of the medium and long-term goals of Bangabandhu's economic philosophy were to achieve self-reliance, maximize the use of the country's internal resources, receive and use foreign aid, which should be unconditional, and gradually reduce this dependence.

Involve the private sector in development activities and industrialization: In 1972, the maximum limit for investment in the private sector was set at Tk 25 lakh, which was increased to Tk 3 crore in 1974.The thoughts and instructions of Bangabandhu in the constitution for the overall development of the country are described in the second part of the constitution.

Development of local governance institutions, participation of women in national life: On 12 January Bangabandhu took over as Prime Minister under the Provisional Constitution and formed a new Cabinet. Since Bangabandhu's historic speech on March 7, the whole country, including all government and non-government organizations in the then East Pakistan, has been following Bangabandhu's orders and the Bengali part of the army is waiting for Bangabandhu's orders.

War-torn Bangladesh began to rebuild and successfully tackled various economic and other challenges. Bangabandhu returned to newly independent Bangladesh and saw that there was no food in the granaries, no crops in the fields, and the reserves in the Central Bank were zero. No Bank is functional. Roads and railways are cut off and seaports are destroyed. Schools and Colleges were abandoned Barracks. The Pakistani aggressors destroyed everything possible knowing that defeat was certain.

First of all, Bangabandhu emphasized maintaining the non-aligned position and gaining the recognition of most of the countries in the world as soon as possible, and gaining membership in various international organizations. Bangabandhu aimed to make Bangladesh stand first in the international arena. In just three and a half years of his rule, the Father of the Nation has given Bangladesh the recognition of 121 countries and membership of 36 international organizations, including the United Nations.

In the nine months of the liberation war, the transport system was almost destroyed. As a result, the post-liberation economy almost stopped the import and distribution of food grains, raw materials used in industry, agricultural products, and daily necessities. In such a situation, Bangabandhu took the initiative to compensate for all kinds of facilities in the port, development of shipping, and other areas with utmost importance in the reconstruction work and gave importance to the commencement of civil aviation.

The power system was also severely damaged in the war of liberation. In a short time, Bangabandhu emphasized re-establishing the power system through the construction of transmission and distribution lines.For most subsidized food production, he set a goal to introduce new mechanical methods of cultivation. To increase agricultural production, farmers are provided with fertilizers, medicines, and high-quality seeds. Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council was established in 1973.

Bangabandhu emphasized family planning. He started piloting population control programs in 12 police stations across the country. We are now talking about growth above seven percent. But at the time of Bangabandhu, the growth rate in Bangladesh was 7.8 percent. He also plans to turn the population into educated and skilled human resources.

That is why he formed the National Education Commission. Nationalized schools and colleges. He formed the University Grants Commission for Higher Education and in 1970 he said, we have to give importance to education and health. We need to build medical colleges and medical universities. Emphasis should be placed on technical education.

He also attached great importance to building various scientific institutions. Bangabandhu established the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission in 1973 with the idea of helping various sectors of the national economy including public health, food, agriculture, education, and industry through the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This institute is currently the largest science research institute in the country. At the same time, he formed the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR). He started building houses for the people affected by the liberation war. He wanted not a single person in his country to be homeless. So, he focused on housing, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.In just three and a half years, Bangladesh has left a strong policy, plan, infrastructure in all areas of health care and medicine. During the War of Independence and in 1972, three consecutive crop production was affected and there was a food shortage in the country. Many food aids were available from India and other developed countries.

The UN Secretary-General called for 1 million tons of aid, food aid to the affected people, and repatriated peoples through grants from the Japanese government and some barter agreements and rationing at various levels. Bangladesh became a member of the two organizations in August 1972 and the foreign exchange and gold needed in this regard were donated by Canada and Sweden. Earlier, the Indian government set aside some foreign currency as loans.

Reconstruction and reconstruction-related work were described in the budget of 1972-73. Many friendly countries helped Bangabandhu in this reconstruction, which did not need to be paid for. These donors included India, Soviet Union (Russia), the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Bangabandhu's goal was to achieve self-sufficiency in food production as soon as possible. Besides, in the budget of 1972-73, importance was given to the education sector after rehabilitation. The aim of Bangabandhu's thought and effort to build the economic structure of the state was to alleviate the suffering of the poor people of Bengal and to provide food, clothing, education, health, and employment to all.

In the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh (50 years) independence, Bangladesh has risen to the top of the world. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman planted the seeds of Digital Bangladesh. He made Bangladesh a member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 1973. On 14 June 1975, he inaugurated the Satellite Earth Center at Betbunia, Rangamati.

We saw the development of the sapling born from the seed planted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1996 when the people's leader Sheikh Hasina took charge as the Prime Minister for the first time. She clearly said that she got the idea of Digital Bangladesh from her son and her IT Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy.

Building friendly relations with other states, the principle of coexistence in peace, and the evidence of the struggle for the people, other states extended a helping hand to Bangladesh, Bangabandhu, from the birth of independent Bangladesh. The main issues were included in the planning this is democracy and human rights, principles of ownership, state ownership, cooperative ownership, and private ownership, the emancipation of farmers and workers.

Basic needs of the people, food, clothing, shelter, education and health, basic materials of life, right to work, the right to reasonable rest, recreation and leisure, the right to social security, rural development and the agricultural revolution, unpaid and compulsory education, the structure of the education system in line with the needs of society and the economy, and effective measures to eradicate illiteracy, public health, and nutritious food and ensuring equality for all. Bangabandhu adopted a comprehensive plan to utilize the freedom fighters.

He took special measures for the organization of the police force, militia, and reserve forces in Bangladesh. He gave State Status to the freedom fighters and took measures for the treatment and rehabilitation of the war-wounded freedom fighters. Apart from this, he was employed in various jobs in the country according to their qualifications.

And restoring the ceiling of land ownership was a historic step towards establishing justice in the social sense by bridging the gap between rich and poor. The Bangabandhu government initially recruited 500 doctors in the villages as a step towards eliminating the existing disparities between urban and rural life. The adoption of the Thana Health Project is still recognized as an important step in the world to deliver health services at the grassroots level.

On 19 February 1974, Bangabandhu, in line with the national aspirations, formed the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy to make Bangladesh an art-cultured creative humanitarian Bangladesh and enrich it by preserving the thousand-year-old culture and heritage of Bengalis. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is the only national institution for the development of art and culture in Bangladesh. In his speech on 17 January 1974, Bangabandhu declared war on corruption.

He said the future of the nation would be bleak if effective resistance against corruption could not be built. Describing the corrupt, bribe-takers, smugglers, hoarders, black marketeers, and over-profiteers as enemies of the society and the state, Bangabandhu said that if the national life could not be cleansed by punishing them, the two eras of Awami League would be abandoned.

Writer: Research Fellow, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)

Source: Daily Asian Age

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