Digital Bangladesh: From Fiery March to the World’s Wonder

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Published on March 4, 2023
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Who could have ever thought that Bangladesh would share the realm in the space from the state of the bottomless basket? But it is now the reality that our Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is orbiting the earth as the 57th country in the world. It has made things possible to extend internet and satellite facilities, telemedicine, e-learning, e-banking and other virtual facilities to the remotest areas. Without relying on cyber cable, all the activities of Digital Bangladesh will remain in operation even during natural calamities. Even by meeting the demand of the country, Bangabandhu Satellite sells bandwidth to other countries and moves towards earning remittances.

However, in terms of infrastructural development, Bangladesh has caught the attention of the whole world with the Padma Bridge. This two-story and multi-purpose bridge, built with 100% of its own money, has become a symbol of Bangladesh's potential to the world amid international conspiracies. All international organizations, including the United Nations, have lauded Bangladesh for its efforts in making this impossible work possible.

With the visionary plan of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, today Bangladesh has emerged as a middle-income country in the world. Digital Bangladesh is now wonder for the world, a role model for development.

Today's Bangladesh and the foresight of the invincible Bangabandhu

The status we now enjoy worldwide took a long way while crossing the milestone of 50 years of independence. The situation of today’s self-sufficient Bangladesh as the new generation finds was not like this even a decade ago. This Bangladesh had also no freedom once. This Golden Bengal was turned into a crematorium due to repression and exploitation by Pakistani barbarians for almost two decades. But under the indomitable leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we were able to establish ourselves as a victorious nation and independent state on the world map. And the month of March in 1971 became the final transition moment of the long journey of the liberation struggle.

Bengali people from all walks of life extended their support exclusively in favour of the Six-Point Programme in the 1970 elections. Under the leadership of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh Awami League got the right to form the government by winning the election with the boat symbol by a huge margin. But the Pakistanis continued to plot this victory of the Bengali nation. Yahya Khan, the Pakistani dictator, in a radio announcement on March 1, 1971, adjourned of the National Assembly, scheduled to be held in Dhaka on March 3, 1971. The whole of Bangladesh became agitated at the news. As a result, the winning leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a rally at Paltan declared a strike on March 2 and 3. On another rally at Paltan on March 3, Bangabandhu was awarded the 'Father of the Nation' title. On March 7, he gave a historic speech at Suhrawardy Udyan. He took control of the whole country. All-out Sangram committees were formed in each area under the leadership of the Awami League. Every house in Bengal turned into a fort. Both the non-cooperation to the Pakistanis and preparation for the final battle continued throughout March under the direction of Bangabandhu.

The Pakistani butchers started crackdown and genocide on the sleeping Bengali nation at midnight on March 25. Bangabandhu declared independence through wireless immediately in the early hours of March 26 leaving the Pakistani soldiers shocked who heard it on a special frequency. Though he was arrested later, the leaders of Dhaka and Chattogram circulated the copies of Bangabandhu's declaration of independence everywhere nationally and internationally.

Responding to Bangabandhu's call, all the Bengalis joined the Liberation War across the country. On 10 April 1971, the four national leaders formed the first government of Bangladesh with Bangabandhu as the president of Bangladesh, torchbearer of independence and supreme leader of the Liberation War. The slogan ‘Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu’ went vibrant during the oath-taking occasion on April 17. After the following nine-month-long bloody battle against the Pakistani invaders and their local allies including razakar, Jamaat, Al-Badr and Al-Shams. Finally, the Bengali nation achieved much-awaited independence on December 16, 1971, through the sacrifice of the lives of three million martyrs and the dignity of four lakh women.

But after independence, Bangabandhu got only three and a half years to rebuild the war-torn country. He established Bangladesh in the international arena by overcoming the obstacles of the anti-independence, extreme right and extreme leftists even during this short period. It is the leadership and foreign policy of Bangabandhu that brought recognition from the majority of the countries of the world within such a short time. In the meantime, he repatriated one crore refugees from India. He built and renovated about two crore houses for the people displaced during the war. He set up the Islamic Foundation for proper religious education and introduced the state-run Hajj system. He started empowering women who consisted of half the total population but remained backwards. He took initiative for industrialization along with technology-based agriculture and formulated long-term education policy.

Bangabandhu himself laid the foundation of today's digital Bangladesh. But the conspiracy of the freedom fighters took away the lives of his and his family members on August 15, 1975, just three and a half years after independence. As a result, a newly independent state became once again orphaned and plunged into darkness. The dictators and their extremist groups arranged all means to turn the soil of Bengal to the base of fundamentalism permanently leaving the lives of people in danger. In such backdrops, Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina responded to the call of the mass people by taking to the streets at the risk of her life. She saved democracy by overcoming the fear of bullet and bomb attacks and ousting the dictatorship.

Sheikh Hasina's indomitable journey towards fulfilling the aspirations of people

Forming the government in 1996, Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of democracy, took the initiative to rebuild the country. She took initiative to save Bangladesh from climate damage through the green revolution. Even when the 1998 flood inundated 70 per cent of the country, she faced the disaster successfully. The economic and social structure of Bangladesh was fragile after 21 years of continuous exploitation and anomalies. Therefore, the world media predicted that about one crore people would die due to the severe floods. But not a single person died of starvation or epidemic thanks to the relief management and voluntary programmes initiated by the Sheikh Hasina government. The disaster management skills stunned the world. In the very next year (1999), Bangladesh became self-sufficient in food production. Sheikh Hasina's people-friendly politics and foresight earned the respect and admiration for the Bengali nation from the world.  

The Bangabandhu’s daughter followed the footsteps shown by her father for adopting the state policy by standing by the side of miserable people. She started shelter projects for landless, homeless, disaster-affected people. Under such projects, the government has so far given land and houses to about 1 million landless and homeless people.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina embarked on a journey to take the country to new heights after forming the government with a two-thirds majority in the 2008 elections. Under her visionary leadership, Bangladesh has become a digital nation in the last decade. Internet and information technology facilities have reached the villages. When the world came to a standstill in early 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bangladesh government has dealt with the situation very prudently. The government has continued regular activities using digital platforms, keeping the economy, healthcare and law and order system running through digitized means.

The humanitarian and development activities have not stopped during the pandemic due to her modern and timely leadership. With her direction, government assistance was delivered to the doors of more than one crore Covid affected families regularly. Approximately five million farmers, workers and day labourers affected by the natural disasters and pandemics received cash through a digitized system. 

Under the social safety net, security has been ensured for all disadvantaged people. A total of 91 lakh people, including widows, divorcees, the elderly and the disabled, are being given protection allowances. Maternity leave has risen from four months to six months, and paternity leave has also been introduced. The leader of the people, Sheikh Hasina, has raised the allowances for the freedom fighters and their families to Tk 20,000. The backward women are being given stipends to bring them to the mainstream of society. Around 4 million students from grade one to graduation level have been brought under regular scholarships.  

Just as Bangabandhu established the Islamic Foundation for the Muslim majority of the country after independence, so are the daughter of Bangabandhu playing a role to promote Islam. Under her direction, 560 model mosques are being constructed across the country at a cost of Tk 8,000 crores. During this pandemic period, she even provided financial support for the development of mosques, temples, madrassas and orphanages and the nearly half a crore people associated with them across the country. Besides, the Prime Minister has personally collected funds and distributed Tk 250 crores in these sectors.

The country is moving forward fast amid the challenges of militancy, extremism and political conspiracies. Bangladesh has improved to a developing nation from the list of the least developed countries. The whole country has already come under 100% electricity coverage. Electricity facilities are also reaching the hills or inaccessible remote areas. The per capita income of the people has tripled.

The development of health services has helped people improve their average life expectancy. The extensive infrastructural development has made communication systems easier. Also, the development of four-lane highways is underway from Teknaf to Tentulia. Bangladesh has stunned the world by finishing the construction of the two-storied Padma Bridge with its own funds. The Dhaka Metrorail has already begun operation and people are loving it.  The construction work on the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram is almost complete.

The improvement in the quality of life of Bangladeshi people during the last decade is a surprise to the world leaders. That is why, in the 2019 UN General Assembly, the then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon termed Bangladesh as a 'role model of development'.

World leaders have highly lauded climate change mitigation proposals placed by Sheikh Hasina at the United Nations. Due to the role and philosophy of the Prime Minister in protecting the planet, world leaders also look at Bangladesh with utter respect. The way the humane and far-reaching leadership of the daughter of Bangabandhu is going on, it is only a matter of time to see Bangladesh on the list of the developed nation in future.