305Published on May 23, 2023
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday spelt out seven suggestions, which she earned from the experience of her life, among the students of Qatar for becoming future leaders.
‘I would like to share a few suggestions for future leaders from my life’s experience and struggles — first of all, represent a value; remain focused on your vision; make concrete plans to realise your vision; lead by example and be the change-maker; trust your people and team; invoke your maternal spirit; and embrace the new and the future,’ she said.
She made the suggestions while delivering her speech before the students of Qatar University at its Research Complex auditorium in Doha.
The theme of the event — A Session with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh — was Bangladesh: a Development Model: Learning from Sheikh Hasina.
Focusing on the history and recent development of Bangladesh, Hasina told the students that Bangladesh territory was once a land of opulence and prosperity. It was mercilessly exploited and robbed by the colonial rulers till 1947, when undivided India was partitioned, and then by the Pakistanis.
The PM said that the prevalence of famine, extreme poverty, starvation, malnutrition, deaths, etc was rampant in this territory due to the lack of commitment of the rulers towards the general masses.
After a long struggle for 23 years and a nine-month war of independence under the leadership of the countr’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh was born as an independent country in 1971, she said.
PM Hasina said that her government managed to build a solid foundation for Bangladesh’s socio-economic transformation during her first regime from 1996 to 2001.
As her party got re-elected to office in December 2008 and then for two more consecutive terms, they got Bangladesh ready in the last fourteen and a half years for what her father had wished for-a happy and prosperous golden Bangladesh.
‘In 2015, Bangladesh became a lower middle-income country, and we envision it becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2031 and a high-income one by 2041. Meanwhile, we have been qualified to graduate to a developing country by 2026 from the LDC category,’ she said.
She said Bangladesh had made impressive progress in almost all socio-economic fields and shed some light on the development of a few areas like economic development and poverty alleviation, education and knowledge-based society, and women’s empowerment.
‘Bangladesh is now the world’s 35th largest economy, with a GDP of $460.75 billion. In 2005-06, the GDP size was only $60 billion. Per capita income was $543 in 2006, which increased to $2,824 in 2022. The headcount poverty rate was 41.5 per cent in 2005-06, while the current poverty rate has come down to 18.7 per cent and the extreme poverty rate to 5.6 per cent,’ she said.
In fiscal year 2005-06, the size of the country’s national budget was Tk 610.5 billion. In the financial year 2022-23, the size of the budget is Tk 6.78 trillion. In the fiscal year 2005-06, export earnings were $ 10.52 billion, while in 2021-2022, they increased to $52 billion, she said.
Bangladesh’s economy grew at an average of 6.5 per cent over the past one and a half decades, and before the pandemic struck, it grew at 8.15 per cent in the 2018-19 fiscal year, she added.
‘We have made impressive gains in food security, free and affordable housing, community healthcare, compulsory primary education, women’s empowerment, financial inclusion, digital services, access to electricity, disaster preparedness, and climate adaptation,’ said the PM.
Besides, she focused on Ashrayan scheme being implemented to provide free houses for homeless families, establishment of over 18,000 community clinics and rural health centers to provide primary healthcare services, expansion of social safety net to support the poor and marginalised sections of society and development in education sector.
‘We want to build a knowledge-based, SMART Bangladesh. In SMART Bangladesh, there will be a smart government, a smart economy, a smart population, a smart society, and smart manpower. People will be made skilled in using digital devices so that they can contribute to the fourth industrial revolution,’ she said.
About women education, she said her government gave priority to women’s education. ‘After a decade’s efforts, we now rank the highest in South Asia in reducing gender disparity. We have gender parity in favour of our girls in our primary and secondary education,’ she said.
Talking about women empowerment, she said, ‘We are among the world’s top ten nations for women’s political empowerment. Bangladesh is perhaps the only country where the prime minister, speaker of the parliament, leader of the opposition, and deputy leader of the house are all women. We have 33 per cent reserved seats for our women in the local government bodies. I made it a point to break all glass ceilings by placing our deserving women in top leadership positions everywhere.’
The PM said that today’s Bangladesh was a changed Bangladesh. ‘It is dubbed as a role model for development. Hunger, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, etc are vanishing fast. Our hard-earned development in the country is not a miracle. It is the collective work of our men and women. I have only tried to guide them in the desired direction. However, it was not an easy journey to reach today’s position. I have had to undergo huge ordeals and persecution throughout my life,’ she said.
Speaking of the ordeals and persecution, Hasina said she continued her struggle only to change the fates of her countrymen. ‘I shall continue to do so as long as I live, Insha Allah. My dream is to turn our delta into a land of prosperity once again,’ said the PM.
Hasina arrived in Doha on Monday on a three-day official visit to attend the Qatar Economic Forum-2023 at the invitation of Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.