From a national tragedy to technological triumph: Sajeeb Wazed’s journey in Bangladesh’s transformation

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Published on January 22, 2024
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Born in the shadows of the 1971 Liberation War, Sajeeb Wazed, the son of nuclear scientist Dr. M.A. Wazed Miah and Sheikh Hasina, entered a world marked by national turmoil and personal tragedy. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his grandfather, named him “Joy” as a symbol of the nation’s victory. His early years were marred by the devastating loss of his grandparents and uncles, assassinated in the 1975 military coup in Bangladesh. This tragedy was compounded by the subsequent exile of his mother and aunt, barred from their homeland by the ruling military regime until 1981.

Wazed’s educational journey took him to the United States, where he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, followed by a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University’s prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government. These formative years were not only about academic growth but also about nurturing a vision for his homeland, deeply influenced by his family’s political legacy and the tumultuous history of Bangladesh.

He started working for the country and the countrymen during a period of heightened political unrest and rising militancy, as he witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by his mother, Sheikh Hasina, then the opposition leader. The stark reality of the political landscape, marred by the presence of war criminals in positions of power and the constant threat to his mother’s life, including the infamous August 21, 2004 grenade attack, galvanized Wazed’s resolve to engage in the country’s politics and governance.

Wazed’s political activism came to the forefront during the troubled times of the caretaker government in 2007 and 2008. He initiated campaigns across the United States and Europe, drawing international attention to the unjust detention of his mother and the need for democratic restoration in Bangladesh. His efforts were not just about family; they symbolized a broader struggle for justice and democratic values in his country.

In 2010, Wazed formally entered the political arena as a primary member of the Awami League in Rangpur, his father’s ancestral home district. He simultaneously took on the role of an unpaid advisor to the Prime Minister, focusing on the burgeoning Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. His vision was clear: to leverage technology as a catalyst for national development and to ensure that the benefits of technological advancement reached every corner of Bangladesh.

Wazed’s dedication to involving the youth in the political process and national development has been a cornerstone of his strategy. He believes that politics should be a vehicle for national progress, not personal gain. Through direct interactions with young citizens, he has listened to their aspirations and ideas, encouraging them to take an active role in shaping the country’s future. This direct dialogue was unprecedented in Bangladesh, opening new avenues for youth engagement in national decision-making.

At the helm of the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), Wazed has been instrumental in bridging the gap between young citizens and policymakers. Initiatives like “Let’s Talk” have provided a platform for youth to voice their opinions and contribute to policy discussions. Furthermore, his creation of “Young Bangla” has been a game-changer in recognizing and nurturing young talents and change-makers across Bangladesh, fostering a new generation of leaders.

Wazed’s contributions as an IT policy analyst have been pivotal in envisioning and driving the “Digital Bangladesh” initiative, an ambitious plan launched in 2008. This initiative aimed not just to develop a robust ICT infrastructure but also to use technology as a tool for achieving broader development goals. His efforts in this regard have earned him international acclaim, including being recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of the top 250 young global leaders in 2007.

His role in crafting the technological framework of the Awami League’s election manifesto further solidified his position as a key architect of Bangladesh’s digital future. His reappointment as the ICT Adviser to the Prime Minister is a testament to his continued influence in the pursuit of the “Smart Bangladesh” vision. During a “Let’s Talk” session in November, Wazed emphasized the government’s commitment to technological advancement, highlighting plans to develop domestic microprocessor production and transform Bangladesh from a consumer to a producer in the global electronics market.

“We are stepping into an era where Bangladesh will not only be self-sufficient in electronic production but also a key player in the global market,” Wazed passionately declared, envisioning a future where technology drives national progress and prosperity.

Courtesy: UNB