December 16, 2021 will be a red-letter day in the context of Bangladesh because the citizens are celebrating the golden jubilee of independence. It is a matter of great joy and pride for us that Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the Father of the Nation, is in state power during the golden jubilee celebrations. The golden jubilee of 2021 has become more meaningful because we have also celebrated the centenary of Bangabandhu's birth this year. Considering this, 2021 will carry a unique tradition in the history of Bangladesh for many days.
Due to Bangabandhu's sacrifice and strong leadership, the people of Bengal snatched independence by defeating the Pakistani aggressors in 1971. Bangabandhu was a historical name in the political context of post-1950. From a very young age, he was vocal about the deprivation of the people of Bengal. Therefore, after 1960, he organised the Awami League (AL) and the people of East Bengal very skillfully. He never took any hasty decision to achieve the independence of Bangladesh. He kept on changing his strategy in time. In his historic speech on March 7, 1971, he not only declared the independence of Bangladesh in diplomatic language but also provided an outline of independence. He also called upon the people of Bangladesh to participate in the war of independence. The main reason for not declaring independence directly in the March 7 speech was to prevent the Pakistani military government from implementing the plan to send him to jail under the guise of a separatist leader. With this in mind, he tactfully declared independence.
Later, Bangabandhu declared independence in the early hours of March 26, and the people of East Bengal jumped into the war of independence. Despite the arrest of Bangabandhu by the Pakistani army, the victory of Bangladesh was achieved on December 16, 1971, by defeating the Pakistani military in a very short time with the help of the then AL leaders, the people of East Bengal and the support of then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
Although the country became independent on December 16, the taste of independence was fulfilled with the return of Bangabandhu to his homeland on January 10, 1972. Returning to the country, Bangabandhu set about building a war-torn country. During this time, he proved his leadership ability by drafting the constitution of Bangladesh in a very short time. After independence, it took Pakistan almost ten years to draft the constitution of an independent country. In that perspective, the government could stand on a solid foundation by drafting a constitution in a few months.
Under Bangabandhu's able leadership, Bangladesh gained international recognition in a very short period, and he started working towards establishing Sonar Bangla. He was well on his way to achieving his goal. But the pro-Pakistan activists never wanted Bangladesh to stand tall on its foot. And this is the reason why Bangabandhu and most of his family were brutally killed on the black night of August 15 1975, in a conspiracy of some traitors of AL and a section of the army. By killing him, they tried to erase Bangabandhu's name from the history of Bangladesh. Even the military government from 1975 to 1990 and later the BNP government tried their best to erase Bangabandhu's name from history. But since Bangabandhu and Bangladesh have become inseparable from each other, they could not erase his name even after hundreds of attempts. Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina came to power in 1996 and started the implementation of her father's unfulfilled dream. But, the process got shuttered as she failed to come to power in 2001 due to conspiracies of the national and the international actors.
Bangladesh began to change when the AL, led by Sheikh Hasina, came to power in 2009 with a landslide victory in the 2008 national elections. In just 12 years, the country has been established as a role model for development in the world. The main driving force of this development is Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's credible leadership. Her visionary leadership, honesty and fairness have taken the country to a unique height. Leaders of giant nations of the world often ask the Hon'ble Prime Minister what magic wand has worked behind this unprecedented development of the country. But the Hon'ble Prime Minister has always said that if the motives of the political leadership are honest and if they are diligent, then the country's development is possible. And this statement has been proved to be true through the country's development in various fields.
In 2008, the people of Bangladesh could not have dreamed that Bangladesh would implement mega projects like the Padma Bridge, the Dhaka Metrorail, and the tunnel under the Karnafuli River. When the World Bank decided to cut off funding for alleged corruption charges in the Padma Bridge, the people of Bangladesh did not think that such mega projects could be implemented with the government's budget. Padma Bridge, Metrorail, or the underwater tunnel is no longer a dream. Everything is a reality now. The Padma Bridge became visible as soon as the spans were placed on its pillars. It is learned that the government will make it open for the use of the public next year. Bangladesh has not only attained development in infrastructure, but it has also attained success in other sectors. The commitment of the Prime Minister to establish Digital Bangladesh by 2021 has come true. People are now able to receive various types of services online from home.
Poverty levels have dropped significantly in the last 12 years. At the same time, the rate of education has increased. The country has made great strides in power generation. Compared to 2008 power generation, production in 2021 has increased several times. Nuclear power plants have now been set up in the country. The government has provided an uninterrupted power supply to the entire country, including remote areas. The government provides services to the people at a low cost by providing subsidies in various sectors, including assistance for farmers. Overall, Bangladesh has become a role model for development.
However, despite the mammoth development of all other sectors, the country is lagging in the governance indicators. The governance measurement index needs further development. Although the government has shown a zero-tolerance against corruption, some party leaders and activists' involvement in corruption has embarrassed the government. We have already noticed that the Hon'ble Prime Minister has taken a strong stand against corruption in various fields. However, her steps are being stopped for unknown reasons in many cases that need to be seriously considered. Due to the opposition being out of the election process, voters have a kind of election-centric reluctance. Here too, the government has to think of alternatives with deep attention.
The countrymen have lauded the Hon'ble Prime Minister's desperate efforts to establish etiquette in politics. With the recent leak of telephone conversations of some AL leaders, the negative perception created among the people about the party has been dispelled by the Hon'ble Prime Minister taking immediate action against all persons. However, establishing etiquette in politics is not the responsibility of the AL alone. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has recently backed BNP leader Moazzem Hossain Alal's dirty remarks about the Prime Minister without taking any action against him. Through this, it has been proved that BNP does not work to establish etiquette in politics.
The government has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been going on since the beginning of 2020, much better than many other countries in the world. Our country's infection and death rates were much lower than in other countries. Moreover, Bangladesh is ahead in terms of vaccination rate among the people. The arrival of the President of India - Shri Ram Nath Kobind - on the golden jubilee of independence will glorify the occasion. The visit of the Indian President has proved once again that India and Bangladesh are friendly countries, and their friendship will remain intact in the days to come.
We know that no creation is complete. Every creation has its imperfections. The world has recognised the AL government's development in the last 12 years. But it is also true that the government lacks success in some cases. Just as the celebration of the golden jubilee of independence at the hands of the daughter of Bangabandhu has made us proud, the people have also hoped that the Prime Minister will strive for the country's development by taking swift action in sectors that are lagging. If she could do it, her acceptance among the people would increase, so the AL as a party would become more acceptable and well-organised. On the eve of the country's golden jubilee, the countrymen expect that we would enter into the list of a developed country by 2041 under our prime minister's leadership as she is working hard in this direction.
The author is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration, Rajshahi University.