Radwan Mujib Siddiq has said that the foreign policy set by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the newly independent Bangladesh in 1972 is guiding the present government to balance the country’s own interest while inviting investments from countries like India, China and Japan.
Talking about the policies of Bangabandhu, the grandson of the Father of the Nation and trustee of the Center for Research and Information (CRI), Radwan Mujib said, the country in the last 10 years went back to some of its founding principles and one of them was ‘friendship to all and malice towards none’, which relates to the country’s good relation with so many economic partners.
“When today people write about Bangladesh - you have the development miracle, you have the economic growth story - it’s because Bangladesh has good relations with most of its key economic partners. And every day you are reading about Indian investment or Chinese investment or Japanese investment, all are coming into Bangladesh. At one point people might have said that there is no way a country like Bangladesh can balance its own interest while also inviting investments from countries like those.
“It’s (this balance) because we go back to the ‘friendship towards all and malice towards none’ where the Bangladesh foreign policy is really set by what is good for Bangladesh,” he said.
Radwan Mujib was launching the ‘WhiteBoard’ – a first of its kind policy magazine which is aimed at giving a ‘balanced objective and clear’ analysis of the policies to the youths and the policymakers.
He is the editor-in-chief of this quarterly published by the CRI, the research wing of the ruling Awami League, which earlier published graphic novel on Bangabandhu’s life and works when he was young – Mujib Graphic Novel’, and also a docu-drama on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina – ‘Hasina –a daughter’s tale’.
The inaugural issue of the WhiteBoard is on the Bangabandhu’s policy, marking the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation.
Radwan Mujib said they have decided to get a look at the post-independent new government’s policies and the challenges that they faced to show young people and policymakers how Bangabandhu and his colleagues at the time used the ideology that drove Bangladesh to independent to try and shape how the country would chart a future for itself from there.
That’s why in our issue we talk about the constitution, a document that was perhaps ahead of its time. And the kind of courage and bravery that it took the newly independent government to put forward something like this and adopt it as really like our moral compass, he said.
Bangladesh was born into the height of the cold war which impacted both the war of independence in 1971 and the post war period for Bangladesh.
Radwan Mujib said the magazine tried to give people an understanding that how the Bangabandhu administration faced immense challenges and tried to answer those challenges without deviating from the ideology of Bangladesh –socialism, secularism, democratic principles, and nationalism as articulated at that time.
About the Bangabandhu’s foreign policy, former foreign minister and diplomat AH Mahmood Ali and an academic Tahseen Ali wrote in the magazine: “For Bangladesh, emerging from a victorious but costly freedom struggle – in both human and material terms – and with an economy and infrastructure shattered and now in need of urgent repair, no other policy could have been more timely and apt.”
The CRI said this first issue of the magazine debunks the myths about Bangabandhu's administration -- created and disseminated following the assassination of Bangabandhu and 16 of his family members on august 15 in 1975.
The policies and methodologies of Bangabandhu, often lost under the weight of his other charismatic accomplishments such as fiery speeches and pro-liberation leadership, do deserve a chance to be heard by modern policymakers, youths, it said.
A total of eight contributions were made to the first issue by eminent personalities including renowned economist Rehman Sobhan, humanitarian activist Julian Francis, and journalist Syed Badrul Ahsan, Professor Shams Rahman and political scientist Rounaq Jahan.
The stories came under the titles of ‘Emerging from the village to mark a new country on the map’, ‘Mujib’s economic policies and their relevance today’, ‘Economic development through political stability’, ‘Just like today’s progressive politics’, ‘BaKSAL was social-democratic in nature’, ‘Bangladesh’s Constitution of 1972: an exposition of Mujib’s political philosophy’, ‘How Mujib co-managed one of the largest relief operations in the world’, ‘Friendship towards all was a masterstroke’, and ‘Mujib administration’s policy action timeline’.