Bangabandhu’s pragmatic decisions

During his three and a half years rule Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took some pragmatic administrative decisions that proved to be highly beneficial for the country. The very first decision of Sheikh Mujib after return to Bangladesh was to request Indira Gandhi to call back the Indian troops from the soil of Bangladesh. It was done on 15 March 1972. Then Mujib’s government negotiated with Pakistan for repatriation of the stranded Bangladeshis in Pakistan.

The scarcity of essential commodities like flour, pulses, cooking oil, sugar, salt, milk etc came to his notice. He quickly took the decision to establish a government organisation to import those items from various countries on an emergency basis. Establishment of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) was one such step. TCB started to import essential consumer goods for the people, which included powder milk for the children from Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. This step helped to curb the monopoly business of the unscrupulous traders of the country.

The immense work that Bangabandhu did was creation of the Constitution of the country. As per his direction, a Constitution for the country was framed within a record time of one year (which came into effect from 16 December 1972). The new constitution created a strong executive prime minister, a largely ceremonial presidency, an independent judiciary, and a unicameral legislature on a modified Westminster model. The 1972 constitution adopted as state policy the Awami League's (AL) four basic principles of Nationalism, Secularism, Socialism, and Democracy.

The task of economic rehabilitation was a priority as such in a bid to reach food to the remotest parts he passed orders for restoration of the destroyedCommunication system, and clearing of Chittagong port of mines and sunken vessels. The Bangladesh Shipping Corporation was established in February 1972 in view of the importance of inland water and overseas communication. Bangladesh Biman was also established around this time. To encourage quality film production, he sanctioned funds for the creation of Film Development Corporation (FDC). He took initiative to establish Islamic Foundation.

Many fighters of the Mukti Bahini were absorbed in the Bangladesh Army. Despite substantial foreign aid, mostly from India and the Soviet Union, food supplies were scarce, and there was rampant corruption and black marketeering. This situation prompted Mujib to issue a warning against hoarders and smugglers. Mujib backed up his threat by launching a mass drive against hoarders and smugglers, backed by the Jatiyo Rakkhi Bahini. As a result the situation had improved considerably.

The government also launched massive relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction work throughout the country. In January 1975, the Constitution was amended to make Mujib president for five years and to give him full executive powers. In 1975, Bangabandhu took plans to improve the energy sector. He bought five (5) gas fields at a price of 4.5 million sterling pounds only. He also bought all shares of Shell Oil on the terms of 36 installments payable in 18 years. He established Petrobangla and Bangladesh Mineral Exploration and Development Corporation. He arranged for training of Petrobangla scientists and officials in Algeria, Indonesia, India, Soviet Union and other East European countries.