Today is birthday of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Her party, Bangladesh Awami League, has drawn plans to make the day historic. The government has set a target of inoculating 80 lakh people across the country marking the day. The Prime Minister is now in the USA as she went there to join the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The eldest among the five children of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Sheikh FazilatunnesaMujib, Sheikh Hasina was born at Tungipara in Gopalganj on September 28 in 1947.
The Awami League has formed governments four times with her as the prime minister. This is her third consecutive term as the head of government. In 1996, Sheikh Hasina returned the party to power 21 years after the assassination of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975.
After the assassination of her parents in 1975, she was in India with political asylum till 1981 when she was elected as the president of the Awami League in her absence. She returned home on May 17, 1981.
From establishing democracy in Bangladesh to take the country out of the LDC bracket, Sheikh Hasina is credited to spearhead many game-changing policies in the country, observed former Vice-chancellor of Dhaka University Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique and a Senior Economist of Policy Research Institute Dr. Ashikur Rahman while talking to Bangladesh Post on Monday.
The Prime Minister also gave a vision to make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041.
“To me, her far-sighted vision has taken the country forward. On May 17, 1981 after returning to the country, she said she had come to return democracy to the people and free the country from military and autocratic rule,” Prof Siddique said.
"After that, as the President of Awami League, as the leader of the opposition and the Prime Minister, she worked for the rights of the people which are enshrined in the constitution given by Bangabandhu. And gradually she has returned those rights to the people," he said.
“First of all she ensured the right to communication which is a fundamental right. People did not have that right before 1996 when she took the responsibility as the Prime Minister first. Many people could not use mobile phones. Even I could not afford a phone then because it was a monopoly business. The Prime Minister broke that monopoly.
"She thought about the benefits of the poor farmers, rickshaw-pullers….and now we can see how people are empowered by using mobile phones in digital Bangladesh," said the former Vice-Chancellor.
"Anyone can connect with the world from remote places. And their dear and near ones living abroad can connect with them".
The former vice-chancellor said the prime minister also returned the right to information to the people. After taking charge in her second term, she adopted the right to information act on March 29 in 2009 as it is a constitutional right. She formed the information commission in July 2009 and now people can know whatever they want to know from public offices.
"If we see today’s overall development, be it in education or culture, and bringing poor people under social safety nets and giving homes to the homeless people, all have been possible because of her policies to give people back their fundamental rights. It is the far-sighted leadership of PM Sheikh Hasina," he said.
This year the UN-sponsored Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has conferred Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with "SDG Progress Award" for Bangladesh's steady course in responding to the universal call to take action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all.
The event's moderator introduced Sheikh Hasina as the "jewel in the crown of the day" while appreciating her leadership in spearheading the SDG campaign even during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
"Her vision 2041 and Delta Plan 2100 will make Bangladesh Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Bangabandhu," said the former Vice-chancellor.
Economist DrAshikur Rahman underscored four areas while analyzing the prime minister's policies.
“First of all, under her leadership, there was a strong stand against counter-terrorism and that allowed her to win global applause as a leader who champions peace and regional harmony. It was the decisive impact at first and because of that Bangladesh once analysed by international media as the next Afghanistan, breeding ground of terrorism, has become a source of stability in the region. That was a very big game-changer in terms of how the world views Bangladesh,” he said.
“Second, because of that (counter-terrorism stance) she could articulate an economic diplomacy which allowed her to create strong bilateral partnership with competing global actors like China, India and Japan.
“If you see, those countries are competing against each other internationally. But Bangladesh could make a fine economic diplomacy between those countries and now Bangladesh is getting benefits in terms of investment and technology transfer. This fine articulation of economic diplomacy played a decisive role," he said.
"Third, her bold commitments to mega-projects have triggered transformative economic change. Now mega projects are visible. Padma bridge, metro-rail and other mega-projects when these will start giving dividends, there will be no infrastructural deficit and it will facilitate private sector led growth.
"Fourth – in the last 12 years, there has been a huge expansion of social protection programmes. At present, over 150 social protection initiatives are there such as old-age allowance, widow allowances. And that has been proved economically inclusive. Such initiatives helped to offset the weakness of a market-led economy in which benefits don’t reach everyone. But those social protections help because it reaches the vulnerable communities.
Going forward, DrAshikur Rahman said, good governance and human capital should be prioritised.
"The next economic challenge we are facing will come from the competition emerging from the 4th industrial revolution (IR). The 4th IR will create a global economic context in which there will be no alternative to human capital and good governance.
"The vision she is showing to us – vision 2041 to be a developed country - for that we need to take the 4th IR seriously and we have to give priority to good governance and human capital,” he said.