SHEIKH HASINA WORLD’S BEST IN DECISION MAKING

SHEIKH HASINA WORLD’S BEST IN DECISION MAKING

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been considered as the most prudent leader in the world. Evaluating the decision-making expertise of the world leaders, Peoples and Politics conducted a study considering at least 5 criteria. These are, 1. What shortest possible time it took to make a decision? 2. How accurately was the decision considered? 3. What impact did the decision have on humanity? 4. What was the backwash of the decision? and 5.  What positive impact did the decision have on the prevailing problems?

According to the research of Peoples and politics, the most sensible decision taken by any leader of state or government in the past 5 years was `sheltering the persecuted Rohingyas of Myanmar`. In August 2017, Bangladesh opened its borders to the displaced Rohingyas. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina commented that Bangladesh will help the persecuted. The second most prudent decision was of Germany`s Chancellor Angela Markel, who opened the borders of Germany to shelter refugees from war-torn countries. The decision to screen thousands of refugees of the Syrian civil war was brave, exact and humanitarian. UK`s former Prime Minister David Cameron`s announcement of resignation following the victory for leave supporters was the third best decision in the last 5 years. This decision is said to be a unique example of respecting the democracy and people`s opinion according to Peoples and Politics. The fourth most sensible decision was made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he asked the people to occupy the streets by sending a FaceTime message and curbed an attempted military coup. The fifth most effective decision according to the Peoples and Politics, was taken by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On November 2016, the Government of India announced the demonetization of all ₹500 and ₹1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi series as a take on corruption, terrorism and black money. The decision was equally challenging and risky for the largest democracy of the world.

The backdrop of selecting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the wisest decision maker among the world leaders, as stated in People and Politics` research study, is “Rohingya issue would have resulted in an undeniable humanitarian crisis if it wasn’t for Sheikh Hasina who made the kind-hearted, discreet and valiant decision.”  And not only the Rohingya issue, the research study had come up with several other examples which testify the bold, calculated and long-sighted decision-making aptness of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Among them, the most acclaimed and praised decision was to construct the Padma Bridge with the country`s own funding. The `zero-tolerance` policy in countering militancy is exemplified as well as regarded as a model in the research paper.

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FEBRUARY 15, 2018

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SHEIKH HASINA’S LEADERSHIP DELIVERS ON PROMISES

SHEIKH HASINA’S LEADERSHIP DELIVERS ON PROMISES

In the last 10 years, Bangladesh has come a long way on the road of development because one politician has kept her biggest promises and pledges to the people. In 2008, the yet-to-be Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talked of ‘Vision 2021’ in her ‘Manifesto of Change’ (Din Badaler Ishtehar), an aspiration to turn our country into a middle-income country by 2021.

For the first 44 years of our existence, we were a low-income country. Then in July 2015, we became for the first time, a lower-middle income country, a substantial fulfilment of an ambitious pledge delivered six years before the stipulated deadline. As our economy grows at 7.86 percent rate, and per capita income increased from $759 to $1,752 within 10 years, we now have high hopes that we can indeed become a higher middle-income country by 2021.

It was also a moment of national pride to learn that after being a least developed country (LDC) for more than four decades, in March 2018, Bangladesh for the first time, fulfilled the eligibility requirements to graduate to the ‘Developing Country’ status, as per the UN Committee for Development Policy (CPD). While the official approval can be as far off as 2024 that Bangladesh is on the right development track and trajectory, cannot be denied.

These landmark strides do not appear out of a vacuum. They are a result of strong political will coupled with sound policies. The current government formulated and implemented effective long term and mid-term economic planning to aid in the task of achieving the development aspirations in the form of such instruments as the Perspective Plan 2010-2021, the Sixth Five Year Plan 2011-2015 etc.

But what differentiates Hasina from others is her ability to deliver on her plans, promises and pledges. Anyone can come up with plans or promise us the whole package. But till date, she has been the only politician who has been able to deliver too.

She promised to build a ‘poverty and hunger free’ Bangladesh in 2008. How much has she delivered really? Substantially. The poverty rate has now declined to 21.8 percent from 31.5 percent in 2010 and extreme poverty rate has been reduced to 11.3 percent from 17.6 percent. While reduced to numbers, this may not mean much to those of us living in relative comfort anyway, in real human terms, for millions of our fellow countrymen, this means not having to beg for food, not having to give up their children, or sacrifice their dignity.

Bangladesh is now almost self-sufficient when it comes to producing its own food grains, despite its decreasing land resources and huge population. Within a decade, food grain production has been increased from 27.2 million metric tonnes to 40 million metric tonnes. There used to be a term called ‘Monga’, famine due to seasonal joblessness, which used to plague our northern parts. We don’t hear that anymore.

The prime minister says she will provide electricity to every household by 2021. How much progress has been made on that front? A lot actually. By boosting Bangladesh’s power generation capacity from 4,942MW in 2009 to 20,000MW, 90 percent of the people have been brought under electricity coverage. With 56 more power plants now under construction having combined capacity of producing 14,134MW and diversification of energy options such as LNG, nuclear (eg the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project) and solar (4.5 million off grid solar home systems coupled with several grid-connected solar power plants) suggests that 100 percent electricity coverage by 2021 seems like a very realistic and achievable goal.

Ten years ago, when the slogan ‘Digital Bangladesh’ was floated by the Premier Sheikh Hasina, many were sceptical, as to whether an agrarian country like Bangladesh was indeed ready for digitization or whether the government could deliver on it. Not anymore though. With 151 million mobile users and 88 million internet users, even Hasina’s harshest critics don’t question whether Bangladesh has indeed gone digital in a decade. In fact, the harshest critics are often the digital kind.

Keeping in line with her party’s line of inclusive development and social justice, Hasina invested heavily on human development. In 2009, the value of our Human Development Index (HDI) was 0.535, it is now 0.608 according to the UN Human Development Report (HDR) 2018. Moreover, Bangladesh is now categorised as a ‘Medium Human Development’ country. For the last ten years, Bangladesh has steadily improved its position in every annual HDI.

This improvement is due to the fact that Bangladesh is investing in, and reaping benefits from, greater focus on education, health and skills enhancement. This is coupled with the current government’s social justice emphasis on women empowerment, children’s development, not leaving the marginalised like the Hijras behind and enhanced social security protection.

Bangladesh has also witnessed commendable progress over the last decade in such areas as communications infrastructure development. Apart from converting 465 km of highways into four-lanes and constructing numerous flyovers in major cities, several mega projects have been undertaken including the Padma Bridge and Dhaka Metro Rail.

When the World Bank pulled out of the Padma Bridge project on trumped up charges of corruption which have since been discredited by a Canadian court, Hasina promised to go ahead with the project with the country’s internal resources despite pressure from home and abroad. Now as more than 65 percent of the project stands completed, millions of people living in the country’s southern parts stand to be benefited in addition to the 1.2 percent increase to the country’s GDP that the bridge is expected to contribute once the structure is opened to traffic.

So, at the very least, on the development side of things, we can safely say that Hasina, in the last around 10 years, has been able to deliver on the biggest promises she made to the country and its people.

But many see the problem of corruption as overshadowing the development successes of the Hasina government. Perhaps, visibly, this is one of the sectors, where Bangladesh has not made desired progress. But how much progress, if at all, have we made?

In the corruption cases being filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the accused are being convicted in about 70 percent of these cases, which is a high conviction rate. The government has recently shown its political will to fight corruption and set a great precedent for other Member States of the UN by deciding to officially observe the International Anti- Corruption Day annually on Dec 9.

The government has increased the salaries and other benefits of public sector employees to commensurate with their needs and thereby discouraging unethical and illegal practices such as corruption. According to the Finance Minister AMA Muhith, these steps will show their true impact within the next 10 years in reducing corruption in the public sector.

The Awami League government has also facilitated the formation of Upazila anti-corruption committees. E-government procurement and other forms of e-governance, part of the Digital Bangladesh agenda, is helping cut down on public sector corruption and making public services more citizen friendly in Bangladesh. Unsurprisingly, Bangladesh improved by nine steps in the latest UN E-governance Development Index 2018, currently standing as 115th among 193 countries.

Bangladesh has made steady progress in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International (TI). Bangladesh was placed at the bottom of the list for five successive years from 2001-2005, earning it the infamy of being the most corrupt in the world among 180 countries. Since 2009, in every ranking, Bangladesh has been steady progress in the right direction, and in the last such ranking CPI 2017, Bangladesh was 143rd among 180 countries.

While we may still have a long way to go in terms of matching our development successes with our governance aspirations, for the latter too, I would entrust my faith and support to the leader who has been able to deliver on her promises regarding the former. That is Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Because there is no Plan B. Either she succeeds, or we end up in another period like 2001-06, when development not only ceased, but also regressed. An era when not only were few new hospitals made, existing community clinics were shut down; when not only power generation did not increased in five years, but somehow mysteriously, came down; when not only were terrorists were not fought, but groups like Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami and Jama’at-ul-Mujaheedin received state patronisation; when war criminals like Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid became government ministers and grenades were hurled on political opponents and diplomats.

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SEPTEMBER 21, 2018
Shah Ali Farhad is a lawyer, researcher and political activist. He is currently serving the Centre for Research and Information (CRI) as its Senior Analyst. He is also a Member of the activists’ and experts’ group International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF).
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HASINA RECEIVES GLOBAL WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP AWARD, FLOATS FOUR PROPOSALS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS

HASINA RECEIVES GLOBAL WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP AWARD, FLOATS FOUR PROPOSALS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for forging a new global alliance to promote women rights as she received the Global Women’s Leadership Award for her outstanding contribution to the women empowerment.

“We have to forge a new alliance to support the women and uphold their rights. Together, we must act on our shared culture, tradition and values to benefit millions of women in need. Let us mobilize our strength,” she said at the award-giving ceremony in Sydney on Friday evening.

The prime minister received the accolade from Global Summit of Women President Irene Natividad at a gala dinner of the Global Summit of Women 2018 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

The US-based Global Summit of Women conferred the award on Hasina for her leadership in women’s education and entrepreneurship in Bangladesh.

A video documentary on the political life of Hasina, Bangladesh’s economic progress and different initiatives for women empowerment by her government was screened at the awards ceremony.

Speaking at the function, the prime minister said, “I am highly glad and deeply honoured to receive the Global Women Leadership Award 2018. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Global Summit of Women for nominating me for the prestigious accolade and organising this gala event.”

Dedicating the award to the women across the world, she said, “It is a great pleasure for me to see the women change-makers, who have gathered here from different parts of the world, and are delivering on the theme “Women: Creating Economies of Shared Value”.”

According to the Global Gender Gap ranking 2017, Bangladesh ranks 7th among 155 countries in political empowerment of women. It’s place on the overall gender gap index is 47.

Highlighting her government’s initiatives for women’s empowerment, Hasina put forward four proposals at the event:

First, work to overcome traditional gender stereotypes regarding women’s ability.

Second, reach marginal and vulnerable women who are still less fed, not schooled, underpaid and violated. No woman and girl should be left behind.

Third, enhance women’s productivity by addressing health hazards specific to women.

Fourth, create equal opportunities for women in all sectors of life and livelihoods.

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APRIL 27, 2018

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FOUR YEARS OF AWAMI LEAGUE GOVERNMENT, A REPORT CARD

FOUR YEARS OF AWAMI LEAGUE GOVERNMENT, A REPORT CARD

BAPPY RAHMAN

The Awami League has completed four years in office in its second consecutive term. The government is set to step into the fifth and the last year with steering the nation toward achieving significant progress in economy, infrastructure, diplomacy, national security and overall effective development.

Under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh last year witnessed stunning successes in infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, power generation, nutrition, maternal and child health, primary education, women empowerment etc.

Bangladesh has been upgraded from low income country to lower middle income country as per World Bank’s classification based on per capita income.The present government has already adopted the 7th Five Year Plan in a bid to build a hunger- and poverty-free Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s economy posted a GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of 7.28 per cent, a foreign currency reserve of $32.1 billion, and exports worth $38.50 billion in 2016-17 fiscal year. Per capita income has surged to $1,610 when the inflation was 5.03 per cent in December. Poverty has been slashed from 57 per cent to 22 per cent in less than two decades, while life expectancy increased to 72 years.

The government is working on several mega projects including the Padma Bridge, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the Metro Rail, the Rampal Power Plant, Payra Seaport, Matarbari Power Plant, Padma Bridge Rail Link, and the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Gundum Rail Line, which gathered momentum last year.These mega development projects are well underway and are expected to have significant positive impact for the country.

Digitization of government services and expansion of Bangladesh’s IT economy was a core principle of Awami League’s election manifesto. As part of election campaign, the prime minister launched “Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021,” a plan to fully digitize Bangladesh by 2021. The government’s ‘Digital Bangladesh’ initiative transformed the country now into a modern, knowledge-based society. The country has made remarkable strides in its information technology sector. Bangladesh’s digital breakout is already improving the lives of its people. Around 20% of all government procurements are now being done through e-system. Bangladesh is set to launch its first commercial satellite Bangabandhu-1 in March this year. Also, the government is setting up 28 IT parks and Sheikh Kamal IT Training Centres throughout the country which will help create two million jobs by 2021. The country’s telecom sector has witnessed a robust growth as the total number of mobile phone subscriptions reached 143.106 million at the end of November, 2017, while the total number of internet clients rose to 80.166 Millions.

To bring out poor people from poverty, especially in rural areas, social safety net programmes can play a considerable role. To support the poor and vulnerable, the Government of Bangladesh implements a number of public social safety net programmes. The government expanded the coverage of its safety-net programme and increased allocation for it to provide financial support to 57.67 lakh people helping them come out of poverty.

Bangladesh is now recognised as role model for the fight against militancy. The Sheikh Hasina government has finally resolved to root out terrorism from Bangladesh. After the targeted killing of secularists, foreigners and members of ethnic minority and the deadly Gulshan café attack, a massive anti-militant crackdown was launched. Soon Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) of Bangladesh Police will start its journey against militancy and terrorism across the country. The full-fledged unit with advanced technology and arms will work to resist the terrors and radicals outfit organisations and maintain the law and order situation for public safety. However, enforced disappearances are on the rise in Bangladesh. Well, many of them are also returning back willingly. Noted intellectual Farhad Mazhar went missing and later he was found loitering at the New Market in Khulna.

The utility electricity sector in Bangladesh has one National Grid with an installed capacity of 15,379 MW as on February’ 2017. Bangladesh’s energy sector is booming. Recently Bangladesh started construction of 2.4 GW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant expected to go into operation in 2023. But still the per capita energy consumption in Bangladesh is considered low. As many as 83 per cent people of the country are now getting electricity as Bangladesh’s total electricity generation capacity has reached nearly 16,000 megawatts.

The present government started distributing free textbooks from 2010 academic year. But the leaking of question papers of public examinations has been one of the most talked about issues during the government’s current tenure.

Different media of Britain termed Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a ‘Mother of Humanity’ for her humanitarian role on the Rohingya issue. The daily Khaleej Times, the most popular newspaper of United Arab Emirates, also termed the Prime Minister as a ‘New Star’ of the East. Besides, her (Sheikh Hasina) five-point demand at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on the Rohingya crisis stirred the world community. Academics of renowned universities of the world opined that Sheikh Hasina should be the leader of world peace for her contribution to the establishment of world peace. They described Sheikh Hasina as an ‘ambassador of global peace’ and the ‘main leader of the humanitarian world’ saying that she acted with unprecedented humane instincts for the sake of humanity and tried to mitigate sufferings of the victims of one of the world’s worst persecution happening outside the Bangladesh border.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been successful in ensuring political stability and providing decisive leadership with bold decisions. In a short span since independence, Bangladesh has proved the sceptics wrong. From an ‘international basket case’ and a ‘test case of development’, Bangladesh has become an example of success. Of course the government has some failures. Inequality in every aspect has always been referred to as a major problem. Still 6.2 per cent families own 40 per cent of the total land in the country. According to Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016, the rich 10 per cent of the population is now having more than 38 per cent income share while the poorest 10 per cent is having only one per cent income share.

Bangladesh has made significant improvements in the fight against corruption in the last decade. But still both political and official corruption is pervasive. According to a senior leader of Awami League, ‘Politicians are behind the half of corruption in Bangladesh. It is the politicians who should be blamed for widespread corruption in Bangladesh. If politicians refrain from corruption, the problem will be reduced by half’. Corruption and harassment also occur at various points of interaction with the judicial system.

Awami League is the oldest and largest political party of Bangladesh. With the founding and operating principles of democracy, nationalism, socialism and secularism, the party has become synonymous with progress, prosperity, development and social justice. Politics of Awami League should be performed for the welfare of common people.

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JANUARY 28, 2018
The author acknowledges with gratitude the different sources of information.

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AT CURRENT RATES, BANGLADESH COULD TOP INDIA’S PER CAPITA INCOME BY 2020

AT CURRENT RATES, BANGLADESH COULD TOP INDIA’S PER CAPITA INCOME BY 2020

Also, over the past 3 years, GDP in dollar terms has grown 12.9%, more than twice our rate

After trailing its big neighbour for four decades, Bangladesh has gone ahead of India in economic growth and on social development indicators.

In the three years ending 2016, Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (at current prices) in dollar terms grew at a compounded annual rate (CAGR) of 12.9 per cent, more than twice India’s 5.6 per cent. Over the same period, Pakistan grew faster than India too, at a CAGR of 8.6 per cent, driven by a surge in investment and export. The Chinese economy expanded at an annualised 5.2 per cent.

As a result, per capita income (in dollar terms) in Bangladesh is now growing at nearly thrice the pace of income growth in India. At $1,355 in 2016, Bangladesh’s per capita income was up 40 per cent in three years against 14 per cent growth in India and 21 per cent growth in Pakistan. At this rate, Bangladesh’s per capita income would top India’s by the year 2020. Currently, a typical Indian has 25 per cent higher income than her eastern neighbour; in 2011, Indians earned 87 per cent more.

India was the top performing economy in South Asia for the 40 years between 1970 and 2010. Annualised GDP growth of 8.7 per cent in dollar terms at current prices against Bangladesh’s 7.6 per cent and Pakistan’s 6.7 per cent. (See the adjoining charts)

Bangladesh is also ahead of India in the human or social development indicators of infant mortality rate and life expectancy at birth. A newborn in Bangladesh is more likely to see her fifth birthday than her Indian or Pakistani counterpart. She is also likely to live longer in Bangladesh (72.5 years) than India (68.6 years) and Pakistan (66.5 years).

Bangladesh’s economic success lies in its ability to plug itself into the gap created by the slowdown in the Chinese export engine as policymakers in Beijing shift their focus to pushing domestic demand and investment and away from exports. Total exports from China declined to $2.2 trillion in 2016 from a record high of $2.35 trillion three years ago, creating space for others in the global market for labour intensive consumer goods.

India missed this bus as evidenced by a contraction in exports during the period. Instead the country’s growth is being largely driven by consumption even as savings, investment and exports reduce. India’s total exports of goods & services declined to $433 billion in 2016 from record high of $488 billion during 2013 calendar year.

The contrast shows in the Bangladesh’s headline statistics. In last three years, the country’s exports of goods & services grew at a CAGR of 7 per cent in dollar terms against 3.9 per cent annualised contraction in India’s export during the period. In the same period, capital formation or investment in Bangladesh grew at a CAGR of 14.5 per cent against investment stagnation in India.

Economic growth in Pakistan is largely driven by capital formation and consumption demand financed by a surge in foreign investments mostly from China as the latter invests close to $60 billion in upgrading Pakistan’s power and transport infrastructure.

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MAY 28 2018

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THE EMERGENCE OF THE POLITICS OF DEVELOPMENT

THE EMERGENCE OF THE POLITICS OF DEVELOPMENT

SHAH ALI FARHAD

Awami League, the oldest and largest political party in Bangladesh, celebrated its 69 years of founding in the early hours of 23 June 2018. That, in political time, is quite a long duration for any party to remain influential and most importantly, relevant in the fast moving politics of late 20th and early 21st century.

A duration, which for perspective, spans across the post-World War II era consumed by questions of sovereignty, through to the polarized Cold-War era, to a new world order where supremacy among world powers remain unclear.

Awami League has seen its unfair share of turmoil though, especially in a Bangladesh crafted after the assassination of the Father of the Nation and almost his entire family in August-1975.

But it should be remembered that as the party who constantly campaigned against cases of military and quasi-military regimes in the first two decades of its existence, it was never an easy walk for Awami League even before 1975. But there was something sinister about the 1975 tragedy, which traumatized the party to its core.

In the post-1975 era, Awami League was weakened due to external as well as internal malignant factors. The situation remained precarious even after the return from forced exile of Bangabandhu’s eldest daughter and current Awami League President and Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

From May 1981 to her steering the party during the military government era of General HM Ershad, Sheikh Hasina had to face very difficult circumstances to re-forge a party disillusioned by the loss of its leader, who had become to them synonymous to the organization itself.

It is safe to assume that as Party President, Sheikh Hasina was molded into her elements of leadership, not only by the events of 1975 and before, but the obstacles she had to overcome to return the party to its former repute in a post-1975 era of Bangladesh.

With incessant hard work and tireless travelling, Sheikh Hasina managed to make the party an efficient one again organizationally, which was able to mobilize not only themselves but also the masses on given issues.

This movement and character driven trait of Awami League was present during most of its history in the pre-Bangladesh era of politics dominated by the forthright style and ideas of Bangabandhu.

In the early nineties, it was able to place itself as a strong opposition to the government headed by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, especially on issues important to the masses like food and democracy, a policy championed by Sheikh Hasina herself.

In their first stint as government in post-1975 Bangladesh, Awami League showed an era of economic prosperity between 1996 and 2001, which set the bar high in terms of development-related results a party must demonstrate while in power. This was one of the reasons why the failures of the immediate latter BNP-Jamaat Government appeared that much clearer to public perspective.

2001-06 was a dangerous and testing time for Awami League as the then Government adopted a policy to normalize deadly violence against political opponents. Despite the violence and intimidation, Awami League demonstrated its power of popular mobilization during this period, although a high price was paid in blood.

Before becoming better, the situation deteriorated for the partyin the 1/11 period, an era marked by the arbitrary legal harassment and torture of Sheikh Hasina and many of her party leaders and also other political figures.

Out of one of its most tested period, Awami League branded itself as the best contender for a new Bangladesh in 2008 where development of the country would take center stage. Sheikh Hasina placed herself as the leader to be relied upon for delivering results.

A number of potential crises did come in the ensuing 9 years, including the Pilkhana Carnage, the violence perpetrated by Jamaat and Shibir over the war crimes trials, the violent use of Hefazate Islam by BNP-Jamaat for their political gains, and the ultra-violent style of civilian-targeting street agitation by BNP-Jamaat over its so-called “position” on polls time government. But development remained constant in the interim periods and even during the potential crises times.

No matter which side you are on, you must admit that ‘development’ no longer remains an elusive idea. It is not anymore something available to all other countries except ours. It is now a set of tangible measures, which can be seen and felt. Padma Bridge, metro rails, expressways, 4-lanes have become the new normal in national discourse.

We are now not very surprised by the annual rise of the major economic, social and human development indicators. One can say that development expectations have become normalized. This is what can be called ‘Politics of Development’.

A brand of politics that normalizes the attaining of lower-middle income status and graduating to a developing country from a least-developed one.

A political approach marked by slogans such as ‘Digital Bangladesh’, a promise that has been substantially fulfilled by the way. A style of governance signified by measurable visions, such as the Vision 2021, and more importantly now, Vision 2041.

A far-sighted organization and its visionary leader, which thinks space technology is important, climate change must be tackled and Bangladesh should have an important role in global and regional affairs. An inclusive society where robust economic growth is complimented by the fair reduction in poverty.

We now live in a Bangladesh where more girls enroll in primary education than boys, where smartphones are increasingly becoming household items, where the conversation has upgraded itself from literacy rate to quality education, where the discourse has shifted from aid to partnership, where we are not no longer afraid to play a major humanitarian role, and where our Premier advises the UN on best practices for attaining global development goals, a respect afforded only due to the successes already demonstrated.

This does not mean that the story ends here. There are still unfinished work to be done, both for the party as a Government and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina personally, in continuing to elevate Bangladesh to its ultimate development potential.

And there is no doubt that our political culture itself has potential to develop further. But at least now, there is ample hope that Bangladesh can achieve the aims it sets for itself. And the conversation would continue as to how best to go about our next sets of development and other aspirations.

But in the meantime, as Awami League passes its seventieth year in existence and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leads for the fifth year of her third Premiership, we owe both and especially the latter, due gratitude for making development a normal and expected reality rather than a theoretical construct.

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JUNE 24, 2018
Writer: Lawyer, researcher, political activist
Courtesy: The Daily Asian Age

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CLASS BARRIERS, CURRENT ISSUES, ECONOMY, EDUCATION SYSTEM & POLICY, GENDER EQUALITY, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GROWTH & TARGET, HUMAN RIGHTS, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, INDUSTRIES, LAW & ORDER, Poverty, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SHEIKH HASINA, SOCIAL SECURITY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STRATEGY & POLICY, TRANSPARENCY & CORRUPTION CONTROL | Leave a comment

SHEIKH HASINA’S TIRELESS EFFORT IN FOREIGN POLICY

 

 

Posted in - REVOLUTIONARY VOICES -, ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, ANALYSIS OF RESPONSIBILITY & ROLE OF MEDIA, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, GROWTH & TARGET, HISTORY OF BENGAL, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, INTERNATIONAL - PERCEPTION ON BANGLADESH, LEADERS - IN ITS TRUE SENSE, LOCAL PRINT & DIGITAL MEDIA, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SHEIKH HASINA, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STRATEGY & POLICY | Leave a comment

QUEEN ELIZABETH AND SHEIKH HASINA

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SHEIKH HASINA AMONGST THE WORLDS GREATEST

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SHEIKH HASINA THE MAHATHIR OF BANGLADESH

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BIG LEADER IN A SMALL COUNTRY

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SHEIKH HASINA SECOND BEST PRIME MINISTER IN THE WORLD

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MANDELA’S VISIT TO BANGLADESH

MANDELA’S VISIT TO BANGLADESH

Mandela visited Dhaka in March 1997 to celebrate Bangladesh’s 25th year of independence. At the time, he was the president of South Africa. Also present were Palestine’s president Yasser Arafat and Turkey’s president Suleyman Demirel.

They visited Sriti Shoudho, laid laurels for the fallen martyrs of the war, and planted trees around the premises. Following the festivities the three leaders visited Suhrawardy Udyan, where Nelson Mandela delivered his only speech in Bangladesh. Here are excerpts from that speech:

“I have come to Bangladesh to pay homage to a nation that has fought for its sovereignty. Celebrating this blood-soaked independence, I am here to say today that escaping the clutches of oppression and autocratic rule is never easy.

“I have deep respect for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Standing in this great country today, I also want to be a friend of Bangladesh. While Bangladesh celebrated its independence, our democracy was in its infancy. We were just crawling from the darkness of racism towards the light of freedom.

“Despite being so far away, the people of Bangladesh were not callous to what South Africa was facing. You all know that freedom is not complete till everyone is free. Standing here as a friend of Bangladesh, I want to say that we will fight hunger, poverty and any other problem facing us.”

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DECEMBER 07, 2013

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HOW DID OUR MUSLIM LEADERS MYSTERIOUSLY VANISH? – THE CIA HAS THE ANSWER!

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DHAKA CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATROCITIES, EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIANS

DHAKA CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATROCITIES, EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIANS

Bangladesh attends the OIC extraordinary summit in Istanbul

Bangladesh on Friday conveyed that its people and government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina strongly condemn and fully reject Israeli atrocities.

Bangladesh also deplored the US relocation of the embassy, and expressed full support, sympathy, and solidarity with Palestinian brothers and sisters in their legitimate cause of an independent, viable, and contiguous state of Palestine under a two-state solution.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, who is leading a seven-member Bangladesh delegation, conveyed Bangladesh’s position at the Seventh Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul.

The summit focused on the massacre by Israeli forces of peaceful Palestinian civilian protesters as well as on the official opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan convened the summit in his capacity as chair of the OIC Summit.

Ali participated as chair of the 45th Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC, said the Foreign Ministry in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh delegation includes Defence and Security Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister, Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the OIC, Ambassador Golam Moshi, Bangladesh Ambassador to Turkey, M Allama Siddiki, and other senior officials of the Foreign Ministry and Bangladesh missions.

Ali began his busy day by attending the Council of Foreign Ministers, preparatory to the summit, while Tarique led the Bangladesh delegation at the council meeting.

The council was preceded by the Senior Official Meeting (SOM) on Thursday that prepared the draft Final Communiqué, and the Bangladesh delegation to the SOM was led by AFM Gousal Azam Sarker, director general of the Foreign Ministry.

The council has reached consensus on the Final Communiqué for adoption by the summit Friday night.

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MAY 18, 2018

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BANGLADESH PM SHEIKH HASINA CONDEMNS ISRAEL’S USE OF FORCE IN PALESTINE

BANGLADESH PM SHEIKH HASINA CONDEMNS ISRAEL’S USE OF FORCE IN PALESTINE

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has condemned the use of force by Israel in Palestine and described it as human rights violation.

“The Prime Minister’s condemnation came when Turkish PM Binali Yildirim called her this evening,” PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told the media.

Ihsanul Karim said that the Turkish Prime Minister called his Bangladesh counterpart at 7:30 pm and talked to her for nearly 15 minutes.

During the telephonic conversation, Sheikh Hasina expressed anguish over shifting of the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The Prime Minister also reiterated Bangladesh’s complete support to independent Palestine.

The Press Secretary said that the Turkish PM invited Bangladesh PM to attend the OIC Special Summit on Palestine to be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on May 18.

Sheikh Hasina welcomed this initiative, terming it as a timely step.

At least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during Monday’s violent clashes on the Gaza-Israel border co-inciding with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, media reports said.

It came a day after the United States transferred its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem in a move that infuriated the Palestinians.

At least 2,400 others were wounded in the in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, since the 2014 Gaza war.

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MAY 16, 2018

Posted in ANALYSIS OF RESPONSIBILITY & ROLE OF MEDIA, CURRENT ISSUES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, Friends & Foes - World Reaction, HISTORY OF BENGAL, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, INTERNATIONAL - PERCEPTION ON BANGLADESH, ISLAM, LEADERS - IN ITS TRUE SENSE, MEDIA, NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT, OIC - Organization of Islamic Countries, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SHEIKH HASINA, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, UNITED NATIONS, WORLD - GEOPOLITICS | Leave a comment

PM SHEIKH HASINA SLATES ISRAEL’S USE OF FORCE IN PALESTINE

PM SHEIKH HASINA SLATES ISRAEL’S USE OF FORCE IN PALESTINE

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today condemned the use of force by Israel in Palestine in recent time, describing it as human rights violation.

The prime minister’s condemnation came when Turkish Premier Binali Yildirim phoned her this evening, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told BSS.

He said the Turkish prime minister phoned his Bangladesh counterpart at 7:30 pm and talked to her for nearly 15 minutes.

During the telephonic conversation, Sheikh Hasina expressed anguish over shifting of the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The prime minister also reiterated Bangladesh’s complete support to independent Palestine.

The press secretary said the Turkish premier invited the Bangladesh prime minister to attend the OIC Special Summit on Palestine to be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on May 18.

Sheikh Hasina welcomed this initiative (holding of summit), terming it as a timely step.

At least 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during the Monday’s violent clashes on the Gaza-Israel border coinciding with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, media reports said.

It came a day after the United States transferred its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem in a move that infuriated the Palestinians and was widely condemned.

At least 2,400 others were wounded in the bloodiest day in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

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MAY 15, 2018

Posted in - KNOW YOUR ENEMY -, ANALYSIS OF RESPONSIBILITY & ROLE OF MEDIA, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, DEFENCE & SECURITY, EDUCATION SYSTEM & POLICY, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, Friends & Foes - World Reaction, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, INTERNATIONAL - PERCEPTION ON BANGLADESH, ISLAMIC EXTREMISM, LAW & ORDER, NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT, OIC - Organization of Islamic Countries, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SHEIKH HASINA, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STRATEGY & POLICY, WORLD - GEOPOLITICS | Leave a comment

REMEMBERING THE PAST: BANGLADESHI FIGHTERS FOR PALESTINE OF THE 1980’s

REMEMBERING THE PAST: BANGLADESHI FIGHTERS FOR PALESTINE OF THE 1980’s

Volunteers from Bangladesh fighting with Palestinians in Beirut, Lebanon 1982. (Photo: Magnum Photos-Chris Steele Perkins)

YAZAN AL-SAADI

A photograph and a grave. These are two relics of a time, now mostly forgotten, of when thousands of Bangladeshis came to Lebanon in the 1980s as volunteers and fighters for the Palestinian cause. They were no less important in the struggle for Palestinian liberation than others, and their stories deserve to be remembered.

There are many books, films, and reports of international volunteers and organizations that supported and continue to support the Palestinian cause. From armed groups of yesteryear like the Japanese Red Army and the Irish Republican Army to non-violent, ever-growing contemporary organizations like the International Solidarity Movement and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, support for Palestine has always been and continues to be part and parcel of the international scene.

“8,000 Bangladeshi youths had volunteered to fight for the Palestine Liberation Organization,” – US Library of Congress

But not all stories of these extraordinary men and women, traveling far from their homes, motivated by a strong desire to combat injustice, at times facing great peril, are publicly known or detailed sufficiently.

This seems very true for those from the South Asian region, especially Bangladesh. They came to provide a multitude of supporting activities, ranging from transporting weapons and goods between locations in Lebanon to actively engaging in combat against forces threatening the Palestinian cause.

A memory in black and white

In 1982, prior to the Israeli occupation of Beirut, British war photographer Chris Steele-Perkins was down by the shore line and came across a group of Bangladeshi fighters.

They were and would be the only ones he personally met during his tenure in Lebanon. Steele-Perkins did not exchange many words with them, however, he was able to snap an iconic photograph of these men. It would become one of the few remaining images of these fighters.

The relationship between Bangladesh and Palestine, particularly the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), can be traced as far back to the early years of the Bangladeshi state, after a fight for liberation against Pakistan in 1971. It was a brutal, devastating war that resulted in millions dead, and millions more becoming refugees, but ultimately resulted in the creation of the modern state of Bangladesh.

While at first, most Arab states were hesitant to recognize the newly-established state, relations quickly warmed in 1973 when Bangladesh supported Egypt, Syria, and the Palestinians’ fight against Israel during the October War, including sending a medical team and relief supplies.

“There were around 1,000 to 1,500 of them. There were even some battalions that were completely Bangladeshi”- Fathi Abu al-Aradat Soon after,

Bangladesh was included as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement at the Algiers Summit in 1973, and Arab countries mounted pressure on Pakistan to recognize Bangladesh in 1974.

A relationship with the PLO was established around that time period, in which Bangladesh allowed the opening of a PLO office in the capital, Dhaka, and PLO officials were frequent guests at events hosted by the Bangladeshi political and diplomatic corps, a May 1976 US state department cable released by WikiLeaks showed.

The affinity with Palestine became so strong and so entrenched within the Bangladeshi society that in 1980 a postal stamp was created, but never issued, depicting a kuffiyah-draped Palestinian freedom fighter, the al-Aqsa mosque in the background shrouded by barbwire, and words that saluted Palestinian freedom fighters as “valiant” in English and Arabic.

According to a September 1988 US Library of Congress report, the Bangladeshi government reported in 1987 that “8,000 Bangladeshi youths had volunteered to fight for the Palestine Liberation Organization,” an announcement that came after Yasser Arafat visited the country that year and received a warm welcome from media and political circles.

The report also states that a few Palestinian military figures were also sent to Bangladesh to participate in training courses.

Today, there are few documented records in regards to the exact number of Bangladeshi volunteers in Lebanon, or a break-down of what groups they had joined.

Al-Akhbar contacted the Bangladeshi embassy in Beirut in regards to any information on this topic. Although officials at the embassy acknowledged the existence and history of Bangladeshi fighters for Palestine, they stated that detailed information was unavailable.

Similarly, the Palestinian embassy was a dead-end due to the fact that much of the PLO documents were burnt by the Israeli army during its ferocious invasion and occupation of Lebanon.

What lingers of these fighters are but Palestinian officials’ fleeting memories.

“There were around 1,000 to 1,500 of them. There were even some battalions that were completely Bangladeshi, but most of them were spread to different groups,” Fatah’s secretary of PLO factions in Lebanon, Fathi Abu al-Aradat, told Al-Akhbar.

“I remember they were highly disciplined. They were known to have incredible will. When the Israelis invaded and captured some of the Bangladeshi fighters, they used to say to them, ‘PLO, Israeli No’ even when they were tortured,” he said. “They had great relations with the rest of the fighters. They really believed in the cause.”

Although Fatah was known to have a significant number of foreign fighters among their ranks, it was another Palestinian faction, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), that was a major recipient of fighters, including those from Bangladesh.

The PFLP-GC, a far-left militant group led by Ahmed Jibril and backed by the Syrian government, had split from the main PFLP party that was led by George Habash, after a dispute over ideological and tactical issues occurred between Habash and Jibril (Abu Jihad) in 1968.

“They were with the PFLP-GC,” Ziyad Hammo, a PFLP official and member of the governing municipality of Shatila camp, told Al-Akhbar.

“They had a lot of military talent but they were mainly supporting services such as transporting weapons or guarding certain offices,” Hammo noted. “If they wanted to fight, they went to fight.”

“I remember three or four of them. There were two who were placed as guards in the Bekaa, and another one in Baablek. People really forgot they were Bengali, they spoke perfect Arabic,” the PFLP official added.

But the question remains: why are there very few accounts of these volunteers’ aid to the cause?

“In the PLFP, we try to remember these men. For example, the Japanese Red Army is very valued and we tried to recover and maintain that history. But with the Bangladeshis, I guess, there aren’t many stories and anecdotes about them because their role was limited. At least for the PFLP, I can’t speak for other Palestinian factions,” Hammo opined.

“I gather most of them left after 1982, once the UN sent its forces into Lebanon. Some of them died or were captured and later released, and perhaps a few stayed in Lebanon to live the rest of their lives working. It’s been 32 years, and I think most of them got old. We all got older,” he added.

Kamal Mustafa Ali: the ‘heroic martyr’

On the outskirts of the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in southern Beirut is the Palestinian Martyr Cemetery, where those who perished struggling for the Palestinian cause lay. Among the many tombstones of Palestinians who have died since the 1970s, those of a few foreigners can be spotted. A few Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Tunisians, a Russian, a Kurd, and also one of a Bangladeshi man named Kamal Mustafa Ali.

The tombstone of Kamal Mustafa Ali in the Palestinian Martyr Cemetery in the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp. (Photo: Yazan al-Saadi)

“In the PLFP, we try to remember these men.”- Ziyad Hammo

There is no mention of who Kamal Mustafa Ali was, not even a birth date. What is etched on the marble slab is a Quranic verse from the House of Imran chapter. It states: “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of God as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.”

Below the verse is his name and nationality, and when and how he died as a “heroic martyr.” Ali died on July 22, 1982 during a battle at the Castle of the High Rock, also known as the Beaufort Castle, located in the southern Lebanese governorate of Nabatiyeh.

The castle, which is said to have been established as a military fortification site prior to the Crusaders’ arrival in the early 12 century – due to its strategically located position on a high hill overlooking a large swath of territory – became a site for many heated battles, quickly exchanging hands from power to power.

The PLO controlled the castle in 1976, using it mainly as a base to conduct resistance activities along the border, deploying around 1,000 fighters within its walls and surroundings.

The President and the Prime Minister attending the Silver Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence along with visiting foreign dignitaries Present Demirel of Turkey, Presedent Nelson Mandela of South Africa and President Yasser Arafat of Palestine.

When the Israelis invaded on June 6,1982, the castle was the site of the first major battles prior to Israel’s push north towards Beirut. Even though the PLO lost hold of the castle in the span of two days – after intense pounding by Israeli artillery and airstrikes – the Israelis control of the castle was never easy.

The occupying Israeli forces were met with constant resistance by Palestinian groups, and then Hezbollah and other Lebanese resistance groups, until they were forced to retreat in 2000.

Kamal Mustafa Ali perished, as the tombstone noted, during one of those early attempts to retake the castle.

His body was only recovered in 2004, after an exchange deal between Hezbollah and Israel was brokered by German mediation. Four Israeli soldiers corpses were exchanged for more than 400 prisoners, the remains of more than 50 fighters, and a map of deadly landmines that Israel planted in southern Lebanon and the western Bekaa region.

According to the caretakers of the Palestinian Martyr Cemetery, Ali’s bones were sent back home to his family in Bangladesh, and a grave was erected in the cemetery to commemorate his sacrifice.

It rests there side-by-side with other bodies and names of Palestinians and non-Palestinians, watched and cared for by Palestinian hands who do not know much of the man. It is the only remaining, physical marker in Beirut of the sacrifices made by Bangladeshi volunteer fighters for the Palestinian cause during the 1980s.

Addendum: Al-Akhbar has recently received the following response to this report from Naeem Mohaiemen, a visual artist and Anthropology doctorate candidate at Columbia University researching post-1971 Bangladesh history. His films include “United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part 1),” about the 1977 hijack of JAL 472 to Bangladesh by the Japanese Red Army. He has been investigating the Bangladeshi Lebanese fighters and believes the officially reported numbers are “inflated.”

He argues that, “Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib’s attendance of the 1974 Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting was a realpolitik move for the damaged, new state– aligning with the Arab Bloc was also a question of survival, via influx of oil dollars. His successor, the military government of General Ziaur Rahman, pushed Islamization (via Arabization) even further. The inflated numbers come from this context of wanting to signal a significant contribution to the Palestinian cause, and PLO commanders then replicated those numbers as part of a logical strategy of projecting internationalist military strength. Such inflation of numbers temporarily won the PLO a media war, but it also blindsided them about the potential scale of defeat during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon”

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JULY 3, 2014

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SHEIKH HASINA – DEFIANT SUPPORT FOR PALESTINE

 

 

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PM SHEIKH HASINA THE MOTHER OF HUMANITY : BRITISH MEDIA

Posted in - KNOW YOUR ENEMY -, - REVOLUTIONARY VOICES -, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, DEFENCE & SECURITY, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, INTERNATIONAL - PERCEPTION ON BANGLADESH, ISLAMIC EXTREMISM, LAW & ORDER, LEADERS - IN ITS TRUE SENSE, MEDIA, POLITICS - GOVERNANCE, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SHEIKH HASINA, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, STRATEGY & POLICY | Leave a comment