CRAFTING A POSITIVE IMAGE OF BANGLADESH
A class of people in Bangladesh are seen very good at imprinting into the minds of their fellow countrymen and, more significantly foreigners, the notion that their country is small and insignificant in all respects. They are the ardent practitioners of negativism cruelly trying to pale into insignificance the blood, sweat and tears of successive generations of Bangladeshi people to make their land of birth and upbringing an entity of some importance. The negativists had their foreign backers in the past and continue to have them now.
Henry Kissinger, the very famous former US Secretary of State started it all by describing Bangladesh as a ” bottomless basket ” in its post-independence period meaning that this country was destined to be a hopeless and endless case of international charity that would go down the chute of its corruption with no impact of the international assistance seen on its development.
The picture painted by Kissinger of Bangladesh was one that subsisted entirely on foreign dole with no hope of its come uppance. But today’s Bangladesh is a different story. It pays nearly fifty per cent of the costs of its annual development plan (ADP) and raises entirely the resources for its administrative budget. It is noted for relying less and less on foreign aid for its sustenance and meeting the needs of its developmental activities.
Forty two years down the road, Kissinger’s description of Bangladesh has been, no doubt, resoundingly proven wrong. Unlike the failed states with which Kissinger sought to bracket Bangladesh, Bangladesh has slowly but steadily made progress in different spheres without back sliding over these last over four decades to carve out a place of respect in the family of nations. There can be no denying that Bangladesh’s march forward in every sphere could be more impressive and its performance remains below the potential in different areas. But this ought not to detract attention from the fact either that its slow but steady progress and consolidation of the same ought to create the right image of Bangladesh as a hardworking and resilient nation which is struggling with the odds and slowly but surely coming up the ladder.
It has become self sufficient in food production despite being one of the most populous countries of the world . It has developed a first class export-oriented apparel industry and is among the top five apparel exporting nations. Its shipbuilding, pharmaceutical and IT industries are fast emerging to be counted in a major way in the international scene. It has become a coveted market of nearly 90 million people with an existence above the poverty line. There are many other success stories to be noted in Bangladesh.
There is also impatience with the rate of progress in Bangladesh and impatience about mal governance. But this is probably a plus point. Sensitivity to improper governance and social backlash to the same create the conditions for reformations in all human societies and help them to press ahead towards a better destiny. Thus, there is hope in the present conditions of Bangladesh. One may rightly hope that the present political discords and uncertainties will give way to a happier time with democracy, rule of law, accountability and transparency of government, parliament, etc., becoming the stronger in Bangladesh to really secure the future of the country in all respects.
For the moment, however, there are certainly strong points in favour of Bangladesh. Notwithstanding the present bitter focus on Bangladesh as one of the worst corruption afflicted countries , the reality is that Bangladesh is no Somali or Ethopia where people starve in millions and warlordism hold sway in place of a constitution or government. Indeed, the conditions of Bangladesh are far better than many countries of the world and it only requires caring and non prejudiced eyes to see its real strengths and potential.
Nation building can be a long story notwithstanding the eagerness of those who are accustomed to speed in all matters. Thus, there is no reason to be so deeply pessimistic about the future of Bangladesh.
FEBRUARY 14, 2014