VISIONARY LEADER SHEIKH HASINA UPLIFTS BANGLADESH TO A NEW HEIGHT
SYED SHUKUR ALI
With sincere and relentless efforts of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is now enjoying a positive acceptance throughout the world, earning prestigious global awards as marks of recognition to the country’s gradual development in all key fields. As a visionary leader of one of the most populous nations, Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of the greatest Bangalee of all time Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has uplifted the country’s image and made a significant contribution to the national economy and politics by way of her outstanding leadership.
A very successful Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third time, she has already achieved tremendous success in the overall development of the country. Under her dynamic leadership, power generation has risen up to 14,539 MW (Megawatt) and 76 percent of the total population has been brought under electricity coverage and the nation has witnessed the continued turnaround of recovering from the chronic energy crisis. After assuming power by the Awami League-led government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2009, the power generation capacity was only 4,942 MW and real electricity production was only 3,268 MW. The common people across the country are proud enough to see a tremendous success of this government in the power sector as load shedding, a perennial problem before 2009, is no more in both urban and rural areas. The government has set a target to generate 24,000 MW electricity by 2021 and 40,000 MW by 2030 to cover the whole country with electricity. The villages normally die soon after the dusk into the darkness of the night, but the scene has now changed as most of the households remain alive at night in rural Bangladesh.
On the overall economic front, the Awami League government has scored the GDP (gross domestic product) rate at 7.2 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year only because of the good governance in the country. The current year’s GDP has been fixed at 7.5 percent with the confidence that it will grow in the same pace steadily in the years to come. Meanwhile, the per capita income has already reached USD1466 and the foreign currency reserves exceeded USD 30 billion in June 2016 to lead Bangladesh to be a middle-income country very soon.
The government under the bold and visionary leadership by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been progressing towards materializing the vision-2021 along with turning the country into a Digital Bangladesh. Only recently, Bangladesh achieved the status of lower middle income country.
Sheikh Hasina, who has already been adjudged as a global icon, earned much appreciation and laurels from the world leaders in different international forums, as they have seen in her leadership the rare quality of freeing the “once basket case” Bangladesh from poverty and hunger to turn it into “Sonar Bangla” (Golden country) as dreamt of by Father of the Nation. What was beyond the imagination of the people in Dhaka city is now a reality only because of Sheikh Hasina’s government. She is now introducing metro rail and bus rapid transit, two dream projects, besides constructing so many eye-catching flyovers to rid the city dwellers from the decades long traffic snarl.
Sheikh Hasina with her visionary leadership is constructing the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the biggest infrastructure in the country’s history, at own finance setting a rare example in the process of development. The government is also constructing Mass Rapid Transit Line-6 (MRT-6) and Elevated Expressway. As the envious and jealous lobbies are up against her pro-people performance, they have unleashed terror attacks on certain spots and soon she has adopted “zero tolerance” policy against all forms of terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism.
Sheikh Hasina has the command over a country with the world’s eighth largest population-162 million– and she has wielded this power since 2009. Bangladesh is now self sufficient in food production due to adoption of modern technology in the agriculture sector particularly during the regime of the present government. The government is working relentlessly to build a hunger and poverty free as well as technologically advanced modern and prosperous Bangladesh.
With following her instruction, the government proposed expansion of the number of beneficiaries of old age allowances saying from the current fiscal-2016-2017 around 31.50 lakh elderly people would come under the safety net programme.
The National Service Programme would be provided with temporary jobs 7.20 lakhs unemployed educated youths so far, both male and female for two years by imparting training in different trades.
The ICT sector is the next big thing for Bangladesh as the government established one-stop service outlets operating at all 4,547 Union Parishads (UP, lowest tier of local government) of the country.
Through use of ICT, UNION DIGITAL CENTER is able to bring various types of information related to government, livelihood and private services to the doorstep of citizens in rural areas.
Sajeeb Wazed Joy, ICT adviser to the prime minister, is hopeful that Bangladesh will become a major player in the sector in a few years from now and the country would be a “Digital Bangladesh’.
Under the bold and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the government has undertaken project to construct Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport (BSMIA) on a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis.
According to the business magazine “Fortune”, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been listed as one the greatest leaders of the world. Hasina has ranked 10th among 50 leaders who “are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same,” the internationally acclaimed magazine said.
The daughter of democracy, Sheikh Hasina has been ranked 36th among the world’s 100 most powerful women in 2016 by influential business magazine Forbes. Hasina jumped 23 spots from last year’s 59th. She came 47th in 2014. German Chancellor Angela Merkel retained the top spot, the sixth time in a row, in the list with former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton as the second powerful woman.
Sheikh Hasina’s government revised and updated laws and regulations to cope with the unique challenges of this global evil. Bangladesh is also focusing on sustainable development, education, social mobilization and various de-radicalizations programmes to prevent and counter violent extremism.
According to global information, Goldman Sachs listed Bangladesh among the “Next Eleven” the most promising economies of the 21st century. The poverty rate has been reducing to below 22.4 percent from 56.7 percent. One of the fastest poverty reduction rates in the world.
In 2015, she is among the 13 top global thinkers in the “Decision Makers” category of a Washington-based prestigious magazine for her outstanding contribution to the nation. Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Ruling Awami League, has been ranked 47th in Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in 2014. She remained as a centre of attention for her relentless campaign for promoting girl’s right to education. Adoption of a series of visionary policies in this regard resulted in outpouring global support for the premier.
As Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated “Leadership and Vision” in both making climate change an issue of national priority and advocating for an ambitious global response.
On 14 September 2015, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was announced as one of the winners of the United Nations Champions of the Earth award in recognition of her country’s initiatives to address climate change. She received the award at the UN Head Quarters in New York on 27 September, day before her 69th birthday. Sheikh Hasina returned Bangladesh on May 17, 1981 after a long exile and reorganized the Awami League. She established her party with her strong personality and started from root level across the country after assassinated Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
In the acknowledgment of various educational milestones achieved by Bangladesh in recent years, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held a ceremony in Bangladesh, outside of Paris for the first time. On the occasion, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova handed over the award to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2014 International Literacy Prizes to the awardees in Dhaka on September 8, marking the International Literacy Day.
She received the “South-South Cooperation Visionary Award” upon her extraordinary role in advancing Bangladesh towards digital system and the expansion of education through revolutionary concepts. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the progress achieved by Bangladesh in the fields of economy and women development. Expressing his government faith in the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government.
A US-based IRI (International Republican Institute) revealed a survey report saying, “The Ruling Awami League government gained support among a majority of Bangladeshi respondents”. “The (IRI) poll results also indicated positive public feelings about Bangladesh’s current economic position and optimism about both the respondents’ and the country’s economic futures,” the US research group said.
A British newspaper, which also extensively interviewed Sheikh Hasina for its reports, outlined Bangladesh success under her premiership saying “she is credited internationally with helping Bangladesh achieve key UN anti-poverty and development goals and appears to enjoy a high level of domestic support”. The Guardian described Sheikh Hasina as “Bangladesh’s formidable, long-serving head of government” while in her interview with its journalists Simon Tissdal and Anna Ridout she said “My job is to assist the common people. I do politics for the people, not for me”. According to the present government’s tremendous success Bangladesh would be a middle-income country by 2021 and it would be a developed country in 2041. All the democratic institutions are working and people are satisfied with the government’s development and other wellbeing activities. Bangladesh is ideally placed to maintain and improve economic growth and achieve middle-income country status by 2021, the United World’s Bangladesh Report, 2015 said in a publication.
The publication focused on the country’s geostrategic importance, historical achievement in the fields of economy and human development, and highlighted especially on the significant success of the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in fostering economic growth, strengthening regional and international relations and empowering women with creating more jobs.
It said Bangladesh maintained a constant 6-plus percent GDP growth in the past 10 years amidst an enviable situation in a time of global uncertainty. It attributed the economic progress to the government’s strategy of focusing on structural reforms, increased revenue and regional competitiveness, which also led the country to ‘Next 11’ status.
Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh won a long-standing sea claim battle with India. On July 7, 2014, a Netherland-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) awarded Bangladesh 19,467square kilometres out of 25,602 sq km disputed area in the Bay of Bengal. It was Sheikh Hasina’s government that placed the issue to the international court in 2009.
As a result, Bangladesh now owns 1,18,813 sq km territorial sea along with the ownership of all the 10 blocks India had claimed before. An exclusive economic zone extending to 200 nautical miles has also been owned by the country. Following this, Sheikh Hasina’s government successfully won significant marine territories from other neighbour country, Myanmar.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made hectic efforts pushing her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to take sincere steps to resolve the longstanding unsettled matters including the two most important issues – Teesta water sharing treaty and the land boundary agreement. Later Indian Parliament passed the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).Some 37,369 residents of 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh became Bangladeshi citizens.
“The Government of Bangladesh has demonstrated political will and firm commitment to combat domestic and transnational terrorist groups, and its counter terrorism efforts made it harder for…terrorists to operate or establish safe havens in Bangladesh”, stated the US State Department in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013.
Special Envoy of New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Jim Bolger highly appreciated Bangladesh’s stunning successes in human development and millennium development goals (MDGs) under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad highly appreciated Bangladesh’s development in recent times in various areas, particularly in the field of infrastructure under Sheikh Hasina led government. Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma praised PM Sheikh Hasina for the rapid development in the health sector and women empowerment of Bangladesh.
The People of Bangladesh across the country poured out into the streets in the early hours of Sunday to celebrate the execution of two war criminals, BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, for their crimes committed against humanity in 1971.
The countrymen held their breath to hear the news of the execution of the death sentences of these two war criminals and hailed it as a milestone in the country’s history as both the war criminals sought presidential clemency confessing to their crimes committed during the War of Liberation. They brought out numerous processions expressing joy and happiness after getting the news of the hangings after a long wait of 44 years.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib are the other heads of state or government who have been named along with the Bangladesh Premier as leading global thinkers in this category this year. For her honest, patriotic, outstanding, dedicated and progressive performance as people’s leader and head of the government, people have designated Sheikh Hasina as Deshratna, jewel of the country.
Deshratna Sheikh Hasina was born on September 28, 1947 at Tungipara in Gopalganj district. She was the eldest of five children of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa. In 1968, Hasina had tied nuptial knot with renowned nuclear scientist M Wazed Miah. Together they have one son, Sajeeb Wazed Joy and a daughter, Sayma Wazed Putul. Sheikh Hasina was in the then West Germany with her younger sister Sheikh Rehana on the fateful night of August 15, 1975 when Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with the remaining members of his family was brutally assassinated. She was forced to live in exile in London and Delhi for the next six years.
Later on, she was elected the President of Bangladesh Awami League in 1981 in her absence and returned home on May 17 the same year. She was the first to raise voice against the autocratic regime of military ruler HM Ershad. Under her leadership, Awami League spearheaded the movement for democracy which brought about the fall of Ershad in 1990.
This time, apart from the “Champion of the Earth” award, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister also received “ICT Sustainable Development Award” from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). While receiving the ICT award Prime Minister said, “It is a significant recognition as we are working to build a ‘Digital Bangladesh’. I deeply feel honoured to receive this award.” The Champions of the Earth award is the United Nations highest environmental honour recognizing visionary people and organisations all over the world that exemplify leadership and advocate action on sustainable development, climate change and a life of dignity for all.
Past winners in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship, and civil society action include Sylvia Earle, Mario Molina, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Tommy Remengesau, Jr., Felipe Calderon, Tsakhia Elbergdoj, Al Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev and Marina Silva.
On the same place of the UN, Sheikh Hasina received the MDG award in recognition of achieving the MDG goal-4. At that time the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed the hope that Bangladesh would be able to achieve the rest of the goals in future under her prudent leadership.
Common people of the country have expressed their expectation that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina should run Bangladesh further tenure to develop and reach the country in a prestigious position.
The writer is a senior staff report
AUGUST 02, 2016