By Vijay Darda | 07-01-2019
Underdeveloped Bangladesh will join the rank of developing countries in 2024
Last year, when the UN talked about striking Bangladesh off the list of underdeveloped countries by 2024 and upgrade it to the rank of developing countries, Sheikh Hasina became a talking point all over the world. In the meantime, elections took place and Sheikh Hasina’s party won the election by a huge majority. Sheikh Hasina retained power. She is going to take charge as the Prime Minister for the fourth time this month. She has been in power since 2009.
There are also several allegations against her regarding rigging in elections. The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has not accepted the latest elections, but the fact is that Sheikh Hasina is a popular leader of Bangladesh. Actually, Bangladesh came into being only because of her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Earlier it was part of Pakistan. Later, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his wife and three sons were assassinated during the military coup. Sheikh Hasina had survived. Despite initial difficulties, she did not give up and emerged as a powerful leader. Sheikh Hasina has been leading the ruling Awami League since 1981.
Howsoever much one may criticise her, the truth is that she has galavanised the economy of her country and put it on the expressway of development. Ever since she came to power, Bangladesh’s economy has been growing at an average annual rate of 6 per cent. Per capita income has increased three times during her reign. At present, the per capita income is about Rs 1.21 lakh. It has achieved near self-sufficiency in terms of food production. Poverty is rapidly decreasing. Textile industry is growing rapidly. The textile market is fast growing at a rate of around 15 per cent. Bangladesh ranks second in the world in terms of manufacturing of readymade garments. China occupies number one position. Bangladesh has taken a long jump in the field of digital economy too. According to information, approximately 28 per cent of those who have bank accounts in South Asia do digital transactions, whereas in Bangladesh the number of digital transactions has crossed 34 per cent.
Sheikh Hasina has not only made her identity as a development-friendly leader, but also carved a distinct identity for herself as a secular leader. There was a time when fundamentalism was rapidly spreading in Bangladesh. Islamic State had started making forays into the land. The country had seen a series of killings of free thinkers, poets and politicians. In 2016, the Holy Artisan Bakery was attacked. After this, Sheikh Hasina decided that she would teach the fundamentalists a lesson. So far, hundreds of terrorists have been killed and hundred others are locked up in jail. There is no harm in saying that it is due to Sheikh Hasina’s strong will that there has been a great deal of control over terrorism in Bangladesh. People of all religions feel secure there. For this, she is being praised all over the world. Sheikh Hasina has shown her resolve to join hands with the whole world in fighting terrorism.
I often interact with several editors in Bangladesh at the international forum. According to them, there were allegations of corruption against many prime ministers including Khalida Zia. They were siphoning money out of the country. Nothing was happening in terms of development. Therefore, the entire country has high expectations from Sheikh Hasina. I had also asked a question that Bangladesh despite being a Muslim country, women are ruling. What could be the reason? Editors said the question was not that of a man or woman but what was important was who had the capacity? Sheikh Hasina has that capacity.
There is no doubt that Sheikh Hasina has an emotional relationship with India. She is considered to be pro-India because India had openly helped her father in the Bangladesh liberation war. She has not forgotten that debt, but what should worry India is the growing presence of China in recent years. Last year when 25 per cent of the Dhaka Stock Exchange was available in the market for sale, India tried to bid for it but ultimately it was China which outbid India and grabbed 25 per cent share. I believe that the deal should have been struck by offering a little more price because Bangladesh is our neighbour and our presence should be there in every form.
China is deliberately making its forays into Bangladesh. It knows that there is immense potential for development in Bangladesh and if India’s role is eliminated from that country, only China will benefit. China is building a bridge worth $4 billion and is ready to release a huge credit. The result is that Bangladesh is gradually going to sit right there in China’s lap. Sheikh Hasina wants money for the development of her country, and if India does not give it, China will. International politics does not just operate on emotions. We can not assume that just because we have liberated Bangladesh, it will stick to us. What is needed today is that we pay attention to the needs of Bangladesh and not let a neighbour part from us. If we try a bit hard, success is possible.
Sheikh Hasina is fulfilling the dream of development visualised by her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who liberated Bangladesh with the help of Indira Gandhi. She does not believe in beating drums of her achievements but quietly focusses on her work. Now the whole world is praising her.