Bangladesh’s population is somewhere around 160 million and when you compare that to the world’s population of 7.6 billion, we are just 2.1% of the world’s population. That’s quite an amazing statistic, isn’t it?
We have not even completed a decade of this amazing leadership stint of our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is at the helm since 2009, but the positive improvements on the ground are there to be seen.
Let me walk you through some of these incredible achievements that make our country, a priceless crown jewel of the world.
A lot has been said about the Bangladeshi economy by vested interests. When information is so freely available online on our clicks and taps, all it takes is an intelligent mind to filter out the noise of the fabricated news and believe in the sanity of hard facts put forward by experts. While the GDP growth cannot be looked at in isolation, it needs to be stressed that this growth has been equitable and inclusive, keeping the welfare of all the citizens as supreme.
• Bangladesh attained 7.2% GDP growth in the last fiscal year, higher than the 6.9% growth forecasted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
• We have maintained a growth rate of 6% or more for six successive years now.
• Our per capita income rose to $1,602 in the FY 2016-17, which was even higher than Pakistan.
• We are on course to achieving middle income status by 2021.
And I can go on!
While striving for excellence in Education cannot be a destination but is a relentless journey, it needs to be emphasized here that the incumbent government has done a lot towards improving the state of Education in Bangladesh.
Did you know that our net enrollment rate at the primary school level increased from 80 percent in 2000 to 98 percent in 2015? At the same time, the secondary school net enrollment rate was around 54 percent in 2016, an increase from 45 percent in 2000. These are data that I am not pulling out of thin air but statistics that you can verify from the World Bank website.
Not just that, Bangladesh is scaling new frontiers through the Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering Department (RMED) as well.
These are some incredible facts that we all should, across party lines, take pride in.
#3. International Relations
Bangladesh’s current foreign policy is one that has inspired confidence in the ordinary citizens. We are a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and enjoy good relations with all the member nations. In 2016, we became the fourth highest contributor of troops to the United Nations Peacekeeping operations around the world. Time and time again we have also actively promoted regional and sub-regional cooperation amongst the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
I keep a tab on the latest happenings in our Foreign Affairs policy, through this section on the ministry’s website and you must too!
#4. The Good Samaritan
The Rohingya crisis of Myanmar has shown that in spite of being 2.1% of the world’s population, we are Good Samaritans of this world. We have built one of the world’s largest refugee camps in Cox Bazaar to accommodate 800,000 Rohingya refugees. Our honorable Prime Minister has gone as far as saying that if necessary, we will eat one meal a day to feed the Rohingya, as reported in the Dhaka Tribune.
Positive words of appreciation by the WHO prove a point that we are headed in the right direction as far as healthcare reforms in the country are concerned. In fact, the honorable Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammed Nasim at the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion held in Shanghai said that the government is diligently working towards making available modern healthcare amenities to the people by setting up big hospitals at strategic locations. He also revealed that the government has also set up 13,000 community clinics at village levels to deliver best healthcare services to the masses.
#6. Fight Against Terror
PM Sheikh Hasina’s Address in the UNGA 2017
Let me help some of the non-Bangladeshi readers with a translation on few important points made by the honorable Prime Minister:
• In her 14th address to the United Nations General Assembly, PM Hasina reiterated our country’s commitment to peace and democracy by renewing her intent to come down heavy on weapon supply to terrorists and terror funding.
• Prime Minister also denounced the use of religion to justify any act of terrorism or extremism.
• She was equally determined in reiterating her government’s “zero tolerance” policy towards terrorism in any form and manifestation.
Today, around 78% of households in Bangladesh have access to electricity. I am quite hopeful this number is only going to point north, going forward. This is because of the ambitious $470 million Siddhirganj Project will increase the supply of electricity to the country’s grid network. The project will deliver at least 2.49 billion kWh every year to the grid and aims to reduce the unmet demand for energy by 1 billion kWh per year.
#8. Manufacturing Sector
Bangladesh is now fast-becoming a name to reckon because of its sheer grit and determination to succeed. Growth in the Manufacturing Sector is one fine example of how the country is achieving economic prosperity at a pace like never seen before. This article by Robin Harding, FT’s Tokyo Bureau Chief, illustrates our commitment to boost the manufacturing centers. We are today regarded as the world’s second largest garment exporter and our textile industries are employing and empowering millions of young women, especially from the rural corners of the country.
#9. Startup Bangladesh
With periodic cyclones & famines, and the fact that we are a country not rich in minerals and natural resources, the odds were always against us from the get-go. We are a young nation and perhaps that’s one of our biggest strengths too. To channelize this incredible zeal we have in the average Bangladeshi youth, the Ministry of ICT under the leadership of a young and dynamic Mr. Sajeeb Wazed has come up with the ambitious “Startup Bangladesh” project. This project aims to nurture innovative ideas in the field of ecommerce, transport, education, health, financial services, agriculture, infrastructure, etc. The broader vision of Startup Bangladesh is to become the Next IT Hub of the world and inshaallah we will.
The incumbent government has done a lot to strengthen environmental institutions in the country and laid down strict regulations to safeguard our environment and protection of natural resources. Some key projects being run in association with the World Bank include:
• A $33.8 million initiative to reduce forest degradation called The Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project (CRPARP).
• The government is also investing in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• The Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) project of $62.2 million aimed to improve the air quality in Dhaka. In fact, the CASE project has already established 11 Continuous Air Monitoring (CAM) systems to reduce CO2 emissions and curb the menace of pollution.
#11. Digital Bangladesh
Our country can no longer be regarded as just another nation that lies between Myanmar and India on the global map. The giant strides that we are taking especially focused on empowering the youth and building a brighter future for the next generation is truly remarkable. The “Digital Bangladesh” is one such initiative by the Ministry of ICT that that has the potential to catapult our country to newer heights. Be it enabling easier access to information or improving the job prospects or for that matter encouraging transparency through eGovernance, the Digital Bangladesh project is definitely the step in the right direction that needs to be lauded.
The vision that our honorable Prime Minister expressed through her election manifesto titled “Charter for Change – Vision 2021” seems to be moving in the right direction. With a $50 billion budget earmarked in the current fiscal to spur the economy, there is no stopping Bangladesh to usher in path-breaking reforms like the country has never seen before.