Much to celebrate on Bangladesh’s 50th
For Bangladesh to be celebrating its golden jubilee at a time when it has achieved remarkable economic growth, despite all the hurdles and challenges of the first few decades of its existence, is no mean feat. After gaining independence at the cost of millions of lives and the trauma of unbelievable violence, Bangladesh had to rise up from the ashes of a ravaging war. Despite the formidable obstacles in its path to progress—the assassination of Bangabandhu along with most of his family members, the killing of the four great leaders, and the subsequent series of military coups and military rule—Bangladesh was able to pull through and restore democracy in 1991, through which we were able to put a representative government back into the driver's seat.
The aspiration of the people to have a healthy democracy, however, was repeatedly challenged by the acrimonious politics of the two major parties resulting in hartals, parliamentary boycott and violent confrontations on the streets.
However, in the last decade, despite the bottlenecks, economic growth has been robust leading to our graduation from an LDC to a developing country. Our perseverance during the catastrophic pandemic, which began last year and continues to wreak havoc even now, has been commendable. The resilience of Bangladeshis, especially during crisis situations, has brought about this remarkable success. This includes the toil of our people—our farmers, migrant workers and garment workers who have steered our nation into an ascending path.
There are, of course, many challenges in our journey to further progress. In order to take advantage of the momentum, we must establish greater democratic practices in line with Bangabandhu's vision for an equitable, egalitarian, free nation released from the shackles of discrimination and oppression. This was also the dream of our freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for such a motherland.
Thus, for us to move forward on this trajectory of growth, we must make all efforts to make this economic growth more inclusive by reducing the rising gap between the rich and the poor and removing all kinds of discrimination against those who are marginalised and voiceless. Women who have been at the forefront of our liberation movement, and instrumental in our development success, must be recognised for their contributions and freed from the discrimination, violence and deprivation imposed by a patriarchal system. Our developmental aspirations, moreover, must take into account the sustainability of the environment without which development will not reach the desired level and will be severely compromised in the long run. While we build our nation, we must also save our forests and rivers, and make our air breathable and our cities liveable. We must protect our natural resources so that our future generations can lead healthy, wholesome lives.
At 50, Bangladesh has belied many of its critics and become a symbol of success and resilience for many developing countries.