1423: PM Sheikh Hasina's achievements with prospects in 1424
Another year has passed and the Bengali New Year is knocking at our door as the whole country has been decorated in festive mood to welcome 1424. The last year was full of events with so many achievements of Bangladesh as a nation has taken us to a new height. The world has recognized us a country with lots of prospect in spite of our very large population and so many obstacles to development works. In these achievements, one name came up again and again as the leader of our developments and that person is our honourable Prime Minister, daughter of nation's father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina.
Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has been an example of accomplishments. The nation has grown in terms of economy, society, infrastructure and standard of life. Global leaders have recognized her as a great leader and an inspiring figure many times.
During 1423, our country has been recognized in many international platforms. Our Prime Minister provided us an opportunity to take pride in becoming a Bangladeshi citizen. We have become the citizens of the country which is growing so fast with so many obstacles. World powers have repeatedly expressed their satisfaction in being a part of Bangladesh's development. And we all know the situation was not like that until the charismatic leadership of Sheikh Hasina along with her visionary plans did not come into effect.
Padma Bridge is being considered to be a powerful tool for Bangladesh's development. We all know, there were several scandals and barriers before the launch of this project. World Bank, which was supposed to fund this Padma Bridge project, suddenly cancelled their funding with false allegations.
We were shattered as this project could boost the economy to a much greater extent. But our visionary leader did not stop rather with her positive approach, she continued with the project on our own funding. Already over 40 per cent of works have been completed and by the end of 2018, this project will come into operations.
Padma Bridge will enable a great change in the lives of so many people of Bangladesh and will bring huge economic welfare. Moreover, we have gained so much respect globally for pursuing this project by ourselves.
During 1423, several events took place for Bangladesh. We are working in full phase to launch our very own Bangabandhu-1 satellite for the first time in history. This seemed to be unbelievable even a few years ago but now, the first satellite of Bangladesh is expected to be in the orbit by December, 2017. This is a great reflection of our technological advancement. It is very hard to take the first step and after it will be done, we can expect a lot of technological leaps in next few years.
Bangladesh among countries with similar demographic and economic power has been an exception in terms of technological advancement in the recent past. We had 13.13 crores mobile phone with 6.39 crores internet subscribers at the end of 2016.
We also launched over 5000 Digital Centers with 200 different types of services. We are working on IT incubation center which will create over 100,000 employments. 209 upazilas have been connected through Optical Fiber Network in 2016.
Books for grade 1-9 have been made online and around 35,500 multimedia classrooms and digital labs are in operation. Overall, we have embraced the concept of development in ICT sector and can hope to hold a strong position in the region by the end of Bengali year 1424.
It is highly required to develop the infrastructure and communication to draw foreign investment in Bangladesh. Padma Bridge will definitely create a lot of scope. Other than that, our PM has been successful in launching limited operation of the country's third seaport--Payra Seaport. We will see few other infrastructure development projects in 1424. To improve the traffic situation of Dhaka City, Metro Rail project has been taken and the works are already ongoing and we can hope to aboard by 2019.
Bangladesh has been successful in drawing interest from economic superpowers for investment in different projects under the compelling management of Sheikh Hasina. Xi Jinping, the President of People's Republic of China, on his visit to Bangladesh on October, 2016 made several deals and among them, Chinese firms signed USD 13.6 billion in trade in Bangladesh.
During the ending part of 1423, PM Hasina's visit to India brought promises for USD 10bn investment by Indian firms in Bangladesh.
The beginning of 1423 was marked with Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)'s agreement to promote Japanese investment in Bangladesh. Other than that, many other countries of the world expressed their interest to invest in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has been hit by several terrorist attacks like many other countries of the world in recent years. But with Hasina's 'Zero Tolerance' policy against terrorism, our law enforcement agencies have acted hard. Many global leaders have acknowledged and heartily praised our effort and Sheikh Hasina's strong determination in this area.
Bangladesh has made significant improvement in women's empowerment during 1423. Women's participation in labour force has reached to 41 per cent. 60 per cent Assistant Teacher position in primary schools has been reserved for women. Maternity leave has been extended up to 60 days. The domestic workers rights have been recognized. We are most aware of the rights of women of all times and our PM's initiatives are noteworthy in this area.
We have also developing in many other socio-economic aspects. We are now enjoying literacy rate of 71 per cent and with around 20 per cent school drop-out rate and with such a large population as ours, this is an exemplary achievement. Child health services have spread throughout the country and the child mortality rate has reduced a lot. The Life expectancy has increased to around 72 years. Poverty rate declined to 22.4 per cent with per capita income over USD 1,466 which led us towards becoming almost a middle income country in 1423.
Our honourable PM Sheikh Hasina has received several awards for her extraordinary achievements in 1423. She became 'Planet 50-50 Champion 2016' awarded by UN Women for her outstanding contribution to women empowerment. Global Partnership Forum bestowed her with 'Agent of Change Award 2016' also for her outstanding contributions to women empowerment. UNFP awarded her the 'Champion of the Earth', the most prestigious environment award for her far reaching initiatives for environmental preservations and tackling climate change. She has also received 'South-South Cooperation Visionary Award' for extending healthcare services to grassroots via ICT.
Sheikh Hasina has reached the list of the most influential leaders of the world. For her contributions, global leaders have praised Bangladesh at ASEM Summit in July, 2016, at BRICS-BIMSTEC Summit in October, 2016, at World Economic Forum in January, 2017, at first ever IORA Leaders' Summit in March, 2017 and at IPU Summit at Bangladesh in April, 2017.
During their visit to Bangladesh President of China Xi Jinping, the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Palestine President Mahmud Abbas and others praised the development of Bangladesh and also the charismatic leadership of Sheikh Hasina. She placed herself in such a place of importance that, during her visit to India, she was received by the Indian PM Narendra Modi himself at the airport. Leaders of oppositions in India also confirmed their support for Bangladesh's development.
She received utmost respect by the people and leaders of India. Former Indian Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani has asked for her support in mitigating the political tensions between India and Pakistan. Even Russia declared Bangladesh to be an important partner. These are mostly the contributions of Sheikh Hasina to place Bangladesh in an important position in the region as well as around the globe.
1423 is almost leaving us with new hopes of 1424. Due to probable national election of 2019, this Bengali year is going to be more important and we can anticipate that, many more development projects will come under lights during this year. We hope our dear leader Sheikh Hasina keep glowing with her magnetic leadership to take Bangladesh to new heights in 1424 as that will bring the highest achievements for Bangladesh.
Mir Mosharref Hossain is the Chairman of Mohammadi Group of Companies Ltd, and Director of The Daily Observer