Those who once called Bangladesh a ‘bottomless basket’ are now considering the country as a role model for development. It is a great achievement and a source of pride for us. Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate economist, further analyzed the issue, saying, “Economic progress is not possible unless people live in a free, independent and self-reliant state. Bangladesh has prospered socially and economically because of independence.” Significant progress has been made in many areas in Bangladesh since independence. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence, the Nobel laureate economist made an important speech at a discussion meeting titled ‘The Vision and the Journey’ organized by the Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka on 30 December 2011. According to him, the people of this country should be proud of the achievements of Bangladesh. In the 40 years of independence, the country’s garment industry has gained a competitive position in the world market. Bangladesh has surpassed India in terms of human development and gender equality. It has brought 25 million women into micro-credit, and the country’s reliance on foreign aid has dropped significantly due to the large amount of remittances sent by migrants. The role of the country in protecting against environmental disasters is commendable. As one of the victims of global climate change, Bangladesh should take the lead in tackling climate change. Because the country’s position against global warming has already put Bangladesh in a respectable position in the international arena. Besides, the achievements of Bangladesh in various social fields are also remarkable. Bangladesh is far ahead of India in women empowerment. The Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Speaker of Bangladesh is a woman. The 350-seat National Assembly also has more than 60 women members. A large number of women are efficiently serving as secretaries, additional secretaries, joint secretaries, deputy commissioners, upazila executive officers, university vice chancellors, professors, medical officers, upazila agriculture officers, police officers, commercial bank officials and scientists of various research institutes. When such developments took place in Bangladesh, Pakistan’s position has plummeted due to terrorism, bigotry and continued persecution of minorities. Bangladesh has surpassed India in almost all social indicators. The lessons to be learned from Bangladesh on women and gender are not only due to state policies, but also due to the initiatives of private development agencies. Bangladesh is a unique example of women playing a key role in policy making. A large segment of the labor market, such as schoolteachers, family planning workers, health workers, immunization workers Ñ and even factory workers বাংলাদেশের is doing more for Bangladeshi women than for India. Thousands of women are working as agricultural workers in the northern part of the country. There is no denying that the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food due to their tireless work.
This was not the case in Bangladesh 50 years ago. In 1971, the population of Bangladesh was 7 crore. Food production was 1 crore 10 lakh tons. The people of the country would not be satisfied with that food for three days. I had to look abroad for food. At that time the cultivation of native aus and aman was more. Boro paddy was cultivated on a small amount of land in the low lying areas of the bill. The yield was very low. 3 to 4 manas in bigha. It is impossible to say how many people spent their days eating sweet potatoes in the month of Chaitra-Baishakh. In the 50 years of independence, a silent revolution has taken place in the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors of the country. This revolution was started by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and was perfected by his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The country’s hardworking farmers, fish farmers and poultry and cattle farmers are the heroes of this revolution. In this silent revolution, the role of agricultural and zoologists in inventing new technologies and varieties and the role of field level officials and employees is no less.
Bangabandhu has toured the remote areas of rural Bengal for organizational work. Farmers, workers and hardworking people have come close. He has realized with his heart their sorrows, pains and problems. During the rule of Bangabandhu 75% of the people lived in rural Bengal. More than half of the national income came from agriculture. In the war-torn newly independent country, the initial food shortage was 3 million tons. Restructuring and development of the agricultural sector is one of the priorities set by the undisputed leader of the freedom struggle as the leader of the country. Among the steps taken under the direction of Bangabandhu for the welfare of agriculture and farmers in the newly independent Bangladesh are some of the notable ones Ñ rebuilding the destroyed agricultural infrastructure. Installation of 40,000 powered low-lift pumps, 2,900 deep tube wells and 3,000 shallow tube wells at a reduced cost by 1983. To supply 16,000 tons of paddy seeds, 454 tons of jute seeds and 1,036 tons of gumbois to the farmers at free or nominal price on an urgent basis to produce more agricultural products by 1972. The farmer brothers were released from the 1 million certificate case filed by the government of Pakistan and their arrears were waived along with interest. Abolition of land rent up to 25 bighas. Besides, minimum fair prices are fixed to ensure fair prices of important agricultural commodities including paddy, jute, tobacco and sugarcane. Bangabandhu used to say, ‘Not even an inch of land in Bangladesh will be left uncultivated. Work tirelessly to bring about an agricultural revolution in the country. ‘ He added, “My only wish in life is for the people of Bangladesh to get their food, shelter and a better life.” When the present government came to power in 2009, it took a number of practical and timely steps in the field of agriculture to realize Bangabandhu’s cherished dream. The steps are: Tk 80,065 crore subsidy to agriculture in the last 9 years. Introduction of 189 new varieties which are crop tolerant and high yielding. Reducing the price of non-urea fertilizer by four points, fixing the price of TSP at Tk 22 per kg, MOP at Tk 15 and DAP at Tk 16, expansion of irrigation facilities in 9 lakh 61 thousand 198 hectares of land, issuance of agricultural inputs assistance cards to 25 million 44 thousand 206 farmers. 91.90 lakh farmers have opened bank accounts at Tk 10, subsidized Tk 183.41 crore for farm mechanization and launched 499 AICCs, agricultural call centers and agricultural community radios. As a result of these measures, the country has become self-sufficient in food. In the fiscal year 2019-20, 4 crore 53 lakh 44 thousand tons of granular food grains were produced. Bangladesh ranks third in the world in rice and vegetable production. In the fiscal year 2019-20, a total of 1 crore 74 lakh 46 thousand tons of vegetables were produced in Bangladesh. Not only vegetables and grains, Bangladesh also achieved self-sufficiency in fish and meat production. Despite natural calamities like Aila, Sidr, Mahasen and Amphan, Bangladesh is going to complete the construction of Padma bridge successfully without any help from the World Bank. He undertook big projects like Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant and Karnafuli Tunnel. Besides, Bangladesh has launched Bangabandhu Satellite-1 in space. As a result, Bangladesh will be a model of a modern state system in information, technology and science. These actions taken by the present government set a unique example of Bangladesh’s economic development in the world and put the country in a high position.
Bangladesh is now a role model of development to the world. Bangladesh has successfully achieved MDG. SDG will be achieved by 2030. In the last decade, the average GDP in Bangladesh was more than 6 percent. As a result, the rate of poor people in Bangladesh has come down to 24.6 percent and the rate of extremely poor people has come down to 11.9 percent. The average per capita income of the people of Bangladesh has increased to US হাজার 2,084 and the average life expectancy of the people has risen to 72.6 years. Foreign exchange reserves have risen to বিল 41 billion. The literacy rate has risen to 74.6 percent. Reduced infant and maternal mortality rates. At present almost 100% of the children in Bangladesh go to school. One hundred percent of people use hygienic latrines and clean water. Due to the construction of paved roads and supply of electricity in every village of the country, the communication system has improved unimaginably and small business and cottage industries have flourished. Economic growth has broken all past records. By 2035, Bangladesh will be the 25th largest economy. These achievements would never have been possible if Bangladesh had not been independent in 1971 in exchange for the blood of 3 million martyrs and the honor of 2 lakh mothers and sisters.
Nitai Chandra Roy: Agriculturist and columnist.
Source: Bhorer Kagoj by www.bhorerkagoj.com.
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