Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has returned home after attending the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland and her visits to London and France. The world has experienced her insight and leadership during this trip. Her speech was lauded and world leaders acknowledged Bangladesh’s astonishing development. Our country was placed with great honour and her approach truly was like as a global leader. This accomplishment was only because of the progress of Bangladesh under her farsighted and courageous leadership as well as her strong presence in different global forums.
As her last stoppage, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Paris on Nov 9 and met French President Emmanuel Macron. They discussed issues of mutual interest and the upgrading of bilateral relations and major international and regional issues. Both sides stated their intent to further the defence and security component of their relationship. Moreover, they agreed to develop their cooperation in other areas including trade and investment, sustainable development and climate change, education and cultural exchange.
During her Paris visit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for more investment from French businesses, seeking to double Dhaka-Paris trade by 2025. She also advised the French businesses to find a local partner to make their entry easier, saying their constant feedback and suggestions are also welcome.
Sheikh Hasina also reminded, at the Peace Forum in Paris on Nov 11, the world of security risks from the Rohingya crisis and called for stepped up international efforts to send the refugees back to their homeland Myanmar from Bangladesh. Over 1 million Rohingya refugees live in Bangladesh now.
Highlighting the disparities in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic between rich and poor countries, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for a change in the thinking and narratives around international development cooperation. She urged wealthy countries to deliver on their development commitments to protect the interests of lower-income countries. She emphasized Bangladesh’s long-standing and proven commitment to champion the cause of the world’s Least Developed Countries and serve as the voice of climate-vulnerable countries. She also emphasized Bangladesh’s contributions to human resource development over the years for its neighbouring countries.
As the world was curious about the quick progress of Bangladesh, PM Hasina mentioned that, in Bangladesh, a home-grown, inclusive development model gave it better and faster results for most social indicators and this was no miracle as her government identified the gaps, paid attention to them and kept working at them one by one.
Prior to her Paris visit, during her visit to the UK, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a bilateral meeting with her British counterpart Boris Johnson and met Prince Charles on the sidelines of the UN climate change conference in Glasgow. Hasina and Johnson discussed several issues, including bilateral ones on Nov 3. In the meeting with Prince Charles, Hasina highlighted Bangladesh’s challenges, the initiatives she had taken and the steps necessary to face the effects of climate change. Prince Charles discussed private sector engagements on climate issues. The prime minister also attended a meeting with Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Nov 2.
Throughout this trip, Bangladesh received special acknowledgement from the global leaders. BBC reported that, PM Hasina was going to be one of the five most influential persons for COP26. Sheikh Hasina has made Bangladesh contribute significantly in global peace and conflict management with her valorous leadership. She has taken many large development projects to make Bangladesh progress as well as to make our country a lucrative place to invest.
Mega projects are solid drivers for quickening the economic growth of developing countries, specifically while in transition to development. Mega projects loike; Padma Bridge and Rail Link, Metro Rail, Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Rail Link, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, The Coal-Fired Power Plant of Matarbari and Rampal and the Payra Sea Port are going to transform our economy. There are many other medium to large scale projects, which will also change the landscape of Bangladesh. Today there are different sectors from production to sports, where Bangladesh stands among top 10 countries of the world and many of these are due to the gallant decisions of PM Sheikh Hasina.
While Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League promised to convert the country to ‘Digital Bangladesh’, many laughed and took that as an election stunt. But she acted on her promise. Bangladesh is on the way to digitalized most of its sectors. Connectivity and access to technology has been one of the greatest achievements of her government. The world has also acknowledged it. Her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy has recently won the ASOCIO Leadership Award 2021 for his contribution to the “revolutionary” development of Bangladesh’s IT sector. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also been recently conferred with WITSA Eminent Persons Award 2021 for her outstanding contributions to improving the living standard of people by using information and communication technology.
As the world is moving towards a heavily technology-based business pattern, Bangladesh has also shown its intent to be a part of it. Bangladesh is building a number of hi-tech parks to attract foreign direct investment in hardware and software manufacturing industry. Experts said the new hi-tech parks will be the centre of global investors in the industry. South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, India and Vietnam can be referred as the success stories in increasing export revenue introducing hi-tech parks.
Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City (BHTC) is the first full-fledged special economic zone for IT/ ITES and hi-tech industry in Bangladesh. Other than that, the government has also planned to set up 12 IT parks in the country for building a “Digital Bangladesh.” A total of 12 IT parks will be established in 12 separate districts – Jamalpur, Natore, Cox’s Bazar, Cumilla, Mymensing, Keraniganj (Dhaka), Barisal, Rangpur, Gopalganj, Sylhet, Khulna and Chittagong. To attract more foreign investment in the country, Hi-Tech Park Authority has announced an incentive package.
Along with many other development works, creating an IT-supportive infrastructure is another visionary step of PM Hasina. Bangladesh, once a poor and backward economy, is now pursuing business opportunities in the IT sector and from all aspects, we can succeed in this area. We can become a new destination for global outsourcing, call centres and software manufacturing. This may also provide us an opportunity to become a part of global e-commerce industry.
All these opportunities are due to visionary leadership of PM Sheikh Hasina. We now need to focus on quick implementation of all these plans and need to work on the goals of ‘Vision 2041’. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has developed ‘Delta Plan 2100’, a 100-year plan which no leaders of this sub-continent could ever plan.
Sheikh Hasina could transform Bangladesh to such an extent because of her unconditional love for this country as well as for holding the principles of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at core. Most of her family members were brutally murdered and several attempts were made to kill her. She is now above the fear of life and hence, she could commit herself for the welfare of the country wholeheartedly. Her devotion and sincerity has taken Bangladesh to a new height today.
Bangladeshi premiere Sheikh Hasina has become a global icon as she proved that, with right intent, a country can prosper soon. Regionally also, Bangladesh is now better in many aspects than its superior neighbours. As a Bangladeshi citizen, we hope this journey continues forever. We believe the vision of Bangabandhu’s daughter PM Hasina will take us much further and will seal a prestigious place for our country in front of the world.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla
and Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela