Even two decades ago, Bangladesh wan known to the world as an under-developed nation with struggling economy and affected by terrorism, religious extremism, lawlessness and political hooliganism. Country’s infinite possibilities were seriously dented particularly because of thuggish and rogue governance of the Islamist coalition regime of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ideological darling Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). While ruling elites were competing in looting public wealth, BNP-JeI regime was sponsoring and harboring radical Islamic militancy and were also extending all-out cooperation to notorious insurgency groups within northeastern states in India. During this horrific rule, a number of radical Islamic militancy groups, such as Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), which had later rebranded itself as Ansar Al Islam by joining global terror outfit Al Qaeda; two groups named Hizbut Towheed and Hizbut Tahrir were burning American flags in the streets demanding establishment of Caliphate in the country and few more groups such as Khatmey Nabuat Movement (KNM) were engaged in attacking Ahmadi mosques, residences and business establishments. Religious minorities, especially Hindus were facing regular attacks by these Islamist thugs. In brief, Bangladesh was becoming another Afghanistan.
Ever-since Awami League, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina won a landslide victory in 2008 general elections and subsequent elections in 2013 and 2018, the government started showing zero tolerance towards terrorism, militancy and religious extremism. Sheikh Hasina’s government meticulously focused on socio-economic prosperity of Bangladesh, while members of the anti-terror elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) continued wholehearted offensives on terrorism and militancy thus succeeding in saving the country from slipping into the grips of terrorists, jihadists and religious bigots.
Bangladesh already is a prime destination for foreign investment as the country offers political stability, peaceful atmosphere and investor-friendly economic benefits, with the goal of turning Bangladesh into the land of infinite possibility. A large number of foreign investors and industrial giants from China in particular are gradually switching their investments and industrial projects to Bangladesh, which also is helping in creating thousands of job opportunities. The government has already chalked-out plan for starting few more special economic zones, mainly for the foreign investors. Especially after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, special economic zones in the southern districts in the country will emerge as hotspot of foreign investments.
Massive infrastructural projects are seen in almost everywhere in the country, while cities are already getting elevated express ways, metro rails, under-river tunnel roads, flyovers, hospitals, educational institutes, parks (including eco parks) etcetera.
The picture of rural Bangladesh is also changing fast with a significant portion of the rural population enjoying access to socio-economic prospects, education, healthcare and empowerment of women. Hundreds and thousands of people in the rural areas are already brought under government’s special programs that provides them a house and source of earnings. They also are enjoying access to digital communication systems, which also results in millions of rural dwellers having their own smartphones and computers. According to economic forecasts, by 2026 Bangladesh will become leading economy in South Asia and by 2030 country’s economic progresses will cross many of the Asian nations.
During the past 14 years, Bangladesh has significantly changed towards a very positive direction. As stated by the US ambassador to Bangladesh, Peter Haas:
Bangladesh is now one of the fastest growing economies in the Indo-Pacific. You are preparing for graduation from Least Developed Country status and racing ahead toward middle income status.
The ambassador said, Bangladesh competes equally with major economies.
Bangladesh’s dependence on foreign aid has been significantly decreasing while our foreign exchange earnings are on steady rise. We are proudly proclaiming to have become a development paragon – a great miracle to the world. Bangladesh is the fastest growing economy and is already a role model to many nations. Meanwhile, there has been tremendous improvement in the average standard of living of the citizen.
According to the most recent statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh’s per capita GDP was about half of Pakistan’s in 1987 and two-third of India’s as recently as 2007. But in 2020, Bangladesh has surpassed both Pakistan and India, owing partly to the success in emerging a leading textile and clothing exporter, trailing just behind China and Vietnam. According to economic experts, Bangladesh’s economic growth will surpass many of the Asian nations, including Singapore by 2030.
According to experts, Bangladesh’s growth rests on three pillars: exports, social progress ad fiscal prudence. Between 2011 and 2019, Bangladesh’s export earnings grew at 8.6 percent year-on-year, compared to world average of 0.4 percent. The success is largely due to political stability in the country as well putting special emphasis on products, such as apparels, pharmaceuticals, ceramic items etcetera.
A Bloomberg article said, the share of Bangladeshi women in the labor force has consistently grown, unlike in India and Pakistan, where it has decreased. And Bangladesh has maintained a public debt-to-GDP ratio between 30 percent and 40 percent. India and Pakistan will both emerge from the pandemic with public debt close to 90 percent of GDP. Fiscal restraint has allowed Bangladesh’s private sector to borrow and invest.
With the growth of Bangladesh’s economy, we need to prepare ourselves with an effective strategy for the next decade focusing on new forms of global integration and on a continued transformation of the economy. To achieve this goal, we need to have access the developed world’s markets by signing free-trade agreements. And, Bangladesh already has started working on this goal.
Experts said, while Bangladesh shall continue efforts in signing Free Trade Agreement with the European Union and the United States, it needs to mobilize two fronts – diplomatic and media, in this regard. To achieve this goal, country’s missions in every western nation in particular as well as major economies in Asia, Europe, America and Australia should be assigned to show performances instead of mere blank words. Bangladesh being a paragon of socio-economic progress now needs to abandon its old-day’s policy of never expecting any performance or achievement from the press wings of its missions in various countries. The country needs efficient, capable and committed individuals in those important positions who can successfully accomplish their goals. In case of necessity, the office of our Prime Minister can open special wing to monitor and coordinate the activities of the press wings of our missions in various countries.
It is not only the case of tremendous economic progress. Bangladesh has already achieved successes in other sectors. For example, life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, fertility, and female labor-force participation. Bangladesh also has been successful in maintaining political stability.
According to experts, the country can further boost tourism sector if St Martin Island is turned into an exclusive tourism zone, mainly for tourists from around the world. According to experts, once St Martin Island is transformed into exclusive tourism zone, it can bring at least US$ 8-9 billion in country’s exchequer every year, which can continue to grow further.
With Bangladesh magnificent progresses in every field, the country also urgently needs attention of the international community in immediately resolving the Rohingya crisis and in case of necessity exert force on Myanmar in taking back over 1.3 million Rohingyas from Bangladesh, who were temporarily sheltered in 2017 when they were fleeing genocide in Myanmar. According to counterterrorism experts, if the repatriation of Rohingyas is further delayed, it would generate frustration within them, which may ultimately push them towards terrorism, militancy and other forms of criminal activities that would pose serious threat to regional and global security.
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