Bangladesh is heading for its eleventh parliamentary election. Speculations, worries and hope about the election are coming up from all walks of life as the polls are approaching. The electoral polarization of the country shows two clearly divided streams.
One stream reflects the Bengali spirit while another bears the signs of Bangladeshi nationalism. There is a massive remoteness between these two streams. The major political parties of the country should lay special emphasis on certain points in their electoral manifestos to uplift Bangladesh to the next level in terms of socio-economic advancement and political stability.
Secularism: We have observed some humanitarian instances in the ongoing 21st century. A great deal of refugees have been sheltered in Europe. Similarly, over one million Rohingya refugees have been sheltered in Bangladesh. Several geopolitical conflicts have been resolved by the international powers. The only blazing issue is the war going on in Syria. Otherwise, most of the geopolitical predicaments have been settled up.
This is certainly an encouraging and optimistic scenario. Interreligious harmony has turned out to be more important, more effective and a much better way to combat religious extremism. In the current globalized era, secularism is the most essential ideology to bring about peace and brotherhood within the people of different religions. A harmonious environment is indispensable to make peace prevail in Bangladesh too.
While the glorious Liberation War of 1971 was going on, India and Russia accorded valuable support to Bangladesh. Most of the Muslim countries in the Middle East did not cooperate with Bangladesh while the war was going on. China did not support Bangladesh either at that crucial time. China and a few Muslim countries in the Middle East recognized Bangladesh after the tragic assassination of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Some Bangladeshi people who were loyal to Pakistan worked against the Liberation War during 1971 and committed heinous war crimes against the freedom fighters and religious minorities. That communal craze of 1971 that acted against Bangladesh’s independence still persists in the country.
Radical Islamic parties like Hefazat-E-Islam, Jamaat and some other extremist wings are vivid threats to the religious and ethnic minorities around us. Communal attacks on Hindus and tribal clans are launched every now and then. Even Bangladesh fell a prey to a severe militant assault through the Holey Artisan catastrophe that left around twenty people dead including police officers and foreign nationals.
Secularism is the only way to prevent the rise of evil entities like religious fundamentalism. For this reason a unified platform is required to work for the establishment of secular ideas and practices. The Holy Quran says, “La kum deenukum olya deen” which means everyone has the right to observe their religious rituals without impediments.
This message of Holy Quran should be propagated among the country’s people including young generation to resist the prevalence of religious fanaticism. Therefore, building up a society on the basis of secular thoughts should be there in the electoral manifestos of the political parties who will be contesting in the upcoming election.
Prioritizing youths: Rabindranath Tagore wrote in a poem, “Oh my green youths, hit and wake up the half dead people.” These lines glorify the power and valor of youths. The young generation of our country deserves high priority.
It may be recalled that Bangabandhu, after the independence of Bangladesh, selected young and energetic people for his cabinet. But after his cataclysmic death, military rulers and anti-liberation fronts grabbed the ruling power of the country who placed retired bureaucrats and old leaders in higher posts. In this way the youths of our country were neglected.
Still we can see senior citizens and over-aged leaders are holding important posts in the cabinet who are not familiar with the latest innovations, technologies and trends in various fields. For this reason the youths of the country should be brought ahead and should be trained up to work for the betterment of the nation.
Young leaders should be placed in the cabinet and in other vital organizations to run Bangladesh in a sophisticated and modernized way. Youths will have to be attracted by making wi fi available in all public places, building up theme parks, playgrounds, libraries and amusement spots all over the country.
In recent times we have seen youths have shown their vigor and exhilaration through demonstrations for safe roads and protests over the quota system.
Both these movements were instigated by young boys and girls. So, we should make the best of our efforts to utilize the enthusiasm of our young generation for the advancement of our country. That’s why clear guidelines should be conferred by the political parties in their electoral manifestos ahead of the forthcoming polls.
Good governance and strengthening economy: Good governance is one of the most vital prerequisites for the socio-economic progress of any nation. Bangladesh will have to ensure the smooth prevalence of good governance in all sectors for rapid development and continuation of democratic principles.
Bangladesh has achieved a high magnitude of development during last one decade. This development needs to be retained and further expanded. We have successfully graduated from least developed countries (LDC) but there are some more obstacles to jump over.
So, the government will have to deal with the economic issues very cautiously and combat the monopoly culture from the financial arena. An anti-trust law can be considered to enact for this purpose. At the same time strong measures should be executed to make Bangladesh Competition Commission more dynamic and fruitful.
The law and order forces have great roles to play to constitute good governance. Good governance can make the citizens aware of their rights and responsibilities and the country’s people will be thus inspired to participate in fortifying democracy and consolidating our economic growth. India has set a very scintillating example in terms of good governance.
India has been using electronic voting machines (EVM) in elections for many years but still there has been no complaint from any political party. This is an amazing instance of good governance from which Bangladesh can take lessons. India has now become a trillion dollars economy by virtue of good governance, accountability and integrity.
The Chinese people who once upon a time used to keep on sleeping beside roads taking opium have now transformed their country into a superpower by means of hardwork and exercising firm regulations.
The idea of building up good governance should be added to the electoral manifestos of the political parties of Bangladesh. It should be noted that investments in Bangladesh’s private sector have gone down enormously. An investment-friendly atmosphere should be established.
Transparency in banking sector: At present we can see that the banking sector of Bangladesh is going through immense anarchy and rampage. Defaulted loans, trade deficit, money laundering, mysterious loans and import costs have exceeded all previous records causing mammoth damages to the country’s economic prospects.
Bangladesh will have to fight corruption and irregularities from the banking turf with firm initiatives to deliver the blessings of development to the doorsteps of all the people throughout the country.
International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Moody’s and many more organizations have expressed worries about the banking anomalies of Bangladesh. Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Bangladesh Bank have faced massive criticism for the haphazard plight of the state-owned and private banks.
The process of opening letters of credit should be strongly monitored so that money launderers cannot use fabricated letters of credit and other documents to transfer money illegally to foreign destinations. All the political parties will have to take it into serious consideration to halt graft, nepotism and other sorts of malpractices in banks and financial institutions to protect Bangladesh’s economy from disastrous consequences.
Technological advancement: Advanced technological devices like close circuit cameras should be installed in all cities and sensitive areas of the country. Technology is also required for automation in the land offices to reduce corruption. Most of the pending cases across courts in Bangladesh are land-related ones.
Automated services in land offices can mitigate such complications. Many countries including India have been able to eradicate corruption from government offices by installing technological gadgets in government organizations. Bangladesh should follow the same example and it should be addressed in the electoral manifestos of all parties.
The Digital Bangladesh program has initiated technological awareness all over the country but remarkable young entrepreneurship from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector has not yet emerged. Even IT industry is not among the top hundred enterprises in Bangladesh. The policymakers should seriously focus on this point.
Health: Health is wealth. A healthy nation can make faster progress than other countries. For this reason health sector should be made more efficacious in our country. A lot of medical colleges and private clinics have emerged all over Bangladesh but still healthcare services fall short of people’s expectations.
We are lagging behind India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and some more countries in terms of healthcare. Formulating a new health policy for children, women, youngsters and elderly people is an important task. Aged people in our country face a great deal of trouble due to lack of proper healthcare.
Electoral manifestos of the leading political parties should include health sector too. Healthcare policies of some countries like India, United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia and some other countries have succeeded to meet the health needs of their citizens. These healthcare policies should be studied, researched and lessons should be taken from these methods.
Average longevity in Bangladesh has much increased while child mortality rate has gone down. These are some of the appreciable things which have taken place in our health sector but still Bangladesh lags behind in specialized health services. That’s why lots of people every year visit India and other countries for better medical treatment.
Education: Education is the backbone of a nation. Our education system is an average one. There are many observations about the curriculum, exams and questions in our schools and colleges. Most of the educationists have offered certain suggestions to improve the quality of our educational method.
Particularly, most of the students in Bangladesh are extremely weak in English. Being weak in English makes students inefficient with technologies too because all the tech giants like Google, Microsoft, facebook, twitter, Yahoo and so on are based on English language. Bengali is our mother tongue.
So, students need to have adequate knowledge on Bengali. At the same time sufficient English language skills are also required to make students capable of building up sound professional careers. Education in Bangladesh is divided into Bengali medium, English medium and madrassas. A uniform education pattern is required for the intellectual growth of youngsters.
The election manifesto of all parties should make specific references to different ways for upgrading the English language proficiency of Bangladeshi students. It may be recalled that three decades ago most of the English newspapers had over two lakh copies of circulation which has now drastically dropped due to people’s lack of dexterity in English language.
Agriculture: Bangladesh has made unprecedented progress with the agriculture sector. The country is now self-sufficient in food. Nearly all people across Bangladesh are now able to take meat and fish with their daily meals.
A strong and healthy generation cannot rise without proper nutrition. Different European, American and Australian dairy strategies should be studied to eradicate nutrition shortage among the children of Bangladesh and to ensure that all kids can take healthy and nutritious food items everyday.
Sports: Bangladesh was once upon a time known to the world just for natural disasters but during last several years Bangladesh has earned much fame by gaining successful breakthroughs in cricket. Bangladesh played very good football a couple of decades back. The lost glory of football should be restored by means of efficient coaching and appropriate policies.
Sports are very important for the physical and mental growth of young people. We can keep our youths away from illegal activities like drug addiction, militancy, crimes etcetera by engaging them with sports. On top of outdoor games like cricket and football, emphasis needs to be placed on indoor games such as shooting, archery, swimming, fencing and table tennis. In this way the players of Bangladesh can enhance the country’s reputation on the global stage.
Women empowerment: Women in Bangladesh have secured prestigious positions in both government service and private organizations during last one decade. Women are now being able to work holding their heads high in law and order forces, defence services, hospitals, academic institutions and many more places.
However, more efforts should be made by the government to make the society safer for women. Therefore, electoral manifestos of different parties should include categorical programs for a broader scale of women emancipation and gender equity.
Besides the points illustrated above local government and rural development, science and technology, small and medium entrepreneurs (SME) need special attention too.
Bangladesh earns foreign currencies through remittances sent from abroad by the Bangladeshis who live in foreign countries. Help desks and other services should be extended to the expatriate Bangladeshis in airports so that they do not face any hassle when they come home or when they travel overseas.
While concluding I would like to quote a few lines from Raghuram Rajan, former IMF chief economist and ex Governor of Reserve Bank of India, “Strong government doesn’t mean simply military power or an efficient intelligence apparatus. Instead, it should mean effective, fair administration – in other words, good governance.”