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Ensuring victory against all odds

Rahman Jahangir | Published: December 15, 2015 22:08:18 | Updated: October 24, 2017 06:00:37


The day dawns today with the nation recollecting the jubilation and agony of 44 years ago. It was on December 16, 1971 that 75 million Bangalees of that time won freedom at the cost of three million martyrs. The outpouring of great feelings of victory over brutalities perpetrated by the Pakistan occupation forces and their local lackeys during the nine months of the bloody Liberation War fills the homes and streets on the occasion of the Victory Day celebrations. The joyous mood is tempered by the cruel memory of killing, rape and rampage by the enemies during the nine months of the Liberation War. So both senses of victory and tragedy pervade the landscape today.
Today is also a day of stocktaking of the performance of the nation since independence. Has Bangladesh moved forward to translate into reality the dreams and ideals of the three million martyrs? As we look back, it appears the country has leaped forward in a manner of hop-step-and-jump. There were post-independence tragedies. Political turmoil had gripped the statecraft at several points of time. And it is now for the people to judge for themselves whether things have moved - and how far - in accord with the ideals of the martyrs of 1971.
It is worth recalling views of a firebrand student leader Ayesha Khanam of the Mahila Samity-fame. In an interview she said, "Many countries had experiences similar to that of ours in gaining independence through political struggle against colonial rule. After independence, they formed new states for advancement through many ups and downs and socio-political complexities. But controversy over fundamental issues of independence is totally unexpected and seriously condemnable." 
She said the role of Bangabandhu as the architect of our liberation and also that of the Awami League as the leading political party in our struggle for independence have to be recognised for the sake of a true history of our liberation war. "Everyone should have an objective attitude and have an open mind regarding historical events. The history of independence was not only of nine months; there had been a long preparation for it." She said that the political preparations began in 1952, when we realised that the artificial state of Pakistan would not ensure our right to self-determination, and political and economic growth.  Ayesha Khanam said: "I believe that such a controversy over the history will be eliminated forever." 
In fact, the question of self-determination led this nation to the struggle for liberation. So many progressive democratic political parties and individuals also played their roles. If efforts are made for recording an integrated, liberal and coordinated history, the nation will certainly move forward on a steady course.
On the economic front, Bangladesh has earned plaudits from all quarters across the world.  When World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu said that Bangladesh has the potential of becoming an Asian Tiger, he really meant it. From the beginning of its birth as a nation, poverty alleviation has been high on every government's development agenda. To this end, successive governments put in their best efforts to substantially augment domestic demand. 
As Kaushik Basu said, it was amazing for Bangladesh to attain 6.0 per cent average gross domestic product (GDP) growth during the last couple of decades. The country has succeeded to accelerate the pace of economic growth but it has to do a lot more to hold inequality in check. Currently, the population living below the poverty line has decreased to 24 per cent from 70 per cent in early 1970s.  This, by itself, is no mean achievement for a nation in the midst of all adversities - both man-made and natural. 
The international community, too, has recognised huge advancements that the country has made on the economic front. The Citi group has listed Bangladesh as one of the most growth prospective 11 economies until 2050. The JP Morgan has categorised Bangladesh as one of the 'Frontier Five' economies with high potential to become an attractive destination for investment as well. According to the latest report of the PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bangladesh will become the 23rd largest economy in the world by 2050 (Bangladesh ranks 38th now).
In the meantime, Bangladesh has taken steps to get the sovereign credit rating evaluated by internationally acclaimed rating agencies. Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch are currently evaluating its sovereign credit ratings. According to their assessment, last year Bangladesh maintained satisfactory ratings made earlier. The national currency, Taka, has remained stable. This reflects the impact of continuous macro-economic stability of the economy. This has prompted the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to express interest in the issuance of 'Tk. bonds'.
Today, Bangladesh badly needs political stability more than ever before to trudge a higher growth path because of the pressing needs of a huge population. Such stability will bring in more investment and more job opportunities for the ever-bulging population. If politics really aims to deliver the goods to the people, all parties should join hands to see it happen. Gifted with an enterprising people (there's no other alternative but to be enterprising only to survive), Bangladesh can achieve faster economic growth in the foreseeable future. Unity and stability should be the only two key objectives; all must sink their differences to achieve these objectives. 
arjayster@gmail.com
 

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