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The Financial Express

Wading through challenges for development

| Updated: October 23, 2017 01:01:29


Wading through challenges for development

After 46 years of independence, Bangladesh has indeed effectively overcome the legacy of the so-called 'basket case'. The country has now achieved considerable progress in many sectors. 
The historical day has come around again, the day our war for independence began. Today, on the 47th anniversary of our independence, we recall with deepest respect all the martyrs of our liberation war. 
The spirit of the liberation war was national unity, justice and democracy. The essence of the freedom struggle was economic, political and social emancipation. Although a lot of economic activities are being progressively witnessed, there is hardly any scope to feel complacent.
The moot point is that the country has failed to develop necessary infrastructure and facilities for attaining the desired level of growth. Adequate number of exclusive economic zones and recreational facilities for foreign tourists are absent. 
There are a lot of plans in the papers as far as tourism policy is concerned but actual development has not been up to the mark. On the other hand, tiny countries like Maldives went ahead with the necessary zoning and development, getting as much as 23 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) out of travel and tourism in 2016.  
A stronger regional integration could also reduce the country's dependence on traditional trade partners like the United States and the European Union. Cooperation with the South Asian Region Cooperation (SAARC) members and East Asia could significantly expand the export potential of Bangladesh. The country has two important and relevant ministries - Foreign and Commerce - that hardly communicate or coordinate, and act in a concerted manner that could have yielded enormous gains for the country in critical areas like - trade, transit, and communication.
With the world's largest mangrove forest and the longest beach, a rich and varied history and culture successively overlaid by Islamic, Indian, and Western civilisations, and a location connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia, Bangladesh could become a hotspot for tourists. 
Bangladesh has more than 50 per cent of its population below the age of 24. The youth has enormous potential and creative energy. In innovation and entrepreneurship, the youths have been making their mark, just as they have voiced their wish and expectations for a new vision and direction in the country's leadership. 
After a long period of 46 years as a free nation and a country, many ask questions whether the country has been able to fulfil the dreams of the people or not. It is also natural to ask whether we, as a nation, have been provided with the right direction and motivation that was very much necessary for a nascent state, not only to survive the seminal stages of its existence but also to endure as a vibrant entity in the committee of nations. 
The country's liberation was attained through the combined efforts and struggle of the entire nation. None can claim exclusive rights. As a nation, we should purge the divisive and discordant thoughts and actions that have driven a wedge between various segments of our society. It is hardly possible for us as a nation to attain any degree of success in any field in a truncated and weak psychological state.
In fact, the process of the nation and state building required the participation of all. And, if anti democratic dispensation had caused aberrations in our political firmament, much of the blame has to be shared by our polity that was unable to attenuate the fissiparous tendencies and arrest the divisive proclivity that existed, according to political analysts.
It is important that we dedicate ourselves to the memory of those to whose sacrifices we owe our existence. We should remember those who gave up their most valued possession, not for any tangible return but to see that our dignity and honour as a nation is restored. It is their memory that we must perpetuate and acknowledge in our hearts at all times. It is their dreams that we must strive to fulfil at any cost.
Much of our woes are due to lack of consensus of the major parties on major national issue. The nation expects its leaders to identify the national interests and concerns and follow a common policy to uphold those. No party can claim sole agency of patriotism, and insofar as the pursuit of major goals that involve international formulations. It is thus important that we should be wise to seek cooperation of all.
It is time to rise above party politics and address the threat in unison. Otherwise, it is our existence that will be at stake, the supreme sacrifices of the martyrs desecrated, and our victory will turn out to be merely a pyrrhic one.  
Although there are many affluent people in the country, yet the number of poor people is very widespread. A handful of people enjoy the benefit of the economic growth. The country lack policies that can help create adequate employment opportunities. Successive governments have remained indifferent to this problem. Such the ideology of development, analysts say, has encouraged private profiteering and privatisation of public property.  It also helped widen class disparity in the society. 
The present the Awami League-led government is committed to secularism. Bangladesh was established discarding the two-nation theory, which was based on religion, and the nationalism that inspired us was secular. The government has a responsibility to steer the country to the path of development. There is no denying that secularism is a basic tenet of the state and the liberation war loses its meaning, if it compromises on this ideological question. 
What is needed now is to identify the opportunities that Bangladesh can avail to expedite development, devise concrete steps to achieve the same, and wade through the challenges and difficulties that come along the way. 
A lot of opportunities have gone by while we have wallowed in our untapped potential. The country cannot afford to delay in tapping all the resources it has.  It's time we talk less and work more.
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