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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh, my home

A future of equitable development awaits all Bangladeshis

Update : 22 Jun 2022, 11:18 AM

Every morning as I rush to Liverpool Street in the heart of London, I miss the weather back home; a weather so warm with love, affection, and respect. Until I stepped out of Bangladesh, I thought caring for people is the way it is and not what it should be. But after months of “looking out for thyself,” I have realized the values that are deeply rooted in Bangladeshis by default.

These were the values of the undisputed leader of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, that led us to our independence, our development, our growth and now our way ahead and above. There may have been hiccups on the way but if we are to imagine Bangladesh in 2041, it seems to be nothing less than the Sonar Bangla Bangabandhu dreamt of.

As has been elaborated in the Making Vision 2041 a Reality: Perspective Plan of Bangladesh 2021-2041, zero-poverty, increased equality, higher GDP, and income per person is all but guaranteed. Above everything, the plan corroborates that economic and social justice will prevail in Bangladesh by the time we reach 2041.

This therefore means two things: Bangladesh will have affordable housing for all, need-based financial aid for those seeking education (economic justice), and equally distributed wealth opportunities and privileges (social justice).

Affordable housing is definitely going to reduce the number of people living in shanties and makeshift homes in the country. It will also reduce homelessness as more and more people will be able to purchase a house for themselves and their families to live in. The standard of living will indubitably rise and therefore, graduating to a developed nation will be an achievable cup of tea.

If we are to look into the need-based financial aid for education, it can be said that Bangladesh will have even higher numbers of educated people than it already has as most people will then have the opportunity to seek and attain education and training in fields they desire.

This includes, but is not limited to, the fields of law, medicine, architecture, the arts, and sports. Bangladesh already takes pride in celebrating achievers like Shakib Al Hasan, Jaya Ahsan, Salma Khatun, and so on. We can only imagine what further training and education to everyone in every corner of Bangladesh can do to cultivate talent.

It is imperative to note that Bangladesh already has a literacy rate of 73% according to data reported in 2018 by the International Trade Administration. Affordable education and financial aid can further contribute to achieving a 100% literacy rate. Countries like Andorra, Finland, Greenland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Norway have already shown the world that it is not an impossible task.

Further education will raise the number of jobs created, start-up companies, ideas, and brilliance in the economy, which will contribute to the other agenda of social justice. Essentially, social justice is about increasing the opportunities and privileges available to people so everyone can attain them and there is no bias or impartiality.

It not only facilitates in achieving equality, it also reduces common and debated aspects such as nepotism. Nepotism is a real problem and those who have suffered the consequences of it have either lived their lives in depression or aggression. If social justice heightens, it will therefore have a knock on effect on protected mental health in Bangladesh.

It all boils down to increasing the quality of life that people in Bangladesh have, and quality of life does not only mean sufficiency of necessities such as shelter, education, or food, it also includes mental and physical health. The fact that the Vision 2041 plan includes social justice as one of its agendas is therefore commendable, because it aims to establish mental health as an important factor of all Bangladeshis.

But if we are to look beyond these agendas, the plan also highlights the maintenance of sustainable fiscal deficits and public debt. For almost 30 economic years, Bangladesh’s public expenditures were kept within the bounds of available revenue envelope plus external resources and low domestic borrowings. As a result, fiscal deficits stayed within 5% of the GDP, resulting in a modest buildup of public debt over time.

However, the plan mentions that a fiscal challenge the economy may face in 2041 is the rais in tax-to-GDP ratio from the current 9% to 20%. But, then again, by 2041, the country will have attained economic and social justice as discussed above and that will have a domino effect, increasing the number of people having higher incomes.

Therefore, a shift of dependency from trade taxes to direct taxes may not be that difficult or despised.

All these aspects then contribute to attaining zero poverty (or as low as 3%) in Bangladesh. The 2041 plan states that: “By 2041, all citizens will be guaranteed a minimum quality of life, based on employment income for all who seek work and social protection benefits for the vulnerable population who cannot participate in the labour market owing to age and physical disabilities.”

Most European countries, such as Germany, Belgium, France, etc, have already displayed the possible ways to give these benefits to people, and with higher revenue, growth, and education in Bangladesh, by 2041 it may become possible to achieve such success in our nation as well.

Ultimately, the idea is to achieve positive human development as has been established in the plan. Particularly the plan mentions that the PP2041 program for human development comprises the following:

  • Institution of a knowledge-based economy
  • Population with 100% literacy rate
  • Universal free education for up to 12 years
  • Flexible supply of training institutions for all who seek to acquire vocational skills
  • Universal access to health insurance schemes at affordable prices
  • 100% coverage of employment-based accidental and health insurance schemes for all workers in the organized sector
  • Ensuring medical facilities for all at affordable cost

The knock-on effect that has been repeatedly mentioned in this piece is visible in the above bullet points that the program comprises.

If all that is achieved and it will be achieved, Bangabandhu’s Sonar Bangla is only two decades away. Until that time, I celebrate all that we have achieved and the length we have walked in only 50 years.

Anusha Islam Raha is an LLM Graduate and is currently specializing in International Business Law in London, United Kingdom.

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