To realize this dream, the country needs visionaries and statesmen
We know in all democracies there is a third force -- “floating,” “undecided” or “voters on the fence.”
They are the voters who keep their cards close to the chest and wait until the last minute, standing against voters committed to mainstream political parties. This group is increasing in number in all democracies, and Bangladesh is not an exception.
In some countries, these voters on the fence even play a major role and become the deciding factor in the national and sub-national elections. The undecided voters, until the day of the election, keep the mainstream politicians of both sides worried, and keep them guessing about the outcome.
It looks like today, the “undecided” voters will play a major role in the outcome, particularly in the cities like Dhaka. Still, a good number of voters in Dhaka city remain on the fence.
In order to achieve the dream of making Bangladesh a developed nation, the country needs statesmen and visionaries like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and Dr Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia.
The incumbent government of Bangladesh has been doing extraordinarily well in maintaining and satisfying all the requirements of middle-income status, rightfully awarded to Bangladesh in March this year.
Sheikh Hasina has recently said: “Bangladesh will achieve the goal of becoming a middle-income nation by 2021, three years ahead of the deadline set by the World Bank.” She has been working tirelessly for transforming Bangladesh into a developed nation by 2041. Indeed, she is a visionary too for realizing the visions of Bangabandhu, who wanted to make Bangladesh the Switzerland of Asia.
The nation needs a visionary leader like Sheikh Hasina. If elected next term, this will give her ample opportunity to complete all the infrastructure projects ongoing. These projects will prepare the nation to get into the next stage of development for attaining the ultimate goal of becoming an OECD nation like South Korea by 2041.
Last year, for World Economic Forum 2017, the PriceWaterhouse and Coopers UK predicted that Bangladesh would become a $3 trillion economy by 2050, and would surpass the Australian economy, having $2.9tn and second to Canada, having $3.1tn. Some development experts are even talking about Bangladesh as the so-called “basket case turns into an overflowing bowl.” Why?
PWC projects Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh to be three of the world’s fastest-growing economies in this period, and out of these three nations, Bangladesh’s position on the ladder would be 23rd in 2050 compared to 31st in 2016. If realized, indeed Bangabandhu’s dream would come true in another 30 years time. However, Sheikh Hasina has in mind to achieve this goal by 2041, nine years ahead of schedule.
To some people, it would sound like utopia, or they would see the figures above as some kind of propaganda. The answer is, if one looks at the outcome of Sheikh Hasina’s Vision 2021 launched in 2000, indeed, the Vision 2041 is achievable.
If we look at the nation’s achievements on three fronts -- poverty reduction, income per capita, and real growth of GDP since 2000, in the next quarter of a century, with current infrastructure facilities working in full, the 2041 goals certainly will not be out of reach.
However, there are challenges too. The following areas that need special attention by future governments: Industrialization, science and technology, urbanization and transportation, agriculture and food security, public health and nutrition, climate change and environment, business and society, demographic dividend, and disparity reduction (income, gender, regional).
In view of the above, given momentum, the nation has no choice but to commit strongly to implement all the policies presently in place, and it is expected that the new government elected today will make even greater effort to address the challenges mentioned above.
Let us not forget the dream of the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Moazzem Hossain is a contributor based in Brisbane, Australia.