THE book Bangladesh: Bartaman or Bhabishyat Bhabna (Bangladesh: present and future thoughts), written by Mahmud Reza Chowdhury and published by the Academic Press Publishers Library, runs into 184 pages and the writer writes about his thoughts on Bangladesh’s present and future and divides the book into four sections.
The first part deals with ideals, values and principles on which the country is founded upon. The second part discusses the contemporary politics in the country. The third part attempts to portray the picture of the governance, democracy, transparency in a penetrating manner of the ruling parties during the past five decades. The fourth part provides his suggestions for future implementation for the country.
Viewed in the above context, it may be noted that by March 2018, Bangladesh, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, met the threshold for graduating from least developed country status, marking a milestone in the nation’s development. It is the first ever country to graduate meeting all the three criteria in economic and human development, with significant progress made in areas such as sanitation, health and education.
Bangladesh has now embarked on becoming a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. However, challenges, such as export diversification, infrastructure development, maternal health, gender gaps in the workforce, absence in skilled labour force and modernisation of infrastructure remain. Some writers have held the belief that the book is critical of the misgovernance and lack of accountability of the ruling parties to people which was detrimental to the greater interests of the country.
The writer argues that the country has lost its ideals and civil society has deteriorated to such an extent that they do not provide independent and objective views, except a few to be counted. Some of them even are alleged to support the successive governments for accruing benefits from the government.
The writer in his book appears to divide society into several classes: (a) negligible number of skilled work force employed in industries, (b) landless poor peasants of the country, (c) glaring disparity of income between the rich and the poor, (d) the middle-class under pressure from high prices of essential commodities, and, one good example, (f) a few business entrepreneurs who have done well leading to economic progress of the country.
However, the writer seems to fail to mention the huge contribution of non-governmental organisations to all fields affecting the poor people in the country, especially BRAC, which has acted as a catalyst, creating opportunities for people living in poverty to realise their potential in all areas, such as education, health, agriculture, poverty-alleviation programmes, rural development, rural craft centre (Aarong) and BRAC dairy and milk project.
Finally, the writer appropriately quotes almost at the end of the book the eminent scientist Albert Einstein: ‘We cannot solve our problem with the same thing we used when we created them’ (p 153).
Barrister Harun ur Rashid is a former Bangladesh ambassador of the United Nations, Geneva.
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