594Published on February 3, 2021
Pranab Kumar Panday:
Regardless of economic ability, housing right is one of the basic rights of citizens of every nation globally. Food, clothing and shelter were marked as the basic needs of Bangladesh's people in our Constitution. In this perspective, it is a constitutional right of every citizen to have a home to live with his/her family members.
Every person should have a pleasant home to live a safe and healthy life. However, there is no house for many people in our country. A variety of causes have left people homeless, such as natural disasters, poverty, forced relocation, migration, etc. These vulnerable people without homes suffer from psychological disorder and trauma. Thus, a home allows these people to remain in shelter and helps them overcome such trauma.
Looking at many towns, including Dhaka, thousands of people will appear to be surviving on the street and slums without having their own houses. There are floating communities and beggars among these poor people who typically come to Dhaka from various parts of the country to earn their livelihood. However, this issue is not only noticeable in the cities but also visible in the villages, as thousands of vulnerable people do not have permanent homes at the rural level across the country. Homelessness leads people to becoming emotionally ill and worsens marginalized groups' welfare.
We are celebrating a year-long birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that started on the 17th of March 2020. The present government has declared this year as the Mujib Year (Mujib Borsho). They initiated numerous projects to help the country's marginalized and disadvantaged people as part of its celebration of the Mujib Year. However, several programmes had to be cut by them because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite challenges triggered by the pandemic, several noble programmes of the government have been launched in full swing. One of the commendable efforts of the Sheikh Hasina government of the Awami League has been to ensure that no person would be left without a home address in the Mujib Year. Therefore, the government decided to provide homeless people with houses across the country. In order to accomplish this goal, the government selected schemes to provide housing for 882,023 homeless people, to mark the 100th birthday of the founder of the nation.
Among different projects "Ashrayan-2" is one of them under which the government wanted to offer homes to many homeless people in the Mujib Year. On the 23rd of January 2021, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over homes to 66,189 families and rehabilitated 3,715 other more families in the barracks under Ashraya-2 project. This is one of the most incredible presents in the Mujib year. While inaugurating the programme, the prime minister also mentioned that the government earlier handed over homes to 230,000 families. They will start the construction of one lakh of new houses for the landless and homeless people soon.
One of the positive dimensions of the implementation of the Ashrayan-2 project is that the government included the marginal sections of the society, including Dalit, Harijan, transgender, tea workers and others along with the vulnerable people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deserves appreciation for taking such a noble decision to offer homes to the homeless. There have been substantial social, print and electronic media reports on the distribution of homes to the needy homeless people. It was pleasing to see the smiling faces of the vulnerable people receiving the homes. Many of them were crying while receiving the keys of their homes and prayed for the prime minister's welfare, recognizing that Bangabandhu offered them independence and his daughter provided them homes. This is an excellent achievement of the government.
The government's decision to provide homeless people with accommodation has multiple positive impacts. First, the government has made these people happy by offering homes and enabling them to avoid the trauma of a homelessness feeling. Second: Sheikh Hasina government's pro-poor policy has been embodied through the implementation of such a noble initiative. Third: Sheikh Hasina's credibility as a leader has been portrayed through this initiative. She has established that she could feel the poor people's sufferings like her father. Bangabandhu was a people-friendly leader who sacrificed his life for the betterment of the people and the country's independence. Being influenced by her father's ideology, Sheikh Hasina has transformed into a mature statesman over the years. Not many of Bangladesh's previous governments felt about the homeless people's sufferings and provided them with homes.
Leaders come and leaders go in a country which is a usual practice in a democracy. But, all leaders are not remembered by the citizens of the country after completion of their tenure. The country's citizens will remember Bangabandhu for his outstanding contribution for attaining the country's independence as long as Bangladesh will remain present on the world map as an independent country. Through her exceptional commitment to the people of the country, Sheikh Hasina has become a popular leader. Her popularity has been growing among the people of Bangladesh day by day. Even she has transfigured as a global leader beyond the boundary of the country. In view of the impact of the decision of the government to provide homes to the marginalized people to help overcome mental trauma, the initiatives must be praised by every citizen regardless of political identities.
Since the country is attaining rapid growth in different sectors even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it's time to change our mind-set. We must praise the noble initiatives of the government. The government has indeed implemented different programmes as part of the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu. The idea of providing homes to vulnerable homeless people is found to be the best among all the government initiatives in the Mujib Year. Let us express our most profound gratitude to our prime minister for her feeling about the vulnerable people and taking initiatives to help them laugh. As a statesman, she expects nothing better than the smiling faces of her citizens. These people's smiling faces would be one of the greatest motivations of Sheikh Hasina as the prime minister of Bangladesh to carry out more people-oriented policies in the future. The people of the country would remember her contribution to the country's development and to helping the marginalized section of the society get some land under their feet in the future.
Writer: Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.