The birth of a visionary leader

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Published on September 28, 2022
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Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday: 

Bangladesh's political climate has always been tumultuous. Nothing worthwhile in this nation has ever been accomplished without considerable effort. Bangabandhu fought for the independence of Bangladesh during his lifetime so that the people of Bengal might be free. After Bangladesh gained independence, Bangabandhu began planning to rebuild the war-torn country after returning from Pakistani jail. Unfortunately, on August 15, 1975, he and most of his family were brutally murdered by the pro-Pakistani conspirators and betrayers. Therefore, he never got the chance to construct the Sonar Bengal of his dreams. After Bangabandhu's passing, a dark chapter was written in the history of Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina, Bangabandhu's daughter and Bangladesh's current prime minister, is widely credited for laying the groundwork for Bangladesh's rise to international prominence as a developmental role model. The birthday of our extraordinary leader is September 28. May I wish the Honorable Prime Minister many happy returns of the day on this historic occasion?

The military government in Bangladesh attempted to dismantle the Awami League (AL) after 1975. On May 17, 1981, after returning from India, Sheikh Hasina assumed leadership of the fragile AL. The AL was well organized under her leadership, and she spearheaded the drive to overthrow the dictator and restore democracy. Subsequently, in 1996, once her party had taken power, she initiated the murder trial of Bangabandhu and a national development strategy. However, because AL lost the 2001 election, she could not finish many of her undertakings.

Her strong and visionary leadership,

coupled with personal integrity,

has been an example to the

people of Bangladesh

The history after 2008 is the history of a golden era for Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina began the process of elevating Bangladesh to new heights by keeping the "Charter of Change" at the forefront of the country's politics after she was elected with an overwhelming majority in the 2008 elections. During the past thirteen and a half years, Bangladesh has become a role model of development. The country's per capita income is over $2,500, its GDP growth rate is above many of the countries, its foreign exchange reserves are sizable compared to many other nations, and it has successfully implemented several world-class infrastructure projects, like the Padma Bridge. We have reduced poverty, mitigated the worst calamity of the century (the corona pandemic), and are currently reversing the global economic crisis that followed the corona pandemic and was precipitated by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Strong, skilled, and visionary leadership was the driving force behind the country's development. However, the journey to transform Bangladesh was terrible. Plans to kill Sheikh Hasina, backed by the government, have been hatched on several occasions. On August 21, 2004, a grenade attack on Sheikh Hasina was plotted with the support of the highest levels of state power. Luck seemed to be constantly on her side to Sheikh Hasina's benefit. She would have perished that day if she had not been out of the country in 1975. In 2004, she also made it through, owing to the love of her fellow Bangladeshis and the grace of God. It was written in her destiny that she would be the one to lead Bangladesh to prosperity.

Her strong and visionary leadership, coupled with personal integrity, has been an example to the people of Bangladesh. Corruption amongst political leaders and their families in Bangladesh has become normal rather than an exception. Since neither Sheikh Hasina nor any member of her immediate family has ever been accused of wrongdoing, she has set herself apart as an example. That the people of Bangladesh have voted for her in three consecutive elections is proof of her integrity.

A leadership trait that sets Sheikh Hasina apart from her competitors is her ability to make decisions quickly and with conviction. She took the 2012 decision by the World Bank to withdraw funding for the Padma Bridge owing to fictitious corruption claims as a personal challenge and vowed that Bangladesh would build the bridge using internal funding. She established her claim on June 25 when she opened the Padma Bridge. Also, the Dhaka Metrorail project, or the construction of a tunnel under the Karnaphuli river, has stunned the rest of the world. Sheikh Hasina listens to everyone but does what her conscience dictates in decision-making, as Bangabandhu did during his lifetime. And this is why the people of Bangladesh see the reflection of Bangabandhu's leadership in her.

Today is the birthday of this great leader who transformed Bangladesh from a development basket case into a shining example of progress. We all hope and pray for your good health-Honorable Prime Minister. You have already become the last hope for the people of Bangladesh, like Bangabandhu. As the people of Bangladesh have faith in you in the present, I hope they will also have faith in you in the future! Under your leadership, Bangladesh will be included in the lists of the developed countries—this is the expectation of the millions of Bangladeshi.

Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi
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