New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who turned 75 on Wednesday can feel proud of steering her country on the growth path while managing to stem radicalism. The Asian Development Bank in its recently published outlook has projected a 7.2 per cent growth for Bangladesh, which was once called as a basket case by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Importantly, Hasina has also been continuously working towards boosting connectivity in the South Asian region, something that is imperative to revive economic growth in the post Covid phase. Her policies have not only shaped the geopolitical contours of her own country but South Asia as a whole.
A peaceful and developing Bangladesh is critical for India as well as South Asia.
The number of terror incidents in in Bangladesh in 2016 was 298. The number has reduced to 75 in 2021. However, Hasina, who has repeatedly underlined the need to uphold secular principle, has been facing continuous challenges from radical elements including the ISI-backed Islamic extremists of the Hefazat e Islam (HeI).
“Though there have been incidents of violence against minorities, Hasina and het government have remained focused on weeding out extremism,” an analyst in Bangladesh said.
The analyst said that Hasina’s success story lies in boosting exports, connectivity in the region to spur growth, creating jobs and keeping radicalism at bay.
He pointed out that Bangladesh which is at a critical stage of its history, as it is now gearing up to exit the list of Least Developed Countries, Hasina’s policies will assume greater importance.
“The focus for Bangladesh PM has been socio-economic development. She has also handled issues relating to extremism and fanaticism and that is considered a huge achievement,” Subir Bhaumik senior journalist and an expert on South and Southeast Asia told India Narrative earlier.
He also said that the Bangladeshi leader’s forward looking approach is unparallel.
Modi wished Hasina
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who described Bangladesh as a ‘soho jatri’ or co-traveller, wished Hasina on her birthday. “Greetings and good wishes on the occasion of your birthday,” he wrote. Modi also sent her a bouquet of flowers on her birthday.
In September, Hasina was in India for a four-day trip, which resulted in several important announcements.
“Recognizing the aspirations of the younger people and climate challenges in the region, they also agreed to strengthen collaboration in newer areas like environment, climate change, cyber security, information and communication technology, space technology, green energy, and blue economy,” Cecile Fruman, Director, Regional Integration and Engagement, South Asia told India Narrative in an interview.
Meanwhile, to mark her birthday, Bangladesh also launched its first interactive gaming platform ‘Hasina and Friends’. Bangladesh ICT State Minister Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that it was the first home-built learning platform of Bangladesh. He also pointed out that the platform is aimed at educating children about environment, education and digital connectivity.
Last year, Hasina told her cabinet, “We’ve got established ourselves as a developing country. We’ve reached here overcoming so many hurdles both from home and abroad.”
“Bangladesh is now independent, and it’ll remain independent. We’ll build it as Golden Bangladesh of the Father of the Nation,” she said.