THERE are many negativists who would like to say that Bangladesh has hardly travelled in the right direction since the war of independence. They find in the many problems faced by the country proof of its sliding towards a failed state status. But there are also many people who realise, quite rightly, that the Bangladeshi people are very resilient and they usually always were able to overcome the odds that faced them. They feel that the spirit of patriotism and sacrifice generated by the liberation war still throbs in the same way in the bosoms of too many present-day Bangladeshis. They are only waiting to be led by competent and visionary leaders.
If this comes true, then nothing can stop the glorious achievements of this nation in all fields of existence drawing its strength from the spirited people of this land as had happened during the liberation war. Bangladesh is now facing political uncertainty and a very serious threat from terrorism. But this correspondent believes that like at all other times, Bangladesh will also overcome these two problems to resume its progress in all respects.
Unfortunately, the success stories of Bangladesh are rather sought to be hidden from view by the pessimists as they emphasise always, as if with a chronic mind-set, the negative sides to the country. But even these negative sides are not the faults of its heroic people who never were generally found wanting in working selflessly for their own good and that of the country.
Completely belying the tendentious projections that Bangladesh was headed for disaster, the country made very laudable progress in about three and a half decades of its existence. During this period, the population of the country has soared from 75 million to over 130 million. But Bangladesh long ago could prove as very unjustified and untrue the label pinned on it by the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, as a 'bottomless basket' or a country condemned to always living off international charity.
Bangladesh has become self-reliant in food production and feeds successfully its nearly doubled population. Industrialisation of the country has been considerable and unlike the pre-independence period, a notable part of the country's GDP now comes from industrial production. The country has developed world class export-oriented garments industries and these are among the leading exporters of garments to the developed countries. Besides, during this period, an entrepreneurial class has developed in Bangladesh who are next to none during the world in terms of efficiency and know-how. In the years ahead, such entrepreneurs are only expected to further swell in number. The reduction in the number of the poor is also noteworthy. Even with a nearly doubled population, the country could make significant inroads against poverty by limiting the number of those in poverty or extreme poverty in the population to some 40 per cent. The poor were far greater in number in contrast to the well-off in the population prior to the independence of the country.
The goals of the independence war -- freedom and a better life for the people in every sense -- are not out of focus in the context of Bangladesh. Slowly but steadily, the country is moving in the direction of fulfilling the vision of its independence struggle. Only the process needs to be expedited with good leadership and all should bear with the temporary setbacks and other ills which are sometimes too magnified.