By Dr. Dilip Nath, New York
Bangladesh, a parliamentary democracy, declared independence from Pakistan in 1971. Soon after gaining independence, the country included parliamentary democracy into its political framework. However, the democratic process was ended by a military takeover in 1975. While it has been subject to authoritarian regimes on occasion since then, Bangladesh has been a democratic country for the most majority of that time. It is possible to measure the country’s level of democracy by reviewing instances when key democratic norms such as freedom of expression and association have been violated in Bangladesh, such as Bangladesh. The country’s constitution was formed in 1972 and has since been revised many times, notably in 1974, 1979, 1986, 1988, 1991, and 1996 (United States Department of State, 2001).
Progress of Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s economic growth has accelerated dramatically. The country is expected to have a 5.2% GDP growth rate in 2020 (Bickmore et al., 2017), showing that economic growth has remained constant. The government has put measures in place to promote international investment and private sector growth, particularly in the garment industry, which has grown to be a substantial contributor to the nation’s economy (U.S. Department of State, 2016). The populous now has more job opportunities, and exports are increasing.Moreover, The United States vigorously promotes democratic processes in Bangladesh, placing a high focus on fostering democracy there. In July 2023, the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights visited Bangladesh to demonstrate his continued support for the US-Bangladesh partnership and to emphasize the importance of democratic ideals.
B. Reducing Homelessness:
In Bangladesh, attempts have been undertaken to reduce homelessness and improve residents’ quality of life. It is encouraging to see that the government’s plan to ensure that no one remains homeless in the country is going strong. Recent report shows that in the fourth phase of the Ashrayan-2 project, 39,365 more houses (along with land documents) were handed over to beneficiaries from 493 upazilas. Since the inception of the Ashrayan project, around 5,07,244 landless and homeless families have been rehabilitated in various stages through this shelter project. The Ashrayan project is one of the schemes undertaken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country by 2041. Through this project, Sheikh Hasina is aiming for inclusive development by providing houses for landless, homeless, and marginalised people in all 64 districts of the country. She declared, “Not a single person will be homeless in Bangladesh.” as a result of these actions, Bangladesh today has 1.7 million fewer homeless people than in 2011. The government has also launched measures to offer low-income people with access to cheap housing and other services.
C. Increasing per capita income:
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh has seen exceptional economic growth and social development since independence, continuously reducing poverty and dramatically boosting living standards. The country has demonstrated to be robust to global economic shocks, increasing favorably even during the COVID-19 outbreak. Poverty has steadily declined, and GDP per capita is predicted to reach $2,687 in 2022. Bangladesh still has issues, with 22 million people living below the poverty line. If Bangladesh wants to achieve its goal of attaining upper-middle-income status by 2031, it must create jobs through a competitive business climate, increase human capital and cultivate a competent labor force, build an effective infrastructure, and solve banking sector vulnerabilities. The Bangladeshi government is committed to continuing its efforts to increase GDP growth, alleviate poverty, and reduce inequality. As a result of this growth, the Gini coefficient fell from 0.48 in 2010 to 0.41 in 2019 (Bickmore et al., 2017), aiding in the reduction of income inequality. To guarantee that the benefits of economic development are dispersed fairly across all segments of society, the government has placed a major focus on supporting inclusive growth.
D. Combating terrorism:
Terrorism and extremism are two issues that Bangladesh has been combating fiercely. Regardless of ideology, the government maintains a zero-tolerance stance against terrorism and violence (U.S. Department of State, 2016). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the implementation of this strategy. The country has made initiatives to strengthen its security forces and intelligence institutions in order to respond more effectively to terrorist threats. The US-trained anti-terrorism Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has been essential in putting a halt to terrorist operations in the country (Reuters, 2015). In addition to ensuring that individuals found guilty are jailed expeditiously, the government has taken action against human rights breaches committed by security forces. Moreover, The United States has actively assisted Bangladesh in its battle against terrorism and extremism.
According to a February 2022 article in The Daily Star, Bangladesh should focus on strengthening its security forces and intelligence institutions in order to effectively tackle terrorist threats. Certainly Hasina government is at the forefront of this issue and continuously made great stride in combating terrorism inside out.
E. Success of the current Hasina government:
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has been efficient in overcoming difficulties and furthering progress in the country. Despite personal tragedies and political opposition, she has remained stern and attentive in the face of political chaos, murder, and theft by a fraction of the opposition and security forces (Reuters, 2015). The relevant government has made a deliberate effort to prevent religious and anti-gay organizations from infringing on human rights. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has greatly boosted its contribution of peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping operations, and its peacekeepers are now actively participating in global efforts to build peace following wars all over the world. Furthermore, the administration has prioritized economic growth, developing multicultural understanding, addressing global health and environmental problems, and partnering on humanitarian projects like as the Rohingya refugee crisis.
To summarize, Bangladesh has made significant progress in a variety of sectors of development. Along with successfully combating terrorism, the country has achieved economic prosperity, decreased homelessness, and increased per capita income. The current administration, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has played an important role in developing these advances and ensuring the country’s peace and security. The United States has been a consistent partner in Bangladesh’s development, supporting with economic growth projects, settling international challenges, and creating a prosperous and democratic society for all of its citizens.
A. Why it’s important:
There are several reasons why the relationship between the United States and Bangladesh is essential. First and foremost, Bangladesh is an important regional ally for the United States in terms of security, humanitarian aid, and the economy. Second, Bangladesh has been a crucial strategic partner in counterterrorism activities. Tackling terrorism is critical for the safety and security of the United States. Finally, the United States desires a strong, comprehensive cooperation with Bangladesh based on mutual respect for democracy, the rule of law, and human rights (U.S. Department of State, 2021).
B. Current government role in combating terrorism:
Bangladesh’s current administration, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been combating terrorism and extremism aggressively. Regardless of the cause for the violence or terrorism, the government has a zero-tolerance policy against it. The government has made initiatives to strengthen its security forces and intelligence institutions in order to respond to terrorist threats more effectively. Terrorist activities in the country have been fully extinguished, due largely to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a counterterrorism organization trained in the United States (Freedom House, 2021). The administration has also taken efforts to resolve human rights breaches committed by security personnel, ensuring that those held culpable are punished as soon as possible.
C. Case for the current government being safe for sustainable growth, democracy, and US role:
Bangladesh’s current administration has achieved progress in addressing a variety of concerns and supporting national prosperity under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In addition to addressing global health and climate concerns, the administration has prioritized economic growth, cultivating people-to-people interactions, and partnering on humanitarian projects such as the Rohingya refugee crisis. The administration, along with a section of the opposition and a component of the security system, has been staunchly opposed to political disruption, murder, and looting. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has grown to be the largest contributor of peacekeepers to UN peacekeeping missions, and Bangladeshi personnel are now actively participating in worldwide efforts to restore peace after violence (U.S. Department of State, 2021).The United States has been a persistent supporter of Bangladesh’s progress, aiding it in its efforts to expand its economy, address global concerns, and promote a prosperous and democratic society for all of its citizens. The US has recognized the current administration’s commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and the two countries have held a number of high-level engagements and strategic conversations to advance bilateral, economic, commercial, and security cooperation (Freedom House, 2021). As a result, the current Bangladeshi government is safe for democratic growth, long-term success, and the United States’ role in the region.
National Election in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh’s next planned general election will take place in January 2024. The Bangladesh Election Commission, the official body in charge of monitoring elections in the country, will preside over the election in 2024 (Macdonald, 2023). Since the current Sangsad’s (11th) first session began on January 30, 2019, and a parliament’s tenure is five years, the current Sangsadis projected to finish on January 29, 2024. The outcome of the election will be critical for the nation’s future, and the US has indicated that it supports a peaceful, free, and fair election in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the US has said unequivocally that it reserves the right to deny visas to anybody in Bangladesh who is proven to be engaging in actions aimed at obstructing free and fair elections and undermining the democratic process. The US wants robust civic involvement as well as the freedom for the people of Bangladesh to choose their own leaders via free and fair elections. (Faiaz, 2023).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party was elected in the 2018 general elections (Macdonald, 2023). However, there were some allegations of violence and vote tampering contaminated the election. The next election will be critical for the sake of the nation’s democracy and stability, thus the government must ensure that it is free, fair, and transparent. Bangladesh’s development has been inextricably linked to the United States, which has consistently supported Bangladesh’s aspirations for economic progress, addressing global concerns, and establishing a wealthy and democratic society for all of its citizens. The United States has also advocated for the protection of human rights and the holding of free, transparent, and peaceful national elections in the country. Bangladesh need all available support from US and other democratic countries if it is to preserve peace and tranquility across all communities and tiers of society, as the international community desires during the next free and fair election (Rahman, 2022).
About the Author: Dr. Dilip Nath is a think tank executive leader in the higher education and healthcare vertical. By passion a voting right advocate, founder of the New American Voters Association (NAVA). A Harvard Kennedy School Alumni who spends a lot of his time in public policy and its implementation in government.