Since its independence in 1971, Bangladesh has come a long way towards prosperity and democracy. However, there have been hardly any steps taken to resolve the gap between the government and its citizens, which could have been an example of moving towards a true democracy. Let’s Talk is that platform where barriers between traditional bureaucracy among policy makers and citizens have been removed.
Since initiation ten (10) Let’s Talk programs were held in different cities of the country. Promising Parliamentarians, who believe in the movement of new era of politics, graced these programs with their presence. To give it a grand look, the stage was set for another Let’s Talk with Parliamentarians in Dhaka. The programs took place on December 13th, 2013; a historic day for independent Bangladesh. After nearly 42 years of waiting, the first of the war criminals were brought under justice the night before. The political situation and atmosphere was ripe with apprehension.
But despite all the risks involved, participants from different parts of Dhaka city joined the programme. Four distinguished parliamentarians Dr. Dipu Moni, Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Mr. Shahriar Alamand (currently State Minister for Foreign Affairs) Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak (currently State Minister for ICT Division) were present to listen to the voices of Dhaka’s youths. The programme started with introduction where parliamentarians introduced themselves and shared their stories to the participants. In an open question and answer session, participants asked many personal questions to the dignitaries. Starting from career direction to when they first fell in love in their life featured in this spontaneous segment of the discussion.
The main discussion topic of this Let’s Talk with Parliamentarians was ‘Vision 2021: A Way Forward ‘. The objective was to stimulate active engagement of the participants to critically evaluate government’s development works and provide a way forward towards the future. Points were raised on development of education, standard of education, development in ICT sector, infrastructure etc.
Answering a query by a participant, Dr. Dipu Moni (former Minister for Foreign Affairs) compared our education standard with standards of the first world countries. She said that, standard of education may not be world class yet but its students are. From her personal experience she explained that, she has never seen a Bangladeshi student thriving to survive within first world educational standard, whereas students from many advanced countries suffer.
In a related discussion of improving the quality of our educational system Mr. Shahriar Alam explained that, government is on the right track of improving the educational system. He said that the government started transforming the education system into a digital format. Apart from this he also mentioned the drive to recruit new teachers, and upgrading payment scale for existing school teachers for strengthening commitment of teachers towards providing a quality educational system.
In this part of the programme the discussion took a serious turn into the manifesto achievements of the government. Honorable guest Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak was very informative and logical in answering the concerns of the youths of the society. He said that only Awami League government has been able to take the visionary approach, as for the time in the history of Bangladesh they provided a manifesto targeting the year 2021. He also said that, Awami League government has always been keen to lead a sustainable development process in the country. Therefore futuristic approach into government’s planning was necessary. Providing examples of achieved development Mr. Polok pointed out electricity, food security, digitalization in education, public health sector etc.
At this juncture parliamentarians wanted to know how participants feel about overall development activities of the government. Participants were very much vocal about recent political unrest in Bangladesh. They stated that, the country would have been more developed if this violence were not in affect. At this juncture Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury emphasized on country’s development even when the country is facing traumatic opposition propaganda to resist this speed.
He said that as a nation Bangladesh is moving forward. People of this country have started to enjoy their political independence and they are actively engaging into the development activities of the country. Adding with the statement of Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Mr. Shahriar Alam said the differences made by the development activities of the Awami League government are already visible. Many international development agencies have already acknowledged the Vision 2021 plan. Closing this discussion Dr. Dipu Moni said that, only Awami League has been able to achieve the time bound targets of development goals. She stated that, these development works are the ground works to go forward with the requirements of 21st century.
Along with these concerns, one burning issue had been raised ‘Student Politics‘. Participants pointed out anxieties for current situation in student politics. Responding to this concern Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, only Awami League has fixed the age group of its membership for students. Awami League is the only political party to do so. Whereas leading opposition parties engage even 50 years old politicians into student politics. This compromises the ethics of student politics. He urged that, young minds of the country have to come forward to protect their interest. Awami League as a political party will always work to the betterment of the student welfare.
The discussion took a turn into how to stop the current political violence that the country is experiencing. They emphasized on immediate dialogue between the political parties. Responding to this query parliamentarians responded that Awami League is following the constitution. The election is just a reflection of obeying the highest law of the land as it should be in any democratic country. They said that the main opposition party is not following the constitution. Moreover, they are not even responding to the invitation to come forward and resolve this issue. When the guests enquired about their thoughts on the war crimes trials, all participants expressed their support.
At the final segment of the program, parliamentarians urged the participants to join into active politics. They said that representation of the youths into local politics is the only way to salvage the political future of Bangladesh.
Venue: Spectra Convention Center, Gulshan – 1, Dhaka | Date: 13th of December, 2013, Time: 10.00am