‘As Bangladesh celebrates its Victory Day, it is time to pay homage to the people who laid down their lives for liberty’
16th December, 2019 marks the 48th anniversary of Bangladesh’s victory in the 1971 War of Liberation against the Pakistani occupation army. This day marks the culmination and the ultimate victory of the Bengali people’s protracted struggle for emancipation from subjugation and oppression by the Pakistani occupation forces. Through celebration of this day amid much enthusiasm the country declares to the whole world how proud the Bangladesh people about their success in vanquishing the enemy of our freedom.
It is a time to pay homage to the three million people who laid down their lives so that we may taste the fruits of liberty. It is time to remember the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the four national leaders who led the nation in those turbulent days when the Pakistan army, with all its might, viciously descended upon the innocent Bengalis whose only crime was to seek the most basic of human right for themselves and their progenies—the right to self-determination.
Bangladesh also remembers, on this day, the country’s foreign friends for their support during the crucial nine months of the war. Bangladesh particularly recalls neighbouring India’s generous and fearless support in sheltering and caring for the millions of refugees who were encamped in the Indian soil. The words of tribute will be incomplete if Bangladesh does not recognise and reminisce the sacrifices of the Indian Army shoulder to shoulder with the Bengali Mukti Bahini in the joint force. A word of thanks is due to the international community and the media who were a tower of strength at our hour of need. They did a tremendous catalytic job of securing goodwill for Bangladesh’s cause for which no word of gratitude would be enough.
This momentous occasion is also a befitting occasion for the people of Bangladesh to take stock of how far this nation of about 160 million people now – then 75 million – has progressed in these last nearly five decades. The period is obviously too small in the infinity of time. But in assessing the ups and downs, rise and fall of nations, this span of forty eight years is not negligible either.
The development progress of Bangladesh, measured in terms of income, poverty and human development, is truly impressive, especially after 2009. Between Financial Year 1974 and Financial Year 2018, per capita income increased from $90 to $1,752, the incidence of moderate poverty declined from 72 per cent to 22 per cent, average life expectancy climbed from 46 years to 72 years, infant mortality rate fell from 130 per thousand to 32, and adult literacy rate increased from 26 per cent to 73 per cent. In 2015, Bangladesh crossed the threshold of the World Bank-defined lower middle-income country (LMIC). In 2018, it also crossed the threshold for graduation from the United Nations (UN)-defined list of least developed countries (LDC). The presumptive date for formal graduation out of LDC status is January 01, 2024, after going through the standard process of approval and announcement under the UN system.
The economy has progressed well regardless of natural adversities like floods and cyclones. This country has developed a world-class apparel industry in this period and made giant strides in increasing agricultural productivity to be able to almost feed its entire doubled population. It has had other successes also in social sectors and in building an industrial base for producing many essential consumers as well as intermediate products, and even some capital equipment. It is currently showing promise in new areas like shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, information technologies (IT) and outsourcing business.
Bangladesh’s goal is to address the challenges of further progress through establishing a truly healthy democratic political culture that conforms to the spirit of 1971.