Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s respected Prime Minister, has established herself as a really visionary leader whose government has played a critical part in advancing her country’s economic growth and accomplishing incredible milestones across a wide range of industries. Her leadership time stands out as a source of inspiration due to her unwavering determination to addressing Bangladesh’s complex economic difficulties and, in the process, building a conducive atmosphere for major growth and development. Here, we delve deeper into a handful of the crucial elements that best represent her leadership’s huge influence:
Economic challenges and opportunities
Bangladesh has made remarkable progress under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership in a variety of sectors, including governance, business, education, and others. The country shifted from being one of the lowest to lower-middle-income status in 2015, and it is now one of the world’s economies with the fastest growth rates. Here are some of the economic opportunities and challenges that Sheikh Hasina’s administration has faced:
Poverty: Despite Bangladesh’s progress in economic growth and poverty reduction, these concerns nevertheless remain, as do social inequality and bias against women in the workplace. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 85.1% of the working population in Bangladesh is employed in the unregulated, unprotected informal sector (Ahmed, 2022).
Democratic institutions: Bangladesh is rapidly moving towards authoritarianism as a result of two disputed elections that were held back-to-back in 2014 and 2018, the absence of any opposition in the parliament, and the prime minister’s unrestrained power.
COVID-19 pandemic: The epidemic has slowed Bangladesh’s economy, which was growing at an annual rate of 8%. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) anticipates a decline in the growth rate to 5.2% in 2020 (Khandoker, 2022).
SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals): Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is aiming to promote poverty eradication, food security, gender equality, and SDG attainment.
Private sector: The World Bank is committed to continuing its assistance for the private sector in order to empower it, provide new job opportunities, broaden the tax base, strengthen the financial industry, and strengthen the nation’s resilience (Khandoker, 2022).
Infrastructure: The government’s infrastructure initiatives have gained praise, and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) partner with the government to provide social welfare services like as education (LGED, 2020).
Despite challenges, Sheikh Hasina’s administration has been effective in addressing Bangladesh’s economic issues and promoting prosperity. Her leadership is seen in the country’s advances in a variety of disciplines, including food production and disaster assistance.
Bangladesh’s GDP has grown at a rapid pace during Sheikh Hasina’s administration. The GDP of the country rose at an average rate of 6% over the preceding 10 years. Since Sheikh Hasina re-took office as Prime Minister in 2009, the country’s average annual GDP growth rate has been close to 7%, while per capita GDP has more than doubled. Annual GDP growth in 2019 was 8.15 percent, which was higher than Pakistan’s 1.5%. Despite global political instability and economic uncertainty, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister has referred to the country as a “development miracle.” The nation’s GDP climbed by 188% from $102 billion in 2009 to $302 billion in 2019, a $188 billion gain (World Economic Forum, 2019).
The administration has made a variety of enhancements to the country’s ever-increasing foreign exchange reserves. Foreign reserves grew to $32 billion in 2019. Bangladesh’s external debt to GDP ratio was 11.87%, which is much lower than the IMF-mandated threshold of 40%. The country must act rapidly to stabilize its economy, which has been harmed by recent global trends such as a fall in remittances, a depletion of foreign cash, and a weakening currency.
Following the global pandemic, Bangladesh’s GDP increased at an annual pace of 7.2% in fiscal year 2021-2022. Bangladesh’s economy is presently among the fastest growing in the world. Bangladesh’s real GDP has reached north of $420.52 billion USD at the end of 2022. Bangladesh’s economy is presently ranked 10th in Asia-Pacific, ahead of the Philippines, and has grown at a 6.4% annual pace during the last four years. Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) climbed by 7.1% in June 2022, after increasing by 6.9% the previous year. Since 2009, real GDP has increased by at least 6% every year.
Despite the hurdles, Sheikh Hasina’s leadership is acknowledged with Bangladesh’s tremendous achievements throughout the preceding 10 years. The country has enacted progressive and timely policies, decreased poverty at one of the world’s fastest rates, and combated inequality through social security, solid employment, and financial inclusion (LGED, 2020).
Bangladesh has executed a number of huge projects that have dramatically transformed the country’s infrastructure during Sheikh Hasina’s leadership. These programs were launched with the goal of improving the security of the energy supply, communication, transportation, and economy. The Sheikh Hasina government has undertaken the following major megaprojects:
The Khulna-Mongla Rail Project: It aims to improve the region’s transport infrastructure by building a new rail route. As a result of the project, the region’s economy is expected to flourish through enabling the mobility of people and goods.
The Padma Rail Link Project: The project cost $3.86 billion, is one of Bangladesh’s most costly projects to date. The project aims to connect Bangladesh’s southwest region to the capital city of Dhaka by the building of a rail line. The project is expected to result in improved transport and higher economic growth (The Business Standard, 2023).
Cox’s Bazar Rail Link Project: The Cox’s Bazar Rail Link Project intends to construct a rail line that will connect the country’s most famous tourist destination to the rest of it. Local mobility will undoubtedly improve as a result of the project, and tourism will likely rise.
Akhaura-Agartala Inter-Country Rail Link Project: The Project will connect Bangladesh and India via a train route. The project is expected to promote trade and tourism between the two countries.
Metrorail project: Work on the Metrorail project, a rapid transit system, is now underway in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city. The program intends to improve city mobility by reducing traffic congestion.
Dhaka Elevated Expressway Project: The Dhaka Elevated motorway Project aims to construct an elevated motorway in Dhaka to increase mobility and relieve congestion.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel: A tunnel across the Karnaphuli River in Chittagong is being built as part of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel (also known as the Karnaphuli Tunnel) project to improve traffic and reduce congestion.
Shahjalal International Airport: This project aims to expand the airport’s capacity to serve more passengers while also improving its facilities. It is located in Dhaka.
In addition to the completed megaprojects, other ongoing megaprojects in Bangladesh are expected to have a significant influence on the country’s rapid change. Among these are the Dhaka Metro Rail Line-6, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, and the Padma Bridge Rail Link. Twenty megaprojects are now being carried out in Bangladesh with the assistance of 45 funding packages that also include grants. A handful of them have also been classified as fast-track projects by the government. When the Rooppur facility is completed, Bangladesh would be one of just 33 countries in the world to have a nuclear power plant.
The vision for smart Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has set a high goal for her nation: to develop into a smart nation by utilizing technology to enhance governance, education, healthcare, and other sectors. The four pillars of the “Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041” project are “smart citizen,” “smart economy,” “smart government,” and “smart society.” Aim 2041, which aims to make Bangladesh a developed country by the year 2041, includes the government’s objective for a smart Bangladesh. The government is spending a lot of money on creating a “Smart Bangladesh” in an effort to make the nation a high-income nation (Mazumdar & Alharahsheh, 2020). Economic development, sustainability, and innovation are all encouraged by the government. Through Smart Bangladesh, Bangladesh intends to become an affluent, developed country by 2041. The government is aiming to maximize the capabilities of modern technology in order to make the nation more resilient, imaginative, intelligent, and technologically adept. The ultimate objective of Smart Bangladesh is to actualize Bangabandhu’s vision of a Golden Bengal in a smart fashion in a smart world. The three pillars of the government’s vision for a smart Bangladesh are prosperity, justice, and compassion. To alleviate the infrastructure deficit and boost economic development, the country is implementing a variety of mega-projects across many industries (Mazumdar & Alharahsheh, 2020).
Digital Bangladesh already achieved
The government has begun a number of steps to advance digitization with the establishment of over 5,000 digital hubs around the country. The rise of smart nations and the empowerment of clever people are being molded increasingly by societal digitalization. The ambitious Digital Bangladesh effort was launched in 2009 with the goal of replacing time-consuming, paper-based government services with user-friendly internet and smartphone-based alternatives. The government has digitized its processes to make it easier for citizens to obtain government services online (Mazumdar & Alharahsheh, 2020).
The purpose of the e-Government Master Plan for Digital Bangladesh is to provide government services to citizens more effectively and transparently. Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in terms of digital connectivity and infrastructural development. The government has emphasized initiatives to enhance internet access, including the installation of fiber-optic links and the establishment of Wi-Fi hotspots (New Age, 2023). Mobile banking has made it easier for consumers to obtain financial services, particularly in rural areas where traditional banking facilities are few.
The establishment of e-learning centers and the distribution of laptop computers to pupils are only two of the many initiatives undertaken by the government to advance digital education. Education access has grown, and digital literacy has been encouraged, as a result of these projects. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Digital Bangladesh was critical in maintaining service continuity in healthcare and education, as well as commerce and trade. Bangladesh has done many things under Prime Minister Hasina, but none stands out more than its rapid entry into the digital world (Ahmed, 2022).
A remarkable leader to follow in this century
Sheikh Hasina is a remarkable leader who, despite several hurdles, has carried Bangladesh’s success story forward. Her narrative is noteworthy since she has been subjected to military authority, jail, and exile. Despite all of the hurdles, she has succeeded in becoming a leader that is revered by many. The following are some of the most important lessons acquired during Sheikh Hasina’s tenure as Prime Minister:
Political leadership: Political leadership, according to Sheikh Hasina, is the key to Bangladesh’s economic success. She is now promoting market-based economic growth rather than her father’s socialist goal. Her government has embraced the independence idea and principles, and has built its administration around them (New Age, 2023).
Democracy: Sheikh Hasina is a well-known and vocal proponent of democracy. She has been viewed as a kind and clever leader since she interacts with her colleagues on a regular basis.
Development: Sheikh Hasina’s administration has sought to ensure growth in all areas since assuming power in 2009 (LGED, 2020). The country has enacted progressive and timely policies, has decreased poverty at one of the world’s fastest rates, and has combated inequality through social security, strong jobs, and financial inclusion.
Human resources: Bangladesh’s growth, according to Sheikh Hasina, is primarily based on its human resources. She has underlined the need of workforce training in order to help the country thrive.
Independence: Sheikh Hasina’s administration has embraced the ideology and values of independence and has built its administration on them. The nation’s leadership is committed to furthering world peace and prosperity.
Moreover, Sheikh Hasina, has displayed a strong commitment to eliminating terrorism and developing the country’s long-term democracy. In order to establish a secure and prosperous environment, she has constantly spoken out against all types of terrorism and violence. In her UN speech, she stressed her commitment to democracy, good governance, human rights, and the rule of law. The administration of Sheikh Hasina has also been accused of suppressing political opposition and restricting legitimate political activities. Sheikh Hasina is one of South Asia’s most powerful leaders due to her commitment to creating a sustainable democracy and uprooting terrorism (The Business Standard, 2023).
A laser focus on her mission
Sheikh Hasina is known for her laser-like dedication on her objective of reforming Bangladesh. Several policies implemented effectively by her government have improved people’s lives in Bangladesh. Her leadership is clear in the tremendous successes that the country has accomplished over the previous 10 years (World Economic Forum, 2019). President Biden was one of the key leaders Sheikh Hasina met during her recent visit to the G20 summit. Bangladesh’s ambition under Sheikh Hasina is to be a developed country by 2041. The government is significantly investing in achieving this goal by implementing a variety of improvements that have improved people’s lives in Bangladesh. The administration is committed to achieving the SDGs, which include eradicating poverty, guaranteeing food security, promoting gender equality, and other goals. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina praised Bangladesh’s progress towards numerous SDGs during the 78th UN General Assembly. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work with the government to provide social welfare services like as education, and the government’s infrastructure initiatives have been recognized (Khandoker, 2022). Sheikh Hasina’s administration has ensured progress in all aspects of society since assuming power in 2009. The country has enacted progressive and timely policies, has one of the fastest rates of poverty reduction in the world, and is addressing inequality through social security, excellent employment, and financial inclusion. Sheikh Hasina has not wavered from her mission of reforming Bangladesh in the face of adversity.
Bangladesh sees Sheikh Hasina as a source of prosperity and inspiration. Her leadership has been critical in boosting Bangladesh’s economic development and assisting the country in reaching significant milestones across a variety of industries. She is a brilliant leader who has advanced Bangladesh’s success story despite several difficulties. She has a highly inspiring vision for a smart, developed Bangladesh, and her government is doing an excellent job of working towards that goal.
Mazumdar, A., & Alharahsheh, H. H. (2020). Digital bangladesh–vision 2021: what is the digital bangladesh concept?. South Asian Research Journal of Engineering and Technology, 2(1), 6-9. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Husam-Alharahsheh/publication/339150225_Digital_Bangladesh_-Vision_2021_What_is_the_Digital_Bangladesh_Concept/links/5e41c663458515072d9193d4/Digital-Bangladesh-Vision-2021-What-is-the-Digital-Bangladesh-Concept.pdf
World Economic Forum. (2019, October 3). The secret to Bangladesh’s economic success? [Webpage]. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/10/the-secret-to-bangladesh-s-economic-success-the-sheikh-hasina-factor/
LGED. (2020). Vision 2021-2041. Retrieved March 2020, from http://oldweb.lged.gov.bd/uploadeddocument/unitpublication/1/1049/vision%202021-2041.pdf
Ahmed, S. M. (2022, September 10). Sheikh Hasina: A plinth of success. The Financial Express. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/views/analysis/sheikh-hasina-a-plinth-of-success-1662747339