The year 2021 was an eventful year for Bangladesh like other countries of the world due to the global Covid-19 epidemic. Although the first wave of Atimari, which started in early 2020, did not hit Bangladesh very hard, the country was devastated by the second wave of Corona in 2021. The daily infection rate reaches about 30 percent and the death toll reaches over 200. A kind of panic began to work among the people all over the country. However, after three to four months of this condition, due to various efforts of the government, the rate of infection gradually started declining and by the end of the year, the infection was under control. The rate of infection has been below 5 percent since last August. However, in the last two months, the infection rate has been between 1 and 2 percent and the mortality rate is now almost zero.
The lives and livelihoods of the people who worked hard in the panic of the Covid-19 superhero reached a critical stage. However, with the help of the government, the people have been able to overcome that situation. The government as well as various private initiatives have provided assistance to the poor during lockdown. However, since the beginning of 2021, government vaccination efforts to control coronavirus infection have been hailed at home and abroad. Where many developed countries have failed to provide vaccinations to their people, it has already been possible to bring half the population of Bangladesh under vaccination. Over thirteen million people have already received a single dose of the vaccine. Of these, about four and a half crore people have received the second dose of the vaccine. Most recently, in line with World Health Organization-approved guidelines, the government has begun providing booster doses to people in their sixties who have received a second dose of the vaccine, and to front-line fighters, a unique achievement.
Although the second wave of Covid-19 devastated the health sector, Bangladesh’s economic development continued. When the GDP of the world’s largest countries fell below 3 percent during the Corona period, the GDP of Bangladesh at that time was above 6 percent. It is estimated that this year’s GDP growth will be close to 7 percent. This achievement has been possible due to the able leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. In addition, the implementation of various mega projects is ongoing even though the Corona effect is ongoing. The work of Padma bridge is 95 percent completed. Work on the Dhaka Metro Rail is nearing completion. Besides, implementation of other mega projects is underway.
However, the escalation of violence centering on the Union Council elections in 2021 is being considered as a matter of concern for the electoral process in Bangladesh. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, the level of violence is not going to decrease. The level of violence was high until the fourth stage. In the political arena, the discussion and criticism of the two major political parties was the same as before, which can be considered as a very common occurrence in the context of Bangladesh politics.
In this situation, we are about to enter the Christian New Year-2022. Naturally, the question that is being discussed among all is what kind of Bangladesh do we want next year? The first thing to say is that we want a corona free Bangladesh next year. The way people have controlled their movements over the last two years is creating a kind of stress on people at all levels. As a result, everyone is looking forward to moving freely. We have already seen that coronavirus infections due to vaccines are very much controlled worldwide. But over the past month, Corona’s Omicron variant has begun to re-emerge around the world. Although the transmission of Omicron has not been seen in Bangladesh so far, the nature of the virus can be analyzed and it can be said that it can take a terrible shape at any time. However, I would like to thank the government for taking some steps to control the transmission of Omicron by learning from the previous mistakes. As a result, even though Omicron spread over 100 countries, Bangladesh has not been able to spread panic so far. We all expect the corona virus infection to come down to zero by 2022 and to be present for the rest of the year.
Towards the end of this year, the formation of the Election Commission has started to become a hot topic in the political arena. His Excellency the President has started discussions with various political parties on the formation of search committees as part of the process of formation of Election Commission. However, the BNP has decided not to attend the talks. I do not think that the BNP has acted logically by not responding to the invitation of His Excellency the President. They could have talked to His Excellency the President and put forward their demands. If their demands were not met, they could criticize the transparency of the process. However, our expectation is that His Excellency the President will form a neutral election commission by forming a search committee with people acceptable to all through discussions with all political parties so that the 2023 National Parliament elections are held with the participation of all parties. In this way, as the acceptance of the present government increases, so will the institutionalization of the democratic process.
At present, some special groups are conducting communal incitement activities at different times to obstruct the efforts to establish a non-communal Bangladesh. We want to tackle this communal group unitedly next year. In order to accelerate the process of establishing Bangladesh of Bangabandhu’s non-communal consciousness by dealing with this group, everyone should stand by the government irrespective of party affiliation. Our hope is that next year will be the year of building a non-communal Bangladesh. Although the government has made great strides in the economic and social spheres, the country lags far behind in governance and corruption. And this is why the government should accelerate its efforts to build a corruption-free Bangladesh next year. As corruption decreases, so does the governance process. We expect the government to work towards achieving these two goals next year.
Above all, we all know that the irresistible development that Bangladesh has achieved in the last 12 years has been made possible by the able leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. It is our expectation that this development will continue next year. In order to make the efforts of the Hon’ble Prime Minister to build a prosperous Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty a success, all the people irrespective of party affiliation must stand by the government unitedly. It is true that if the government does bad things, we will criticize them. But it cannot be the responsibility of any political party or conscious citizen to criticize for the sake of criticism. And with this in mind, I think it is the responsibility of all civil society to stand by the government in the development of the country by supporting the developmental activities of the government. Our expectation is that 2022 will be a tax free year where we will all work together for the development of the country.
Author: Professor, Department of Public Administration, Rajshahi University