New Year: Key Issues and Challenges | 2018-01-03 |

New Year: Key Issues and Challenges

Anwar A. Khan     3rd January, 2018 08:50:23 printer

New Year: Key Issues and Challenges

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank.

We are going to put

words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its

first chapter is New Year’s Days.” ― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

In the New Year 2018, we will need to put extra efforts together, to reignite the economy and promote growth and also to make it inclusive and beneficial to all. We will also need to intensify investment in education. We must work together to eradicate crime, drugs and substance abuse as well as violence against women and children in our communities. Where we disagree, let us do so with dignity and respect and promote unity and cohesion as we build our country together. The challenge now is to continue to pursue the economic and political conditions that will spread the wealth throughout the population and provide an example for the rest of the world. We must work harder to build a truly caring society in 2018.

Despite all the success the country has achieved in recent years including 2017, new and old dangers – economic, political, and security-related – threaten to derail its progress. With sound policymaking, effective leadership, and enough foresight, however we can meet and defeat these challenges as well as the many more to come in the New Year. Diplomatic efforts should be more geared up for a peaceful repatriation of helpless Rohingya refugees to their own homeland with due honour and respect. If we are human beings, we probably use the beginning of every year to reflect on the past year, make decision and set resolutions for the New Year. It is a good thing to make resolutions, but it takes a good deal of discipline and commitment to get results that would be different and better than what we got last year. Catherine Pulsifer wrote, “The New Year symbolizes the ending of one year and the beginning of yet another. We celebrate this event, yet it is only a moment in time, like any other day. But it is also considered a time when new beginnings can happen. Be determined to have a Happy New Year!” 

In the New Year’s foresight, Bangladesh’s growth initiatives may be overarching themes that place the country at the tipping point and we perceive to be key areas for intervention to keep Bangladesh on its current rising trajectory. This year’s format is different from years past, encompassing viewpoints from high-level policymakers, academics, and practitioners, as well as utilising visuals to better illustrate the paths behind and now in front of Bangladesh. Growth in Asia and elsewhere has shown that industrialisation is crucial to job creation, a value that has to be enshrined in the new sustainable development goals of Bangladesh. The country has witnessed remarkable improvements in poverty reduction in recent years, but persistent challenges in inequality, education, health, and violence, among others, still plague it. As the 2018 year may provide the opportunity to be a jumping-off point for strong policies and efforts to accomplish the desired goals. We understand the assortment of opportunities 2017 provides for supporting human development efforts and argues for the central role that better data and corrective measures play in addressing them.

To explore the consequences of Bangladesh’s rapid urbanisation, which historically has facilitated the country’s transition from a reliance on agriculture to industry and jobs. However, without strong policies to deliver services, finance and build infrastructure, and support the urban poor, Bangladesh’s rapidly growing cities and intermediate cities cannot deliver on their potentials.

2018 may see a number of governance milestones and obstacles, including national parliamentary elections with inclusive participations, and the march towards good governance. Any sort of violence, killing, vote-rigging, destruction… during the national parliamentary elections time shall have to be ruthlessly suppressed by the law and order controlling body of the government. People want peace and that has to be ensured. People do not want the anti-liberation forces and their mango-twigs to get any chance to fish out any benefits in the troubled waters during pre and post polls times.

Your vote is your voice. Beware of that these ruffians must not come to power because Bangladesh is for Bangladesh’s people.  Police department must bring the fugitive war criminals and convicted fugitive war criminals to justice. The ICT should be expanded in more than one solitary court to speed up the on-going trials of the war criminals for bringing them to justice. Moreover, appeal trials of 19 war crimes convicted criminals are lying pending with the Apex court for long which need to be disposed of sooner to bring about some smiles on the faces of the victim families.

The government should reflect on the country’s growth-governance puzzle and the complex institutional changes necessary to move from economic growth to economic transformation. Historically, urbanisation is a sign of economic prosperity. As a country underwent structural transformation, and its economy shifted from agriculture to manufacturing and industry, the composition of the population of the country shifted from being predominantly rural to predominantly urban. However, urbanisation in Bangladesh’s context displays different characteristics from the ones witnessed in Asia and other countries. This growth demonstrates a great need for better urban management and institution building. Thus, if managed properly, the new emerging cities can produce several economic opportunities as cities offer economies of scale, which can be conducive to sustainable economic prosperity and improved human development. he fact is that everyone has a different idea about what the perfect song or mood to transition from one year to the next should be. This year has a litany of challenges on the socio-economic and political fronts like in the previous years. After the national parliamentary polls, the majority party leader and his or her team should have successfully take over all the levers of power both at party level and in government and deliver good governance in all levels of administration…..But this is now water under the bridge and we can only hope our leaders will now address more pressing issues such as push upward the economy and dealing with bread and butter issues in a much more pragmatic manner that would put Bangladesh on its track aright as it marches towards prosperity.

One of the most important areas of concern in Bangladesh is education. Without an educated population, a country cannot progress not only in terms of economic development but also because of political development. In Bangladesh, just like in other parts of the world, parents have a strong desire to see their children progress and have a good life; hence, families are willing to make sacrifices for education. The government has to be able to supply enough classroom spaces for those of school age and many existing government facilities in low-income areas offer poor-quality education. Despite all the political and economic challenges facing the country, the people’s desire for a better life with better education for their children, strong domestic institutions, full employment opportunities and faster economic growth means that the future can be much brighter. Many of the hurdles we may uncover have policy solutions. The government should spend primarily on the work to improve not just education systems but also infrastructure across the board. Smart, pro-business policies will also help ensure the creation of decent jobs that can keep young people engaged in society and out of trouble.

Youth unemployment is another cause for concern because there are just too many unemployed university graduates whose numbers are swelling the ranks of the growing jobless people. Joblessness could be a recipe for social unrest and this could lead to despondence. We are hopeful 2018 will be better in terms of the number of jobs that will be created so that our youth and those who lost their jobs will be employed and that there will be more social harmony.

After all, today’s young people have grown up in a time of almost unprecedented growth and opportunity. They are the first raised in Bangladesh where the middle class outnumbers the poor. They are far more connected to the world via those ubiquitous smart phones and have higher aspirations to match. Most of them believe they will reach their professional goals more easily than their parents did. But if all this talk of great expectations is setting off your alarm bells… well, you are not alone. Are crisis-plagued countries focused enough on the future? Will this generation lash out if it doesn’t get what it wants? Indeed, they are part of a broadly defined middle class, secure enough in their everyday needs to project themselves into the world beyond, through study, social media or travel. They see opportunities and leverage their passions  for chemistry, for football and cricket, for communications and their resources  – parental, communal, academic  – to aim higher.

Despite serious challenges on the economic front, together we made substantial progress in providing basic services such as electricity, housing, roads, water and sanitation, healthcare, social grants, as well as accessible education. The country’s GDP has begun to show welcome improvements. Thus significant strides were made in 2017 in fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment. Still the government needs for renewed efforts to boost inclusive economic growth and improve the lives of poor and working-class; and it remains a key priority of the government.

The mornings of winter fall on the last of the fogbank and will wash it away. We can smell the grass again, and the torn leaves being eased down into the mud.  The few loves we have been allowed to keep are still sleeping on the sky of Bangladesh. Here in the country, we walk across the fields with only a few young cows for company. Big-boned and shy, they are like girls we remember. Those girls are matured now. Like us, they must sometimes stand at a window late at night, looking out on a silent backyard, at one rusting lawn chair and the sheer walls of other people’s houses. They must lie down some afternoons and cry hard for whoever used to make them happiest, and wonder how their lives have carried them this far without ever once explaining anything. We don’t know why we are walking out here with our coats darkening and our boots sinking in, coming up with a mild sucking sound we like to hear. We don’t care where those girls are now.  Whatever they have made of it they can have. Today we want to resolve many things. We only want to walk a little longer in the cold blessing of the wind, and lift our faces to it.

Emotions and excitement will be lifted up inside eyes and mouth widely grinning hands clap together anticipation rising going through the whole body. As we wait for the sunrise, we wait for a shimmering blue sea. We shall see a beautiful golden sun. And we believe it will set us free. We put our pens down greatness without sound; love without a doubt and a heart unbound; freedom of tongues is freedom of minds; and free air is freedom of lungs. We smoke though, temporary satisfaction for eternal sorrow;  one more drag; confidence to load the mag up against our heads, we then resurrect ourselves with memories of something else. So, we are grinding again, making our way up the lane, but the cities big so we take a…Melody Beattie reminds us, “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”

With the moon as the conductor, the symphony of lights begins. As the heavens open in anticipation, stars one by one come filing in with each rhythmic starlight flicker keeping in tune with the galaxy. Entire planets hold their breath in wonder from everlasting to everlasting nebula breeze. It all plays out in harmony keeping perfect 3-4 times and such beauty is not held by boundaries and seen and heard light years through time. The year 2018 should be to do good deeds. The winds of bearable and golden-like and sweet-note are on our heads. The winds of civility and refinements having good or auspicious marks; of commendable looks… good governance…gentleness of disposition…exquisite beauty or grace…quite consistence; very reasonable; judicious; fair; adequate; relevant; well-refined life shall prevail in our days; and we wish our readers, and people in general a glorified and restful festive season. Celebrate new life in the New Year 2018. We wish to finish-off today in the words of Goran Persson, “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”


The writer is a senior citizen