The Bangladesh Awami League has been administering the country for the last decade under the leadership of its party president, Sheikh Hasina. Since taking over the state power in 2009, the government started implementing different plans like the establishment of digital Bangladesh, women empowerment and the implementation of a number of mega projects such as Padma Bridge, Dhaka Metro Rail Project and Karnafuli River Tunnel to ensure the country's economic and social development. The government also completed the trial of the war criminals and killers of the Father of the Nation in lines with their electoral commitments.Due to the credible and robust leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the country has secured a stable economic position. Our GDP has outperformed most of the South Asian countries even amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has attained the MDGs in advance and is working hard to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Under her prudent leadership, the country has qualified to enter into the list of developing countries from least developed countries. The government has achieved tremendous growth in the social sector compared to many neighbouring countries, including India. Therefore, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen praised the country's progress in the economic and social sectors.
The government's success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic has been the most praiseworthy among the past decade's numerous accomplishments. While many giant economies worldwide have fought desperately to cope with the health and economic catastrophes of the epidemic, Sheikh Hasina was found to be very dedicated and confident in pandemic control. Consequently, the health and economy of the nation have not been seriously impacted by the pandemic. The health ministry initially struggled to comprehend the intensity of the deadly diseases. However, they struck back firmly and effectively with the intervention of the Prime Minister.
Many would argue that the immunity of the majority of the people has helped overcome the health-related crisis of the pandemic. A large group of the country's working population works under the sun's exposure for a long time, which might have helped them get adequate Vitamin-D, the most potent safeguard against coronavirus contamination. Several studies undertaken worldwide have found that many coronavirus contaminated patients faced critical health conditions due to Vitamin-D deficiency. However, we cannot undermine the government's credibility in tackling the situation as it has implemented numerous praiseworthy plans to save lives and the economy during the pandemic. Among different plans, they implemented an economic incentive package worth of Tk. one lac and twenty-one thousand crores which was one of the biggest incentive packages around the world.
Sheikh Hasina has shown her maturity in predicting the necessity of vaccines for the countrymen. Thus, she instructed the health ministry to purchase sufficient vaccines and allocated Tk. one thousand crores well in advance. Accordingly, the health ministry could manage to buy 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. As per the contract provision, we already received the second consignments of the vaccine (altogether 7 million) along with 20 million vaccines as a gift from the Indian government. Amid rumours and propaganda against the vaccine, the government started the country's mass vaccination programme on February 7 that is now going on in full swing.
It is worth mentioning that the government has attained extraordinary successes in the past decade. However, they did not receive enough credibility for their exceptional performance from the compatriot. One possible reason is that different success stories have not been publicised. Therefore, many of the success stories have remained unknown to many of the countrymen. We all know that social media has become a vibrant mechanism of disseminating information. Indeed, many unauthenticated news and rumours are also get spread through social media. Despite limitations, it has become a robust mechanism to reach people. CRI and some politicians are playing a proactive role in influencing the countrymen to make a positive impression about the government by disseminating positive news and attainments.
However, many political leaders, activists, and organisations stay engaged on social media to highlight their personal affairs. They also remain busy in an unholy competition of winning positions in the party profile and administration. I still wonder whether these people want to highlight the government's positive image through their activities. Therefore, they remain busy sharing their personal photos and activities more than the party's positive news and the government. Such silence of political leaders may harm the party. Due to most political leaders' apathy, the rumour mongers remained active to tarnish the government's image during the Covid-19 pandemic. The screening of an unauthentic documentary by Al-Jazeera is also a part of their master-plan.Under the above circumstances, the AL, as a political party, should formulate plans to highlight the party and the government's success. Such positive branding will have a consequential impact on the countrymen as they would know about the government and the party's successes. They should categorically publicise information on their attainments over the years in line with their commitments made before the public during the elections.
In every political system, the government and political parties invest efforts, resources, and time to portray their success stories before the electorates. In the United States, political parties spend billions of dollars before the election to develop a positive image of the government and the party. Therefore, taking lessons from different countries and realising the realities, the AL as a ruling party should execute other plans to create a positive branding about the government. Of course, social media could be a robust forum, as the number of users of different social media is very high.
Along with social media, the government should consider using print and electronic media to build a positive image. Besides, different professional groups upholding the spirit of the liberation war and the philosophy of secular politics should come forward with their plans to portray the government's success stories before the public to influence them. These concerted efforts would not only help the government gain confidence and support of countrymen but also help them counter the rumour mongers and conspirators.
The writer is a Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.