Tuesday, 28 March, 2023

The Life and Times of Bangabandhu: A Study of a Visionary Leader's Leadership

  • Professor M Shahinoor Rahman
  • 16th March, 2023 07:51:11 PM
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The Life and Times of Bangabandhu: A Study of a Visionary Leader's Leadership

Marking birthday on March 17, let us show the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the utmost regard by paying our respects in the deepest possible way. We now have a location on the world's map, making Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the most important Bengali in history because of his enormous efforts. He gave the Bengalis the gift of a fixed location to call their own. Whether we refer to him as Bangabandhu or the Father of the Nation, his monumental and motivational impact on Bangladeshi society is correct. Whenever we consider anything concerning Bangladesh, his image is the first thing that comes to our mind. The "Father of the Nation" title was not bestowed upon Bangabandhu instantly or on a single day. In addition, a two-minute radio broadcast cannot be sufficient to incite an entire nation into a fight in which its citizens were willing to sacrifice themselves.

Bangabandhu was able to take the generation's desire and shape it into a distinct aim of liberation on the eve of the birth of Bangladesh. He did this by gradually infusing the dream into the sensibility of the people in general. This allowed him to structure the vision into a singular goal of freedom. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's visionary directives enabled the Bengali nation to wade through a sea of blood while holding their colours high and standing tall on solid self-confidence in 1971. His most sincere goals, the epic effort he had made with his life, and the pledges he had made all melted into one another to create the spirit of Bengaliness.

In all aspects, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman exemplified what it meant to be the most complete Bengali in all of Bengal's history, which spans over a thousand years. According to the renowned journalist Cyril Dunn, "In the thousand-year history of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujib is the only leader who has, in terms of blood, race, language, culture, and birth, been a full-blooded Bengali."

The sound of thunder could be heard in his voice. People were influenced magically by his magnetism. Because of the bravery and charisma that radiated from him, he was a one-of-a-kind superman in this era. In the aftermath of Bangabandhu's proclamation of Bangladesh's independence on March 26, 1971, Newsweek Magazine published an analysis on April 5, 1971, which stated: "Tall for a Bengali, with a touch of graying hair, a bushy moustache, and alter black eyes—Mujib can attract a crowd of a million people to his rallies and hold them spellbound with great rolling waves of emotional rhetoric."

He is often regarded as a political poet. Hence, his approach may be exactly what the region's various social groups and ideological perspectives have been waiting for. Since the 1960s, the emancipation of the people of Bangladesh has been one of the most important political goals that Bangabandhu has worked toward. To that end, the construction of a mass-oriented political organisation with an idealistic focus was a priority, and it was realised by the formation of the Awami League. Bangabandhu envisioned the organisation evolving into an open public forum allowing Bengalis from all walks of life to join together and foster a sense of national awareness. After its founding, the Awami League became the preeminent political platform in Bengal, thanks to Bangabandhu's exceptional organisational ability. This achievement was accomplished. The seedlings of little contentions within the party were prevented from maturing into large poison trees by the atmosphere surrounding his powerful personality.

Given that his personality possessed comparable levels of tolerance and sensitivity, the possibility should not have been discounted. After he had shown his fascinating demeanour to one person, he was unable to repeat the experience for any other person. The fact that a large number of people from every nook and cranny of Bengal once flocked beneath the banner of the Awami League in response to his clarion appeal demonstrates that this is the case. Throughout their entire lives, these individuals have never abandoned him or turned their backs on him. During the time that Bangabandhu was in charge of Bengal, the Awami League rose to prominence and became the state of Bengal's most influential political organisation. While Bangabandhu was providing exceptional leadership for the Awami League, the Bengali nation gradually became conscious of its own self-identity and became antagonistic toward subservience. This occurred at the same time that the Awami League was firmly established on a rock-solid foundation. This took place throughout Bangabandhu's reign as leader of Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu emerged as a shining star in the darkling sky of the fate of Bengal through the 48-52 Language Movement, the movement for political autonomy and socio-economic rights in the wake of the 54's elections, the cultural resistance movement throughout the 60s, the student movement against the 62's Sharif Education Commission report, and the six-point demand movement of 66 to ascertain a future of development for the people of Bengal, who were the most oppressed and disadvantaged in the country at the time. It became clear that a country needed independence when a portion of the population desired to have their own distinctive currency and a separate militia. The demand for autonomy did not require a formal declaration because it was already evident.

Because he could make this idea known to the public, Bangabandhu appeared as the principal spokesman for East Pakistan. Bangabandhu was the creator of the six-point demand. His political position became so powerful due to the unwavering support of the Bengali population. As a result, Ayub Khan and his allies decided to keep him locked up in prison. Bangabandhu believed that defending the nation against exploitation was more important than his own personal existence. In exchange, the people of East Bengal bestowed upon him the title of Bangabandhu out of their admiration for him on February 23, 1969. Bangabandhu was responsible for reviving the valour of the Bengali people, which had been dormant for a significant amount of time due to their prolonged subservience. This occurred before the beginning of the fight for independence.

In the ornate yet sincere speech that he delivered to the undulating ocean of a throng at the Racecourse Field on March 7, 1971, he believed himself to be one among all common Bengalis and addressed them as "O brothers, my!" The speech lasted for 19 minutes and was fire-exhaling. His middle finger pointed skyward at the Racecourse Ground, which taught Bengalis to be vocal in their protests and rock-solid in their opposition. His concluding statement, which stated, "This time the struggle is for our freedom; this time the struggle is for independence," outlined the next steps that should be taken by the entire Bengali population.

However, the official call to declare Bangladesh's independence occurred in the middle of the night on the first quarter of March 26, just before Bangabandhu was arrested by the Pakistani Army. This was the last thing he did before being taken into custody. This was not merely a broadcast of some emotionally charged comments to the world; it was the rumbling roar of a nation long trodden on the verge of developing its own self-identity. This roar appropriately reverberated from the mouth of the nation's most incredible son, casting a magical spell and binding the entire country with the thread of a single goal. This roar heralded the arrival of the sun of independence in the miserable sky of Bengal, thus ushering in a new era for the Bengalis. This accomplishment was always challenging to accomplish. Bangabandhu gave the Bengalis the courageous and energising leadership necessary to achieve this level of glory. So, even though he spent most of the liberation struggle locked up in prison in West Pakistan, he was an unparalleled General of our liberation movement and a constant and ceaseless source of motivation for the freedom fighters.

In January of 1972, after serving time in a prison in Pakistan, he returned to a free Bangladesh, where his role was subsequently altered. This time around, he transformed himself into a visionary leader. He had to deal with tens of thousands of challenges. It has always been complex to bring about economic growth and restoration in a nation ravaged by conflict. But, Bangabandhu has never shown any sign of returning to the struggle. In the ongoing fight to transform Bangladesh into a prosperous country, he put every ounce of his might and skill to work. At this point in the process, his first significant attempt was to write a Constitution for the nation. The writing of Bangladesh's Constitution in 1972, following the orders of Bangabandhu, with democracy, economic socialism, secularism, and Bengali nationalism as the four core principles, is a significant turning point in the country's history. The constitution has been referred to as a "unique milestone."

Immediately after the country gained its independence, Bangabandhu began the process of nationalising mills, banks, insurance companies, and other financial organisations to improve its economic base. By unifying the banks that existed during the time of Pakistan, he founded the state-owned Sonali, Janata, Agrani, and Rupali banks. Through the establishment of the Bangladesh Krishi bank and the growth of its presence in rural regions, he made it his mission to remove any obstacles that may have prevented farmers from obtaining financial assistance. He established a specialist industrial bank intending to foster economic growth and create new job opportunities through increased investment in the manufacturing sector. During this period, Bangabandhu emphasised the development of various small industries, including cottage and home-based businesses. 1974 saw the birth of BSCIC as a direct result of this movement.

In the first national budget, which was created under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the government placed the highest priority on reducing poverty. This was done to develop Sonar Bangla. The annual development programme (ADP) was restructured following the budget to improve the credibility of the administration of the local government. The implementation of five-year plan was one of the first initiatives that Bangabandhu took to combat the problem of poverty. His directives led to the establishment of the Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB). In 1972, the foundation of BRAC was also given the go-light.

In addition to founding various financial organisations, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was also instrumental in expanding and improving the country's infrastructure. Nearly every bridge and culvert in the country during the war was destroyed. After they gained their independence, the government began the process of rebuilding them and also began construction on a large number of new ones. When Bangabandhu was in power, the Meghna and Kanchpur Bridges were constructed. In addition to this, he intended to build the largest bridge in the nation across the Jamuna river. Unfortunately, he could not carry out this plan during his lifetime, but it was eventually realised in his honour.

In addition, Bangabandhu took many steps to improve the country's fuel and energy industries. It was decided to form the Oil, Gas, and Mineral Resources Corporation, now known as Petrobangla. The government purchased five significant gas fields from their previous owners, who were foreign nationals. The entire country was first broken up into eight sections before exploration of its potential oil, gas, and mineral reserves could begin. In addition to that, Ghorashal is home to the world's most powerful thermal power plant.

Bangabandhu invested his efforts provide the new nation with having its own sovereignty. His government established the BDR and maintained order along the border. The minimum age to register to vote was lowered from 21 to 18 so that more people could participate in democratic processes. That is to say, Bangabandhu fought tirelessly to provide the newly independent nation of Bangladesh with a stable foundation on which it could stand solidly. In his heart, Bangabandhu had the unbounded goal of transforming his war-torn country into "Sonar Bangla," which means "New Bangladesh." Unfortunately, he had insufficient time to realise his dream before passing away. During the time following the war, he was not allotted the necessary time to reconstruct a prosperous society on top of the rubble. Alas! On August 15 1975, a band of deserters from the Army mercilessly murdered him and his family members. He was one of the victims. What a sick joke that life has played on him!

Instead of receiving love and gratitude for everything he had done for Bangladesh and Bengalis, he was forced to take bullets from the merciless guns of the killers and have them lodged deep within his heart. On this day, we hold fast to the belief that Bangabandhu's assailants could not destroy his spirit, profound personality, or legacy, all of which live on through the famous nature and leadership of his worthy daughter, honourable Prime Minister Jononetree Sheikh Hasina. This is a belief we strongly cherish in our hearts. On Bangabandhu's birth, let us send our best wishes for his continued rest in the heavenly calm. Although Bangabandhu is not present physically, his ideology lives on in all Bengalis and continues to guide their actions. Bangabandhu is the name of the newly-independent Bangladesh that he built.

(The author is a columnist, writer, Professor of English, and Pro-Vice Chancellor at Islamic University, Kushtia.)