Bangladesh crossed the scenario often coined by the most uttered phrase since its independence as ‘the country on crossroad’ to the high road of development in many arenas. Such astounding leap of socio-economic progress is the sum of toiling efforts of the countrymen here and abroad. Cumulative healthy GDP growth rate (7.86 per cent in FY2017-18), the declining rate of poverty (12.9 per cent, Bangladesh Economic Review-2018), visionary leadership, flow of foreign currency mostly from remittance and Ready Made Garments (RMG) sectors, promising business environment to growing fast and recognised by the world giant financial institutions, research firms have translated the country as ‘a country of hope’.
This write-up has been intended to echo the burgeoning young voices and aspirations, where the country is passing the golden age of enjoying demographic dividend, 65 per cent people are aged between 15 to 60 years, accounting 20.8 million youth labour force aged between 16 to 29 years (BBS 2015-16).Among the priorities of the tender aged people, opportunity to get decent job inside or outside of the country, having dignified job environment, standard salary structure, consistent to minimum standard of living are the first priority in this era of sophistication. The problem seems to be high where 2.6 millions youth are unemployed, another 1.8 millions are underemployed and about one crore Bangladeshi citizens are immigrants.
Creating new employment opportunities might be a transition period strategy but endeavour for generating decent jobs must be the final end to meet the standards in years to come. Being free from any kind of sense of deprivation in the recruitment process, emanating from mal-governance, whether it is in public or private jobs, is the yearning of agonised job seekers.
Congenial atmosphere to unlock the ‘god given potentialities’ of the youths, their noble ideas and thoughts, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation will trigger the new horizon of knowledge based economy, transitioning its outcome to the whole society. Youth aspirants, their voices mostly unheard throughout the decades, must be heard with respect and necessary support to bloom. The country owes 40 per cent employment to the agricultural sector which merely contributes about 14 per cent of total GDP. New ideas will certainly generate some unconventional sectors and diversify economy, will lead further research and development to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth.
It is a matter of pride that better parts of young citizens of Bangladesh want to lead honest as well as optimistic life, different survey and study report revealed similar optimism. Though the tasks are daunting to ensure responsive government, the young generation aspires to establish a corruption free just society by removing corruption from all spheres of national life.
Cutting edge technology, ingenious ways of globalisation process is not only gifting new opportunities and amenities but also hatching new challenges and uncertainties. Youths desire quality education on par with global standard, diversified training and orientation in line with the market demands, quality health services to become capable world citizens. Youths are now more aware than any time in history, thanks to the internet, modern technology and government initiatives. Concern of the youth are not hollow while Bangladesh is bottom 10 in talent competitiveness ranked 118th among 125 countries in global index.
The common but valued question being asked by students of 9 to 12 graders as well as prospective graduates – ‘Why do we see anomalies when we read in our books about civics and good governance?’. Through analysing complexities of governance and political institutions it is not difficult for them to make immaculate deductions for such dismay. Not only young people want developed political culture and truly democratic political institutions but also all conscious citizens are in similar tide. Though it is not easy to make into effect such solemn phrases, hoping the transition period would be comparatively smooth and progressive.Wealth-X, New York based research firm, reported most recently that Bangladesh is in the top position in increasing ultra-wealthy people, the rate is 17 per cent in the last five years (The Daily Star, September 12, 2018).
Few critical economists expressed discomfort on the growth without optimum level of employment creation and raised inequity in distribution of benefits of growth and fruits of development. Inequity of income remains a challenge for this growing economy as it is breeding frustration among the youths, as reported by numerous renowned research organisations including Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
Spirited youths are conscious about the history of the country and the philosophy and aim of the independence of Bangladesh, where equality, human dignity and social justice were the prime objectives for achieving freedom. I mentioned before that the present young generation is more aware about their prowess and expectations. Such exuberant section of the nation wants equitable development and economic justice from centre to peripheries.
Above all, young generation envisions a country which will sustainably develop both physically and morally, be a culturally imbued knowledge based society and uphold democratic values free from communalism. The country is progressing to celebrate the ‘Golden Jubilee’ in 2021 with a bundle of hope and considerable challenges.
An empowered and well equipped young generation and good governance can translate the vision of Bangladesh into reality and overcome uncertainties in decades to come. Now youths are more realistic, rational, practical, visionary and enthusiastic as well critical, conscious and individualistic with a high sense of self esteem. Are our policy makers ready to respond positively to the high aspirations of our spirited young?
Md Harunur Rashid, Lecturer, Public Administration & Governance Studies, Kazi Nazrul Islam University