by F R Chowdhury
We all know about the vindictive nature of Sheikh Hasina’s character. Ever since she became the Prime Minister she has been acting on her ego and whims. She thinks Bangladesh firstly belongs to her father, secondly to her and then to Awami League. She started naming almost every institutions and structures by her father’s name. By so doing she is leaving behind enough hints as to what her party people should do when she is no more there so that the legacy could continue.
Bangladesh does not belong to a family or to a party. Sheikh Hasina does not recognise contributions made by anyone other than her family and her party. She tried her best but failed to remove the name of the then Major Zia who made the first declaration of independence. Zia never believed in any conspiracy theory. He was a loyal and patriotic Pakistani soldier who received bravery award for fighting back the Indians in 1965 war. It was only when Pakistani troops started killing innocent people Zia revolted against Pakistan and decided to fight for independent Bangladesh for which he made the first radio broadcast. When Sheikh Mujib mysteriously surrendered to Pakistani forces, it was Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed who took control of the situation and led us to our freedom. When Tajuddin provided the political leadership, it was General Osmani who pulled together all our military forces and led the struggle. We remember with admiration the contributions made by Sheikh Mujib but we cannot forget the sacrifices made by others including those who gave their lives for the freedom that we enjoy today.
Professor Yunus rightly recognised poverty as the root cause of social unrest. Peace cannot be achieved without elimination of poverty. He came up with the theory of “Grameen Bank” where people, who otherwise cannot approach a regular bank, can borrow to set up small business to make them self-reliant. The Nobel Peace Committee in recognition of his pioneering work awarded Professor Yunus with Nobel Peace Prize. The concept is now used widely to bring smile on faces of the poor around the world. Prof. Yunus is by now known all over the world and has received many prestigious awards. He can be rightly called the pride of the nation.
Mr Fazle Hassan Abed set up an organization known as BRAC. As a registered NGO it has set up many small business ventures including a bank, a university and hospitals. It provided employment for hundreds of people and helping people in rural areas to access banking facilities including small scale loans to generate more business and jobs. BRAC activities have now spread over many other countries. BRAC is now one of the largest NGOs in the world. In recognition of his services Mr. Abed has been knighted by the Queen and is now known as Sir Fazle Hassan Abed.
Dr. Kamal Hussain is a renowned lawyer and jurist. He has represented many countries in international tribunals to protect their rights and interests. As a Visiting Professor he used to teach in Institute of Petroleum Industries specifically on matters relating to lease contracts for exploration of oil, gas and other mineral resources. He has also brought good name and fame for Bangladesh.
Mr. Fazlur Rahman Khan was a famous architect. He designed the Sears Tower in Chicago. There is a road there named after him. There is also a bronze statue of him beside the road. I understand that he rendered support to Bangladesh movement in 1971 and helped change the minds of many intellectuals in the USA in favour of Bangladesh.
I must also mention those who played pioneering role in the development of our economy ever since Bangladesh was created practically with no reserve. Mr. Musa bin Shamsher deserved all the admiration for being one of the first to develop the man-power export business in a big way. Mr. Nurul Qader Khan had the vision and wisdom to set up garment industry and start exporting the same. Today the nation’s economy is largely dependant on what Mr. Khan started with several years ago. BEXIMCO played a pioneering role in exporting frozen fish and prawn. Now a day we often hear about exporting medicines from Bangladesh. We must remember with gratitude the father-figure in this sector Mr. Samson Chowdhury, founder of Square group of companies.
I shall now talk about the maritime sector in which we made a big headway immediately after the independence. At the time of liberation the relevant ministry (sea-ports and ocean-going shipping) was in Islamabad and the Directorate General of Ports & Shipping was in Karachi. The provincial government dealt with only inland shipping. One can easily understand how difficult it was to talk about something that never existed here when we had so many other pressing issues in a war-torn newly liberated country. However, we had our man – Captain Q A B M Rahman, a master mariner and formerly chairman of EPIWTC and he was personally known to Sheikh Mujib. Capt. Rahman used his contact not to make a fortune for himself but to create the infra-structure necessary for development and growth of the ports and shipping sector. The Bangladesh Transportation Task Group (BTTG) with very limited resources successfully delivered imported food grain and other relief materials to every corner of the country. He set up Department of Shipping at Dhaka so that most of the operational matters can be resolved by technical people without referring to the bureaucratic system of the ministry. He was instrumental behind Presidential Order No. 10 creating Bangladesh Shipping Corporation, a state owned shipping venture in less than two months of the liberation. As the first Chairman and Managing Director of BSC, he turned it from zero to a profitable shipping company employing hundreds of people and its ships going to all corners of the world. BSC employed all the cadets that marine academy kept producing and thereby maintained the continuity of training of marine officers. I would also like to re-collect the contributions made by a few others in this sector. They are – Capt. M. Shafi (former DG Shipping and MD, BSC), Mr. QMS Zaman (also former chairman and managing director of BSC), Mr. G Kibria (former Chairman, CPA), Mr. Zahedur Rahman (former TD, BSC) and Capt. ML Rahman (former POMMD and first Bangladeshi Commandant of the Marine Academy). Mr. Sanaullah Chowdhury and Mr. Abdul Awal Mintoo shall be remembered as pioneers in private sector shipping.
Ship-building is a recent development in Bangladesh. We have to salute Dr. Bari (Ananda Shipyard) and Engr. Sakhawat (Western Marine Shipyard) for their entrepreneurships. The German Classification Society GL through their local principal surveyor Chowdhury Fakhruzzaman provided full technical support.
I live in the United Kingdom. For last few years I have been witnessing the progress made by our community in the British society. We now have a Member of the Parliament (MP) named Ms. Roshan Ara. Mr. Lutfur Rahman is a directly elected Mayor of the Tower Hamlets. We also have a Chancellor for Salford University named Ms. Irene Khan. She was previously Head of the humanitarian organization Amnesty International. We have Mr. Iqbal Ahmed whose Manchester based business provides employment to hundreds of people. It will not be fair on my part not to mention about the wonder boy from Bangladesh – Sabirul Islam. He is now in his early 20s and is already a multi-millionaire through his IT business. There are many doctors, engineers, accountants, lawyers and teachers in colleges and universities all over the UK.
Similarly there are many highly qualified Bangladeshi professionals employed in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Middle-East. Perhaps one of the largest communities is that of mariners. They are there everywhere – both afloat and ashore. They are all contributing their efforts for a better Bangladesh tomorrow. Let generations to come are inspired by them.