Sheikh Hasina has said she learned from her father – Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – how to empathize with the deprived, the disadvantaged, and how to dream of building a prosperous future for them.
"He (Bangabandhu) dreamt about creating, once again, a Shonar Bangla, or Golden Bengal, as our land was known in ancient times. He envisioned a prosperous country based on the ideals of democracy, religious tolerance, and social justice. It ultimately became his political philosophy and lodestar all through his life. I've always tried to follow his advice and example," she said.
The Prime Minister said this in her article published in the US-based MIT Press Direct, one of the largest and most distinguished university presses in the world.
"Are you going to wear those flashy, expensive saree and jewellery? Most people these days can't even afford a single meal – do you want to show off how rich you are? Don't wear them please, wear something simple and ordinary so that you can identify yourself with the poor people of this land," Hasina quoted her father as telling her.
The PM said she can never forget those words of her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was not meant to be a lofty title but, rather, a simple reflection of people's love, she said.
"I learned from my father how to empathise with the deprived, the disadvantaged, and how to dream about building a prosperous future for them," she said.
Focusing on Bangabandhu's leading role and dedication in the long and arduous 20-plus year struggle of freedom, she said people could see these genuine qualities in him, which drew them naturally to him and encouraged them to seek his leadership and guidance.
Since Sheikh Mujib's call for independence resonated very deeply in the hearts of people, they launched an all-out war against the occupying Pakistani forces, she said adding that victory came on 16 December, 1971, and Bangladesh emerged as an independent and sovereign nation, thus fulfilling the dream her father cherished for a quarter century.
"Our parents taught us about the value of patriotism, and we shared his deep love of the people and his steadfast commitment to the liberation of our land. They made it easier to never lose our way, to never lose hope for a brighter, better future," she added.
Citing the 15 August, 1975 assassination and her return to Bangladesh in 1981, Hasina said the pain that came from losing virtually all members of her family in 1975 has been impossible to overcome. "However, for the welfare of the people of Bangladesh, I've tried to channel my pain from losing my family members into building Bangladesh, the cause for which they perished," she said.
She highlighted her government's efforts and steps to meet the people's basic needs, including agriculture, food and nutrition; health; education and shelter as well as uplift the overall socio-economic condition and economy of the country.
"Bangladesh is certainly one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. GDP has grown consistently since 2010 at more than 6% annually; it exceeded 8% in 2019, but there has been a small setback due to the pandemic," she said.
Once in a situation of chronic food deficit, the country is now one of the world's top three producers of rice, the fifth largest producer of vegetables in the world and the fourth largest in production of freshwater fish. "We are self-sufficient in livestock and poultry," she said.
The PM said Bangladesh was the second largest exporter of readymade apparel in 2020. Remittance earnings from expatriates working abroad hit a record $21 billion in 2020, the eighth highest in the world. The country's foreign exchange reserve stands at $47 billion, she said.
Hasina said the UN has recently adopted a resolution that Bangladesh will soon graduate from the status of Least Developed Country to a Developing Country.
"This amazing transformation within a decade has taken place neither accidentally nor by a miracle. It has happened because of planned efforts, grassroots initiatives, and the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, who are determined to overcome our adversities. It is the result of hard labour, blood, toil, and tears of enterprising farmers, garment workers, and expatriates abroad. Prudently coordinated and encouraged by the government, it is a result of enterprise, big and small," she said.
However, during this pandemic, Bangladesh celebrated two major milestones. Last year would have been her father's 100th birthday, and this year is Bangladesh's 50th, she said.
"As I look back at all we have achieved, I can't help but wish my father could see us now. I know how proud he would be of how far we have come, and I know he would remind us that there is more work to be done. It is the indomitable spirit of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that drives us forward, and we dare not rest till we achieve all his dreams," said Hasina.