Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has highlighted the success of the Digital Bangladesh initiatives, saying it was the brainchild of her ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy and a grandson of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The prime minister said running the state in this Covid-19 pandemic would have been impossible had the initiatives for Digital Bangladesh not been implemented.
Sheikh Hasina said 27 July was a special day for her as her only son Joy was born on this day in 1971.
Joining a function on the occasion of the National Public Service Day and distribution of the Public Administration Award virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban yesterday, the prime minister narrated the events of Joy's birth in 1971.
Earlier, the prime minister unveiled a 10-Taka commemorative postage stamp, a 10-Taka opening day cover and a five-Taka Data Card marking the 50th birthday of Sajeeb Wazed Joy.
A special canceller was used on the occasion.
"Joy was born when I was a prisoner. A Pakistani colonel came. We came back to our bungalow – a prison – with Joy. After we came back, I was standing on the verandah outside the house. Then he asked me, 'What is his name?' I said, 'Joy.' He asked what it meant. I said Joy means victory. Then they got very angry and abused this little baby too."
"Joy was born in such an environment. We slept on the floor there. There was no privacy. It was a one-storey house. There was no certainty of food in that condition. I do not know how I survived when I moved shelter with him (Joy) from one house to another," she said.
"When I returned to Bangladesh in 1981 and fought for the restoration of democracy, I was repeatedly arrested and imprisoned. I was placed under house arrest. While I was under house arrest, my father's friend Aziz Sattar uncle brought Joy and Putul to Nalita and admitted them to a school. When they went to study there, they were taught computers at school," she continued.
Sheikh Hasina said, "When he used to come on holidays, he brought a computer. I learned about computers from Joy."
"When we bought a computer for the party in 1991, it cost a lot. At that time it cost Tk3.5 lakh to buy a computer and a printer. So, we had discussions on how to introduce computer education in our country," she continued.
The prime minister said, "When we formed the government for the first time in 1996, he would advise me in every meeting. He said tax should not be levied on it (computer). It must be made cheap. It has to be made easily available to people. Then people will learn it and we have to train them. That is the way our Digital Bangladesh started its journey."
"I found out after coming to power in 1996 that while I was using a computer, no one in the government was using it. There was only a desktop on the table. Many did not dare to touch it. After coming to power, I was the first to give instructions that every file has to be typed on the computer before reaching me. We want to see it that way. Then I formed a national committee for submarine cable to decide how we can promote this new technology more widely. These take a lot of time to sort out. Then some people started using computers slowly in those five years," she continued.
The prime minister said, "Using laptops and computers started in every one of our offices by that time. Even our foreign embassies did not use computers. No one used a computer in the building of our embassy that we built in America. Joy had a job then. If we had to do any work, Joy would come after his job, type those and send those to me by email. I would print those out from here and give those to our office saying that it has to be done this way. We had to deal with a few things this way at that time."
She said, "We have built Digital Bangladesh today and done some work in steps. All these were done according to his suggestion, because he graduated in computer science from Bangalore University."
"He later took a degree in computer engineering from the University of Texas. He then obtained a master's degree from Harvard in 2007. I had insisted for him to be admitted there, but I could not help him because at that time I became a prisoner. But he continued his studies and finished his master's degree in public service."
"I would say that today we have been able to digitalise Bangladesh and popularise the education of technology. Everyone starting from my sister's son Redwan has worked with a number of initiatives to inspire the youth, to enable the youths to become established. Bangladesh is enjoying the consequences of that today," she added.
Prime minister unveils book on Joy's life, work
Marking the birthday of Sajeeb Wazed Joy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unveiled a bilingual book titled "Sajeeb Wazed Joy: A Spirited Graceful Journey" on his life and work on Tuesday.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak was the advisory editor of the 160-page book.
The book contains a number of articles, newsletters and rare photographs on the colourful life of Sajeeb Wazed Joy. The book is dedicated to the young generation of Bangladesh.
'Bangladesh to lead the world under the leadership of Joy'
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has expressed his hope that Bangladesh, under the leadership of Joy, will lead the world in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
"When the whole world was stunned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government services and businesses came to a halt. Now we understand what the Digital Bangladesh means," said the minister in a webinar titled "Digital Technology Advancing under the Leadership of People's Leader Sheikh Hasina: Pioneers from Mujib to Sajeeb" on Tuesday.
Obaidul Quader said, "The people are receiving fast services even amid the disruption caused by Covid-19. Nothing has stopped. They are advancing under the digital services."
Terming Joy an impartial, dedicated, patriotic and visionary scientist, he said, "Sajeeb Wazed Joy is the silent architect of this change in the ICT sector and we feel proud of him."
"When the dream of Digital Bangladesh was announced in Awami League's election manifesto in 2008, people made fun of it. They asked, 'What is Digital Bangladesh?' After around 12 years, we do not have to explain to people; rather they are making us understand what Digital Bangladesh is."
Saying that the Bangladesh today and the Bangladesh of 12 years ago are different, Obaidul Quader added, "We are now citizens of a new Bangladesh. The changed Bangladesh is part of the atomic energy and satellite-owning world."