Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman not only emancipated the Bengali people from political exploitation, but also emancipated them from the economic exploitation by the Pakistani Junta.
Bengali Economist Professor Nurul Islam, working at the Planning Commission during that time, in his book, "Making of a Nation, Bangladesh: An Economist's Tale," termed "Pakistani rule" as "discrimination", on which Bangabandhu had drawn attention to.
Centring the movement on removing discrimination, Bangabandhu had prepared the Six-Point proposals that ensured a protecting shield from economic and political exploitation, addressing the end of the master-slave rule by Pakistan.
Development of the Eastern Province of Pakistan was the least thing in their mind. As a reaction to economic exploitation, business oligarchy, deprivation and discrimination, Bangabandhu started a long political movement aimed at the independence of Bengal.
Hence, the significance of six points in political and economic freedom of Bangladesh is beyond the description.
Analysing the Six-Point spearheaded by Bangabandhu, we become assured that the movement was an integrated approach of national freedom and contributed to preparing the backbone of present consistent economic growth.
Since 1966 to the general election of December 1970, the political movement in East Pakistan became dependent on the Six-Point Programme, according to Banglapedia.
It became very popular in a short while, and turned into a charter of Freedom for the Bengali people. Bangabandhu was arrested under the Defense Rules on May 8, 1966, and the Agartala conspiracy case was filed later.
After that, a strong mass upsurge burst forth throughout Bangladesh in protest against the arrest of Bangabandhu. Finally, the case was withdrawn and Bangabandhu was invited to a roundtable discussion at the capital of Pakistan.
But the discussion failed to reach an integrated decision due to the stubborn approach of Pakistani Junta, and their refusal to accept the Six-Point Programme.
In the first article of the six points, Bangabandhu urged for a federal system of government based on Lahore Resolution, and drew attention towards the Parliamentary form of government.
In the second article, he pointed out that the federal government should deal with only defense and foreign affairs, and all other economic and residual issues should be vested in federating states.
With this article, Bangabandhu tried to shift all administrative power of East Pakistan to the Bengali people.
The most significant, article number three puts emphasis on the economic emancipation, and proposed to end the capital flight from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. Hence, he stressed on freely convertible currencies for two wings or constitutional provisions for prohibiting capital flight.
Furthermore, he also proposed the introduction of a separate banking reserve for East Pakistan, and the adoption of a separate fiscal and monetary policy for it, so that the demand for economic development and industrialisation could be addressed.
Bangabandhu stressed that every province has its right to become self-dependent and pointed out the necessity for ensuring credit disbursement and development support for enhancing industrialization of East Pakistan.
Article number three differentiated the six articles from the Lahore Resolution spearheaded by Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq, as in the Six-Point, industrialisation and securing export earnings from domestic sources were emphasised, as stated in the book "Bangladesh: Past and Present" by Salahuddin Ahmed.
Moreover, in article number four, Bangabandhu emphasised that the power of taxation and revenue collection should be vested in the federating units and the federal centre would have no control over it.
The policy in turn prepares a background for adopting an investment-friendly environment and for proper use of revenue for the development of East Pakistan.
To safeguard the export earnings of East Pakistan, in article five, Bangabandhu proposed to introduce two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings for the East and West.
And, foreign exchange requirement for the federal government should be met and the ratio of the East and West for using the foreign reserve becomes fixed.
For promoting domestic industrialisation, Bangabandhu proposed to free movement of the indigenous products between the two wings. And for having the right of import and export by the industrialists of East Pakistan, he stressed that the constitution should empower the two units of Pakistan to establish trade links with foreign countries.
Finally, the article number six is about the separate defense system for East Pakistan.
Following the partition of India, the inhabitants of East Pakistan earned the majority of export earnings with jute export, but deprived of proportional share of economic benefit by the West Pakistan.
Sixty-three percent of the population lived in the East Pakistan and 36.23 percent lived in the West Pakistan. However, since 1950-1970, the budgetary allocations were larger in the West Pakistan, depriving the East Pakistan.
Being subjected to continuous discrimination on a regional basis year after year, East Pakistan was facing a critical economic situation, and socio-economic condition of its people had not changed since the partition of India.
Therefore, the economists, intelligentsia, and the politicians of East Pakistan started to raise their voice against this discrimination and supported the historic six-point movement.
Influenced by the acceptance of the six articles, Bangabandhu prepared a medium and long-term plan to create a congenial environment for the development of the private industrial sector and export-oriented industry after independence.
Hence, the First Five-Year Plan was developed with the objectives of GDP and Per-Capita Income growth, reducing poverty, human development, and technology-driven industrial and agricultural production.
Meanwhile the plan also addressed the necessity for a diversified economy and employment generative private investment, as mentioned in the First Five Year Plan 1973-1978 of the Bangladesh Planning Commission.
The economy went through a massive transformation and Bangabandhu led the most challenging part of transformation through reconstructing the devastated economy.
The significance of the six-articles stands as a symbol of economic freedom of Bangladesh with the expectation of becoming self-reliant and achieving a long-cherished dream of turning Bangladesh into Sonar Bangla.
Accordingly, the journey towards Sonar Bangla continues with a greater speed under the visionary leadership of Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, the honourable prime minister of the Government of Bangladesh.
The consistent economic growth underpinned by wide-spread industrialisation, Bangladesh attested itself as a role model of development though the country was termed as a bottomless basket in 1972.
Today, the private sector investment contributes 23 percent to GDP, Per-Capita income stands at $1,909, foreign exchange reserve increases to $32 billion, while GDP reached $303 billion. Compared to 1972, our GDP had grown by 4,817 percent and Bangladesh met all the criteria for LDC graduation as per the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP).
Motivated with the six point movement, Bangladesh envisions becoming a developed nation by 2041 and transforming this country as Sonar Bangla under the visionary leadership of the prime minister.
So, great tribute goes to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu, as he prepared the backbone of our development planning with the six-point movement, and ensured political and economic sovereignty for us.
In 2020, we might be assured that if the Covid-19 outbreak is curbed, Bangladesh will become a just and developed nation in the near future with consistent economic growth.
Covid-19 has explored our weakness in the health sector, international trade, financial sector and overall transparency and accountability among the most of government agencies, and thereby, we expect structural reform from the government to secure the goal of Sonar Bangla.
Shams Arefin is a Research Associate & Deputy Secretary, R&D, at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry.