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Time to focus on ‘Bangladesh Model’, writes Radwan Mujib

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-06-19 20:12:32 BdST

As Bangladesh looks to consolidate its position as a middle-income country, it is time to stop referring to the ‘Bangladesh Miracle’ and start focusing on the ‘Bangladesh Model’, says Radwan Mujib Siddiq.

Embodied in ‘Vision 2021’ and ‘Digital Bangladesh’, this model is anchored in the people-centric policy that ensures the much-needed trickle-down effect to produce distributive justice, Radwan wrote in an editorial note to the fourth issue of WhiteBoard, said to be the first policy-based magazine of the country.

He stressed digital equality and emphasised the need to focus on innovation and technology to achieve all-round growth.

WhiteBoard is published by the think-tank Centre for Research and Information or CRI to generate ideas for a comprehensive debate on critical national issues.

The fourth quarter issue of this magazine was released on Thursday, marking one year of its launch.

Pointing to the inclusion and introduction of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ as an ambitious plan to leverage the countrywide use of ICT expansion, Siddiq said ‘Digital Bangladesh’ was more than just hardware, software and connectivity.

“It embodied the very spirit of Vision 2021 – innovation, resilience and resourcefulness. Most significantly, both Vision 2021 and Digital Bangladesh were models of people-centric development. They were developed with an intricate understanding of the needs, capacity and characteristics of the population they were designed to benefit.”

A grandson of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Siddiq is also a strategy consultant and youth advocate.

“Digital Bangladesh was neither top down nor bottom up; it was top to bottom. It was everywhere at once, and the whole country was the target user group”.

“The plan was: lay the infrastructure, ensure access and see what happens. The rapid rate of digitalisation in the country over the last decade or so shows that policymakers were right to gamble on innovation. The people of the country proved to be enthusiastic adopters of technology and quickly grasped how to apply it in their daily lives.”

CRI said WhiteBoard has made an impact on policymakers in Bangladesh and attracted the attention of researchers in the country and abroad, especially the West.

Its Editor Siddiq is also the driving force behind the path-breaking political history projects such as the graphic novel ‘Mujib’ and ‘Hasina: A Daughter's Tale’, a docu-film.

During the launch of the first issue, Siddiq had declared that “nothing is off the table” and that the magazine would promote evidence-based analysis and incisive debate. His inaugural editorial had pitched for a diverse group of thinkers to kick-start the mission.

Siddiq says the magazine has tried to provide a space where old and new voices continue debating the most pressing policy choices facing Bangladesh.

So far, WhiteBoard has focused on Mujib-era policy issues, challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic and lessons from Bangladesh’s journey since independence.

The fourth issue focuses on innovation and financial inclusion gaps in Bangladesh.

In this issue, Harvard faculty Primavera de Philippi and Morshed Mannan wrote an in-depth article on the legal framework for blockchain implementation.

Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor to the a2i Programme under the Prime Minister’s Office also contributed an article on the possible contours of ‘Digital Bangladesh 2.0’.

Young development entrepreneur Fahad Ifat, founder of agriculture startup iFarmers, analysed why Bangladesh is drifting away from agriculture.