BANGLADESH NATIONAL DAY 2014
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INTRODUCTION Message from President
Message from Prime Minister
Message from Foreign Minister
Message from High Commissioner
BANGLADESH AND THE UK
A year in review
A Unique Partnership
TRAVEL Off the Beaten Track
INVESTMENT An Attractive Destination for Investment
Improving Critical Infrastructure
Resilience in the Face of Change
Lessons from Rana Plaza
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Delivering Justice for the Victims of the Genocide
The Reading List
A message from the Hon'ble President H.E. Md. Abdul Hamid On the eve of our great Independence and National Day, I extend my heartfelt greetings and felicitations to the fellow countrymen living at home and abroad. The great Independence Day is a glorious one in our national life. We achieved our long-cherished independence through a nine-month long armed struggle and manifold forbearance and patience. Today, I recall with deep gratitude the heroic martyrs who made supreme sacrifices in achieving our independence. On this historic day, I recall with profound respect Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who proclaimed country’s independence despite myriad challenges and odds. I also recall with deep reverence our four National Leaders; valiant freedom-fighters, organizers, supporters and people from all walks of life for their unmatched contributions and courageous role that accelerated the achievement of our victory. The contributions of those valiant sons would be written in golden letters in the history of our independence forever. One of the prime objectives of our hard-earned independence was to build a happy and prosperous Bangladesh. Keeping that in mind, the Government has been putting untiring efforts in materializing the objectives of independence. We have been achieved some significant progress in the fields of agriculture, education, health, rural infrastructure, communication, energy and power, trade & commerce, ICT, SME, youth & sports, women and children, women empowerment, etc. in our national life. At the same time we have also attained notable development in private sector including the area of readymade garments, pharmaceuticals, ceramic and ship-building industry. The Government is also very sincere to establish the rule of law, human rights in the country. Our achievement in international arena is also commendable. Bangladeshi Peacekeepers, under the auspices of the United Nations, have brightened the country’s image abroad by presenting their professionalism and competence. Our expatriate Bangladeshis have also been making significant contributions to our national economy through sending their hard-earned foreign currencies. Nevertheless, we have to go a long way for achieving the desired goals of independence and building a happy and prosperous Bangladesh. I believe concerted efforts from all strata irrespective of party affiliation are imperative in this regard. The people of our country are democratic and peace loving. They reject all sorts of violence including militancy and terrorism with abhorrence. It is imperative that the overall development of the country is not possible without the flourish and institutionalization of democracy. Tolerance, fortitude and mutual respect are the preconditions for thriving democracy. Therefore, we have to maintain patience, self-restraint, forbearance along with showing respect to others’ opinion in a democratic pluralism. Let us make our Jatiya Sangsad a centre of excellence in resolving our national issues through discussion. I am confident that everyone would play one’s responsible role in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of our people. The present Government has declared ‘Vision 2021’ for attaining ‘Golden Bangla’ dreamt by Bangabandhu. It is my conviction that through implementing the ‘Vision’ people from all strata would contribute to build an IT-based happy and prosperous Bangladesh from their respective position by the golden jubilee celebration of our independence.
Message from President
On this auspicious day of independence, I urge all living at home and abroad, to work unitedly imbued with the spirit of War of Liberation in order to expedite overall development and democratic advancement of the country. Khoda Hafez, May Bangladesh Live Forever. On the eve of our great Independence and National Day, I extend my heartfelt greetings and felicitations to the fellow countrymen living at home and abroad.
Message from President
A message from the Hon'ble Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina I convey my heartiest greetings to my countrymen as well as to all expatriate Bangalees on the occasion of the great Independence and National Day of Bangladesh. The 26 March is the day of earning self-identity; it’s a day of breaking the shackles of subjugation. On this auspicious occasion of the Independence Day, I pay my deep homage to the greatest Bangalee of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under whose dynamic leadership we earned our great independence. I recall with deep gratitude the 3 million martyrs and 200 thousand women who lost their innocence in the War of Liberation in 1971. We earned our desired victory through their supreme sacrifices. I also pay my humble tributes to four national leaders who led the liberation war. I pay my respect to the valiant freedom fighters, including the war wounded ones. I extend my sympathies to those who had lost their near and dear ones, and were subjected to brutal torture. I recall with gratitude our foreign friends who had extended their whole-hearted support and cooperation to our liberation war. The Pakistani occupation forces started massacring innocent and unarmed Bangalees launching sudden attack on the black night of the 25 March, 1971. The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh at the first hour of the 26 March. Bangabandhu’s proclamation was spread all over the country through telegrams, tele-printers and the wireless of the then EPR. The proclamation was also circulated in international media. Earlier on the 7 March, at Suhrawardy Udyan, Bangabandhu made a fervent call for waging independence struggle. He declared: this time the struggle is for our freedom; this time the struggle is for our independence. He directed the Bangalee nation to resist the enemy. The ultimate victory was earned on the 16 December after the 9-month bloody war carried out under the directives of Bangabandhu. The independence earned through the sacrifice of millions of people is the greatest achievement of Bangalee nation. To make the achievement meaningful, all would have to know the true history of the liberation war, retain the spirit of the independence. It would have to be spread from generation to generations. We are celebrating this year’s Independence and National Day in a new perspective. The countrymen have given opportunity to Awami League again to serve the nation through the 5 January elections. We would definitely protect the dignity of the people’s confidence reposed on us. During the last five years, we accomplished massive developments in every sector of the socio-economic front. Our target is to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by the year 2021 and a developed one within the year 2041. We have relentlessly been working to realise the target. Side by side, the execution of the verdicts of the war criminals trials has started. We are committed to reaching the fruits of independence to 3
Message from Prime Minister
the doorsteps of the people. The conspiracy of the anti-liberation communal and anti-democratic forces is continuing to ruin the constitution, democracy and development activities of the government. On this auspicious day, I urge the countrymen to face any ill-attempt against the independence, democracy and anti-country activities. I hope every Banglalee imbued with the mantra of patriotism would engage themselves from their respective positions and with the highest sincerity, dedication and honesty to turn Bangladesh into a peaceful, non-communal and middle-income country at the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh. Bangladesh would be established as a dignified nation in the comity of nations. Let us come and build a Sonar Bangla as dreamt by the Father of the Nation being imbued with ideals of liberation war. This is our fresh vow on this great day. Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu. May Bangladesh Live Forever. Sheikh Hasina
Message from Prime Minister
A message from the Hon'ble Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali On the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the Independence and National Day, I convey my heartfelt greetings and felicitations to my compatriots living at home and abroad. On this memorable day, I recall with profound respect the greatest Bangalee of all times and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who proclaimed independence in the early hours of March 26, 1971. Responding to his clarion call, people from all walks of life participated in the War of Liberation and achieved victory on the 16th December, 1971. On this day, I pay my deep homage to the three million martyrs who laid down their lives in the War of Liberation in 1971. I pray to the Almighty Allah for the salvation of those departed souls. I also remember the quarter of a million mothers and sisters who sacrificed their honour for the sake of freedom for Bangladesh. It all began with the assertion of a national identity in the face of systematic denial, discrimination and deprivation of an identity rooted in a millennia-old heritage of language, culture and customs. It evolved through the shaping of political demands for inclusion and equal access to opportunities, against all forms of exploitation of the Bangalee people. It was crystallized into the 6-point programme put forward by Bangabandhu for the emancipation of our people. Then landslide victory of the Awami League in the general elections of December 1970 and the Pakistani military governmentâ€™s refusal to hand over power led to the non-co-operation movement culminating in the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu. After the tragic events of 15 August, 1975, when Bangabandhu was killed along with most members of his family, Bangladesh lapsed into a long period of military dictatorships and the people under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina had to wage another battle for the restoration of democracy. After restoration of democracy, Sheikh Hasina was elected to office in 1996. She started from where Bangabandhu had left, and once again the country was restored to a place of honour among the comity of nations. During her first term (1996-2001), Bangladesh marched ahead in many fields. The country witnessed remarkable progress at home and earned global recognition as well. Following her landslide victory in the December 2008 elections, Bangladesh made major strides during the second term (2009-2013) specially in the social sector such as reduction of maternity and child mortality rate, revolution in the education sector particularly at the primary level, empowerment of women, development of infrastructure and power generation. The impressive performance of the Government helped earn international recognition and Bangladesh was cited as a role model in many fields. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinaâ€™s tremendous success in the betterment of the lives of the common people led to her re-election in the last elections held on 5 January, 2014. Honâ€™ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina aims at a middle-income, digital knowledge based Vision of Bangladesh by 2021. On the international front, we have demonstrated our goal and ability to forge partnerships with our neighbours and beyond. We are deeply involved in the process of multilateralism, through global and regional
Message from Foreign Minister
commitments. But the defeated anti-liberation, communal and irredentist forces are trying to destabilize the democratic and development process. We are however determined to end the culture of impunity. The government remains pledge-bound to bring to justice all the crimes committed against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971. We urge the international community to extend their support and cooperation for this just cause. On this very day, I take this opportunity to thank all our officers and staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions abroad who have devoted themselves to achieving our foreign policy objectives. I also congratulate the Bangladesh Diaspora who have contributed greatly to the buoyancy of the economy of their country of origin as well as to further development of their host countries. Today, Bangladesh is marching ahead in all fields under the leadership of our dear leader, Bangabandhuâ€™s daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. On this great Day, I urge all to work unitedly imbued with the spirit of War of Liberation to expedite economic self-reliance and democratic advancement of the country for the realisation of Bangabandhuâ€™s dream of Sonar Bangla-Golden Bengal. Joy Bangla Joy Bangabandhu. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP
Message from Foreign Minister
A message from the High Commissioner Mijarul Quayes As we commemorate our Independence and National Day, I wish to convey my warmest greetings to all of our friends in Bangladesh and around the world. For us, this is as much a day of rejoicing and of celebration, as of resolve and rededication to the ethos and aspirations of our historic struggle for freedom. I wish to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led us on our journey to statehood. We remember all those who died during our war of liberation and we continue to draw inspiration from their sacrifice. I wish to include a special mention to the Bengali diaspora, in Britain, for the seminal role they continue to play in promoting Bangladesh. Our National Day commemorates our nation’s epic journey. Our people sought inclusion and equal access to opportunities, against the marginalisation of the Bengali people and their cultural heritage. Our people resisted martial law and military dictatorship – in the then Pakistan. The Awami League's manifesto for autonomy and devolution – crafted and piloted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – led to a landslide victory at the general elections. Pakistan’s refusal to hand over the reins of government, to a Bengali-led government, resulted in a non-co-operation movement. The unrelenting resolve of the Bengali people was successful despite the ruthless military response. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the Bangladeshi independence on 26 March 1971. Today a proud Bangladesh plays a leading role in the international community and is an active participant in global discussions on climate change, democracy, development, human rights, peacekeeping and peace building. Bangladesh attaches great importance to our relations with the United Kingdom. Our contemporary relations are defined by our shared aspirations for democracy, development and human rights. The two countries maintain strong bilateral relations in areas of mutual interest including, meeting the MDGs, climate change, human rights, UN peacekeeping as well as on issues related to the LDCs. Starting from a level of aid centricity, our two countries, look at the relations as a ‘new special partnership’ forged on ‘a shared agenda’. The UK is Bangladesh’s third largest export destination and our sixth largest source of remittance flow. During 2012, exports to the UK accounted for around 11% of total exports. During 2013, the UK accounted for around 15% of Bangladesh’s total FDI. We work to boost Bangladesh’s reputation as a place to do business, to broker commercial partnerships and to increase Britain’s inward investment in Bangladeshi companies and projects. Our diplomatic mission in London has endeavoured to expand our outreach, create goodwill and increase understanding of our perspectives. We participated in a host of high-profile events throughout 2013 including the London Garments Expo and the World Travel Market. In September 2013, we held an e-Commerce Fair to showcase opportunities. In June 2013, the High Commission worked with Finance Asia and Asian Investor to launch the Bangladesh Investment Summit. 7
Message from High Commissioner
We launched the Culture Promotion Initiative and engaged extensively in promoting and organising cultural activities throughout the year, including a play by a theatre group from Bangladesh, Mukti with Ferdousi Majumdar in the lead role. Our work is also shaped by the energetic Bangladeshi diaspora in Britain. Our community has established a reputation as hard-working, enterprising and proudly Bengali. Our contribution is no longer limited to the hospitality trade. This remains a vital industry. Our footprint is also no longer confined to East London, although Bangla Town remains. Our community has truly come of age. It is a tribute to our first generation – the pioneers – that worked hard, were undaunted by challenges and understood the value of education. The results are clear – successive generations are doing well in schools, attending top universities, and securing diverse professions. British Bangladeshis can proudly claim to be a community on the move. London provides a unique window on the global village. I wish to share some reflections of Rabindranath Tagore, one of the earliest exponents of the global village. Tagore’s educational model has a unique sensitivity and aptness for education within multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural situations, amidst conditions of acknowledged economic discrepancy and political imbalance. His experiences in Jorasanko, forged his lifelong conviction of the importance of freedom in education. He profoundly understood the importance of the arts for developing empathy and sensitivity, and the necessity for an intimate relationship with one’s cultural and natural environment. He viewed education as a vehicle for appreciating other cultures, while maintaining one’s own cultural specificity. Tagore wrote thus:
I was brought up in an atmosphere of aspiration, aspiration for the expansion of the human spirit. We in our home sought freedom of power in our language, freedom of imagination in our literature, freedom of soul in our religious creeds and that of mind in our social environment. Such an opportunity has given me confidence in the power of education which is one with life and only which can give us real freedom, the highest that is claimed for man, his freedom of moral communion in the human world…. I try to assert in my words and works that education has its only meaning and object in freedom – freedom from ignorance about the laws of the universe, and freedom from passion and prejudice in our communication with the human world.
On this, our Independence and National Day, I feel it only appropriate to dedicate our aspirations, our endeavours and the promise of tomorrow to our children the generations to come. Our challenge lies in creating a world of freedoms – freedom from ignorance, freedom from passion, and freedom from prejudice – what Tagore calls the highest freedom claimed for man.
Message from High Commissioner
A Year in Review The Bangladesh High Commission in London plays an active part in promoting closer relations between Bangladesh and the UK. Below we review some of the main milestones and events in the High Commission’s work over the past year.
National Day Reception
Friends of Bangladesh Award
The Mission observed the 42nd anniversary of Independence on National Day on 26 March 2013. Celebrations of the day included a diplomatic reception, a community reception and a cultural event.
An official ceremony was held at the High Commission for conferment of ‘Friends of the Liberation War Award’ to Lord David Marin Scott Steel for his contribution during the historic War of Liberation in 1971. Mr. A. H. Mahmood Ali, Bangladesh’s current Foreign Minister, handed over the plaque to Lord David Steel.
Season of Bangla Drama On 2 November 2013, the High Commissioner inaugurated the Season of Bangla Drama 2013, organised by the Tower Hamlets Council and supported by the High Commission. This major community event in cooperation with the Mission received high profile participation from Bangladesh. The High Commission arranged for a Theatre group from Bangladesh to participate in the festival as the principal attraction. Their production of “Mukti” (a Bengali adaptation of Lee Blessing’s play Independence) featured Ferdousi Majumdar in the lead role.
Season of Bangla The High Commission observed National Children’s Day on 17 March 2013 that marked the 93rd birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In honour of the occasion, the mission organised essay and painting competitions for children, a discussion event and a cultural programme at the Chancery. Local dignitaries, cultural activists, community members and representatives of the media attended the event. State Minister for Primary and Mass Education Mr. Motaher Hossain attended the event as the chief guest.
National Day of Mourning The High Commission observed the National Day of Mourning on 15 August 2013 to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation, who was brutally killed on this day in 1975. A discussion was hosted at the Chancery where members of the local Bangladeshi community were invited. The speakers at the event enumerated on the contributions of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Bangladesh and elaborated on how he steered the course of Bangladesh’s history and changed the political landscape of the world forever.
Celebration of Bengali New Year 1420 The advent of Bengali New Year (1420) was celebrated on 14 April 2013. For the celebration, the High Commission organised a festival at Newham Hall in East London that drew particular interest from the local Bengali community. A cultural event, food fair and showcasing of Bangladeshi products were part of this day-long festivity.
E-Commerce Fair Bangladesh Investment Summit, London The Bangladesh High Commission in London worked closely with the Hong Kong based FinanceAsia and AsianInvestor in organising the Bangladesh Investment Summit, Europe at Grosvenor House in London on 11 June 2013. This was a follow up initiative of the organisers after the successful Investment Seminar held in 2012 in Singapore. In London, the day-long Summit attracted over 300 investors, fund managers and executives from multinational companies. It explored the trade and investment opportunities in Bangladesh for Asia’s sovereign wealth funds, long-term foreign direct investors, public and private pension funds and other financial investors and highlighted Bangladesh’s potential as a top destination for investment.
The High Commission in association with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology organised the first e-Commerce Fair in London from 7-9 September 2013 at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel. Former Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni MP attended and presided over the Fair. The Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Home Affairs attended as a Special Guest. The main objective of the Fair was to create awareness, explore opportunities and exchange opinions about the prospect of e-commerce between the UK and Bangladesh as well as break down barriers hindering e-commerce globally. The Fair also looked at encouraging investment initiatives for enhancing innovation, connecting stakeholders and showcasing Bangladesh e-Commerce in the UK. 30 exhibitors from Bangladesh and the UK participated in the fair and displayed their products. The Information Minister, Mr. Hasanul Huq Inu, attended the closing session as Chief Guest. Events
London Garments Expo
Colloquium on Climate Change
The London Garments Expo (LGE), an international sourcing exhibition catering for the apparel and textile industry, took place in London from 9-11 September. Supported by local Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, LGE 13 provided high visibility for Bangladeshi companies and products, with the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) co-ordinating participation of new companies at the event. The Expo showcased an array of men’s and women’s ready-made garments, uniform manufacturers and many other industry suppliers. By bringing together different areas of the garment industry, LGE has contributed to creating a platform for apparel sourcing and international trade. The Bangladesh High Commissioner was the Chief Guest at the opening ceremony. The Honourable Information Minister, Mr. Hasanul Huq Inu inaugurated the Bangladeshi stalls at the Expo.
On 15 January 2014 at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London, the High Commissioner Mohamed Mijarual Quayes spoke about the impending humanitarian challenge of ‘mass displacement’ as a consequence of climate change. He was speaking at a public event titled “Migration in Bangladesh and its sensitivity to climate change and variability” organised by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). The event focused on how climate change is going to force human displacement within Bangladesh and other countries, so that international community can start thinking about the implications of such displacements.
World Travel Market
Outstanding Achievement Award The High Commission in London hosted a special event on 9 February 2014 for students from the British-Bangladeshi Diaspora with outstanding GCSE and A-level exam results to recognise their great promise. This year a total of 106 students were recognised for their academic excellence.
Bangladesh participated in the World Travel Market (WTM 2013) held in London from 4-7 November 2013. Participation at the event was facilitated jointly by the Bangladesh Tourism Board and the Bangladesh High Commission in London for promoting Bangladesh as a tourist destination in the UK and Europe. Bangladesh was represented at the event by a 24-member delegation headed by the Additional Secretary at the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism. 20 companies from the travel and tourism industry also attended with an impressive line-up of products and promotional material.
A Unique Partnership
Bangladesh and the UK
In the post-independence era, relations between the UK and Bangladesh have been shaped by shared aspirations for democracy, development and respect for human rights as well as by a vibrant trade and economic partnership and the presence of a large Bangladeshi diaspora in the United Kingdom. The two countries work closely in various international forums on a range of issues including the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), climate change, human rights and UN peacekeeping as well as on issues related to policy towards Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Bangladesh is notably the second largest recipient of British overseas development assistance. Importantly, the depth of the Bangladesh-UK relationship is also seen in the number of bilateral visits that have taken place over the last year between the two countries including at the level of Heads of State and Heads of Governments. Visits by the Honourable President Md. Abdul Hamid and the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to London and a two-way exchange of visits by other dignitaries during the past year have been particularly reflective of the level of engagement between the two countries. Given the close level of relations between the two countries, it should come as no surprise that the UK is one of Bangladesh’s major economic and trade partners. Bangladeshi products, particularly ready-made garments, are in high demand in the UK. Indeed, the level of exports are increasing steadily. Last year, Bangladesh’s total level of exports to the UK was £1.77 bn, which is 12.67% higher than the previous year, making it the third largest export destination for Bangladeshi goods after the USA and Germany. Key elements of Bangladesh’s trade with the UK include a competitive edge in quality and price, duty and quota free market access under the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, increased compliance with UK standards and strong backward linkage in the knitwear industry. Ready-made garments, jute yarn and jute products, apparel accessories, footwear, frozen fish, crustaceans, shrimp and prawns, vegetables and other manufactured products constitute Bangladesh’s major exports to the UK. Significantly, the UK is currently the largest foreign investor in Bangladesh with approximately £2.6 bn of cumulative investment projects to date. There is considerable UK investment in Bangladesh’s oil and gas sector, textiles, tea, financial and other service sectors. Bangladeshi communities in the UK contribute significantly to the British economy also. They own some 12,000 restaurants in the UK that employ about 100,000 people with an annual turnover of about £4 billion. British Bangladeshis also send a large amount of remittance from the UK, which contributes to Bangladesh’s economic growth. British Bangladeshis makes a significant and vibrant contribution to modern British society. Hundreds of British Bangladeshi Cultural and Community organisations through the UK celebrate major cultural events and organise colourful “Mela” and cultural programmes. A huge number of Bangladeshi students studying in the UK also add to the culturally diverse mosaic of Great Britain.
Bangladesh and the UK
Off the Beaten Track Bangladesh remains largely overlooked, as a tourist destination, despite being home to tigers and tea plantations, long lost Buddhist kingdoms and some of the friendliest people on the planet. With a capital city that is one of the fastest growing in the region, Bangladesh truly is one of the South Asia's most refreshing and fascinating destinations.
Explore Old Dhaka Old Dhaka is a maze of crowded bazaars, narrow streets and fascinating architectural gems and is by far the most fascinating part of the capital. Be sure to have a walk down the streets â€“ a vibrant area brimming with colourful saris, herbs, spices, incense and shrines. The nearby Bangladesh National Museum is one of the architectural highlights of Dhaka.
Spot tigers in the Sundarbans The magical Sundarbans form an incredible network of islands, creeks and mud-flats and are home to Bengal tigers, estuarine crocodiles and some 260 species of birds. Travelling by boat, watching the world go by is a wonderful way to explore this incredible wilderness of forest and freshwater swamps that cover this vast delta.
Visit a tribal village There are over 1 million tribal people in Bangladesh and half of them live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Only 50 miles from Myanmar (Burma), this region is the most remote and least populated district in Bangladesh. It is home to the tallest peaks in the country and is a great place for trekking and meeting locals in one of the many tribal villages.
Get away from it all Situated in the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, St Martin Island is one of the most beautiful places in Bangladesh. Popular with both local and foreign tourists, it is a coral island of sandy beaches, coconut palms and bountiful marine life. The island does not have grid electricity, so everything is run on generators â€“ what better way to get away from it all?
See the High Commissionâ€™s website for more information: www.bhclondon.org.uk
An Attractive Destination for Investment Bangladesh has proved to be a resilient and attractive investment destination and new opportunities are emerging for foreign investors in Bangladesh every day. The country is poised to achieve at least 6% GDP growth and represents a sound choice for foreign investment including for those companies relocating. Bangladesh offers a strong local market, global market access and proven export competitiveness. For this reason, Goldman Sachs termed Bangladesh as one of the ‘Next Eleven’ group of emerging countries to watch as it has an economy that could become one of the largest in the world by mid-century. We examine below the most prominent aspects of Bangladesh’s policy towards attracting FDI and why the country is such an attractive destination for foreign investment.
Advantageous Trading Agreements All Bangladeshi products (other than armaments) enjoy complete duty and quota free access to Australia, Canada, the EU and Japan as well as to most other developed countries. Bangladesh is a signatory to the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USA; International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), and; World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Bilateral agreements to avoid double taxation have been signed with 28 countries – Bangladesh is negotiating bilateral agreements on double taxation with a further nine countries.
Attractive Business and Investment Climate Bangladesh is a democratic country in which people are treated equally under the law irrespective of race and religion. The country has made a number of market-oriented reforms and actively encourages foreign investors. The Foreign Private Investment (Promotion & Protection) Act 1980 provides protection for investments made in Bangladesh.
Motivated, educated and skilful youthful demographic Unlike older industrialized societies, Bangladesh has a very youthful population demographic. 59.3 % of the population are economically active (15 years and over). Bangladesh has 31 public universities, 54 private universities, 60 teacher training colleges and 1,143 technical and vocational institutions. Vocational training and professional qualifications are highly respected. Many thousands of Bangladeshis have wide experience of working abroad resulting in a knowledge and recognition of global standards. Investment
Ease of communication The national language is Bengali or ‘Bangla. English is also widely spoken and understood. More than 90% of staff at management level is fluent in English.
Export competitiveness Bangladesh’s average annual export value growth is 19.6%. Manufacturing output has seen steady growth, recently in double figures. Bangladesh provides significant benefits to exporters. Bangladesh offers the most liberal conditions for FDI in South Asia, with no prior approval requirements or limits on equity participation and repatriation of profits and income in most sectors. Bangladesh enjoys tariff-free access to Australia, Canada, the EU and Japan. Bangladesh is the top manufactured products exporter to least developed countries as well as to Europe, with more than 50% market share.
Competitive cost base Bangladesh offers a strong business advantage – wages and salaries are still the lowest in the region. In January 2010, JETRO conducted a comparative survey of investment-related costs in 29 major cities and regions in Asia. The following comparison is based on that survey with some selected cities. Dhaka's skilled labour cost base is still less than other major cities. Industrial estate rents in Dhaka are less than in Bangkok, Jakarta or Shanghai. Office rents are very competitive with other international cities. Housing rent in Dhaka is less expensive than in Hanoi, Karachi, Mumbai and Singapore. The cost of fuel in Dhaka is cheaper than in most other large global cities.
Fiscal and non-fiscal incentives Bangladesh offers some of the world’s most competitive fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. In most cases, these amount to the following: Remittance of royalty, technical know-how and technical assistance fees. Repatriation facilities of dividend and capital at exit. Permanent resident permits on investing US$ 75,000 and citizenship on investing US$ 500,000. Tax breaks In the Dhaka and Chittagong Divisions: 100% in first two years: 50% in years three and four: and 25% in year five. In the Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, Barisal Divisions and three Chittagong Hilly Districts: 100% for first three years, 50% for next three years, 25% for year seven. Depreciation allowances Accelerated depreciation for new industries is available at the rate of 50%, 30% and 20% for the first, second and third years respectively, on the cost of plant and machinery. 15
Cash and added incentives to exporting industries Businesses exporting 80% or more of goods or services qualify for duty free import of machinery and spares, and bonded warehousing. 90% loans against letters of credit and funds for export promotion. Export credit guarantee scheme. Domestic market sales of up to 20% are allowed to export oriented businesses located outside an EPZ on payment of relevant duties. Cash incentives and export subsidies are granted on the FOB value of selected exports ranging from 5% to 20% on selected products.
Potential sectors for investment in Bangladesh Agro-based industry: Cold storage facilities serving the supply chain, especially fresh produce for export. Fresh produce production for local and export markets. Production of fertilizers and cultivation of seeds. Eco-friendly jute production, supported by jute technology development institutes. Shrimp farming. Halal foods. Milk and dairy products. High value-added foods for export, including herbs, spices, nuts and pulses. Ceramics Electronics Frozen Foods Frozen shrimp & prawn. Frozen fish. Fresh and chilled fish. Salted and dehydrated fish Dry fish. Live crabs and tortoises. Fish meal Value added shrimp and fish products. Garments and textiles. ICT and business services. Leather and leather goods. Light engineering. Power stations. Life science.
The High Commission in London provides a one-stop service to potential investors and can be contacted on 020 7584 0081 or at email@example.com. Investment
Improving Critical Infrastructure The new government in Dhaka has decided to fast-track six ‘mega-projects’ in infrastructure, communication and the power sectors. We take a closer look at these six strategically-important projects below. Padma Bridge A key government priority is constructing a bridge over the Padma river that will connect the south-west of Bangladesh with Dhaka. The government plans to complete the Padma bridge project within four years at a cost of USD $2.91 billion.
Rampal Thermal Power Plant Once completed the Rampal Thermal Power Station will be the country’s largest coal-fuelled power plant (1320 megawatts). It will be established as a Bangladesh-India joint venture company in the name of the Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC). The proposed project, to be constructed over an area of approximately 1834 acres of land, is situated 14 kilometres north of the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.
Roopur Nuclear Power Plant Bangladesh is constructing two 1000 MW nuclear power reactors which will enter operation in 2020. This is to meet a rapidly increasing demand for energy and to reduce dependence on natural gas. In February 2012, the Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement with Russia's Rostechnadzor related to regulation and safety "and the provision of advisory support to the Bangladesh Nuclear Regulatory Commission on regulation, licensing and supervision". Plans are underway for Bangladeshi staff working on the country’s nuclear power programme to be trained in Russia.
Metro Rail Bangladesh signed a credit agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to finance the 20.1 km Metro rail service project in Dhaka. The project will be implemented in three phases with completion scheduled for 2022. Bangladeshâ€™s first Metro is expected to transport 60,000 passengers an hour and is aimed at easing traffic gridlock in Dhaka.
Deep-Sea Port Bangladeshâ€™s favourable geographic location offers real opportunities in facilitating regional seaborne trade and acts as a gateway for trade in South-Asia with the rest of the world. Bangladesh plans to make Sonadia a major regional shipping hub, catering for the needs of north-east India, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.
Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal To address the country's energy needs and accelerate economic growth, the government has decided to fast-track the development of the country's first LNG import terminal. Petrobangla, the only state-owned energy exploration and marketing company, is planning a floating LNG import terminal with capacity to handle 5 million mt/year of LNG and a re-gasification capacity of at least 500,000 Mcf/d at Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal. Once completed, the terminal will have berthing and mooring facilities for LNG vessels with a capacity of 138,000-260,000 cubic meters. Petrobangla plans to award the construction contract on a build-own-operate-transfer basis for 15 years. Infrastructure
Resilience in the Face of Change One of the stunning successes of Bangladesh is how an extremely poor country, fresh from revolution, blunted a trajectory of very rapid population growth to become an example to the world in expanding access to reproductive health and family planning. After independence, Bangladesh’s population growth rate was one of the highest in the world: 2.71 percent at its peak, or on pace to nearly triple in total size in 40 years. Instead, by 2010 it had decreased to 1.38 percent and total population stands at around 154 million. Most striking is how this was achieved in a Muslim majority country without the use of coercive measures. There were three factors that led to the slowing of growth:
Girl’s education With more education available, particularly higher education, more girls and women were more likely to have access to and practice family planning. More girls in school also helped to increase the age that they started having children.
Availability of mother and child health care More widespread health care, with an emphasis on pre- and neonatal care, lowered infant mortality rates and reduced the imperative to produce as many children as possible as insurance against early death.
Promotion of family planning by the government and other civil society groups Endorsement of contraceptives by Muslim imams and Bangladeshi clergy helped eliminate many religious taboos and government funding gave the health system the long-term support it needed.
Bangladesh’s second success came out of its people’s most important livelihood: food production. During the last 40 years, production of the country’s staple crop, rice, increased substantially, making it the fourth-largest producer globally. Steady increases in rice production can be attributed to significant investment by the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) in research, crop quality, irrigation, and pesticides. Completing Bangladesh’s trilogy of success is a quality that has helped put the country on the map in many research and policymaking circles: resilience in the face of natural disasters. Despite worsening climate conditions and more people than ever living in low-lying areas, the impact of natural disasters has gone down steadily. The reduction in fatalities can be credited to a two-pronged disaster management program. First, early warning systems, such as radio broadcasts and sirens, were installed in the most vulnerable areas. Second, multipurpose cyclone shelters were built alongside schools. During Cyclones Sidr and Aila, local children were able to advise and move their elders to the shelters to escape the devastation. This ability to communicate across different age groups in a country with such a large population is an example to be followed in other climate vulnerable regions. Bangladesh has the potential to transform and change just as much over the next 40 years as it did over the last. The key to success or failure will be the spread of education and transition to a knowledge-based economy from a labour-based economy. Millions of Bangladeshis are studying at post graduate levels in the United States and United Kingdom. With Banglsdesh embracing a globalised education system, we could see massive progress in the next 40 years. 19
Lessons from Rana Plaza Bangladesh is the second largest Ready-Made Garments (RMG) exporting country in the world. The industry contributes significantly to national GDP and provides employment to around 4.2 million Bangladeshis, mainly women from low income families. However, recent tragedies have posed a serious challenge for sustainable export from Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza collapse not only resulted in a colossal loss of lives, it has also dented Bangladesh’s brand globally. Trade partners and importers became particularly concerned about building safety standards after this tragedy. Therefore the Government had to act, not only due to the state’s obligation to ensure safety of workers, but also to assure importers that Bangladesh’s garment industry is fully compliant with international standards. Following the tragic building collapse, a high level delegation from the International Labour Organization (ILO) led by its Deputy Director General visited Bangladesh. During this visit, the tripartite partners (government, employers and workers) and ILO reached an agreement for short and long-term actions including the amendment of laws and improvement of working conditions. In an effort to avert any future tragedies, the government formed a high level, inter-Ministerial Committee with representation from workers and headed by the Textiles Minister to monitor the working condition and welfare of the workers. This committee is entrusted with inspecting premises, including the conditions of factory buildings, conformity with approved designs, fire-fighting mechanisms, and emergency exits. As a result of this initiative, authorities have already ordered the closure of 16 factories in Dhaka and 2 factories in Chittagong for violating building codes. Two task forces have also been formed, namely the Task Force on Building and Fire Safety in the RMG sector, and the Task Force on Expansion and Simplification of Business in the RMG sector. BGMEA and BKMEA, apex associations for garments and knitwear exporters, also asked all their members to submit reports on the structural design and load bearing capacity of their factory buildings. The government amended the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 with the provision of getting support from experts for collective bargaining, alignment of the provision regarding Participatory Committee with ILO Convention, payment of wages through cheques and electronic means in addition to the existing cash system, allowing trade unions, the use of closed-circuit cameras in staircases, corridors, gates, warehouses and common utility areas for safety of workers. The UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh recently conducted independent research in support of the Garment industry and they have put forward valuable recommendations for compliance, by various stakeholders, many of which have already been implemented by the Government. In addition to the measures specific to the readymade garment sector, the Government is also working to establish a regulatory authority for enforcing building code outside the four major cities, where such authorities are already in place.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the Bengali nation, is affectionately called Bangabandhu – the Friend of Bengal, for his profound love and compassion for his fellow countrymen and the vision he championed for their freedom. He rekindled the Bengalis’ aspiration for self determination and steered their quest for freedom through a popular political struggle that culminated in the war of liberation in 1971 with the birth of an independent nation. Sheikh Mujibur’s life was being shaped for leadership through unwavering commitment to the cause of the people. He took politics to the masses and led them in the long and difficult search for national identity. His active political career began with his election to one of the posts of joint secretaries of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League in 1949. In 1953, Sheikh Mujib was elected the General Secretary of the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League, a post that he held until 1966 when he became the President of the party. Like his political mentor Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Mujib was a visionary leader. To organise the party, he resigned from the Cabinet and devoted himself to the task of taking the party to grassroots level. A charismatic organiser, Sheikh Mujib had established his firm leadership over the party. He entered parliamentary politics first in 1954 through his election as a member of the East Bengal Legislative Assembly on the United Front ticket. He was also a member of the Pakistan Second Constituent Assembly-cum-Legislature. Sheikh Mujibur, a pragmatic politician, appeared as the undaunted advocate of Bengali nationalism. He was among the first language prisoners of the 1952 language movement. He, however, attained his ultimate political eminence in the early 1960s. In 1966, he announced his famous six-point programme, calling it the Bengalis’ Charter of Survival', which aimed at self-rule for East Pakistan. The six-point programme at once drew the attention of the nation. Nervous at the radical political views of Sheikh Mujib, the Ayub regime put him behind bars. A sedition case, known as the Agartala Conspiracy Case was brought against him. Notably, during most of the period of the Ayub regime Mujib was in jail, first from 1958 to 1961 and then from 1966 to early 1969. Mujib's charisma grew so much that a mass uprising took place in his favour in early 1969 during his second term in jail, and the Ayub Administration was compelled to release him on 22 February 1969 unconditionally. The general elections of December 1970 made Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the sole spokesperson of East Pakistan. The people gave him the absolute mandate in favour of six-point doctrine. Mujib's most uncompromising stand on the six-point programme led ZA Bhutto and Yahya's military junta to take a stringent view. Instead of allowing him to form the government, the junta resolved to undo the results of the elections. President Yahya Khan cancelled unilaterally the National Assembly scheduled to be held on 3 March 1971. 21
The announcement sounded the death-knell of Pakistan. Mujib called an all-out non-cooperation movement in East Pakistan. The whole province supported the movement. During the course of non-cooperation, the entire civil authorities in East Pakistan came under the control and directives of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, himself becoming the de facto Head of Government of the province. During this time, on 7 March, Mujib made an historic address at a gathering at the Race Course which marked a turning point in the history of the Bengali nation. In his address, Mujib made specific charges against the Martial Law authorities which failed to transfer power to the elected representatives. At the end of his speech, he made a clarion call, saying: "Build forts in each homestead. You must resist the Pakistani enemy with whatever you have in hand. Remember, we have given a lot of blood, a lot more blood we shall give if need be, but we shall liberate the people of this country, Insha Allah [i.e. if God wills]..The struggle this time is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle this time is the struggle for independence." Although the armed struggle began in the wake of the 25 March army crackdown, Bangabandhu had been a prisoner in West Pakistan. He was declared, in absentia, the President of the provisional government, called the Mujibnagar Government, formed on 10 April 1971 by the people's representatives. He was also made the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Throughout the period of the War of Liberation, Sheikh Mujib was the source of inspiration and symbol of national unity and strength. After the liberation of Bangladesh on 16 December 1971 from Pakistani occupation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was released from jail in Pakistan and arrived in Dhaka on 10 January 1972. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman headed the first government of the post-liberation Bangladesh for a period of three and a half years. Starting from scratch his government had to deal with the countless problems of a war ravaged country. Restoring law and order, rehabilating the mukhtijodhas, restoring the ruptured communication system, saving lives of the people hostile to the War of Liberation and, most importantly, feeding the hungry millions and many other problems, bedevilled his administration. Because of his charismatic leadership Bangladesh gained world-wide recognition including the United Nations. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated by a group of disgruntled army officials on 15 August 1975 along with most of his family members except for his two daughters who had been staying abroad at that time.
Did you Know? Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was awarded the Joliot-Curie Medal of Peace in 1973 in recognition of his contribution towards peace and stability in the region. Among others who received this prestigious award are Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Jawaharlal Nehru of India. The International Peace Prize introduced in 1950 by World Peace Council was renamed in 1959 as the Joliot-Curie Medal of Peace in honour of FrĂŠdĂŠric Joliot-Curie, the famous Nobel Physics Laureate who led the WPC till his death in 1958. This medal has been awarded in silver, but the highest WPC honour is the gold medal. The World Peace Council (WPC) is an anti-imperialist, democratic, independent and non-aligned international movement of mass action. It is an integral part of the world peace movement and acts in cooperation with other international and national movements. The WPC is the largest International Peace structure, based in more than 100 countries.
Delivering Justice for the Victims of the Genocide Bangladesh was born through a historic struggle for freedom spanning more than two decades. The final phase of the struggle saw a war of liberation in 1971 in which the Pakistani army, with the aid of local collaborators, launched a widespread genocide on the people of Bangladesh. Various crimes were perpetrated against the unarmed civilian population. Under international law, the perpetrators of such crimes are regarded as the hostis humani generis (i.e. the enemy of mankind) and cannot go unpunished. The on-going trials are being conducted to give closure to the harrowing experience of 1971, and particularly to end the impunity that perpetrators of the mindless violence have seemed to enjoy so far. Following independence, Bangladesh enacted the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act in 1973 to try the perpetrators of such crimes. The ICT Act includes all crimes committed during the liberation war and established a domestic court and relevant jurisprudence of the trial process. The jurisdiction of the court includes war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and all the crimes committed by the Pakistani army and their collaborators in 1971. It is against this backdrop that the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was formed, on 26 March 2010, to prosecute the local collaborators and perpetrators of these crimes under the legal mandate of the ICT Act. The International Crimes Tribunal is a domestic court — not an ‘international’ one. The Tribunal is the first of its own kind in Bangladesh. It is headed by one judge of the High Court Division and two other judges. The Court has its own registrar and office to assist the court in procedural matters. The 1973 Act is in conformity with the “due process” needed for humane, jurisprudentially sound and legally valid trials. The Act provides for an independent investigation agency, and charges can only be brought on the basis of credible information against the suspects. Under the Act, the accused has the right to offer any explanation pertinent to the charge made against him/her, to conduct his/her own defence or resort to the assistance of counsel, to present evidence in support of defence and to cross examine the prosecution witnesses. There is a right to appeal against any conviction, sentence and acquittal by the tribunal before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court within 60 days. The rights of the accused during the pre-trial, trial and post-trial period are of international standard and comparable with that of the Bosnian, Rwandan and the Cambodian trials.
The Reading List The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide A riveting history — the first full account — of the involvement of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh that shaped the fate of Asia, and left in its wake a host of major strategic consequences for the world today. Drawing on recently declassified documents, unheard White House tapes, and investigative reporting, Gary Bass gives us an unprecedented chronicle of a crucial but little-known chapter of the Cold War. He shows how Nixon and Kissinger supported Pakistan's military dictatorship as it brutally quashed the results of a historic free election. The Pakistani army launched a crackdown on the then East Pakistan (today an independent Bangladesh), killing hundreds of thousands of people, and sending ten million refugees fleeing into India — one of the worst humanitarian crises of the twentieth century. It soon sparked a major war. But Nixon and Kissinger remained untroubled by Pakistan's massacres, secretly encouraged China to mass troops on the Indian border, and illegally supplied weapons to the Pakistani military-an unknown scandal that predates Watergate. And Bass makes clear how the United States' embrace of the military dictatorship in Islamabad would affect geopolitics for decades. The book is a readable work of recent history.
Gary J. Bass Publication: October 2013
The Bangladesh Reader: History, Culture, Politics Founded in 1971, Bangladesh is a relatively young nation, but the Bengal Delta region has been a major part of international life for more than 2,000 years, whether as an important location for trade or through its influence on Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim life. Yet the country rarely figures in global affairs or media, except in stories about floods, poverty, or political turmoil. The Bangladesh Reader does what those portrayals do not: It illuminates the rich historical, cultural, and political permutations that have created contemporary Bangladesh, and it conveys a sense of the aspirations and daily lives of Bangladeshis. Intended for travelers, students, and scholars, the Reader encompasses first-person accounts, short stories, historical documents, speeches, treaties, essays, poems, songs, photographs, cartoons, paintings, posters, advertisements, maps, and a recipe. Classic selections familiar to many Bangladeshis—and essential reading for those who want to know the country—are juxtaposed with less-known pieces. Featuring eighty-three images, including seventeen in color, The Bangladesh Reader is an unprecedented, comprehensive introduction to the South Asian country's turbulent past and dynamic present.
Meghna Guhathakurta & Willem Van Schendel Publication: April 2013
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