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Digital Revolution in Bangladesh

Reviewed by Shamsul Huda

Published : Saturday, 6 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 2167

Digital Revolution in Bangladesh

Digital Revolution in Bangladesh

Bangladeshs digital journey unveiled in a revealing book…

“Digital Revolution in Bangladesh: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib to Sheikh Hasina", an insightful and revelatory book penned by the veteran journalist Ajit Kumar Sarkar, stands as a testament to its impressive, informative and indispensable nature.
Without any doubt, the author has thoughtfully chosen a title that aptly encapsulates the essence of Bangladeshs journey towards digitization. But the title of the book has probably missed a name, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, an iconic scion of our young generation and a pivotal figure in the nations digital transformation. Despite his absence from the books title, the author Ajit Kumar Sarkar provides an exhaustive account of Joys remarkable achievements and the crucial roles he played in shaping Bangladeshs digital landscape.
Conventional wisdom reverberates with the notion that without his guiding hand, the rapid pace of digitization witnessed in Bangladesh would have been considerably stymied. Armed with a profound understanding of computer science, Sajeeb Wazed Joy has played a vital role in advancing digitization initiatives. Serving as the Prime Ministers ICT Affairs Adviser, his vast knowledge, expertise and strategic vision have been instrumental in not only spearheading but also navigating Bangladeshs digital trajectory towards unprecedented success.  

It took several days for me to go through the 314-page book consisting of ten chapters and I found it a treasure trove of information on advanced technology and digitalization of our country. The book gives me a complete insight of how digitalization has evolved in Bangladesh and been leading the country to a Smart Bangladesh.

The author Ajit Kumar Sarkar, in chapter one of the book extensively delves into the far-sighted leadership of Bangabandhu, illuminating his profound thoughts, visionary ideas and keenness for advanced science and technology. He believed that steering the war-torn country towards unprecedented levels of progress demanded wholehearted participation in the third industrial revolution, commonly referred to as the digital revolution, sparked by the groundbreaking invention of the internet in 1969.

Bangabandhu understood that without integration of science and technology into the development process, the realization of his vision to cultivate a prosperous "Golden Bangla (Shonar Bangla)" would remain elusive. This sentiment was eloquently expressed by Bangabandhu on March 15, 1973, when he declared, "Only science and technology education can help expedite nation-building," compressing his unwavering belief in the transformative power of knowledge and innovation.

It was through the proactive efforts of the Bangabandhu government that Bangladesh secured membership in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on September 5, 1973. One of the purposes for joining the ITU was to ensure that his country would not leave behind in the organizations activities, which included development of information and communication technology in member countries, as well as the allocation of satellite orbits and frequencies to them. It was at his prodding that Bangladesh adopted a project called the Earth Resource Technology Satellite (ERTS) Programme for mapping natural resources, environment and disaster survey, using information technology. It was under this successful programme that the "Bangladesh Landsat Programme (BLP) was included in its first five-year plan. It was Bangabandhu who set up an earth station at Betbunia, Bangladesh Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) and ordered local manufacture of radio and television.

Bangabandhus clear understanding underscored the necessity of education and cultivation of a trained and skilled workforce to effectively harness modern technology for development of the country. At the heart of Bangabandhus education reform plan was the creation of industrious and skilled personnel. He had no trust in the education system of the colonial era which aimed only at churning out clerks.

Unfortunately, Bangabandhus high-tech initiatives did not come to fruition. He was brutally killed along with his most of the family members when a group of depraved army officers committed our historys greatest tragedy in the morning of August 15, 1975. Anti-liberation forces lurking in Mujibs government came to power, upending the Bangladeshs march towards a technology-based country.

Bangladesh had to wait until 1996 to get back on its track after Sheikh Hasina was elected Prime Minister for a five-year term and after a pause, she regained her power in January 2009. Since then, she has made countrys massive economic development, turning it into a digitalized one. She conceived the brainstorming idea of building a Digital Bangladesh on December 12, 2008 incorporating it into the Awami Leagues manifesto, Din Badaler Sanad: Roopkalpa (Vision) 2021. This visionary roadmap swiftly transitioned into action with fervour upon Sheikh Hasina assuming power on January 6, 2009. Over the span of 13 years, the government has achieved remarkable success in realizing the vision of Digital Bangladesh, as outlined the Vision 2021.

This incredible digitalization clamour in the country has probably prompted Ajit Kumar Sarkar to author this book to bring to the notice of the public about how digitalization is taking place and turning Bangladesh into a developing status by 2026 from a least developed country.

By this time, the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is knocking at our door and elsewhere in the world with the drive of digitalization in the forefront. It is said that the advent of 4IR has hastened the pace of digital transformation of everything.

In his exposition, Ajit Kumar Sarkar intricately elucidates Bangladeshs trajectory towards embracing emerging technologies to face the challenges posed by the 4IR. Suffice to say, Bangladesh has all the characteristics, factors and ingredients to make the 4IR a resounding success. And the author has shown it clearly in his book when he detailed three key important factors, a country should have to reap dividends of the 4IR.  

After successful implementation of Digital Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been implementing Smart Bangladesh vision that stands on four pillars such as Smart Citizens, Smart Government, Smart Economy and Smart Society. This suggests that Bangladesh has been fully prepared to benefit from the 4th industrial revolution with the implementation of all kinds of technology and innovations.

This is a well-researched book. The hardy and nimble author patiently pieced together huge number of facts, data and analysis. A colossal volume of documents, remarks, citations and references has been compiled methodologically with the synchronization of times and events. That is why eminent intellectual and former Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Dr A A M S Arefin Siddique in the preface of the book rightly quoted a line Rabindranath Tagores poem, "Hundreds of light rays spark in the sky."

Surely, this book will receive rave reviews not only from the people engaged in information technology, but also from the decision-makers who have been constantly keeping an eye on countrys transformations through different phases mainly from digitalization to Smart Bangladesh.

In the end, I must say, this book containing wealth of information needs to be updated as technology is evolving and ever-changing and we are awaiting the new edition of the book. Edited by Professor Dr Fakrul Alam and renowned journalist Pallab Bhattacharya and brilliantly designed by Marzia Masnuvar, the book is published by the Tathyaseba Barta Sangstha. This reference book is priced at BDT 700.

The writer is Senior Assistant Editor, the Daily Observer

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