Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said her government was striving to rid the country of poverty and terrorism, besides protecting the youth from the menace of drug abuse. Speaking at the convocation of the Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, which conferred an honorary D.Litt on her today, Hasina said poverty was the main enemy and a barrier to development not only in Bangladesh, but across the subcontinent.
“We have to alleviate poverty, prevent terrorism and protect the younger generation from drugs in Bangladesh and in the subcontinent to proceed in the right direction. We want to transform Bangladesh from a developing nation to a developed nation soon,” she said, while expressing hope for a strong and everlasting Indo-Bangla friendship.
She also sought cooperation from all the countries in the subcontinent in putting an end to militant activities. Stating that Bangladesh had frequently been hurt by armed coups, Hasina said, “Unlike India, which has a long-cherished tradition of democratic principles, we had suffered frequently from armed coups and that had slowed down the process of development. Since the Awami League came to power, we are fighting the issues of under-development, poverty and illiteracy.”
She added that Bangladesh had accorded the highest priority to education and setting up universities and institutions to encourage all modern disciplines, including engineering, medicine, computer science and digital studies, despite limited resources.
The country had steadily improved its literacy rate, from 66 per cent in 2009 to 72 per cent now, Hasina said. The Bangladesh prime minister, who is on a two-day visit to West Bengal, had yesterday sought the cooperation of all to put pressure on Myanmar to take back the around 11 lakh Rohingya refugees, who have been given shelter in her country on “humanitarian grounds”.
Expressing gratitude to India for standing beside Bangladesh in the 1971 Liberation War, Hasina said, “We will never forget that you gave shelter to one crore refugees from Bangladesh then.” “India had trained our Muktijoddhas (freedom fighters) and helped us in the liberation war. India had given shelter to those fighting against the Pakistani army in 1971. We will never forget your help,” she added.
Despite the division of Bengal, two of its greatest poets — Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam — could not be divided along geographical boundaries and communal lines, Hasina said. Like the Kazi Nazrul University in West Bengal, several universities and institutions in Bangladesh were named after Nazrul, she added. “There is a Nazrul Institute in Dhaka, where he (Nazrul) had spent his last days. This was to preserve his memory, music and contributions. I think the Kazi Nazrul University here can work with institutions in Bangladesh to take forward the research on his works,” Hasina said.
The Bangladesh prime minister added that she had agreed to receive the D.Litt from the university as it was named after Bangladesh’s national poet, Nazrul, whose 119th birth anniversary was observed today.