Towards a Golden Era for Bangladesh: Sonar Bangla!

You cannot have anything to do with Bangladesh if you think the term has something to do with sound! ‘Sonar’ in Bengali means ‘golden’, and those who love this fertile land are fond of referring to their region as ‘Sonar Bangla’ or ‘Golden Bengal’. It does not matter, in this sense, whether you are an Indian citizen from West Bengal, or from what is now the sovereign nation of Bangladesh, the cultural and historical ties of the region are not to be denied. This area has a rich heritage of cultural and intellectual achievements over the ages.

The United Nation Development Program (UNDP) has recently announced a substantial pecuniary package for Bangladesh, which has the promise to go a long way. Environmental conservation, the emancipation of women, and better policing are some of the laudable changes which the international body would like Bangladesh to achieve. These critical issues hold the country back, and prevent it from realizing its full potential.

Democratic reform and poverty alleviation are the twin planks on which Bangladesh can coast to its rightful place in the community of nations. The UNDP plan is a great way for the country to progress, and the sentiments come with over $250 million in precious cash resources. More than 50 million people live in poverty in Bangladesh, and the country is victim to cyclical floods and droughts. The UNDP initiative in not restricted to the major urban centers, and seeks to reach to the most interior and remote parts of Bangladesh.

Much will depend, as with all macro planning, on the implementation skills and commitment of local administration in project areas. Bureaucrats can put paid to the best intentions of people at large! Governance is an issue for even the developed world, and it is a serious constraint in a country as young as Bangladesh. Nevertheless, what a great opportunity for Bangladesh to leapfrog far from its backwardness of today! The UNDP program will run for 5 years, and let us hope that it heralds and era of prosperity and happiness for the people. It has been labeled as the Country Program Action Plan for 2006-2010.