Rising from the ashes of deepest despair, we need to hold the fort in 2021 and build our future upon the foundation of new hopes and aspirations
The Year 2020 was an inflection point -- there was the world before the Covid-19 pandemic and the world after. Over 1.8 million people perished worldwide with over 80 million more contracting the novel coronavirus, and still counting.
As 2020 comes to a close, it will forever be remembered as the year when everything changed -- from life to lifestyle, from work culture to human relationships, from the physical sphere to digital space, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviours. Nearly nothing is left unscathed, with ramifications manifested locally, nationally, and globally.
But with the changes and challenges come the opportunity to look at the known world through a different prism that lets in fresh light.
Countries and nations that we expected to be more capable of tackling the virus performed rather poorly as statistics tell the sobering story. A submicroscopic infectious agent totally exposed the vulnerabilities of some of the world’s best known health systems.
Some of the economies that we expected to weather the turbulent time, rather gave in easily in the face of Covid-induced prolonged lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. Pundits will be keeping a watchful and wary eye open to see how long some of the economies in a post-Brexit Europe take to bounce back from corona-induced recession.
Living in such a time of despair, when the future largely remains obscured with uncertainty all round us, one could be forgiven for thinking that hopes hold little water. But hope should be one virtue not mutilated by the virus or any of its evolving variants.
Rising from the ashes of deepest despair, we need to hold the fort in 2021 and build our future upon the foundation of new hopes and aspirations.
As Covid-19 wreaked havoc the world over in a way never seen before in our lifetime, we had our share of losses and despair too. Since the emergence of the virus in Bangladesh in early March, over half a million people contracted the disease, 7,531 of whom lost their lives as of the last day of 2020.
We lost many of our near and dear ones, friends and relations, and some of our most renowned and celebrated personages. Nevertheless, there is good reason to maintain faith and hope in our ability to withstand these troubled waters and emerge unbowed and undefeated.
A health system ridden with institutional inefficiencies and a certain degree of graft has so far fared better than expected in coping with the Covid-19 situation, though it should be acknowledged that we might have not seen the worst of the crisis yet.
Bangladesh has so far had a more contained Covid-19 outbreak than has been observed elsewhere in the world. Efforts are afoot to procure vaccines at the earliest to make the population immune to future virus contractions.
While the world is reeling under an economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh's was one of the few economies that were able to escape a contraction in 2020 and our annual rate of GDP growth will continue to accelerate throughout the 2021-25 period, according to the projections of international economic forecasters.
Bangladesh’s economy enjoyed a strong rate of GDP growth in the years leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite a modest rate of population growth, averaging one percent per year over the past five years.
The rate of GDP growth in Bangladesh was recorded as one of the highest in the world at 8.2 percent in 2019, but understandably is anticipated to have dipped to around 3.8 percent in 2020. Still, we fared much better compared to almost every other country in the world.
Bangladesh’s economic development remains indomitable amidst the global pandemic scenario with the nation’s pride infrastructures -- double-decker Padma Bridge, mass rapid transits, and a deep seaport -- all well underway, albeit at a slower pace, understandably so given the corona situation.
Amidst a pandemic year, Bangladesh attained a power generation capacity threshold of 20,000 MW by starting six more power units with installed capacity of over a thousand megawatts. Bangladesh also succeeded in reaching electricity connectivity to nearly 100 percent of its 170 million population in 2020.
Of course, as we progress economically amidst such trying times, there are a few areas in which Bangladesh will need to work
more seriously -- namely in delivering good governance, social justice and equity, and ensuring the basic human rights of each and every one of us.
But overall Bangladesh can take pride in how we weathered the storm of this year of global crisis and have high hopes that we will continue to move forward in 2021, the year we celebrate the golden jubilee of our country’s independence.