Ontologically and scientifically speaking, our reality originates from the vast universe filled with the free dancing electrons. These electrons are so small parts of invisible reality that we believe in their existence on the words of scientists. The objects which we see by our naked eyes as well as by very powerful scientific instruments constitute our world of objects. Our planet earth is a unique object constituted by physical, chemical and biological elements. There are continents and oceans inhabited by plethora of various forms of life. Of them homo-sapiens are the most intelligent and smart ones living in so many countries across the continents. Territorially these countries range from very big to small ones. But the qualities of people in each of them determine their level of development and positions globally.
One of the critically important qualities is smartness of people. Smartness is equated with human intelligence which is both rational as well as social-emotional ones. And another important allied factor is freedom of the people and countries concerned. Human intelligence is "the intellectual capability of humans, which is marked by complex cognitive feats and high level of motivation and self awareness." Though human intelligence is a natural genetic gift, desired education and nutrition go to hone the human intellectual capability. Human intelligence when constrained by subjugation, domination, suppression, oppression and exploitation fails to yield necessary optimum result for the benefits of all involved in social and national development and progress.
Human freedom can be thought as removing clutters and blocks on their thinking, acting and reflecting for creation, recreation, production, reproduction and necessary changes for survival, growth and development. In his book "Development As Freedom", Professor Amartya Sen has discussed freedom as both means and ends for development. The instrumental freedoms like political freedom, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees and protective security are the means to constitute freedom as ends. The extent of individual capability to function depends on availability as well as applicability of these instruments. So, it is understood that these instruments go to lubricate and facilitate human intelligence use for more individual initiatives backed by the capability to function in society.
Braving all the odds, Bangladesh emerged as a relatively small country in 1971 on world map to manifest the strength of smartness in Indian-subcontinent. Before her freedom, Bangladesh had been East Bengal during the British rule and East Pakistan after the partition of big British Indian Empire in 1947. Her fate was that of a periphery, not to have the position of the center in the past history. The British for its implicit advantage of ruling Bengal divided her in 1905, subsequently in 1911 unified her and again divided to make her as a province in the state structure of Pakistan. During the British rule, she was hinterland of the then urban industrial Calcutta and land revenue collection from the poor peasants by the land-lords living and spending income for comfort also in Calcutta. In Pakistan too, she could not escape her fate to be politically subjugated and economically exploited.
During the Pakistani rule, there was perennial deficit of rice production in East Pakistan. Before the war of liberation in 1971, the population in East Pakistan was less than half of the population now in Bangladesh. Domestic food supply depended on import of rice and wheat from outside sources. Food-rationing was there mostly in urban centers. At that time, one could see the bill-boards showing written political commitment of attaining food autarky by the end of the decade of development of the ruling regime. Unfortunately, this commitment could never be fulfilled. Now, Bangladesh has been self-sufficient in rice production though population has been more than doubled in last fifty years. Rice-production has increased more than three times from little more than 10 million tons.
There has been economic expansion and socio-economic development since the beginning of free and independent Bangladesh. She is now a low-middle income country with yearly per capita income of US US$2227 with only per-capita income of about US$175 at the dawn of her independence. She has now been able to achieve higher per capita income compared with that of other countries in the subcontinent except Maldives. India has per capita income of US$1947.30 and Pakistan US$1543 in 2020-21(Sharma, S, M," Bangladesh rises to be South Asia's standout star as India, Pakistan fall behind", last updated 1 June 2021 https//www business standard.com). Her export earnings for the fiscal year 2020-21 were 38.76 billion US dollars; last foreign exchange reserve peaked to more than 48 billion US dollars; and foreign remittance was around 24.77 billion US dollars. She has been gradually doing better in other socio-economic sectors of the country. Even she has recently given loan to Sri Lanka trying to salvage it from the economic crisis.
During the British and Pakistan periods, Bengalis were stigmatized as not so fit for their armed forces. Now, Bangladesh has been acclaimed for being a major contributing nation of peace-keepers for peace-keeping by the UN in the troubled areas of world. During 1992-93, I worked as a Civic Education and Training Specialist under electoral component of United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). I was deployed in Siem Reap in north of the country where the warring faction Khemer Rouge often rampaged the province as they earlier withdrew from the peace agreement between all warring factions. In order to carry on the peace-keeping operation, UN peace-keepers were deployed in each of 21 provinces of Cambodia. While BANBATT was deployed in Siem Reap, a Pakistani battalion was deployed in the adjacent Battam Bang province.
There had been collaboration and coordination among the deployed battalions in Cambodia. Once in the mid-day, a UN helicopter carrying Pakistani military officers and soldiers landed in the BANBATT head quarters in Siem Reap. On completion of their works and lunch there, the helicopter with all Pakistani inmates took off to fly to its destination in Samrong district in Battam Bang. After some time of flying, the helicopter was targeted and shot at by the Khemer guerillas which pierced its fuel tank without killing the inmates. It had to land on a paddy field and all the inmates with their laptop were captured by the guerillas. On receiving the information, BANBATT assigned officers went to the enemy zone and very successfully negotiated with the guerilla leaders and obtained their release to surprise all the mission people.
Not a single Bengali player was ever included in the national cricket team of Pakistan for they were unfit to be included in the national team. In free and independent Bangladesh, the stigmatized Bengalis are very fit and capable of playing international competition in the arena of World Cup games. In their record, they won many a cricket game in the past with all the star cricket teams of the world. Only in the recent past the Bengal Tigers won series victories in T-20 series against mighty Australia and New Zealand to reveal the fact that freed little can be smart. One may now be convinced that when all the instrumental freedoms are made available to the people, they will emerge real smart and tall even when they are viewed small presently.
The author is a columnist and vice-chairman of CDIP.
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