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The Promise of a Digital Bangladesh

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DQI Bureau
New Update

Amidst budget cuts, nowhere-in-sight sales targets, frequent news of layoffs,

and the biggest scandal that rocked Indian IT industry in the form of the Satyam

exposure, many of us failed to take note of a very, very positive development

that happened in neighboring Bangladesh. The landslide victory of the Awami

League led by Sheikh Hasina, in what many term as the countrys first true free

and fair election since its independence in 1971, would not have been such a

notable event for the IT community, but for the slogan that won her the

elections.

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What most observers now agree to be the decisive factor in Sheikh Hasinas

win is her promise of building a Digital Bangladesh which appealed immensely to

the youth who voted overwhelmingly for the party, rejecting her opponents

negative campaign based on religion and fear . The first time voters constituted

one-third of the total electorate this time in Bangladesh.

There are many reasons why we must celebrate this. Apart from the fact that

the return of true democracy to a neighboring country with a friendly party in

power is itself a reason to rejoice, there are important indicators for India

and the world in the success of Digital Bangladesh (even though, so far, it is

just a slogan).

Well, it marks the beginning of hope in one of the worlds poorest regions.

The country that gave us the large scale success of micro-finance has shown that

it is capable of successfully executing change. Now, accepting the development

agenda, the country has started on a journey of a broader change. This, along

with the results in the state elections in Indian states recently, also shows

that people now vote for governance and development and not for jingoism.

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Two, and it is of special significance for the IT community, the youth today

equates development with digital. While Sheikh Hasinas promise was actually

development with specific goals, what the youth bought was the slogan of Digital

Bangladesh. Apart from feeling happy about it, we must realize that it is a huge

expectation and we have to live up to it. We will soon see in other

developing/under-developed regions. We must have a game-plan for meeting this

positive challenge.

Third, if Bangladesh truly embarks on a full-fledged digital journey, it

would mark the beginning of another potential market for IT, not just in the

government sector but also among consumers. But as many companies have learnt in

India, they cannot just replicate what has worked elsewhere. They have to think

of what will work there. Of course, the experience in India is a valuable lesson

as the two markets are similar but there are differences and we must appreciate

that.

shyamanuja das

Most important positive impact for the world, however, is long term, should

Sheikh Hasina succeed in bringing about the change. Bangladesh is one of the few

countries which will have a sizable surplus working age population in the next

two to three decades, given its young population. Without supporting education

system and technology infrastructure, this huge human resources would go waste.

In fact, like Pakistan, it would have been a fertile recruiting ground for the

terrorism outfits. Now, with this change, that huge human resources will be able

to effectively join the mainstream. With the geographic proximity that the

country has with India, Bangladesh can emerge as an effective global services

location. This is definitely positive news for the aging developed world, that

is going to face an acute shortage of manpower. With most countries that can

provide that manpower are not anywhere near-ready to fill that gap (Congo,

Pakistan, Nigeria are some of those countries), a positive change in Bangladesh

is definitely good news for them in particular and the world in general.

The author is Editor of Dataquest.



shyamanujad@cybermedia.co.in

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