Tuesday, December 25, 2012

a short composition on Digital Bangladesh

Introduction: "Digital Bangladesh" means an ICT based modern country where there will be adequate power supply, well-networked infrastructure, use of internet, use of open-source software, e-banking, e-commerce and e-governance. Of late the phrase "Digital Bangladesh" has been much talked about especially during the election campaign of the political parties targeting the ninth parliamentary election.

Origin of Digital Vision: On the eve of the election, Bangladesh Awami League, one of the major political parties, first declared vision 2021with the aim to turn Bangladesh into a digital country by the next decade. More than a month ago, the Bangladesh Computer Council also organized a computer fair with the theme "Digital Bangladesh". It refers to an e-state where all its activities of governance, commerce, education, agriculture etc will be powered by computer and internet. Different analyses of the electoral results have revealed that the young generation who consist of more than one third of the voters had indeed brought this overwhelming victory for AL. With many other reasons, implicitly it can be inferred that voters of this generation while exercising their franchise considered party manifestos seriously. Presumably the visionary approach of AL's manifesto, entitled 'a charter for change' might have allured the young voters much, especially it's 'Vision 2021' which envisions 'Digital Bangladesh'.

Meaning of Digital Bangladesh: To cherish such a dream is easy, but it is too much difficult to materialize this dream. Land phone, mobile, computer, laptop, e-magazine and diary, e-book reader and many more tools of information technology will be available in every nook and corner of the country. People will no more have to stand in queue to collect tickets, results etc or to deposit and withdraw money or to buy and sell things. Broadly speaking, a digital society ensures an ICT driven knowledge-based society where information will be readily available online and where all possible tasks of the government, semi-government and also private spheres will be processed using the modern technology. So, "Digital Bangladesh" must guarantee efficient and effective use of modem ICT in all spheres of the society with a view to establishing good governance.

Why Digital Bangladesh: Due to globalization, Bangladesh has already been connected with the outside world. Yet In the field of ICT, our only grand success lies in Mobile telecommunication which has brought an abrupt change in telecommunication scenario of the country. However, in the other spheres of ICT, our achievement is very insignificant and we are still far away from transforming ourselves into a knowledge-based society. Building strong ICT infrastructure is the pre-requisite for making Bangladesh a digital one. For this, we need to focus on the following relevant issues:

(a) Power deficit: Latest statistics reveal that Bangladesh faces a power deficit of up to 2000 MW against a demand of 5000 MW daily. It may be noted that for proper ICT development an uninterrupted power supply is a must.

(b) Network infrastructure: Outside Dhaka, at present a few computer network infrastructures have been developed so far. Apart from some educational institutes outside Dhaka, observation finds that most of the LAN setups are Dhaka centric. This observation reveals the reality of the digital gap even within the country.

(c) Use of internet: For the ICT development internet users of the country must be increased. In this case our position is the worst one among the South Asian countries. Latest statistics (2007) revealed that internet penetration in our country is only 0.3 whereas in Pakistan and India it is 7.3% and 5.3% respectively.

(d) Use of open source software: Many countries (e.g. France and Malaysia) have started to use open source software in ICT development projects for cost effectiveness. Unfortunately in our ICT development domain, the culture of using open source has not yet been introduced.

(e) English-literacy rate: From different sources, it has been learnt that, English literacy rate in Bangladesh is less than one percent. In the arena of ICT English has become lingua-Franca. Unfortunately, in this case our position is the worst in the sub-continent. For making a digital Bangladesh by 2021, the government must address the above issues effectively and efficiently in transparent manners. Moreover, the journey towards a digital country needs the incorporation of the technologically solvent innovative young generation. If the leaders of our country objectively guide this generation, they can change the nation radically.

(f) Better agricultural production: The farmers will use all types of modern motorized tools instead of traditional equipments and their hand-driven tools to cultivate their lands. They will have to get ample online help about producing more and more crops.

(g) Modern treatment: Patients will have to get telemedicine and tele-surgery facilities with the use of audio and video conferencing based net. Besides, 24-hour online help will radically change the traditional medical services.

(h) E-learning and e-commerce: All the educational and commercial institutions will come under a good network system and the details of these institutions and their activities will be available on websites. E-paper, digitised pen, e-book, pen drive and screen-touch tools will replace the traditional tools for many different reasons.

How to materialise the vision: The government of the Bangladesh Awami League is very firm to ensure 100% net students enrolment at primary level within 2021. Supply of pure drinking water for the entire population will be ensured within 2011. Bangladesh will gain self-sufficiency in food within 2012. Each and every house of Bangladesh will be brought under hygienic sanitation in 2013. Moreover, within this same year Bangladesh will generate 7000 megawatt of electricity which will be further increased to 8000 megawatt in 2015. And in 2021, 20000 megawatt of electricity will be generated. In 2013, degree level education will be made tuition-free especially for women. Unemployment rate will be reduced to l5% from 40% at present. Labour in agriculture will come down to 30% from 48% at present. Labour in industry will be increased to 25% from 16% at present; in service 45% from 36% at present. Poverty rate will be reduced to 15% from 45% at present. Bangladesh will be known as a country of educated people with skills in information technology. 85% of the population will have standard nutritional food. The poorer section of the people will have at least 2122 calories of food. All types of contagious diseases will be eliminated; longevity of life expectancy will increase up to 70 years. Infant mortality will come down to 15 from 54 per thousand at present. Maternal death rate will come down to 1.5% from 3.8%. Use of birth control methods will be increased to 80%.

Conclusion: Time has come for Bangladesh to develop her information technology and to turn her "Digital Bangladesh". We need to bear in mind that to be away from enriched information technology means to live like a frog living in a well. We should look at the advanced countries of the world so that we can get modern ways and strategies from them to bring about a revolution for our ICT based society. Like Mahathir Muhammad's Malaysia, we have to have our all-out efforts to materialise our desired Vision-2021 for our betterment and own existence.

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