Today, on March 26, Bangladesh is celebrating its Independence and National Day. On this occasion, the Embassy of Bangladesh in Austria gives an overview of the history of that day and an outlook into the future of the country.
How will you celebrate this year’s National Day?
Normally, Bangladesh Embassy and Permanent Mission in Vienna celebrates the Independence and National Day on March 26 every year, attaching highest priority to spread the spirit, history of independence, and culture of Bangladesh among our friends in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovak Republic. This year’s celebration bears special significance as it is the Golden Jubilee (50 years) of our independence which has coincided with the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year, the Mission will organize a virtual event with the participation of eminent personalities from Bangladesh, Austria and Hungary. The Mission expects to arrange a gala with a National Day Reception – preferably in summer, if the pandemic situation improves – inviting the Vienna-based Ambassadors, dignitaries from governments and UN Offices, business leaders, media and civil society personalities.
Previous celebrations and events of the Embassy & Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in Austria. (c) Embassy & Permanent Mission of Bangladesh
Do you have special traditions regarding the National Day?
Paying tributes to the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu, for his life-long struggle and unparalleled leadership to steer Bangladesh into becoming an independent nation, and to all those freedom fighters, men, women and children who lost their lives and honour during the bloody nine-month-long war in 1971 are integral parts of the celebration.
On this day, the national flag is hoisted full mast at all government buildings and offices. The day starts with a twenty-one gun salute and the placing of floral wreaths by the President, the Prime Minister, political leaders, diplomatic community, and other dignitaries at the National Mausoleum at Savar. The day-long programmes include a colourful military parade, discussion meetings, seminars and cultural programmes, fairs and exhibitions and other festivities all over the country which are attended by people from all walks of life. Newspapers and magazines bring out special issues. The TV and radio air special programmes highlighting the importance of the day. The main streets and important buildings and installations are decorated with the national flag and colourful lights.
To mark the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation (17 March 2020 and accordingly 2020-21 has been declared as ‘Mujib Year’) and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s Independence, Heads of State and Heads of Government of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka are visiting Bangladesh. Her Majesty the Queen of England, Prime Minister of Japan, President of China, Prime Minister of Canada will deliver their speeches virtually during the twin celebrations.
What is the history of your National Day? What does it relate to?
In 1947, British India was partitioned, creating the ‘Dominion of India’ and the ‘Dominion of Pakistan’, the later comprised of two separate regions – West Pakistan and East Pakistan (current Bangladesh). The first signs of a movement for autonomy for East Pakistan became visible in 1949.
In the 1970 general elections, the Awami League, led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won an overall majority, but the then regime was reluctant to hand over power. On 7th March 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib delivered his famous 7th of March speech and declared a programme of non-cooperation unless the demands were met, which included handing over power to the majority party (Awami League) in the parliament, the lifting of martial law, and holding an impartial enquiry for the killing of innocent civilians by the army. Denying the legitimate election results and the demand, the then regime unleashed a pre-planned campaign of mass murder with the launch of ‘Operation Searchlight’ on March 25, 1971 at night. On the early morning of March 26, 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – the Father of the Nation – declared the independence of Bangladesh. Thanks to the heroic resistance and supreme sacrifices of the valiant freedom fighters, Bangladesh finally became an independent sovereign state on 16 December 1971.
The spirit of the liberation war was based on a few fundamental and guiding principles – democracy and human rights, nationalism, secularism, and socialism – to ensure social justice, and freedom from exploitation. Based on these guiding principles, Bangladesh is moving fast under the dynamic and visionary leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with a view to achieve the dream of a happy and prosperous Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal), free from all kinds of exploitation and disparity as was envisioned by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Bangladesh is now globally considered as a ‘development-miracle’. At the same time, the socio-economic achievement of Bangladesh is recognized as a global role-model for developing countries. In 50 years, Bangladesh has stacked up many success stories for the developing world to note. Today’s Bangladesh is not a fragile economy; it’s self-dependent. The development policies pursued by Bangladesh have proven to be the propelling factor to become a shining star from South Asia. Bangladesh has fulfilled all the criterion for graduating from the LDC category.
Despite facing tremendous hazards induced by climate change, Bangladesh is now the 43rd largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP while our position is 32nd in terms of purchasing power parity. Bangladesh was included in the list of the top-ten fastest-growing economies in 2017. The Price Waterhouse Coopers projects that Bangladesh will be the 28th largest economy by 2030 and 23rd largest by 2050.
Bangladesh’s resilience is rooted in its pluralism. Under the leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh aspires to move on towards peace, prosperity and development.