Looking back at the stream of events that shaped the calendar year 2012, one may have a mixed feeling and may tend to see it not as bad as it seemed while grappling with some of the tumultuous incidents that shook the nation more than ever before. It is characteristic of the human nature that there is a sense of the wistful when we turn our eyes back, not trying to reason out how a particular incident or incidents affected our lives.
Indulgence apart, the year 2012 was more than just a calendar year for Bangladesh. There were events, dreadful and disgusting, which may make one feel relieved that at long last the year has slipped off, as though with all the traces of anxiety and frustration. There were events that kept us hoping and believing that things were at least on the right track and needed to be manoeuvred with a bit of dynamism and drive. And there were events that did glorify us as a nation. Taking stock of the things that marked the year will reveal that despite some of the most abhorrent of acts, there were great feats of achievements at national and individual levels that should be counted on.
On the political front, the year saw the two major political parties -- the ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) turning more and more confrontational on a number of issues. Although the issues emerged over the entire tenure of the present government, they grew conspicuously threatening from the beginning of the year. The issue of conducting elections under a neutral caretaker government demanded by the BNP made no headway as the ruling party continued to stick to its stand on elections under elected representatives. There were talks of dialogue from the civil society and the media but neither of the stakeholders seemed interested to talk to each other. The confrontation fuelled further with the trial of the war criminals being held at the International War Crimes Tribunal. That the BNP is siding with the Jamaat-e-Islami as a means of gaining support became more and more apparent as the year wore on. The stand of the BNP on the issue appears to bring good dividends for the Awami League as there is apparently a national consensus that war criminals must be tried, as one of the fundamental objectives of the war of liberation. The New Year should be able to sort things out of the tangle and relieve the countrymen.
The economy of the country did make good strides in the past year despite what looked like insurmountable odds creeping in from all possible directions. The sustained growth at more than 6.0 per cent was indeed a daunting task for the government. In the face of global recession, the country was able to maintain a growth trend in its exports which, though short of target, was well poised at the end of the year to make things better by the close of the next fiscal. Prospects in certain export sectors such as RMG, leather goods, shrimps, ship-building are likely to emerge with new vistas of growth. One of the most commendable roles in enabling the economy to get on with the growth momentum has been played by the overseas workers with increased remittance, which so far is the highest at a staggering $20 billion. The investment scenario, on the other hand, is far from demonstrating any sign of improvement.
The government can claim credit for its efforts in digitisation that have seen remarkable improvements in the past year. By the end of the year, the move to introduce on-line tenders in some government departments as part of their procurement mechanism is indeed laudable. The government should also be credited for its very competent handling of the longstanding maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar at the International Tribunal for Law of the Seas (ITLS). The ITLS verdict is a huge watershed in that it would open up new horizons for unhindered oil exploration over the newly demarcated, vast territorial sea waters. This hopefully will be a good precedent for the forthcoming resolution of maritime boundary dispute with India.
There are some remarkable feats by Bangladeshis, individually and collectively, that should make everyone proud. Discovering the sequence of the fungus that destroys jute plants at their growing up stage by Bangladeshi scientist Maqsudul Alam is by all means a commendable achievement. By applying the gene code of fungus and jute code that he discovered, new varieties of jute can be developed that will be finer in form and more resistant to fungus. Besides, the country can save as much as Tk 40 billion by way of protecting jute plants from the killer fungus. Winning the highest mountain peak, Everest, by two Bangladeshi daughters is also no mean achievement. The performances of the Bangladesh cricket team in the year-as runners-up in the Asia cup cricket tournament and their series-win against the mighty West Indies in one-day international (ODI) -- are events that had the entire nation in a rejoicing mood.
Coming to the flip side, there are many incidents that the people of the country would expect not to experience even in their wildest nightmares. There are so many, and oddly though, most of these are notorious scams. The share market scam was the first to surface with no visible actions taken, followed by the infamous Hall-Mark and Destiny scams. There was the long lingering corruption conspiracy on the Padma multipurpose bridge project, accompanied by the dramatic twists that it involved. The year saw, among others, the unresolved and much-talked-about murders of the journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and Mehrun Runi, of the labour activist Aminul Islam, and the mysterious abduction of BNP leader Ilias Ali. There were ghastly happenings that saw the Ramu Buddist temples turned to ashes, the unprecedented Tazreen Fashions blaze that took more than a hundred innocent lives, and finally, the most sickening of all -- the gruesome killing of Bishawjit, the poor tailor, that had the whole nation traumatised.
The year 2012 has passed. The corpse buried in the yard should be left to decay and decompose beyond any possibility of sprouting, ever. T S Eliot has already cautioned in the memorable The Waste Land: Keep the dog far hence, or it will dig it up again.