Few days ago, after finishing the office work, some of my colleagues and I were gathering at a tea stall near our office at Kawran Bazar. We are talking about various issues. Suddenly I saw a baby boy crossing the road. The baby looked very weak. He could not walk properly, he was just crawling. He may be two years of old but was very skinny. He caught my attention. I was astonished to see such thin and weak baby. It was clearly seen the baby was falling down on the road while he was walking due to his weakness. Few minutes later I saw the baby’s mother who was sitting on the roadside just close to the baby. She came towards baby and in an instance put the baby on her lap. We all paid our attention to the baby’s activities. The mother also tried to catch our attention as she smiled on after seeing our eyes observing her baby.
I was shocked more when saw the baby’s mother. She seemed weaker than her baby and too young to be a mother. Her age might be at best thirteen to fourteen, but looked like ten to eleven. She was asking her baby to salute us and the baby did so as per her mother direction. Though we were shocked but it was not a rare picture, it was one of the real pictures of the society.
In Bangladesh still women and children are suffering malnutrition, illiteracy, poverty. - Bangladesh has become a lower-middle income country, but a large number of people are still in below the poverty line. The poverty rate in the country has declined to 24.8 percent. They cannot fulfill their basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care. Government has fixed a target to reach the higher middle income country by 2021 and declared programme to achieve the target. But government could not remove income inequality. Growth of economy of country is increasing every year, at the same time income inequality is also increasing day by day. The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. According to the latest available estimates by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 59.82 percent of the population in the country is literate. But most of them don’t get quality education. Housing and public health service scenarios are same as education. According to a 2013 survey by different UN organizations, the estimated maternal mortality rate in Bangladesh stood at 170 per 100,000 live births. Still a large number of people live on the road side, slums, rail stations, foot path. According to government report, the floating people rate of Bangladesh is almost 48 lakh.
However, despite all these odds, the hoping fact is that the last fifteen years Bangladesh improved a lot. Bangladesh is almost achieved Millennium Development Goals declared by United Nations. Bangladesh’s performance is better than the other south Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in social safety net, education, maternal death rate, child death rate. United Nations declared sustainable development goals (SDGs) in last year. As a signatory state, Bangladesh is trying to achieve the SDGs like as the MDGs. Centre for Policy Dialogue and other think tank of the country asked the government to ensure equal distribution of resource to achieve SDGs. They asked to ensure gender equality and empower all women and girls. Bangladesh has to do a lot to remove the inequalities to build a Sonar Bangla.
The writer is a journalist.