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    Developing Bangladesh’s Soft Power


Md. Shamsul Islam , Executive Editior , Daily Our Time
Developing Bangladesh’s Soft Power


OurtimeBD.com
14.05.2018

Md. Shamsul Islam

Despite some people making negative remarks on the social media, we firmly believe that the launching of the Bangabandhu-1 satellite has brightened the image of Bangladesh abroad through adding value to our country’s soft power.

Soft power, a term coined by Joseph Nye, a reputed expert of international relations, emphasizes on developing a country’s image and reputation through non-military means like culture, education, sports etc.

Like conventional military power, sometimes it also shields a nation from aggressive behavior of other countries of the world.

Recently, we have seen how Qatar, a country known for its significant soft power, is gradually overcoming its diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and other regional countries as many major world players took her side.

Recently, I have seen many attempts by the Bangladesh government to overcome our age-old imageship crisis which began with the words of no less a person than Henry Kissinger when he once termed our country a bottomless basket.

The establishment of Bangabandhu Chair at the Asian Institute of Technogoy ((AIT) in Bangkok, to enhance research on sustainable, integrated research policy and related issues is a case in point. AIT is a very reputed institute, considered as an international educational hub in this part of the world. The decision to cooperate with AIT through the establishment of Bangabandhu Chair would heighten our country’s image among the professors and students who come at AIT from parts of the world.

Another such initiative is the newly-built Bangladesh Bhavan at the Visva-Bharati University, supposed to be inaugurated by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her forthcoming visit to India this month. The Bangladesh Bhavan that would also house a cultural complex, a museum and a library, has been built with the financial cooperation of Bangladesh. No wonder, this would foster the existing Indo-Bangla ties.

But the most significant of all is Bangladesh’s allowing of Rohingya refugees inside her territory when they were brutally murdered and persecuted by the Myanmar Army in the Rakhine state. Bangladesh’s image as a peace-loving country and its unconditional support for the tortured humanity, notwithstanding its own economic condition, received widespread international media attention. As I see, in various global fora, Bangladesh’s causes are getting sympathetic looks nowadays– making the Prime Minister one of the major global leaders in various world surveys.

But, these initiatives are not enough. We should not forget that our passport is still poorly rated abroad.  According to one latest survey, our passport is now in the 96th position in the world in terms of visa-free access for our citizens. For these, we need proactive domestic policies such as combating terrorism, mitigating the poverty level and expanding job sector for the unemployed youth.

However, the process has, no doubt, started. We must develop our soft power further, only to figure in prominently in the global arena, thereby, truly making our country the Switzerland of the East which Bangabandhu once envisioned.


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