The 74th birthday of Prime Minister and Bangladesh Awami League President Sheikh Hasina is being celebrated today across the country. Sheikh Hasina, the eldest of the five children of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Begum Fazilatunnesa, was born at Tungipara in Gopalganj on September 28 in 1947.
Like previous years, Awami League and its affiliated organisations will celebrate the day through various programmes highlighting the life and achievements of Sheikh Hasina, who is driving the nation towards prosperity following the footsteps of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On the occasion, discussions, milad and doa mahfils, special prayers and photo exhibitions will be organized in the capital and different parts of the country, abiding by the appropriate health rules. Sheikh Hasina spent much of her childhood in the small hamlet where she was born. She started her schooling there. When Bangabandhu was elected a legislator, his family moved to Dhaka in 1954.
She was enrolled to what is now Sher-e-Bangla Girls’ School and College and later to Azimpur Girls’ High School from where she completed her secondary education in 1965. She was then admitted to Badrunnessa Government Girls’ College.
During her bachelor course, she was elected as the vice-president of the students’ union of Eden Girls’ College (That time, Badrunnessa and Eden Girls’ College was a single entity). Later, she enrolled into her Masters’ programme at the Bengali Department of Dhaka University.
As a student leader, Sheikh Hasina actively took part in the six-point movement of 1966 and the student movement of 1969 which saw the abdication of General Ayub Khan.
In 1968, with the blessings of her imprisoned father, Sheikh Hasina who is leading the country as the prime minister for the third consecutive term got married to nuclear scientist Dr Wazed Miah. During the Liberation War, Sheikh Hasina and her family were interned in a house in Dhaka. On July 27 in 1971, her first child Sajib Wazed Joy was born. Her second child Saima Wazed Hossain was born on December 9, 1972.
After the assassination of her parents in 1975, Sheikh Hasina and her family were offered political asylum in India, where she stayed till 1981 when she was elected as the president of the Awami League in her absence.
Sheikh Hasina returned home on May 17, 1981 when she was greeted by a mammoth crowd that extended from the Airport to Farm Gate and Manik Miah Avenue and she addressed a public rally.
In the 1986 parliamentary election, Sheikh Hasina was elected as parliament member from three different constituencies. After the overthrow of autocracy in 1990, she was elected as the Leader of the Opposition in the House.
In 1996, 21 years after her father was assassinated, Sheikh Hasina led the Awami League and helped the party assume power and became the prime minister for the first time.
On August 21, 2004, Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader, barely escaped an attempt on her life as grenades were lobbed at an AL rally on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. Although she survived the attack, at least 24 people were killed and over 200 others injured. Most of them were Awami League leaders and supporters.
In 2008, she led the Grand Alliance to an overwhelming victory acquiring 90 percent of parliament seats in the general elections. She was elected the prime minister on January 5, 2014 for the second time in a row. Sheikh Hasina assumed office of the Prime Minister for third consecutive term with a thumping victory in general elections in December 2018.
Under her leadership, Bangladesh has become a role model for development, attaining steady economic growth, becoming self-sufficient in food and attaining a marked progress in the fields of women empowerment, agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, communication, energy and power, trade and commerce, ICT and the SME sectors.
Her most recent role in extending humanitarian support to over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar, who have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar, drew accolade from global leaders, institutions and eminent personalities.
Asiatic Society of Kolkata honoured Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious “Tagore Peace Award-2018” in recognition of her contribution to maintaining regional peace and prosperity.
President of Kolkata Asiatic Society Professor Isha Mohammed handed over the award to Sheikh Hasina at a function at Taj Mahal Hotel in the Indian capital on October 5, 2019.
She also received the prestigious ‘Vaccine Hero’ award given in recognition of Bangladesh’s outstanding success in vaccination. Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisations (GAVI) handed over the award to the premier at a ceremony at the Conference Room of the UN Headquarters in New York during the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2019.
The premier was conferred with the award ‘Champion of Skill Development for Youth’ for Bangladesh’s great success in youth skill development. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conferred the award on the premier at a ceremony at Labouisse Hall of UNICEF House in the UN Plaza on September 26 in 2019.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore handed over the award to the prime minister amid thunderous clappings of the audience. Sheikh Hasina also received the Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Awards-2019, introduced in memory of eminent scientist and former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
The award was conferred upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in recognition of her commitment to a close and mutually satisfying India-Bangladesh relations, welfare of her people, particularly women and children, and international peace and cooperation. Chief Adviser of the Dr Kalam Smriti International Advisory Council Ambassador TP Sreenivasan handed over the accolade through a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office here on September 16, 2019.
Sheikh Hasina was also conferred with various honourary degrees, accolades and awards in recognition of her leadership excellence and intellectual flair. These include: honorary Doctor of Laws by the Waseda University of Japan, honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Liberal Arts by University of Abertay Dundee, UK, honorary Degree of Desikottama by Visva-Bharati University of West Bengal, India, honorary Doctor of Laws by the Australian National University, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by the Bridgeport University, USA, honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Dhaka, Paul Haris Fellowship by the Rotary International, UNESCO’s Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize in 1998, M K Gandhi Award in 1998, Mother Teresa Award in 1998 and 2006, Pearl S. Buck Award by Randolph Macon Women’s College of USA in 1999, CERES Medal in 1999, UN Award for MDG achievement (child mortality) in 2010, Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in 2009, South-South Award in 2011, UN Award for MDG Achievement in 2013, Rotary Peace Prize in 2013, Tree of Peace in 2014, ICT Sustainable Development Award in 2015, Champions of the Earth in 2015, Agent of Change Award in 2016 and Planet 50-50 Champion in 2016. - BSS