The goal of the liberation war was to establish a democratic, just and secular country where the basic needs and citizen rights of every people, regardless of their political, religious-ethnic beliefs, would be ensured. The declaration of independence also states objectives of ensuring equality, human dignity and social justice for the people of Bangladesh.

We would remember our war heroes and martyrs today. We also retrospect how far we have progressed and how far we could have. While we have achieved some glorious successes in the last 51 years, we do have many failures too. The nation saw immense economic progress, food autarky has been achieved, women's education has spread; healthcare has expanded and we have become a developing country from a least developed one. These achievements deserve credit.

But how far have the living standards of people, who are the mainstay behind these achievements, changed? 51 years into liberation, we could not ensure fundamental rights such as food, clothing, accommodation, education and healthcare of people including labourers and farmers. A significant portion of the population still lives below the poverty line. As soon as they started to recover from the Covid fallout, they become burdened with a hike of essential commodities. Even the commerce minister has admitted that middle-class people alongside the poorer ones have now queued up to buy essentials from TCB trucks. The economic progress would mean little to a larger section of people if we cannot decrease disparity.

Establishing the country as a truly democratic one was one of the main objectives of independence, but we are far away from achieving that goal in 51 years. Although our constitution states that people are the owners of all power, we failed to come up with a unanimous system of electing the people's representatives in all these years. All the national and local elections have now become questionable.

So the time for introspection has come on golden jubilee of independence -- will we be satisfied with unequal economic progress? Will we be content with fragile democracy or strengthen it? Will we keep political divisions and animosities alive, or will we become united on issues of national importance? Will we strive for ensuring rule of law, human rights and freedom of speech alongside economic development?

On the occasion of Independence Day, we hope the journey of democracy will be strengthened.

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