The 72nd birthday of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is being celebrated today (Thursday), with programmes taken up by the ruling party and different socio-cultural organizations.
On September 28 in 1947, 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.
Like in previous years, Awami League and its affiliated organisations are celebrating the day through organising various humanitarian events and discussions on the life and achievements of Sheikh Hasina who is driving the nation towards prosperity following the footsteps of her father.
On behalf of the Awami League, the birthday of the Prime Minister was dedicated to the poor and destitute people. On the occasion, Milad and Doa mehfils will be held in the capital city and different parts of the country.
Special prayers at mosques, temples, churches, pagodas and other religious places across the country will also be offered seeking divine blessings for good health and long life of the premier, who is now in the United States in connection with the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session. The Prime Minister will return home on October 1. There will be a special Milad and Doa mehfil at the Baitul Mukarram national mosque after Jummah prayers today.
Marking the day, the relief and social welfare sub-committee of the Awami League will distribute 100 rickshaw-vans among poor people at Bangabandhu Bhaban at 10 am and food among destitute people at Azimpur at 11 am in the city. The programmes on the day also include distribution of stipend and books among the poor students and bringing out joyous procession across the country, including the capital city. Awami League’s sub-committee on education and human resources will organise a painting competition for the school students on Dhaka University (DU) Fine Arts premises at 6 pm today.
It will also organise a discussion titled ‘Nabinder Drishtite Sheikh Hasina’ (Sheikh Hasina in the eyes of new generation) at the Krishibid Institute Bangladesh in the city tomorrow. Prominent citizens including educationalists, economists, writers, physicians and cultural personalities have already wished good health and long life of Sheikh Hasina, who is leading the country as the prime minister for the second consecutive five-year term.
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, the family relocated to Dhaka in 1954. She was admitted 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 what is now Badrunnessa Government Girls’ College. During her Bachelor’s course she was elected vice-president of the students’ union of Eden Girls’ College. (Badrunnessa and Eden Girls’ College was one college in those days.)
Later, she enrolled on her Masters’ program 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 was 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, 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 president of the Awami League in absentia.
She came back to the country on May 17, 1981 when she was greeted by a mammoth crowd that extended from the Airport to Farm Gate and Manik Miah Avenue where she addressed a public meeting. In the 1986 parliamentary election, she was elected to parliament from three different constituencies. After the overthrow of autocracy in 1990 she was elected Leader of the Opposition in the general elections that followed. In 1996, 21 years after her father was assassinated, she led the Awami League to power and became the prime minister.
In 2008, she led the Grand Alliance to a thumping victory with 90 percent of parliament seats. On August 21, 2004, Sheikh Hasina, who was the then Leader of the Opposition for the second time, barely escaped an attempt on her life as grenades were lobbed at her public meeting on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. Although she survived the attack, at least 24 of those attending the meeting died and over 200 were injured, many of them Awami League leaders. Sheikh Hasina was once again elected prime minister in the general elections of January 5, 2014.
Under her leadership, Bangladesh has become a role model for development, attaining steady economic growth, becoming self-reliant in staple food-grain and making significant progress in the fields of women empowerment, agriculture, education, health, rural infrastructures, communication, energy and power, trade and commerce, ICT and the SME sectors. Her most recent role in providing humanitarian support to thousands of Rohingyas drew accolade from global leaders, institutions and personalities. Sheikh Hasina has also been honoured 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.