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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has interacted with a diverse group of youths and listened to their dreams, hopes and aspirations for a prosperous Bangladesh free from corruption, gender inequality and other menaces. Hasina joined the “Let’s Talk” programme organised by the Awami League is research wing, the Centre for Research and Information or CRI, in Dhaka on Friday


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A total of 150 young people selected from across Bangladesh, including professionals, jobholders, entrepreneurs, students, representatives of various youth groups, and sports and cultural activists, took part in the programme.

They discussed in detail the government’s policies and measures to take the country forward, including employment opportunities, quality of education, women empowerment, entrepreneurship and research, fighting the menaces of corruption and violent extremism and ensuring transparency in governance.

The participants also inquired about the struggles Hasina had to endure throughout her life, including the Aug 15, 1975 massacre of her family, her days as an opposition leader, and her time in prison during the military-controlled caretaker government.
Hasina shared the memories of her childhood and the lessons of her own youth to encourage the young minds.
In a segment, the young participants replied to the question - “What would you do if you were the prime minister?”

They articulated their priorities for the country, including equitable development of regions, education for rural youth, and welfare of people with disability.

“Let’s Talk” is a series of interaction that the CRI regularly organises to connect youths with ’politics and policymaking’.

This is the first time the prime minister joined the programme.

Hasina’s son and ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, and several ministers and MPs had taken part in the programme earlier.
WHAT DO THE YOUTHS WANT?
The event’s moderator Dr Nuzjhat Choudhury asked Hasina what her plans for the future of the country and the young generations were.

“My question is to the youths. What do they expect of the country?” Hasina prompted.

The participants then started sharing their views and ideas.

One asked if the readymade garment industry can be extended to the southern districts for the region’s development while another’s wanted to know whether appointment of new judges was possible to clear the massive backlog of cases.

A new ministry on innovation and entrepreneurship can be established to generate more entrepreneurs, a participant suggested. The universities can be provided with funds to create entrepreneurs as well, the youth added.

Another participant asked whether the government had any plans to take measures to increase the number of young representatives in parliament in keeping with the young population of Bangladesh.
One asked if any list of fake freedom fighters would be made.
A young woman wanted to know why there was no lesson on self-defence for the girls at the schools in Bangladesh.

She also asked if any film on Bangabandhu would be made to send it to the Oscars like India’s movie on Mahatma Gandhi.

A young man asked whether quotas for different groups in government jobs can be revived.

When will urban-rural inequality drop? When will the usurping of power by anti-liberation forces in league with others stop? When will Bangladesh be free from bribes and corruption? – were some of the other questions Hasina faced.
“WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE PM?”
The moderator asked the young minds what they would do if they were the prime minister.

One of the participants said he would make lessons on Bangabandhu mandatory in education curriculum right from the primary level and start related faculties at universities to stop falsification of Bangladesh’s independence and the Father of the Nation.

Another participant also emphasised lessons on the Liberation War from the primary-level education.

Two young participants spoke about their eagerness to work for the street children and people with disabilities.

Another wished to arrange counselling for all to get rid of frustration and depression.
HASINA’S YOUTH
A participant wanted to know how Hasina’s youth was when she joined politics.

The partaker also asked what the differences she sees between the times of her youth and those of young lives now.

“How were your days in confinement during the Liberation War? I want to know about politics in the time of your youth. How could you keep yourself strong after losing everyone except your younger sister in the tragic and unexpected event of Aug 15, 1975?”

Some asked how she spent the time in exile from 1975 to 1981, who inspired her to return, and if she was scared then.

Nuzhat asked how she faced the odds during the long struggle for democracy and the years in opposition.

A young participant asked how she felt when the 2007-08 caretaker government gave her a deadline to return after she had gone abroad to her children, and on being arrested on return.

“Were you afraid while working against militancy and terrorism?” another asked.
They also wanted to know about her personal life with questions like what she would do if she had not joined politics.
The moderator asked if Hasina could find time for leisure.

“How do you keep yourself fit? Do you diet or exercise? What is the source of your inspiration?” the youths asked.

Many wanted know how the prime minister spends her time with her grandchildren.

People who want to know the answers will have to wait until mid-December when the programme will be broadcast on TV and online news media.

bdnews24.com and three other media outlets covered the event.

CRI Trustees Radwan Mujib Siddiq and Nasrul Hamid Bipu were also present.

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