1972

Governance

  • In January, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, as president, introduced a Westminster-style parliamentary system, as an interim measure, through a Presidential Order. The system was adopted to manifest the priority aim of establishing a parliamentary democracy in Bangladesh.
  • In January, Mujib’s administration enforced a decree to set up/restore the judiciary, in order to be able to resume judicial activities in the country.
  • Mujib oversaw the handing-in of firearms by former freedom fighters in order to avoid any deterioration in law and order. His administration adopted a policy of integrating freedom fighters into the different public service sectors.
  • The administration made a bold affirmative action policy decision in public administration. A ‘district-based quota’ system for government jobs was set out to bring diversity (and backward regions) into the public sector workforce.

Social

  • The President’s Relief and Welfare Fund was established to give assistance to the families of injured and dead freedom fighters, as the population most affected by the war.
  • Under Mujib’s directive, a committee was formed to document the struggles of independence. Its work would become vital to future researchers.
  • Mujib’s administration came up with the first labour policy of Bangladesh. This path-breaking progressive policy addressed the rights and welfare of workers of all sectors and set the blueprint for labour policy reform in the country.

Economy

  • In January, in a Cabinet meeting, Mujib decided to waive all due cultivable land taxes along with interest, to quickly revive the devasted rural economy.
  • The administration waived housing taxes in urban areas through a newly formed urban development committee. This decision aimed to contribute to rehabilitation, restoration and rebuilding of war- destroyed private property.
  • Understanding the need for much-awaited land reforms in a post-feudal society, the Mujib government made a policy decision to set the limit of land possession at 40 acres per household.
  • A presidential decree – the Abandoned Property Disposal Order – was issued to take control of the abandoned industries and physical property of West Pakistanis (who controlled an estimated 70% of industrial production during the Pakistan era). Government took control and bailed out these properties so that industrial inactivity would not lead to stagnation of the economy.
  • A policy of nationalisation was adopted to ensure a progressive socialist economy. Nationalisation of banks, financial institutions, various large-scale services (airlines and shipping) and certain industries was initiated.
  • To regulate trade and competitiveness, Mujib’s government came up with the first import policy of Bangladesh. To address price hikes and avoid hoarding in an escalating situation of food shortage (both globally and domestically), the Mujib government enacted and enforced a law to take harsh punitive action against food stockers and smugglers.
  • To conduct trade and businesses, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TBC) was established. This was formed to tackle the post-war shortage of food and resources. In the coming years, TBC would play a vital role in maintaining a steady supply of commodities in the economy.
  • To regulate the monetary sector, the government demonetised and then remonetised the economy. The newly reformed central bank issued a notice abolishing the use of Pakistani currencies. Thereafter, the first Bangladeshi currencies were introduced.
  • Mujib’s administration presented its very first national budget, without raising any taxes. Tax relief was provided to support families and businesses in a reviving economy.

Foreign policy

  • As an extension of domestic policy, Mujib crafted a foreign policy of ‘friendship to all and malice towards none’. This would set the course for Bangladesh to participate in the international community.
  • Mujib decided that Bangladesh as a country would be neutral in the Cold War, and joined Bangladesh with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
  • As part of a major economic diplomacy breakthrough, Bangladesh became a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade’s International Tariff and Commerce Organization – the predecessor of the World Bank.

1973

Economy

  • Mujib made a decision to waive income taxes on agro- based income, to boost agricultural productivity.
  • The government established an institution (the Bangladesh Jute Corporation) to facilitate the trading of jute, the main export item at that time.
  • Mujib envisioned an economy that would be systemic and well planned. He constituted a Planning Commission, which was given the responsibility of formulating policies (on various economic targets) through five-year plans. The First Five-Year Plan was formulated in 1973 to set the economy on a long-term development track.

Social

  • Addressing consumer protection issues, Mujib’s administration issued a directive to hang price lists of commodities in stores. This also aimed to regulate the prices of commodities and consumer goods.
  • As a major reform in the education sector, Mujib decided to provide public service status to primary school teachers.

1974

Governance

  • Mujib understood that the country would start urbanising rapidly. As part of urban governance reform, he took a policy decision to transform Dhaka Municipality into a City Corporation. This was mandated to provide various services to the city’s dwellers.

Foreign policy

  • After Mujib continuous efforts to obtain international recognition of Bangladesh’s sovereignty, the country became a member of the United Nations.

1975

Governance

  • To address issues related to accountability and transparency, Mujib issued a directive to all parliamentarians to make their financial and asset statements public.
  • Mujib switched to a presidential form of government, underlining a series of policy reforms in almost every sector. He formed a national platform for political participation and decentralised the governance structure. He referred to this reform as the ‘second revolution.’