Young Bangla of the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), as one of the largest youth platforms, has been working with a large youth community for many years to hear their concerns and continue advocacy to fulfill their expectation and demand. Young Bangla organizes different young-centric programs and “Let’s Talks” is one the significant and popular events to create an interdisciplinary platform for policymakers, researchers, practitioners, private sectors, and youth to present and discuss the most recent trends, and concerns. CRI-Young Bangla organized 43 Let’s Talk events which imply the practical challenges and solutions for youth and national development. In this program, youth are able to talk directly to the panelists and panelists answer questions raised by youth, and recommend integrated youth-friendly development policies and actions to be taken. In conjunction with the previous Let’s Talk, Young Bangla organized Let’s Talk at the University of Rajshahi, on ‘Social Safety & Security’ which was held on 15 February 2023.
Over the last several years, Bangladesh witnessed a strong surge of growth in most of the development indices spanning from the economy to human and social development. Simultaneously, to improve social safety and security the state has taken several praiseworthy initiatives to protect fundamental rights for all citizens from violence, disaster, and insecurity. Modernization of law enforcement agencies, up-to-date policies and strategies and zero-tolerance commitment against violence, terrorism, and corruption have improved law and order, including securing and ensuring the social and personal safety of the people. Resultantly, we have witnessed wide usage of “999”, regular operations against extremist groups to bring them under justice, and a decline in violence against women. Timely policies and strategies including establishing appropriate institutions, mechanisms, and improved preparedness are minimizing risks and challenges related to social safety and security.
With this view, the policymakers, experts, students, and youth of Rajshahi had an interactive discussion and idea-sharing session. The Let’s Talk was focused on different contemporary issues on government initiatives in ensuring social safety and security. The participants and panelists also discussed students’ participation, combating drug addiction, ways of improving interdepartmental coordination, meeting consumer demand, competency to deal with the pandemic in the future, women’s safety in public places, road safety, roles and responsibility of the ministry of public administration, coordination between different local government agencies and many more.
Farhad Hossain M.P, Minister of State for the Ministry of Public Administration, Khadizatul Anwar M.P, Professor Dr. Golam Shabbir Sattar, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Rajshahi, and Dr. Sakia Haque, Joy Bangla Youth Award Winner 2018 and Founder, Travelettes of Bangladesh participated as panelists on this Let’s Talk event. A total of 286 students from the University of Rajshahi, Varendra University, Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology, and Rajshahi College took part in the event and directly discussed, asked questions, and shared their opinion with the panelists.
Farhad Hossain M.P, Minister of State for the Ministry of Public Administration said “It is our job to deliver all government services ensuring public safety through efficient public administration. We strive to develop our employees in such a way that they have a service-minded attitude. So that they can serve everyone equally and better, he also mentioned that to ensure all the services digitized all the service-delivery processes and ensure the proper coordination. He also added that we want the youth to come forward with their talents and skills to build a smart Bangladesh. They should take the opportunities to avail government facilities and services, i.e., getting funds, loans, and training provided by the government and prove themselves in the competitive market“
He also said “We are committed to ensuring law and order for safety, including zero-tolerance against terrorism and violence against women. We have taken several steps to protect women’s rights and empower them, including legal support for victims of violence, and skills training and financial support for women’s economic empowerment.” In response to a question relating to ongoing inflation due to the pandemic and different international conflicts, he added that Bangladesh is doing better than many countries and is on track for development. He added that the Honorable Prime Minister is emphasizing food security to deal with such inflation. We have sufficient fertilizer, seeds, and pesticides. Positive thinking, approach, and activities can help us to overcome such challenges and to create a smart Bangladesh.
Khadizatul Anwar Sony, M.P said “Reporting is important to prevent intimate personal violence. Only the government can act against such crime when it receives a report. Women must break the silence and stigma and raise their voices against intimate personal violence. They must seek help from the government. support to stop such violence as the govt. has introduced several initiatives to protect women from such heinous crimes. Women can share such violence with their friends and family and seek support to prevent this. Women leaders and celebrities can speak up about this issue and share their experiences to raise awareness among general people”. She also added that youth should come forward to ensure social safety and security. It should come from the family first. In reply to a question on govt. service digitization, she added that applying for different services has become easier than before and it will become more user-friendly.
She also said “The concern for securing private jobs is valid. Our government has issued orders to protect private service holders, including minimum basic salary for employees, maternity leave, pension fund, and sick leave with pay.” Private organizations should come forward in this issue also.
Professor Dr. Golam Shabbir Sattar, Vice-Chancellor of RU, said, “We need to adopt modern technology to become efficient and build a merit-based economy. To protect our female students from sexual harassment and violence we have formed a cell under the guidance of the high court. Youth should take part and initiative in creating more awareness to save and secure their society as they are the future leader.”
Dr. Sakia Haque, Joy Bangla Youth Award Achiever and Founder of Travelettes of Bangladesh mentioned “Volunteers can play an important role in ensuring community safety. A small initiative of theirs can make a big difference. They can start their journey even by planting a tree. They can protect youth from drug addiction by raising awareness. Make them aware that drugs cannot be taken under peer pressure or to express masculinity. They should be taught how to stay away from drug addiction through skill development and psychiatric treatment.”