As positive and negative news splash newspaper pages, one would like to pick up the upbeat ones as the nation passes through a hard lockdown regime. On the gloomy side, the country's rating in internet use slumped by a few places as also its standing on the freedom of press front. Nonetheless, there could not be more soothing information to the ears than that of nine Bangladeshi youths making it to the 2021'Forbes 30 under 30' Asia list of entrepreneurs and trailblazers leading the charge in the 'new normal'. Their achievement was in the field of enterprise technology, social impact, and in retail and e-commerce sectors. Hats off to them! Then a pictorial story carried in the FE says that the Ashuganj river port on the Meghna has become vibrant again with brisk sale and purchase of newly harvested paddy, mainly from the haor areas of Sylhet division, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria districts. Tens of thousands of tonnes of paddy, mainly Boro, are being sold there every day. This is against the backdrop of a partial damage to the crop in some areas due to heat shock. Add to this the achievement of the Bangladesh Postal Department, the recently introduced digital financial arm 'Nagad' (Bengali for cash) of which reached 40 million users' landmark in record time. The readymade garments sector is also performing.
That the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has agreed to open the door to allow limited domestic flights is heartening. It also arranged especial flights for destinations in some Middle-east countries for stranded workers. The CAAB has also permitted four airlines to reopen flights to and from China under especial consideration in compliance with health protocols. For far too long a period to sustain and absorb, things have stood at a standstill over the last thirteen-plus months, doing irreparable damage to business and livelihood. The informal and small-scale sectors were the worst sufferers. Recent studies have suggested that the virus had created 24.5 million 'new poor'. How this huge number would get back to their pre-pandemic standing remains a difficult question to answer. The Finance minister's announcement on Wednesday that every poor person would be helped with an amount of Taka 2,500 might ease some tension. The Prime Minister is sending money to the deputy commissioners so that the poor can be pulled out of the predicament.
The government however has all along stressed that works of mega projects would not stop even under lockdown. Indeed, they have not. Work progressed well on the Padma bridge project, where Chinese participation is vital, a fact that explains the reopening of air flights to and from that country. The other big projects in Dhaka city and in the south-east of the country did also advance remarkably well. In all these, one must not forget it is the people who would matter most. The ultimate beneficiary of all actions must be the people, especially the poor ones, more so the 'new poor'. The pandemic would go away one day, as it must. The destruction that it leaves behind is for the nation to recuperate from. The good tidings from various areas and sectors must be harnessed to forge ahead.