Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,
assumed the office on 12 January 2014 for the third time after her party Awami League-led grand alliance won the January 5 Parliamentary elections.
She assumed the office of the Prime Minister for the first time on 23 June 1996 when her party Bangladesh Awami League emerged as the majority party in the Parliamentary elections held on 12 June 1996.
Bangladesh Awami League was defeated in the 2001 elections through state mechanism perpetrated by the then caretaker government and Sheikh Hasina again became the leader of the opposition. After two years’ of military-backed caretaker government’s rule, the 9th Parliamentary election was held in December 2008. Her party earned the absolute majority in the widely acclaimed free and fair election and Sheikh Hasina assumed the office of the Prime Minister for the second time on 6 January 2009.
Earlier, in the parliamentary election held in 1986, Sheikh Hasina won three seats. She was elected Leader of the Opposition. She led the historic mass movement in 1990 and announced the constitutional formula for peaceful transfer of power through Articles 51 and 56 of the Constitution.
Following the election of 1991, Sheikh Hasina became Leader of the Opposition in the country’s Fifth Parliament. She steered all the political parties in the parliament towards changing the Presidential system of government into the Parliamentary one.
Sheikh Hasina is a staunch crusader against fundamentalism, militancy, and terrorism. Assuming the office on 6 January in 2009, her government enacted laws to constitute International Crimes Tribunal to try those who committed crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.
The fundamentalist forces led by BNP-Jamaat vehemently opposed the trial and smeared an unholy campaign at home and abroad to foil the people’s mandated move to bring the war criminals into the book. Braving all odds, the government of Sheikh Hasina has been going ahead with the trial.
Failing to foil the trial, the BNP-Jamaat resorted to widespread violence throughout 2013 killing innocent people and law enforcers, and carrying out vandalism and arson. They also tried to thwart the 10th Parliamentary election by carrying out violence, killing innocent people, and vandalism and torching numerous vehicles and establishments. But the government of Sheikh Hasina frustrated all destructive activities and conspiracies of the opposition. The 10th parliamentary election was held and her party-led grand alliance earned a landslide victory in the election.
Sheikh Hasina, the eldest of five children of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was born on 28 September, 1947 at Tungipara in Gopalganj district.
Sheikh Hasina graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1973. She has a checkered political career. She was elected Vice President of the Students Union of Government Intermediate Girl’s College. She was a member of the Students League Unit of Dhaka University and Secretary of the Students League Unit of Rokeya Hall. She actively participated in all the mass movements since her student life.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with the members of his family was martyred on the fateful night of 15 August 1975. Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana were the only survivors as they were in West Germany at that time. Later, she went to the United Kingdom from where she started her movement against the autocratic rule in 1980. Sheikh Hasina was unanimously elected President of Bangladesh Awami League in 1981 in her absence while she was forced to live in exile in New Delhi. Ending six years in exile, she returned home finally on 17 May 1981.
In the 1996-2001 term, Sheikh Hasina’s government achieved laudable successes in many fields, the most significant being the 30-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty with India; the Peace Accord on Chittagong Hill Tracts; the Bangabandhu Bridge; and food security. She also introduced beneficial programs for farmers, and social safety nets for the distressed, landless and deprived. These included allowances for distressed women, widows, the disabled and freedom fighters; Shanti Nibas for elders; Ashrayan for the homeless and “One house-One farm” scheme.
In the 2009–13 term, Sheikh Hasina’s government’s achievements included power production capacity reaching 11000 MW; GDP growth over 6 %; 5 crore people raised to middle class; ICT services centres in all union parisads; forex reserve over US$ 20 billion; distribution of agri-cards and scope to open bank accounts with Tk 10 only for farmers, poverty level reduced to 26 percent in 2013 from 31.5 in 2010 and adoption of her Peace Model by an UN resolution.
Sheikh Hasina was conferred honorary doctorates by Boston University, Bridgeport University, Barry University in the USA; Waseda University in Japan; University of Abertay in Scotland; Vishwa-Bharati University and Tripura University in India; Australian National University; Catholic University of Brussels; People’s Friendship University and State University of Petersburg in Russia; Dhaka University and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agriculture University. The University of Dauphine in France conferred on her Diploma for her outstanding contribution to strengthening democratic process and empowerment of women.
Sheikh Hasina was also honoured with awards for her outstanding contributions to social work, peace and stability. These include UNESCO’s Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize 1998; Pearl S Buck Award 1999; CERES Medal by FAO; Mother Teresa Award; MK Gandhi Award; Paul Harris Fellow; Indira Gandhi Peace Award 2009; Indira Gandhi Gold Plaque in Kolkata; Paul Haris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, Medal of Distinction in 1996-97 and 1998-99 and Head of State Medal in 1996-97 by the International Association of Lions Clubs, Global Diversity Award in the UK; and two South-South Awards.
She has authored several books including “Why are they Street Children”, “The Origin of Autocracy”, ‘Miles to go “Elimination of Poverty and Some Thoughts”, “People and Democracy”, “My Dream My Struggle” and “Development for the Masses.”
Sheikh Hasina is the Chairperson of ‘The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Trust.’ She believes in democracy, secularism, inclusive growth and progress and dedicated to eliminating poverty and barriers that marginalize people. Her interest is in technology, cuisine, music and reading.
Her husband, an internationally reputed nuclear scientist, Dr M Wazed Mia died on 9 May 2009.
Sheikh Hasina’s only son Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed is an ICT expert. Her only daughter Saima Hossain Wazed is a psychologist and has been working for the betterment of autistic children. She has five grandchildren.