Bangladesh into the 4IR

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Newsnow Desk: From the first Industrial Revolution age, when humankind experienced the so-called “hockey stick” effect — jumping from life in the lone cave age to life in modernized society — till today, when the world is exploiting the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), there have been some similarities if one were to compare the time periods in terms of human development and the numerous impediments it has faced along the way.

Rough, rugged, bumpy terrains have always been there as shadows of darkness along with the light of human progress. Humans have survived from the cave age till today, with built-in ingenuity in the DNA that separates this species from other animals using the supercomputer humans inherited — the brain.

The recent invisible virus which almost evidently took a year out of positive human development and filled it with darkness is perhaps nothing compared to what the ancestors had gone through during the course of the linear graph of societal progress.

So, the good news is that, one way or the other, today or tomorrow, at sunlight or sunset, humans will undoubtedly overcome this global pandemic, and the world will rotate back to a “new normal.”

Once too imperceptible for the world to even notice, the pompous moves taken by a small South Asian country, Bangladesh, in the course of the last ten years, have brought it into the limelight.

This is evident from how seriously leading countries take Bangladesh into consideration when making strategic geo-political decisions — be it positive or negative. Bangladesh has been successful in grasping the attention of countries like the US and China, who are in a cold war now over this invisible virus.

Every nation first and foremost looks out for its own best interest, and then creates bonds with another country to find mutual ground from which they can benefit mutually.

However, the limelight Bangladesh was in has been hurt due to the government’s mismanagement and handling of the pandemic. The specialized team which recently visited Bangladesh made derogatory remarks about it.

But the positive side of this is being in the limelight. As long as others continue giving positive or negative input, it implies that they’re still interested. Moreover, the dream of the fourth Industrial Revolution has perhaps become stronger due to this tragic year, as all the countries are in this together.

The question is, when humankind returns to the new normal, where will Bangladesh stand with its dream of the 4IR, realistically?

As the production of iron, the subsequent introduction of various industries, and ancient technical innovations kicked off the first IR, the 4IR is following a parallel direction, but with drastically different methods, tools, and innovations.

A long time has passed since Gates went on to change the history of modern computing, Zuckerberg changed the way humans around the world connect, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin altered the reality of human life by embedding their innovations into millions around the globe.

At the time of iron production, no one had imagined that some database could decide how they shopped, lived, or perhaps felt!

However, from changing the history of computing to today’s multi-purpose 5G drone, looking at the speed at which the globe accelerated in terms of technical innovation, it all happened expeditiously.

And this is where Bangladesh isn’t on par with the rest of the world.

The reasons Bangladesh’s speed of change can’t be defined into a small set is the long-term negligence of proper decision-making and execution, turning a blind eye to things that hamper the nurture of innovative environments, and not caring about national interests first.

Whatever the reasons, Bangladesh is still the land of people who are brave, hard-working, and dedicated. And even though this invisible virus has initiated the systematic collapse the country is in, the millions of Bangladeshis are the candles who shine a light to re-route the country. They are the country’s resources who, if nurtured properly, can accentuate the speed of 4IR innovation.

Let’s talk about a quickly executable, feasible, innovative idea which can be used in multiple sectors without much complexity. Yes, the drone industry and drones made in Bangladesh.

Being a technical consultant, it is difficult to deduce why Bangladesh won’t be able to do so if it can already manufacture motorcycles and televisions, among many other things. But the motorcycle is a single-purpose imitation, not an innovation, and so is the television.

For example, during the recent fatal accident at the Buriganga River, neither a television nor a motorcycle came to be of aid. Rescue vehicles needed to be sent to run a full-scale operation.

Now, think of a drone with a thermal imaging sensor, remotely operating to collect underwater data while humans collected data about the damage and ran the recovery mission. That’s just one sector.

Drones can be tagged into disaster management as Bangladesh is prone to natural calamities like the recent cyclones Fani and Amphan, where drones with proper supporting sensors could have been faster and more useful than humans.

Recently, the finance minister reiterated the importance Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gives to the agricultural sector — she wants every inch of land to be utilized properly.

A simple, autonomous drone with multiple supporting devices can not only aid in the geographic mapping of inaccessible terrains and locations, it can also help in “precision crop monitoring,” seed planting, and taking care of every inch of land autonomously while creating high-standard jobs for both farmers and citizens.

Switching the focus to Bangladesh’s border control, where on a regular basis there is tragic news of the death of Bangladeshi citizens at the hands of its neighbour, drones with proper surveillance devices can be life-savers.

With real-time data at the border, the border guard of Bangladesh can prevent Bangladeshis from violating border laws, which Bangladesh’s so-called friend lists as the reason for the merciless killing of uncountable lives.

Furthermore, drones with appropriate support devices can provide traffic management authority with real-time traffic data, which can then be used to study, analyze, and formulate plans to mitigate the pain of traffic jams for city-dwellers.

The diverse uses of these simple yet extensively powerful devices can’t be described in one piece, but the impact of it can be sensed. It will not only aid these sectors, but also generate jobs for citizens who are suffering from unemployment — to a level that many Master’s degree holders are essentially selling coconuts for their livelihood.

The allocation of funds to all the sectors is yet again extravagant, and if only a small amount of funds could be allocated for a drone industry in Bangladesh, the outcome would be enormous in terms of job creation, which will subsequently aid the re-growth of the halted economy.

The ambitious dream of retaining an 8.2% GDP can receive realistic, rapid, and transparent aid from this simple yet powerful idea of our own drone industry.

Anwar Shadat Jihan an Aerospace Engineering Consultant, founder, and owner, Midwest Engineering Solution Limited Company LLC, based out of Wichita.

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