Modern science has advanced rapidly in the post modern period. It has been possible by the dints of computer. Use of computer began in Bangladesh in the 1960s and assumed wider dimension in the nineties. Information Technology is today a well-known matter. IT began to assume greater acceptability in this country from the middle of the nineties. The first computer in Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) was installed at the atomic energy center ,Dhaka of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in 1964. It was an IBM Mainframe Computer of 1620 series. The main use of the machine was resolving complicated mathematical calculations in different research works. In the sixties rapid expansion of bank and insurance as well as trade and commerce including scientific research at both home and abroad increased manifold the volume of routine accounting works which necessitated rapidness in this job. In many of the big organizations, maintenance of accounts manually became almost impossible. During this period a number of big organizations of the country set up costly Mainframe Computer. The then Habib Bank installed IBM 1401 computer while the United Bank used IBM 1901 in the late sixties. These computers belonging to the 3rd generation Mainframe type were mainly used for entire accounting works of these banks. Before the independence, an IBM 360 computer was set up at the Bureau of Statistics in 1969. A Mainframe computer was also installed at Adamjee Jute Mills during the same period. Before independence, inclusion of computer hardware and software related courses in the curricula of Mathematics, Physics, Applied Physics and Electronics at university level education began, though in a limited way.After independence computerizations process in this country got a new spurt. In this manner bangladesh bureau of statistics, played an important role. Big computers like IBM 370, IBM 9100 and IBM 4341 etc were installed in this organization in phases since 1972. The development of computerization process in this organization still continues and different powerful computers and other ultra modern IT equipment of subsequent generations have since been installed there. In September 1979 an IBM 370 and an IBM 4331 Mainframe Computer were introduced at the bangladesh university of engineering and technology (BUET) and BUET Computer Centre was also established. This Computer Centre has been playing a pioneering role in imparting computer education in Bangladesh and disseminating computer technology in the country. atomic energy research ESTABLISHMENT (AERE) at Savar installed an IBM 4341 Mainframe Computer in 1981. The Dhaka University Computer Centre began its journey with an IBM 4331 Mainframe Computer in 1985. The invention of microprocessor by the Intel Corporation of the United States in 1971 brought about a revolution in the shape and capability of computer. Microprocessor based computers started to appear in the markets. Personal Computer or PC innovated by the IBM (International Business Machines) company hit the market in 1981. Later on high-powered microprocessors began to evolve one after another alongside powerful PCs. The IBM did not keep any prohibitory regulation about manufacturing IBM compatible computers from the very beginning. This brought about revolutionary changes in their
prices and their uses also multiplied. On the other hand Apple Computer Incorporate also released in the market Apple-Macintosh computer evolved by them. But the Apple did not adopt any liberal policy in making their compatible computer and hence the price of Macintosh computer remained very high that precluded it from achieving expected popularity. Nevertheless, due to some special practical privileges Apple-Macintosh were widely used particularly in printing industries.
PCs became easily available due to its easy use and cheapness in price. As a result, use of PCs started to increase in Bangladesh mainly since the last part of the eighties, especially in education and business concerns. However, wider use of computer in Bangladesh accelerated from the mid-nineties.
Innovation of Bangla software Bangla writing in computer was first materialized in 1987 and an engineer namely Mainul Islam deserved the claim of this success. He managed to write Bangla in Apple-Macintosh computer using his self-evolved font ‘Mainulipi’. In this pursuit the conventional English keyboard was used without using any separate keyboard for Bangla. The difference in type and form of Bangla and English alphabets and the problems relating to Bangla conjunct letters were solved using the advantage of four layer keyboard of Macintosh. Two more Bangla font, namely ‘Shahidlipi’ and ‘Jabbarlipi’ were evolved immediately after Mainulipi.
Next year, ie in 1988 the first Interface ‘Bijoy’ useable in Apple-Macintosh computer was built under the auspices of a non-government organisation ‘Anando Computers’. The layout of the first Bangla keyboard was also composed during this time. Among the initial keyboards, Bijoy and Munir are worth mentioning. In the Interface technique, the Bangla keyboard is attached with the Operating System (OS) of the computer and Bangla is inscribed in the computer by activating this keyboard and selecting a Bangla font. Bijoy, being a Macintosh based interface and the price of Apple-Macintosh computer being too high, number of its users was limited. Its use was practically confined to printing and publications.
Following the use of Bangla in computer, role of computer in offices and printing industries in Dhaka rapidly assumed a great dimension. Exportable software development in Bangladesh commenced in 1995 while exportable multimedia system development began in 1997
Use of Internet and e-mail Though the use of Internet worldwide spread rapidly in 1990, Bangladesh joined the bandwagon much later. Use of Internet in the country started in 1995 for the first time in a limited way through offline e-mail. VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) was first set up in 1996 for Internet purpose. Online Internet connection started mushrooming through an Internet Service Provider (ISP) by the name ISN. At present there are more than 50 ISPs in the country; of these only BTTB (Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board) is government owned. Most of the ISPs are Dhaka based. However online Internet facilities are now also available outside Dhaka in cities like Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, Rajshahi, Bogra and Cox’s Bazar.
Uses and Applications of Computer:
In Bangladesh today computer is being used in research and educational institutions, government and private organizations, business concerns including bank and insurance, industries, mills and factories, military installations etc. Among the government offices, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics is the largest user of computers. The Statistical Bureau at present uses computer at every phase of preservation, processing and analyzing of data collected from various surveys including formulation of database.In financial institutions including banks, particularly in private banks, maintenance of database and extension of various services are increasingly getting computer based. Computerization is also gradually under way in government banks. Foreign banks played a pioneering role in introducing computerized financial transactions in Bangladesh. By using computer technology, these banks are being able to give better services to their clients by establishing links with inter-branch, inter-bank as well as inter-continental banks. Most of the local private banks are following this today. Some local and foreign banks individually or collectively have been running Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) network by using computer technology. ATM card device is fast spreading in the country’s main cities. Credit card has also become popular all over the country since inception in 1999. At present, companies like VISA, Master Card and VANIK are dealing with this computer based Credit Card Service which is a safe and easy device of monetary transactions. Very recently a number of foreign banks have introduced Electronic Fund Transfer Service. Microchip installed Smart Cards are also becoming popular in the country gradually. This device has been proved to be very useful specially in repaying of bills of various services oriented organizations and companies. Various technology based departments and agencies of the Bangladesh Government viz SPARRSO (Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization), Bangladesh Meteorological Department, Survey of Bangladesh, Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO), Geological Survey of Bangladesh, etc are using computer in formulation of their database and mapping. In particular, by using GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software, drawing of various types of skilful maps at shorter time is being possible. Bangladesh Meteorological Department is now able to provide faster and more accurate weather forecast by analyzing meteorological data collected from satellites and formulation of maps through computer. This is enabling people to take preparations during times of natural hazards and decreasing the volume of damages to much extent. Besides, analyses relating to weather and climatic changes are also being possible through computer modeling. Bangladesh Election Commission has taken up a project to prepare a flawless voter list with the help of computer. Different government and non-government organisations are using Data Base Application Software to meet their respective requirements. Though these software were imported from abroad in the past, at present various local software companies are being engaged in most of the cases to make these customised software.The management and running of large scale and important industrial concerns of the country are now to much extent dependent on computer technology – particularly those industries where it is essentially important to keep intact the qualitative standard of the goods produced. For example,
pharmaceutical industries. In these factories, qualitative standard of drugs is being ensured with the help of computer.
Computer organizations In 1983 a national committee was formed aimed at purchasing computers to cater to the government requirements. In 1988 the committee was renamed as the National Computer Board. This Board was further reformed in 1989 and was made into an institution under the Ministry of Science and Technology in the name of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC). BCC has now been working as a government advisory body on computer.
Computer education The institutional computer education began in Bangladesh in 1984 with the founding of the Computer Science and Engineering Department in BUET. The Computer Science Department at Dhaka University was established on 1st September 1992. At present departments for computer education have been opened in most government and non-government universities in the country as well as in four BITS (Bangladesh Institute of Technology). Computer Science courses has also been opened at Honours level in a number of colleges affiliated with the National University. Computer education has been included in the syllabus at higher secondary level since 1991 and that of secondary level since 1994. Various private computer training centres have been playing vital role in disseminating computer literacy in the country since the middle of the 1990s. Many local computer training institutes are conducting training programmes jointly with various foreign universities and institutes.
At present quite a few computer related magazines are being published regularly. Some of these magazines also release Multimedia or CD (Compact Disk) versions side by side paper printed editions.
Programmes for establishing ‘Computer and IT Villages’ at Kaliakair in Gazipur district off Dhaka and at Mohakhali in Dhaka City have been taken at government initiative. When implemented the use and culture of computer and information technology in Bangladesh will increase many times.
INITIATIVES TAKEN BY THE GOVT. PRIVATE SECTOR TOSTREGTHEN OUR ICT SECTOR:
“Digital Bangladesh” is currently the most commonly used words in politics, media, among the intellectuals and the civil societies. Since our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her party’s election manifesto pledged to develop a digital Bangladesh by 2021, it has given a great hope to the citizens of Bangladesh. It turned out to be an opportunity for our prime minister to be in the United States during the time of election, and experiencing the Obama election campaign. Her learning has helped Awami League wining the election in Bangladesh in 2008 with Obama-like campaign strategy-the call for ‘change’, which has been responded widely by the Bangladeshi citizens. However, the focus here is Digital Bangladesh, widely accepted by Bangladeshi people from all walks of life. Not too many people understood the concept of digital Bangladesh but they believed it, as something related to information technology. It has been widely accepted by a good number of young voters, believing that the concept of Digital Bangladesh will solve most of our national crisis involving corruption, unemployment, illiteracy, poverty and price-hike. Even though without knowing Bangladesh has already gone through a bit of experience on digitization through few national level of ICT projects, such as, Chittagong Customs Automation System, selection process of teletalk mobile user through internet, project initiated by the pervious government on machine-readable digital passport system and finally the successful computerization of national voter ID. However, we have full trust and faith in our newly elected government, that hopefully one day, it will give us the gift of Digital Bangladesh, as promised, by year 2021. But our fundamental question here is how digital Bangladesh will be built and how will it impact on our daily life, the economy and society at large. Is digital Bangladesh a reality or a virtual dream made by our leaders to get our attention and precio us votes? Digital Bangladesh is a continuous process of development. For those who thinks that it can be developed in a specific time and budget is absolutely wrong. The whole process requires lots of tasks, for which we have to be prepared. After all, digitization is the only pathway to economic success, quality education, public health and also generating transparency in governance with full public participation. There should be no doubt that in twentieth century the path to the information society is the only path for the development of human civilization. So our goal is how we build this digital Bangladesh.
The initial step of building a Digital Bangladesh is developing a roadmap to digital Bangladesh, including projects, programs, working methodology and timeline. In the election manifesto Awami League affirmed to revive the ICT task force formed during their last term. The ICT taskforce may initiate the process of making the roadmap. Their first work of the revived task force would be to prepare an e-readiness plan to asses the current ICT resources and skilled human resources of Bangladesh. This may include assessing the current infrastructure, internet accessibility, available skilled ICT professional, digitization level of the country and others. After a good assessment, the job will be to identify the projects and programs that need to be focused, and all the sectors, including public and private that need enhancement and development. The ICT task force must coordinate with the relevant stakeholders to work together in progressing different projects. The stakeholders may include the government bodies, for example, the ministry of finance, education, telecommunication and information; and the educational institutes, ICT work groups including relevant the private sector bodies. Different workgroups should be formed in various layers for various projects. A good working methodology of diagnosis, design and execution should be followed to implement any digitization project within a strong instructional framework. The work must be monitored carefully maintaining global standards. Few nations, like, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile are approaching toward a similar goal of digitization for the past several years. Those practices can be followed and if necessary international consultants and advisor team could be hired.
A good national connectivity is very much necessary in order to reach the services provided by the information technology. Access to the network in urban area must be improved at a more accelerated rate. High quality internet services must be provided from city to small isolated areas with reliable backbone network. A backup network needs to be installed along with the current one, with the available current backbone system. An affordable and subsidized price must be provided to internet users in order to promote internet use with a proper training program. A sustainable and reliable nation-wide network infrastructure will strengthen the information highway of the country thus eliminating the digital divide between rural and urban areas. Decentralization and digital government services can be provided for all citizens.
E-governance is another area deserving attention. Electronic governance is using information technology by the public sectors to provide service and information, and encouraging citizens to participate democratically in the decision-making process by making government more transparent and accountable. A good official web portal and information depository needs to be developed to provide citizens with all necessary information from different government ministries. All sorts of forms and application should be available for download by the public; also, to reduce bureaucratic complication, online submission can be added. For gaining transparency and reducing corruption, tender bidding, tax filing and plot allotment can also be made through this web portal. In addition, a good property record management system needs to be developed to eliminate the dispute on land ownership which leads to multitude of legal problems and court cases. The old manual system is not effective. It provides no organized information, but generates hassle regarding inheritance and record transfer. For effective utilization, these systems must have Bengali interface, as our English reading and speaking capacity is comparatively very low. Proper research must be done in Bengali character recognition system, speech reorganization system and natural language procession system. Open source software, non-pirated and free software, should be encouraged to be used at all levels of government ICT projects to minimize the cost. In addition to this, we need to be concerned about the other part of digitization, which is cyber crime and information hacking, by protecting our systems against any malicious attack. Recently, Rajuk was victimized, where intruders have hacked the system gathering valuable personal information of plot owners, demanding money for their plot installment. We need to learn these faults to protect our system and public awareness.
In order to create an innovative society, the education system must be first targeted. A separate digital network should be built to connect all the educational institutes to share resources, teaching materials and research work, like it is in Sri Lanka, UK and USA. An innovative cycle of university-industry relationship should be developed with digital coordination and resource-sharing. With the help of distance learning and digital and audio learning system, teachers, students and vocational trainers from all over the country can acquire quality learning and digital abilities. With the assistance of digital learning system, learning will not be limited to class rooms only. Technologies like digital library, video lecture, multimedia class room and knowledge-based information repository will improve the employability, literacy and skill of the country. A higher management information system could be developed for the University Grant Commission to administer and monitor all the institutes under its control.
All types of business including small, medium sized or big should incorporate ICT through e-business and e-commerce. Our products and services should be promoted in the global market with appropriate ICT technology-oriented marketing strategies. For the business community, inter-bank money transfer and transaction, loan system, L/C, finance, shipping, supply chain and credit can be done electronically to provide a suitable and friendly environment for the business to compete with other nations. A dedicated corporate network line can be built to motivate the business community in ICT use. The newly installed Chittagong automation system can be a good example of how with less bureaucracy and quickly, goods could be released, providing more comfort to the business environment. Online stock trading system would involve more traders from different communities to participate in capital market.
The legal and the health system also play a significant role in all areas of the community. A knowledge-based online digital legal system consisting of case, records, law and policies is important for the judicial system. The lawyers should have enough resources available to defend their clients as well as the judges to make decision fairly. Without the access of these materials justice will be hard to achieve for the poor people. Digitization of the judiciary system will also strengthen the democratic process of the country. Even though the private health sector has developed their management system, the public sector is way behind .A good patient-doctor management system on all pubic hospitals will improve the health services in remote areas. New technologies like telemedicine currently in use as pilot projects can be used more broadly for providing consultation for special cases on isolated localities. Like the judiciary, a similar knowledge depositary system for the doctors and nurses will improve the function of the health sector.
Last but defiantly not the least is the ICT sector, which is probably one of the most neglected sectors in the country. In order to develop a sustainable and efficient Digital Bangladesh, the government must first put their utmost attention in reviving this sector. Due to negligence and failed polices, the ICT sector has gone through lots of ups and downs in the last few years. The government should take all necessary steps to reengineer this sector from top to bottom to gain economic advantage like our neighboring country India. Through outsourcing, the nation can earn more business from the outside world, which would play a vital role in the economy. The last caretaker government has started the call center business by providing licenses to several companies. These companies are still in their initial stage providing backend office services to western countries. More call centre markets are expected to be created in the future. In order to get a share of this market, the government should take proper initiatives in developing a skilled manpower, with good English speaking quality and reliable, cheap telecommunication network. Finally, we have to develop a more adaptable and applicable ICT policy ensuring transparency supported by a proper legal framework and promise for capacity building. The proposed ICT2003 had several flaws, which needs proper evaluation process. However, the present government has five years to show their success on how fast they are approaching towards their vision of 2021 of digital Bangladesh. Time is very short, the tasks are many, and the expectations are very high. The people are continuously monitoring whether their leaders’ pre-election pledge of a Digital Bangladesh is being implemented properly.
BARRIERS TO MAKE A DIGITAL BANGLADESH:
Ours is one of the development country in the third world .As our government has taken elaborate program to make digital Bangladesh; there are some barriers to obtain the goals . The barriers are as follows:
Bangladesh has not sufficient technology to make a digital Bangladesh.
Internet base computer is not available.
Our technological improvement is centered on Dhaka and others big cities.
Our computer based population is not adequate.
Political crises are one of the barriers behind this purpose.
Electricity problem is also hampering the process.
Unadjusted allocations among different sectors.
ICT sectors are not well developed.
SUGGESTIONS TO OVERCOME THESE PROBLEMS: We shall now present our proposal to solve the problem. One serious lacking of our policy makers is, they always look at the transportation problem as a ââ‚¬Å“physical problemââ‚¬ and thus endeavor to solve it through ââ‚¬Å“physical measuresââ‚¬ only. The fact is, transportation problem by nature has two aspects: physical and administrative, and needs to be addressed accordingly.
Bangladesh govt. should start its operation from upper level.
Internet must be used in district and upazila levels.
ICT must be introduced to our people.
Government should encourage our people about digital Bangladesh.
Employer must have knowledge about computer.
Education sectors must be digitalized.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Bangladesh is a poor country with excess of population and no dearth of problems. For such a country failure in any costly program may prove fatal. We hope, in view of their numerous failures in the past, we believe and request that this time the concerned authorities would strive for honest and intelligent solutions. Our govt. is trying to develop our country. Vision 2021 is a master plan over this purpose. As our computer history is not enriched; there are some barriers which hamper our objects. If our people sincere about using computer and internet; digital Bangladesh objectives will be achieved. For this government should ensure better condition.
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