“Digital Bangladesh” and “Vision 2021” are catch phrases in Bangladesh these days. The buzzwords are no longer confined to the lexicon of information and communication technology (ICT) enthusiasts, but have entered the vocabulary of the educated section of the population. In its election manifesto leading up to the Ninth Parliamentary Elections in 2008, the Awami League (AL) coalition envisioned a Digital Bangladesh by 2021. The alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) countered with a promise of an even earlier delivery. ICT activists in the country may find this competition to own the issue heartening, as it may be a realization among the politicians that digitization is synonymous with being modern and forward-looking, and that investment in ICT is important for national development. The creation, dissemination, exchange and application of knowledge play an increasingly important role in the economic development of the “knowledge-based society” that the world is embarking upon. It is imperative that Bangladesh positions herself well to avail that rising tide to become a member of the group known as the “emerging economies.” The pursuit of a digital Bangladesh by 2021, the golden anniversary of the nation's independence, will be a coveted endeavor. Questions need to be asked though: What is the scope of Digital Bangladesh? What are its mission and goals? Is there a roadmap to achieve the desired end? Activists and enthusiasts who like to go beyond rhetoric and look for concrete plans of action are raising these questions from different pulpits and platforms. Answers to these questions are yet to be articulated, and as one waits for those to take shape, expectations build, demands grow, and interest groups come up with their own interpretations and agendas. While the scope of Digital Bangladesh is likely to evolve, being shaped by the economic, political, social and cultural realities, there will be some common threads that...
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