Prof. Dr. Sankar Kumar Sanyal
At the eve of Kindness Award Ceremony on 28th January held at the Auditorium of Daily Star, attended as a Guest of Honour, got the opportunity to meet a distinguished gathering of Shomman inclduding Bhutan, Darjilling and Gandhi Assram Noakhali peace carrier. I louded on elementing all evils and bad practices from the society promoting humble and forgiveness to bring happiness & honouring others, the Shomman Foundation advocates. The ceremony was chaired by editor Mr. Mahfuz Anam and moderated by the founder Shomman and Have a nice day columist Dr. Rubaiul Murshed.
A fruitful experience sharing meeting honoring with a bunch of flowers held at Parliamentary Club, Dhaka of my Bangladesh visit with Honorable Members of Parliament (MPs) are Ms. Rumana Ali, Advocate Gloria Jharna Sarkar, Mr. Nurunnabi Chowdhury, Mr. Manoranjan Shil Gopal and Acting Director Md. Arman Ali of Parliamentary Group of Bangladesh were present. Prevailing excellent tie in between India and Bangladesh we can further enhance our socio-economic and cultural relations centering Bangladesh Government evlolved SAPNA Model for proverty ellivation.
I had had the opportunity to visit an unique project of Bangladesh – ‘SAPNA Maa’ at Bahadursadi Union of Kaligonj Upazilla (Sub District) of Gazipur district of Bangladesh on 26th January 2023 midnight. I stayed in the village so that it will be easy to witness the activities of ‘SAPNA Maa Project’ pioneered by the visionary personality AHM Nouman, Eminent Social Scientist and Founder-CEO, Development Organization of the Rural Poor (DORP), who changed the fate of the deprived section of pregnant women by providing an initial 2 years maternity allowances for their nutritious food, resting, breast feeding and motivating them to register their marriage and their birth of their children, family planning, preventing early marriage etc.
On completion of the Maternity Allowance to the poor mothers support cycle, SAPNA package evolved. Social Assistance Program for Non-Asseters (SAPNA) package includes five basic needs like Health card, Education card, Housing, Livelihood inputs and Savings, Environment Plus through Public (Govt.) Poor (Mother) Private (Soc. Org) Partnership (PPPP). Both Maternity Allowance and the SAPNA Package for the mothers are the brainchild of Dr. AHM Nouman, which is universally accepted by all.
Seeing the success of the Maternity Allowance presently, the Government of Bangladesh under the Prime Ministership of Sheikh Hasina has extended the program increasing the period to 4 years and monthly allowance to BDT 800 per month benefitting 12 lakhs of pregnant mothers throughout the country. Further Her Government has piloted SAPNA Package in 10 sub districts in the country through the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Government of Bangladesh.
SAPNA Package also provided each of them with livelihood such as livestock, rickshaw van, small business and tailoring machine etc. so that they may earn some income to sustain their livelihood as a part of social empowerment for women population.
I also visited the houses of the Maternity Allowance centered SAPNA Package mothers benefitted through this unique ‘Pilot Project’ and witnessed through my own eyes their socio-economic development and talked with some benefitted mothers like Mrs. Swapna Rani, Monkhushi, Farzana and others at the village. It may be mentioned that Ms. Kanta Bhuinyan who sincerely worked for the welfare of these women folk from the very inception run by the Women Affairs Office of this sub-district is today the elected Councillor of Kaligonj Municipality, who really is a dedicated and committed social activist and has gained immense knowledge with deep realization of Dream regarding the project. I was accompanied by SAPNA volunteer Ismail Hossain, Saul Boiragee and Sharmila Rozario, Vice Chairperson of Kaligonj Upazilla who showed and explained enthusiastically the entire project.
Thereafter, I interacted with these SAPNA mothers of the villages in a Mothers’ Parliament meeting and expressed my curiosity to know what more they expect at present. I was utterly surprised to learn that those who received all the above mentioned facilities did not demand any other support but requested to extend similar support to other to be pregnant mothers who are in distress. I saw the mothers’ dignity and happy faces are next to nothing.
This is an example for all other people who are enjoying a high social stature are demanding for more and more for themselves, which is endless. I was utterly surprised that these mothers who were so economically weak have such small demands and accept only the basic rights inputs of this project where Matribondhu AHM Nouman mentioned, ‘Mother is gift of the Almighty and development should start from the womb of the Bottom lining Mother and that Government is supporting under social safety net program.’ While we the people who enjoy all facilities are greedily looking to grab more and more by exploiting the real population, the people who lead their livelihood living at the lowest strata of the society have such small demands only to meet the basic necessities. Gandhiji expressed these population as ANTODAYA – UNTO THE LAST. He stressed upon serving this population by the people of the upper strata and for this he founded Harijan Sevak Sangh, where people of the higher strata would serve (extend seva) the people of the lower strata.
Dr. AHM Nouman successfully established a wide network through this type of support recipients of would be pregnant mothers who are now self-sustained and self-reliant. There are many cases where mothers with their children are now earning their livelihood through selling of readymade dress materials, milk, milk products and alike. This he strongly believes is truly a replication of the philosophies of Gandhiji and his Gram Swabalambi through evidence based exercised piloted and proven self-propelling low cost SAPNA Package Model.
The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s vision while inaugurating the first ever National Literature Conference in post Independent Bangladesh on 14th February 1974 stated that, ‘We need golden men to build golden Bangladesh’. Further I understand Sheikh Hasina as a `SAPNA Maa Rani’ and expect high confidence that the Mother who can construct Padma Bridge, that Mother can build SAPNA Ma too.’
Prof. Dr. Sankar Kumar Sanyal: President, Harijan Sevak Sangh, founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Website : www.sankarsanyal.com