Branding Bangladesh and security
AIR CHIEF MARSHAL MASIHUZZAMAN SERNIABAT (Retd.)
Ever since the perception of security has taken a bigger dimension encompassing much more than the traditional security, the possibility of security enhancement through other means has diversified. Today security means a whole lot of things. To name a few, Human Security, Economic Security, Energy Security, Food Security, Cyber-security and so on. Each one has many aspects. Today, as we need to be strong economically to have supportive parallel development on the military side, we also need to balance out new frontiers and embrace them to enhance overall security of ours to maintain peace. If we can harness our potential in the cyber, we are likely to prevail also in many other areas. And that calls for a concerted planned effort from the Government.
In this paper, I am going to delineate how BRANDING BANGLADESH could also establish Bangladesh into a higher orbit of economic prosperity while enhancing security by placing Bangladesh among friends and making Bangladesh more capable in all other aspects.
When we become a Brand signifying and emboldened with all the good things, our product becomes competitive and we rise economically, in turn we can develop our other arenas, which further enhances security. These are tangible aspects, the intangible side is, when you make friendship to all and malice to none, (Dictum of Father of the Nation, ‘Friendship to all, malice to none’), you are in a position to negotiate and maintain Peace. It is because any aggressor would then see that he could become a pariah or a marked villain, when so many others are our friends. (It is not collective security).
Ways and Means
To meet the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution, we need computer literate skilled people in the coming decade. Thanks to the government initiative of setting up Technical Schools and Colleges and IT Parks, we would be having around 118 million computer literate young people in the coming days (Data collected from BIDA). If we can further harness our Demographic Dividend by flourishing the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aerospace and Aviation University, we would be ready for the competitive world of tomorrow. Also here, the accreditation and endorsement of EASA (European Aviation Safety Authority) is essential. For that it is necessary to implement the Agreement Between AirBus and BSMRAAU signed on 8th December 2020, where Airbus would ensure EASA regulatory compliance of the University. On a broad perspective we can say that there has to be a matching between Education Institution output and the input requirement of the industries concerned.
And if we can forge a partnership between the University and the Air Force i.e., Military, a new type of PPP (Public Private Partnership) could develop and the resulting synergy between the University, the Industry and the Military could place us in an elevated higher orbit of manufacturing/ assembling/integrating complex and higher end products. As we lack industrial raw materials, this development is a must. And I believe, our Honorable Prime Minister has taken a visionary step by setting up the BSMRAAU. Our ingenuity, resourcefulness and brain could make us competitive and we can do it with faculties consisting of Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRB) coming back to their roots. A little bit of coaxing is required by making their remuneration attractive. This way, I believe we can harness our Demographic Dividend and become competitive compared to others. The opportunity to attract FDI in Aerospace Industries has become more due to the decoupling of Industries from the west looking for shores other than China and Russia (Due to UKRAINE war and China US Standoff). However, here, we have to be proactive and prove our worth by exhibitions – displays and off-course, BRANDING BANGLADESH. And what could be more attractive than to have a successful AIR EXHIBITION/AIR SHOW to Brand Bangladesh beyond Bangladesh.
BRANDING BANGLADESH THROUGH HOLDING AN AIR EXHIBITION
An Air Exhibition is a place where Aviation and Aerospace stakeholders showcase their products to the users. The Farnborough Air Show, Paris AIR SHOW attracts annually around 210000 to 351000 Visitors and is participated by 1500 to 2200 exhibitors and many Air Forces of the World with 130 to 180 aircraft. The LIMA, Langkawi AirShow held every alternate year is a combination of Naval and Aviation Display where many companies, manufacturers and other Stakeholders participate. The resulting output cannot be measured only in terms of Boost in tourism or Economic Opportunity but also in terms of the intangible benefit of fostering people to people contact, friendship between nations which could be of tremendous importance in the present world of turmoil and mistrust. The event becomes the signature Show of the respective host countries. Bangladesh, having just graduated from a Least Developed country to a middle Income Developing country with persistent GDP growth rate of 6 plus for the last decade is well positioned to leap from simple products to complex products through a transformation with the use of AI and its Demographic Dividend. And what could be more alluring than Aerospace related items and products. Off-course, there are many challenges and almost insurmountable obstacles but we do have the potential and facilities in place. For example, the British Raj has left behind a dozen or more 5000ft plus length runways which could allow aerospace related factories or workshops to come up. And the ‘potential’ is in our young generation graduating from our BSMRAAU with EASA accreditation and ready to be absorbed in the vast Aviation market. But the world needs to know the Potentials here in Bangladesh and the Facilities available. That calls for Branding Bangladesh. And the Air Show is a very attractive proposal. If it is held beside the longest unbroken beach of the world, it is likely to become the best of the best shows on Earth.
Firstly, we need to understand that we have not done any such exercise before, so we need to hire consultants from those who have conducted such Air Exhibition successfully. Secondly, it needs participation and support from many departments of the government. As the operational aspect is the domain of the Air Force, they may be tasked to look into that aspect. The other parts would be the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Transportation. In our perspective, the Prime Minister’s Office could play a pivotal role through the Armed Forces Division. Various coordinating Instructions have to be brought out from the central office of the Prime Minister. One more aspect that could be instrumental in success is Flight Safety. Hospitality and detailed planning of all the events and side events could be a big challenge and would require support from many agencies and ministries. All things have to be looked into meticulously and in detail. Finally the financial matters and the transfer of all payments should be transparent and done with accountability and check and balance. The first exhibition would/may need some funds to meet the expenditure of hosting the Air Force Chiefs and other dignitaries. Otherwise once set the subsequent Shows would become self-sustaining. And once we showcase Bangladesh as a prospective country for building Industries and a place for tourism, we would be successful in branding Bangladesh. Subsequently we expect to boost sales of our products as we would be more competitive because of our Demographic dividend and the computer literate skilled workforce.
Aspects to be Considered
Patronage. In most of the AIRSHOWS, the patronage comes from the topmost personality of the government or state. Likewise, our Chief Patron should be the Honorable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. This would bring enthusiasm and good coordination from all the government departments involved.
Support through Knowledge
Vigorous Campaign in Government Departments
Directive and Instructions
Main Global Partners
Civil Mil coop
Minute to minute control
The possible targets could be the following:
20 plus Business Chalets
100 plus Military Officials
Exhibition Area more Than 70 Aircraft
10k Professional Visitors from 50 plus Countries
Military and Civil Aerobatic Flights from the Globe
150 plus International Press
EXHIBITION CONCEPT AND ACTIVITIES
INDOOR EXHIBITION AND SHOWCASE
OUTDOOR STATIC DISPLAY OF AIRCRAFT AND EQUIPMENT
AERIAL DISPLAY – AEROBATIC TEAM/ SINGLE PERFORMANCE & FLIGHT DEMO
BUSINESS ACTIVITIES i.e. Business Matching, MOU Signing Ceremony, Networking, Luncheon/Dinner parties
OFFICIAL EVENTS i.e. Opening Ceremony, Press Conference
Sub Events i.e. Career Day, Volunteers Program
On Branding Bangladesh, the BAS or Bangladesh Air Show at CXB could have had a big role. It would have attracted FDI in Aviation Related Industries, boosted Tourism and with almost no expenses. Because the Aerospace companies would have rented the Tarmac Area for showcasing their product. The spillover economic activities are enormous. It was postponed due COVID. The Honorable PM did gave an AIP (Agreement in Principle) to hold the show, a website was also there and also she gave an AIP to hire Consultancy.
But the preparation work needs to be now to Organize and Manage the whole Episode into a success. The whole matter is more relevant as many companies are relocating from Russia and China due to the Ukraine war and Taiwan Issue. And most importantly it would enhance Security by showing Bangladesh to the world.
Air Chief Marshall Masihuzzaman Serniabat (Retired), former Chief of Air Staff of Bangladesh Air Force (2018-2021).