Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed (Bangla: সজীব ওয়াজেদ) (born July 27, 1971), also known as Sajeeb Wazed Joy, is an IT professional who was selected by World Economic Forum as one of the 250 Young Global Leaders of the World. He is the son of Sheikh Hasina Wazed, the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the grandson of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first President of Bangladesh
Early life and education
Sajeeb Wazed was born in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation War to the eminent Bengali nuclear scientist Dr. M. A. Wazed Miah and Sheikh Hasina Wazed. His birth during the war and subsequent victory of the Bengalis earned him the nickname given by his maternal grandfather, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, “Joy” which in Bengali means victory.
Wazed was schooled in India. His early days were spent at boarding in St. Joseph’s College Nainital, and later at Kodaikanal International School in Palani Hills, Tamil Nadu. He pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, physics and mathematics from Bangalore University. Wazed then pursued another bachelor of science degree in computer engineering at the University of Texas, Arlington in the United States. Subsequently, Wazed attended the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University, where he completed a Masters in Public Administration.
In 2004, Sajeeb Wazed visited Bangladesh amid speculations that he would be taking up the Sheikh family’s political mantle. He and his wife received a rousing reception as they landed in Shahjalal International Airport. Thousands of people lined Dhaka’s roads to have glimpse of Joy and his wife. During the visit he rejected a letter sent by Tarique Rahman, son of the then Prime Minister and his mother’s arch rival, Khaleda Zia. The letter congratulated Sajeeb’s possible entry into politics.
In 2007, Wazed was selected by the World Economic Forum in Davos as one of the “250 Young Global Leaders of the World”. The forum cited his role as Advisor to the President of the Bangladesh Awami League.
During the 2006–2008 Bangladeshi political crisis and Minus Two controversy, both Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were arrested by the military backed interim government on charges of corruption and “anti-state” activities. Hasina maintained that the charges were baseless and her detention was part of efforts by the military to keep her out of the political arena in order to pave the way for another period of quasi-military rule in Bangladesh. Sajeeb Wazed began campaigning in the United States and Europe for the release of his mother and other detained high-profile politicians. Hasina was eventually released in June 2008. She subsequently traveled to the United States for medical treatment.
In December 2008, Bangladesh held national elections that saw Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and its coalition partners secure the biggest parliamentary majority since 1973, capturing 262 seats in the 300 seat parliament, 230 of which went to the Awami League. Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as the 14th Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 6 January 2009. Prior to the elections, Wazed wrote an article in the Harvard International Review in which he outlined a “secular plan” to stem the rise of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh.
Wazed gave an interview to the BBC in February, 2009 in the aftermath of the violent Bangladesh Rifles mutiny. Asked about security threats faced by his mother from tension provoked in the military by the mutiny and whether certain quarters were trying to stage a scenario similar to that of his grandfather’s assassination in 1975 during a coup by junior army officers, Wazed commented that there was a “distinct possibility” of such a situation being intended. He also stressed that security was beefed up at the Prime Minister’s residence and went on to praise his mother’s handling of the mutiny. “This is probably the biggest incident Bangladesh has had since 1975 and our government and the prime minister has handled this compassionately, pragmatically but decisively to bring the situation under control” he said.
On 25 February 2009, Wazed officially joined the Awami League as a primary member of the Rangpur district unit of the party. Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif handed over Wazed’s membership form to district party leaders. Rangpur is the ancestral home district of his father Wazed Miah.
The move by Wazed to formally join the Awami League was welcomed by many political leaders and commentators, including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Senior BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan gave his party’s official reaction, stating “we see the matter positively”.
Within days of joining the Awami League as a primary member, Wazed, in his capacity as an IT policy analyst, unveiled the concept paper and action plan for the government’s ambitious “Digital Bangladesh” scheme; to develop a strong ICT industry in Bangladesh and initiate e-governance and IT education on a mass scale. Wazed emphasized the use of information technology to achieve Bangladesh’s development goals. He also noted that the Digital Bangladesh “scheme” would contribute to a more transparent system of government through e-governance, as it would greatly reduce massive bureaucratic corruption in Bangladesh. He also spoke of Bangladesh’s potential to become an IT outsourcing hub in the next few years given its various advantages in a growing young educated population with a “neutral” English accent. Wazed stated that by the 2021, the IT industry can overtake textiles and readymade garments as the principal foreign exchange earner for Bangladesh.