Sunday March 25, 2018 09:33 AM

Bangladesh’s development surprise

Bangladesh’s development surprise

The progress so far -- and why we should be glad to be Bangladeshis

Bangladesh is a land of diversity. We are home to different languages, and have a history that goes back many years. This Victory Day, here’s a small reminder of why Bangladesh is special.

Improvements in basic living condition

The changes in the fundamental living conditions surprised numerous eyewitnesses, since Bangladesh’s accomplishments so far, don’t precisely fit into the common pathways of human and social advancement. The Indian financial analyst, Amartya Sen, for instance, recognises ‘income-mediated’ and ‘support-led’ pathways to human development. The first is described by enhancements in social pointers, that can be followed back to quick and expansive financial development (exemplified by Korea), while the second depends on high public spending on welfare programs (as in Sri Lanka’s case). Neither is unmistakeably applicable to Bangladesh. The financial development rate climbed fundamentally after 1990, yet it just achieved 6 percent in 2004, and has never surpassed 7 percent. Besides, spending on instruction and medicinal services (2.2% and 3.5%, separately, of GDP in 2012) is beneath the normal for low-wage nations.

In spite of the fact that the change in Bangladesh’s development rate since 1990 is noteworthy, it doesn’t completely clarify the nation’s exceptional outcomes with respect to social advancement. A few nations in South and South east Asia have developed at comparable or higher rates than Bangladesh in the last 10 to 15 years, including India, Bhutan, Vietnam, and Cambodia. However in contrast with these nations, Bangladesh’s social advancement still stands out.

Development experts have clarified this disparity by crediting Bangladesh’s social advancement to the achievement of innovative pathways, for example, micro finance programs that target women, massive social mobilisation campaigns spearheaded by NGOs like BRAC, the success of the labour-intensive, export-based garments industry, and the boost to earnings and human capital provided by labour migration and inward remittances.

Reductions in poverty and inequality

Alongside the progress in education, health, and gender equity, Bangladesh is additionally amidst a growth take-off that has diminished poverty and multiplied per capita income since 2002. The Bangladesh government has been successful in setting up fundamental preconditions that have allowed private sector dynamism to fuel economic growth, over the last two decades. Basic changes in the 1990s led to expansive macroeconomic stability and low financial shortages.

Persistent poverty is undoubtedly an important issue for Bangladesh, but perhaps less so than for many other developing countries. There are less class and ethnicity-based obstructions to social mobility than in numerous other nations, and the advantages of financial development have tended to reach most levels of society, including the exceptionally poor. The primary boost to financial development in the nation has originated from labour-intensive garment exports, a dynamic private sector, micro-and small-scale enterprises in manufacturing and services, remittances from migrant workers, and rise in the size of middle class.

Road to middle-income status

Bangladesh has obtained a reputation globally for low-cost, high-quality manufacturing through its garments sector. The effect of this was clearly evident when the exports of ready made garments from Bangladesh ascended by a sharp 19.95 percent year-on-year, during the principal half of 2013-14. Because of increment in wages in China and India, it is likely that assembling in different businesses may likewise move to Bangladesh in the following couple of years, incorporating into pharmaceuticals, plastic and fired products, cowhide merchandise, shipbuilding, and light hardware, (for example, bikes and batteries). An emerging export based IT division will likewise add to development.

Living in a democratic country, chaotic though it may be

More than 156.6 million people reside here, and it is a matter of great pride that no matter how chaotic this country is, as Bangladeshis, we are free to choose our leaders, or re-elect them, every five years, unlike authoritarian regimes which may show quicker progress but at much greater human cost. Connected to this, is the fact that the other aspects of a democracy – the judiciary, the media, and the executive, are relatively free and healthy.

Bangladeshi cuisines

Most foreigners identify Bangladeshi cuisine with ‘maach,’ ‘bhaat,’ and ‘daal.’ However, food habits and cuisines have evolved over the years. The end result is a variety of cuisines – some region-specific, and others influenced by the availability of certain ingredients. If you throw into the mix the exotic spices native to this land you get, arguably, the best food available in the world – tasty, inexpensive, and (mostly) healthy. The delicate flavours of the Hilsha fish revered in Bengal, or the melt-in-your-mouth ‘bhuna mangsho’ – all of these and more, make for the plate and the soul.

The Bangladeshi family unit still survives

In spite of the many pressures of globalisation and westernisation, the Bangladeshi family unit still survives, especially in the rural areas. In the cities, families have become more nuclear with the younger ones, moving out in search of a better life. It is not unusual for unmarried, earning young adults to stay with the parents. Then again, parents are usually expected to stay with their children during their youth.

The ability to accept one’s reality

The reality of Bangladesh is one of stark contrasts. Expensive cars struggle for space alongside rickshaws. World-class apartment buildings nestle beside shanty slums. And yet, we live together in harmony most of the time. There is something in the Bangladeshi spirit that makes us accept our lot. We find it easy to come to terms with reality, even while we dream of a better life, for ourselves and our children.

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