The goal must always be inclusive growth

This cannot be how a country with aspirations such as Bangladesh operates

With all the conversation around Bangladesh’s eventual and inevitable graduation to a middle-income nation, and the hope and aspiration that it can do one better, avoid the middle-income trap and become a high-income nation in the next two decades, an emphasis on economic growth is a given.

However, as with most developing nations looking to make their mark, for Bangladesh, it must be wary of the potential pitfalls that come with rapid growth and development – rampant inequality being among the most egregious of these ramifications. Another is the recklessness and carelessness that becomes a byproduct in our industries, in our prioritization of the bottom line over the human cost of development.

While the focus on growth is expected and encouraged, Bangladesh must never forget what it has always sought to be – a nation that focuses, first and foremost, on inclusive growth, aligning its own principles with the Sustainable Development Goals, of leaving no one behind. In addition, it must also remember that it is the people that drive the development, and in the case of Bangladesh, often those in our farms, factories, and industries on whose labour we have built our nation.

Therefore, it is good and encouraging to hear that relevant stakeholders and authorities concerned are aware of this, and are engaging in dialogue to address worker safety in our industries. As rightfully noted, major accidents have caused deaths, injuries, environmental pollution as well as massive economic losses – setting our development back. It is also the most vulnerable – the workers and the labourers – who are mostly victims of unsafe practices. 

This cannot be how a country with aspirations such as Bangladesh operates. Above all else, protecting the most vulnerable in society and ensuring that, as Bangladesh develops and progresses, they are not exempt from this growth and rather benefit from it and enjoy a higher quality of living, should be the ultimate goal.