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Not as bad as we think

  • Published at 07:03 pm July 22nd, 2018
The Rohingya crisis should not worry us Photo: MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

The Rohingya crisis presents an opportunity for Bangladesh

Millennia ago, a group of Indo-Aryan people trekked to a tropical mangrove region and set up tents. There were other original settlers (Santals and other ethnic minorities) already living there, but the land became a part of the trekkers. They constituted borders and transformed the land through political lines so that other trekkers in the future could not walk in and claim the land for themselves.

The idea of nations and nation-states arose and people were bound by their ethnic-national ties and political boundaries. These types of migrations are not exclusive to Bengalis,. People have been living in Burma for the last 11,000 years and the Mon (one of the earliest civilization to reside in Southeast Asia) began their migration in around 3,000 BCE. Burmese nationalists claim that the Rakhines have been living alongside the Mon in Arakan since then.

Yet, in the 21st century, there is now a divide among people of Myanmar, where the Rohingya are seen as foreigners in their own land and are persecuted for having different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

There has been an influx of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh since August 2017, because of the persecution they have been experiencing back in their homeland Myanmar. Geographically, Bangladesh is a small country, compounded by its possession of the highest recorded population density in the world.

Yet, it is a growing economy, with a GDP of $249.72 billion in 2017. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Bangladesh could technically afford a large-scale migration from Myanmar. A major concern of Bangladeshis is the job market -- since it is highly competitive and with an influx of immigrants, the economy could be impacted adversely.

Economics and politics go hand in hand. With a growing economic status, Bangladesh is politically empowered, and when it came to allowing the migrants in or turning them back to the borders to face the fire, we did the right thing by offering them refuge.

If we wish to someday become a developing nation, we have to roll up our sleeves, play our part, and act like one. Instead of watching out for our own selfish interests, Bangladesh set an example to the rest of the world in this regard.

A charitable act, to be certain.

Now, as a country, we have to understand what resources we are providing to these migrants. It seems like we took them in with the expectation that some other country will lift the burden off our shoulders by taking them off our hands eventually.

We have a growing economy, but many of our citizens consider the Rohingya situation as if it will completely destroy us in an economic sense.

The rhetoric with migration anywhere in the world always concerns jobs. If the country provides the Rohingya community with employment opportunities, it will receive backlash from its unemployed citizens. Keeping this in mind, we have fed and continue to feed millions of mouths every years, we just have to adjust with a million more.

Our population growth rate has been falling since our independence and, as of 2017, the population growth rate is 1.05%.

Even though the population itself has been on the rise, with the current growth rate the country will not really double its population but, instead, somewhere down the line, reach a period of stagnation and slow decline.

Migration is beneficial for any country when it comes to its future development -- and even though we may not see its benefits in the short term, after a decade or two we, as a country, can feel comfortable for making the right decision. To conclude on a lighter note, if migration has done anything at all, it presented the world with some amazing football this World Cup. 

Aunik Arnold Dhali is a freelance contributor.