Talking about the success of Bangladesh on the eve of the golden jubilee of independence, what has been said and will be repeated is the success of the economy of Bangladesh — the growth of the gross national product or GDP.
We have been hearing this for years because the incumbents are keen to show it, despite their lack of good governance and deviations from democracy during their tenure.
Development and growth have become synonymous. It is undeniable that the economy of Bangladesh has seen significant growth in the last few decades.
Changes in the economic structure have played an important role in this growth. For a decade before and after independence, Bangladesh’s economy was largely dependent on agriculture. At present, it is not agriculture but industry and services that are the main driving force of the country’s economy. Remittances from abroad and exports of readymade garments are major contributors to Bangladesh’s economy.
Bangladesh is now the second largest exporter of readymade garments in the world. Besides, most of the people in Bangladesh are now employed in the readymade garment sector. Out of the total 4 million workers, 32 lakh are women. In 1989, the income from the garment industry was only 40 thousand US dollars and in 2019 it has increased to 34.13 billion dollars. However, it should not be forgotten how many workers’ sacrifices, low wages and unsafe work have contributed to this success. Following a series of fatal accidents, most notably the Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1,200 workers and injured 2,500, world-renowned clothing brands have taken two initiatives to monitor the work environment.
In addition to the readymade garment sector, remittances sent by workers abroad, especially in the Middle East, have contributed to Bangladesh’s economy. In 1986, 23.61 million US dollars came to Bangladesh from this sector, which increased to 16.38 billion dollars in 2019. Bangladesh is currently the ninth largest remittance recipient country in the world. But it is noteworthy that the workers in these two sectors, the creators of this success, the state has followed a kind of indifference towards them, the state has done nothing about their security and rights. The same can be said about the agricultural sector. Despite its growing population, Bangladesh did not fall into famine after 1974; This achievement belongs to the farmers and policy makers alike.
According to government statistics, Bangladesh’s GDP has been growing at a rate of 5 to 6 percent every year since the beginning of democracy in Bangladesh in 1991. This increase was 7.6 percent in FY 2017-18 and 8.3 percent in 2019-20. Considering this rate, Bangladesh is the fifth fastest growing economy in the world. But various research institutes are skeptical of the government’s GDP growth figures, as the government’s claims do not match the results of the sector-wise calculations.
Over the past few decades, Bangladesh has made significant progress in the Human Resource Development Index, particularly in poverty alleviation, low infant and maternal mortality rates, sanitation and women’s education. Not only the role of the state but also the policy continuity of different governments, developmental NGOs, privately owned organizations and the innovative power of the people of Bangladesh have worked behind the continuation of this trend of development. Proof of their overall success is the progress of these indicators. But the coronavirus epidemic in the last one year has challenged all of this. Poverty has increased, and a large segment of society is now in greater danger of losing their lives and livelihoods.
The social and economic success of Bangladesh has taken many economists and development workers by surprise. Despite low governance, high population density, lack of natural resources, lack of institutional structure, frequent natural disasters and political instability, many call Bangladesh’s economic and social development a ‘Bangladesh paradox’. In particular, the World Bank and the IMF cite the example of Bangladesh as their development poster child. But the economic inequality and the abnormal rise of the aristocracy behind this apparent development is often out of the question.
While the growth rate of the economy has increased, at the same time the income of the poor people of the country and the wealth in their hands has decreased. 46 percent of the country’s children are victims of multidimensional poverty. According to a recent UN report, one in six Bangladeshis is malnourished. On the other hand, a report by Wealth XA, a New York-based research institute published in 2019, reveals a list of the 10 fastest growing countries in the world, with Bangladesh being the third. An economic system has been created in which looting of state resources has become a natural phenomenon for those politically in power.
While the growth rate of the economy has increased, at the same time the income of the poor people of the country and the wealth in their hands has decreased. 46 percent of the country’s children are victims of multidimensional poverty. According to a recent UN report, one in six Bangladeshis is malnourished.
The growth of the economy of Bangladesh as a GDP, the success of the economy is limited to a small section of society. This growth has not stopped millions of poor people from becoming poorer. It has an impact on society, on social values, on social cohesion or cohesion. With the rise of consumerism and individualism, the old bonds of society are being broken, especially the lack of tolerance and empathy in the society.
This trend has gained more momentum due to globalization. New discoveries in technology, especially the use of the Internet