Bangladesh has been upgraded to the status of developing countries of the world. Earlier it was considered as a least developed country. The recognition has been given by UNO on the last 26th February. This recognition has received special meaning in the present situation as the current year is being celebrated as the golden jubilee year of birth of Bangladesh as well as birth centenary year of Mujibar Rahman, the great leader of the nation.
There are three categories of development status depending on the achievement of some parameters like per capita income level, social sector development, level of GDP, environmental situation. The three categories are developed countries, developing countries and least developed countries.
In 2018 Bangladesh was first elevated temporarily to a developing nation category. But it had to maintain the parameters for three years to keep the status permanently. After three years of observation it has permanently achieved the designation of a developing country. As of now Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal etc. are least developed countries of Asia.
A few days ago Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheik Hasina, reportedly said that as a developing country any country has to achieve per capita income level at least $1,230 in 2020. Bangladesh had already achieved per capita income level of $1,827 in 2020. But currently per capita income of Bangladesh had been $2,064, according to Hasina. That means it has been 1.7 times higher than minimum requirement in case of per capita income per year.
In human resource development, a country needs to attain 66 but Bangladesh has attained 75.4. In economic and environment sector, a country must score 32 or less but it is 27 for Bangladesh, said Hasina. Hasina gave all the credit of this achievement to the people of Bangladesh and said that if this pace of development work continues, Bangladesh would achieve the level of developed countries’ parameters shortly.
Hasina also mentioned country’s success in alleviating poverty. She pointed out that in 2001 the rate of poverty was 48.9% and that of extreme poverty was 34.3%. But in 2019 the poverty rate had come down to 20.5% and that of extreme poverty it had been 10.5%.
How Bangladesh achieved exemplary economic success
In 1971 Bangladesh was born. Earlier it was a part of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan. At that time it was stricken by poverty and famine. The first noticeable economic phenomenon suddenly emerged in 2006 when it beat Pakistan in economic growth. Many observers took it as an exception.
According to Kaushik Basu (Why is Bangladesh booming? May 1, 2018 - in Project Syndicate) that year would turn out to be an inflection point. Since then, Bangladesh’s annual GDP growth has exceeded Pakistan’s by roughly 2.5% point each year. From 2018 Bangladesh been able to surpass India’s also. More importantly Bangladesh has been able to surpass Pakistan in per capita GDP in 2020. This is because for many years the population growth of Bangladesh has been around 1.1% whereas this is 2% in Pakistan.
Empowerment of women
Many social scientists including Basu think that women’s empowerment has been one of the most important phenomena that has transformed the country. In this case several NGOs, Grameen Bank and BRAC and some other organisations played a transformatory role in developing Bangladesh. Several studies had observed that both in public and family affairs women’s role and voice increased noticeably.
In girl’s education erstwhile East Pakistan was ahead of India and West Pakistan. Considering child health and education, life expectancy at birth, Bangladesh has been ahead of India and Pakistan. In Bangladesh life expectancy at birth has now been more than 73 years whereas it has been 68 years and 66 years in India and Pakistan respectively. Comparing financial inclusion Bangladesh is ahead of average South Asian countries.
Another important sector, a vibrant garments industry, has played a big role in earning livelihood of ordinary people of the country. Kaushik Basu thinks that loose labour laws in Bangladesh have been a boon in disguise to have a successful garments industry. It is known that there has been a flip side also in this sector.
The labour exploitation is high in garment industry of Bangladesh. Some observers also thinks that as a less developed country, products of Bangladesh got some quota and other advantages in selling garments in the markets of Europe and USA and in other countries. In spite of all it has played a role in developing livelihood in the country.
Challenges before the country
There are several challenges before Bangladesh. Existence of religious fundamentalism, corruption, rising income inequality and many other matters should be addressed and solved by the government to make the country prosperous. Taha Hussain, pointed out (Problems of Development of Bangladesh: Causes and Remedies in Arts and Social Sciences Journal, July, 2017) that all the growth is not positive in Bangladesh. At the same time freedom of choice is very restrictive in the country. According to him if the freedom of choice ensues then the inclusive development, human development, as well as good governance, would develop in Bangladesh.
Husain pointed out that many aspects of growth actually are negative. That would work as a drag on development of Bangladesh. He mentioned that “such as pay to tobacco (coaine, heroin, Dauphine, ganja), pay of destructive objects (arms ammunitions, other military equipment, explosive harmful to the human body)” have negative impact in economy and society. He also pointed out, “interestingly Bagladesh Hakimpuri Jorda (type of tobacco) owner, Kaush Mia came to the limelight of the country during the last three years as a top taxpayer”.