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Focussing on the People and Economy in Bangladesh

(R. Ahmed)


Bangladesh is burdened with disproportionately large number of population with high growth rate to create an alarmingly high level of activity pressure on limited land. Possibly, there is no doubt that the country is heading towards a grey future, even the growth rate is controlled to a reasonable level in just a decade – which is almost impossible. Country’s British colonial legacy has left nothing other than characteristically conflicting society, religious haterate and mistrust which were the basis of British successful imperial exploitation. All the South Asian countries are still carrying the inherited common colonial image, the poverty, rural exploitation, corruption and urban economic beneficiary group. Country’s population growth rate was brought down from 2.8 to 1.4 in about 30 years. Even if the declining rate is maintained steadily, the total population will rise up to 200 million in another 25 years. The major difficulty to control population increase is the low rate of quality education (classical concept of literacy has been proved ineffective in development perspective). Main reason behind poor rate of quality education is government’s financial limitation and attitude. Surprisingly, about one-third of students enrol in religious schools (Madrasa) which do not offer them any science based education. Religious taboo added with over emphasis of religious bondage is also a barrier to modern education in the country. Above all, improvement of teaching method and system is still in classical style, results ineffective education and poor education rate/quality education (currently government claims literacy rate to be 42%). Rural poverty is another cause of high rate of population growth. It is still believed in poorer section that more number of male children increases helping hands in physical labor, particularly in agricultural sectors. There is of course a justification, when the country is still maintaining agriculture as its main source of income. The people would naturally accept number of hands than the quality and skill of hands. It is to note agriculture in Bangladesh still contributes major share in GDP (?%). Place of industrialization is in a confused stage. As a complementary to national economic growth, the industrial sectors were opened up with jute, sugar, ready made garments manufacturing, light engineering etc. during sixties through eighties. But under the new guidance policies of World Bank and International Monitory Fund under the auspices of WTO (World Trade Organization) Bangladesh maintains a policy to shut down many sick industries (Bangladesh is a signatory of the WTO). But industries were found to made sick purposefully to benefit private industrial sectors funded by foreign partners. This, in a way, destabilizes population control policy due to new dimension of unemployment. Gender participation in power politics, economic growth, and social development is however, improving slowly as a result of NGO’s help and micro-credit activities. At least, in rural areas, women are trying to generate their own small scale entrepreneurship as a complimentary economic role up, although the micro-credit system is not free from controversy. The entrepreneurships are quite diverse such as poultry, cloth embroidery, backyard gardening, very small scale engineering workshops, hatcheries, weaving etc. are few to mention. But sole women’s economic self dependencies will never work effectively unless other social components improve, as all the development components are functional in a totalistic way.


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