Saturday, March 18, 2023
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Bangladesh at 50 — how it outpaced India on many counts & justified break-away from Pakistan

Bangladesh matches or bests India on many fiscal, economic & social indicators. Foreign aid is less than 2% of it GDP; it’s no longer Kissinger’s ‘basket case’.

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Over the past decade, Bangladesh has gained increasing recognition as the stellar economic performer in South Asia. With a per capita income that is now higher than India’s, superior economic growth rates, less inequality, and in some instances better social indicators, Bangladesh has reason to celebrate its golden jubilee as an independent nation. The transformation from the trauma of 1971 is there for all to see. In the early years, foreign aid used to be equal to about a seventh of the country’s GDP; it now accounts for less than 2 per cent. This is no longer Kissinger’s “basket case”, not by a long chalk.

Bangladesh now has better numbers than India on its fiscal deficit, merchandise trade balance, and employment (especially of women). It also has better public debt/GDP and investment/GDP ratios. It has a much larger share of GDP accounted for by manufacturing. And its merchandise exports grew in 2011-19 at an annual rate of 8.6 per cent; India’s grew at 0.9 per cent.

The justification for breaking away from Pakistan is now self-evident. If Dhaka has done better than New Delhi over these 50 years, it has completely outpaced Islamabad on every metric, whether it be demographics (Pakistan now has much the larger population), economics, social indicators or even its democratic credentials, imperfect as they are. On child mortality, for instance, Pakistan’s number is double that of Bangladesh. The charge in the run-up to the 1971 break-up, that Punjab-dominated West Pakistan had reduced East Pakistan to an internal colony, has got post-facto validation.

New tests now await Bangladesh. It risks losing major trade and tariff benefits that it has so far enjoyed because the country moved a couple of years ago from being classified as a least developed country, to developing country status. The first category enjoys duty-free and quota-free access to many rich-country markets, most importantly the European Union, which is now in the process of applying standard developing country yardsticks to Bangladesh.

This means new duties on Bangladesh’s exports into the EU but also limits on access to the generalised system of preferences (GSP). More than 60 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports go to the EU, and well over 80 per cent of the country’s exports comprise textiles and garments. This one-market, one-product specialisation has brought with it vulnerabilities that Dhaka has to address if it is to sustain growth, on which so much depends.

Also read: Modi, Hasina must lay ground for borderless economy between India, Bangladesh

On the human development indicators, it is fair to point out that while Dhaka has outdone New Delhi on important metrics, the story is not one-sided, the performance gap in some cases is quite small, and both countries have shown better improvement rates than the global average. India continues to do marginally better on years of schooling, while on health indicators, Bangladesh is well ahead. Although India’s inequality indicators compare poorly, it continues to score marginally better on the overall Human Development Index (HDI). But take away the income factor and Bangladesh will come out ahead. If Bangladesh continues to outpace India on income growth, it could move ahead of India on the overall HDI, with better equality indicators to boot.

There remains the contentious question of migration. India has argued that Bangladesh has ill-treated its religious minorities (mostly Hindus), causing the sharp decline in its non-Muslim population from 23.2 per cent in 1951 to 9.6 per cent in 2011. The parallel charge is that Bangladeshi Muslims have been migrating to India, leading to a sharp increase in the relative and absolute size of the Muslim population in the border states of West Bengal (27 per cent) and Assam (possibly 38 per cent).

But there is a contradiction in the two sets of numbers. If the out-migration of Hindus has caused their share in Bangladesh’s population to decline, it cannot simultaneously be that the wholesale out-migration of Muslims is changing the religious mix this side of the border. Especially so since overall population growth in West Bengal and Assam has been lower than the national average. There is an undeniable change in the demographic mix on both sides of the border, but it needs a better or more complete explanation.

Also read: Bangladesh’s freedom wasn’t all about Indian military. Public diplomacy played a huge role


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  1. When a country head is a salesmen of choosen corporate than how we imagine our GDP growth will be strong. Frist head is a habitual cheater and his right is a rightish and his left is a saleswomen who want to sale every property we have got. Our country is on verge of collapse.may god blessus

  2. Bangladesh has been categorized as Low Income Country and has therefore got rebates and trade favorobility with EU and the US. It has led to textile exports from Bangladesh. Textile economy has led to more women participation and hence better social health records like low TFR. Apart from textiles Bangladesh is as good as Bihar or West Bengal.

    • How beautiful would a united Bengal would be! The Hindu-Muslim divide must not affect our vision for a GB (Greater Bangladesh / Golden Bengal). Assam should also be liberated and made a puppet state of Bengal.

  3. To all the readers I would request to read the previous article written by this same author on Bangladesh just a few months ago! And compare that article with this one, that my friend is Bangladesh! Mr. TN Ninnan I hope you read my reply 🙂

  4. If the points elaborated in the article is true, why Bangladeshis are infiltrating into India. Unless they see greener pastures & better future on this side this will not happen.

  5. Bangladesh did not face terrorism, leftists who drag country down the drain, intellectuals, Mavericks, naxalites, secularism , prestitutes etc. These gentle persons are dragging down India.

  6. Both Hindus and Muslims left Bangladesh for the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal over the decades since partition. The reasons for the population shifts may have been different for the two religious groups. But it can not be denied. Just look at the religious census of West Bengal and of Bangladesh between 1951 and 2011. Bangladeshis illegally moved to Pakistan, Myanmar and Malaysia as well. Malaysia promptly deported one million of them. Myanmar resorted to evictions largely targeted at the related Rohingya.

  7. Initially the call was BJP, now it’s only Modi’s sarkar. All other minister’s and M.P’s just sing this song.
    This is not how a country like India can run & prosper The agenda is only H…..tva.
    We shouldn’t feel jealous of smaller economy’s prospering.
    As long as this govt focuses only on H & temple our economy will go to dog3

  8. Initially the call was BJP, now it’s only Modi’s sarkar. All other minister’s and M.P’s just sing this song.
    This is not how a country like India can run & prosper The agenda is only H…..tva.
    We shouldn’t feel jealous of smaller economy’s prospering.
    As long as this govt focuses only on H & temple our economy will go to dog3

  9. Read an article in Pakistan newspaper on the same lines looks like copy Paste. There the comparison was between Bangladesh and Pakistan and here it is v/s India. Looks like only the names have changed rest is same.

  10. Bangladesh needs to be compared to it’s western brother rather then India. More then the breakaway from Pakistan the breakaway from Waste Bengal was even more justified.

  11. Bangladesh outpaced India in just a last decade, india completely wasted the opportunity from 2011 to 2020 from economic development and in fact how can a country put wrong priority in their nation building india is a classic example of that.

  12. Comparing a 16 crore population country with a 135 crore population country is like comparing apples to oranges.

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