Last year, Bangladesh celebrated its golden jubilee of independence after gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971. Over the years, the image and identity of post-independence Bangladesh have changed in the world arena. It has become a donor country from an aid recipient country. A silent revolution has taken place in the country.
The Coronavirus pandemic has devastated the world economies. The economies of all South Asian countries, including Bangladesh, have been negatively affected. However, in the midst of the pandemic, Bangladesh has surpassed the South Asian countries in terms of economic development. This success has been achieved in the 50th year of independence mainly through manufacture and export of ready-made garments and remittances from expatriates.
The World Bank, an international lending agency, has given a positive outlook on the South Asian economy, overcoming the effects of the pandemic. In a report, titled South Asian Economic Bounce Back but Face fragile Recovery, the agency said that the average growth of South Asia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the fiscal year 2021 could stand at 7.2 percent. After that, in the 2022 fiscal year, the average growth may be less than 4.4 percent.
Bangladesh is ahead of its two neighbours, India and Pakistan, in achieving this growth. The government has set a growth target of 6.1 percent for the current fiscal year and 7.2 percent for the next fiscal year.
Although Bangladesh is ahead in per capita GDP, India is one of the largest economies in the world in terms of size. India’s economy is 10 times bigger than Bangladesh’s. The best way to understand how rich a country’s citizens really are is to determine how much purchasing power they have. That is, with the money he earns, he can buy what he wants. This is why the size of GDP is calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) to compare the economies of different countries. According to the IMF, India’s share of the world’s GDP on a PPP basis this year is 7.39 percent, while Bangladesh’s share is only 0.659 percent.
In terms of GDP, Bangladesh surpassed India for two consecutive years, but in some social indicators, Bangladesh surpassed the neighbouring country seven years ago. For example, Bangladeshi girls have a higher education rate and female birth rate than Indian girls. In Bangladesh, infant and under-five mortality rates are lower than in India.
However, in terms of GDP, Bangladesh surpassed India for two consecutive years, but in some social indicators, Bangladesh surpassed the neighbouring country seven years ago. For example, Bangladeshi girls have a higher education rate and female birth rate than Indian girls. In Bangladesh, infant and under-five mortality rates are lower than in India.
India is a very big country. There are states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh, as well as states like Delhi and Punjab. So, on average, the real picture of everyone does not come up. But Bangladesh is undoubtedly doing well. So, with the increase in per capita GDP and income, we have to look at different social indicators.
On the other hands, Bangladesh, which former US National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger acerbically referred to as a “bottomless basket case” in 1972, has in the last 50 years performed better than Pakistan, the nation it separated from, says International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), an international think tank headquartered in Toronto, Canada.
In its article, titled Bangladesh and Pakistan – Formerly one Nation, today a World Apart, published on July 30, 2021, IFFRAS described how Bangladesh’s growth rate was way above Pakistan, even before the pandemic; in 2018-19 it was 7.8 percent compared to Pakistan’s 5.8 percent. “Bangladesh became a ‘miracle story’ and Pakistan a ‘disaster tale’,” states the article.
In the last 15 years, India’s population has grown by 21 percent, and Bangladesh’s by 18 percent. All this has affected the per capita income.
Why so much discussion
This was the subject of much discussion in October last year when the IMF first predicted Bangladesh’s advance. There is a lot of writing about this in the Indian media. Discussions are also held in Bangladesh.
The former chief economist of the World Bank, Kaushik Basu, tweeted about Bangladesh. He wrote, “IMF estimates show that Bangladesh will surpass India in per capita GDP. The good news is that any emerging economy will do well. Surprisingly, India, which was 25 percent ahead five years ago, is now falling behind. Now India needs a bold fiscal and monetary policy.”
The way forward Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s progress is not accidental. The economies of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have grown at a much faster rate since 2004. This progress was maintained till 2016. But the situation started to change in 2017. Bangladesh’s growth rate has risen sharply in the Coronavirus pandemic. In the last 15 years, India’s population has grown by 21 percent, and Bangladesh’s by 18 percent. All this has affected the per capita income. Even in 2007, Bangladesh’s per capita GDP was half that of India. In 2004, India’s per capita GDP was 70 percent higher than Bangladesh’s.