Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina looked forward to a golden period of India-Bangladesh relations in her recent visit to India. Today, India-Bangladesh relations have matured greatly and are at their historical best.
As a socio-economic development professional, one gets concerned as to what extent these relations are important? Are we not going to see things beyond diplomatic relations? Should we ignore the fact that Bangladesh is now set to step out of the list of the least developing countries and experiencing high and consistently rising economic growth rate of 8.1% (GDP) in the fiscal year 2018-2019, while at the same time India is battling the economic slowdown with companies cutting jobs and people getting unemployed?
Shockingly, this is happening despite the Government of India initiating several flagship job creation programmes like Mudra loans, Skill India and Make in India. Keeping in mind that there is a fiscal slowdown in many parts of the world, it’s surprising how come a country with the slowest economic cycle is successful in improving its socio-economic status. India, on the other hand despite being the world’s second-fastest-growing economy for quite a long time failed in maintaining its socio-economic status.
Unlike India, Bangladesh has a booming industrial sector, majorly textile (35% of the GDP), which encourages self-employment whereas in India, the service sector contributes more and lesser contribution comes in from other industries. Bangladesh is developing and urbanising fast despite the fact that the World Bank declared it a lower-middle-income economy in 2015 with a growth rate of 6.6%.
Over the years, Bangladesh has made some remarkable gains in terms of human development indicators. It is high time for India to learn from Bangladesh’s new Human Capital Index. It is significant as for the poorest people, it is the only capital which they own. India should learn how to spend its capital effectively for improving outcomes in health and education, productivity and economic growth.
According to the World Bank’s Human Development Indicators 2019, Bangladesh is now ahead in:
|Life Expectancy At Birth||72||69.1|
|Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000 live births)||25.1||31.5|
|It is in only under the Maternal Mortality Rate (per 1000) that India does significantly better at 170 compared to 210 for Bangladesh.|
Bangladesh’s development in all these aspects is a clear lesson of how a country with a strong track record of poverty can be successful in poverty reduction just with the help of right policies and actions.
Bangladesh’s achievement of gender parity in school enrollment works as the icing on the cake, though the indicators for education are mixed for both India and Bangladesh at 6.4 and 5.8 respectively.
Not to forget that both our Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt of an exploitation-free and just society. Bangladesh is also marching ahead in terms of women’s literacy which itself speaks about the changes in the social structure and based on which, it is expected to achieve 8.0% growth in economy in 2019 and 2020, India on the other hand, is expected to grow by 7% in 2019 and 7.2% in 2020 (according to an estimate of the Asian Development Bank).
Since its inception, Bangladesh had the backing of one of the world’s largest NGOs, BRAC. Working towards nation-building, BRAC is termed as Bangladesh’s second government with power and accountability. It has helped with innovations and initiatives that impact normal citizens in their socio-economic development. One of the major reasons for Bangladesh’s booming industrial sector is BRAC’s microfinance loan which funds small enterprises. BRAC as an NGO has a different approach to development and is successfully working hand in hand with the government in Bangladesh.
Even when the NGOs work in government partnership they sometimes fail tremendously on the scale of human development in India. Instead, what we see at the start of each financial year are a whole lot of new programmes and schemes that either run counterproductive to the existing schemes, are insufficiently funded or are just window dressing to satisfy the constitutional duty of being a welfare state.
Apparently, we can see that India is moving in reverse motion despite the support of 3.4 million NGOs for a population of 1.37 billion, i.e. 1 for every 600 people. Here we are with hundreds of schemes for the socio-economic welfare of the citizens yet we are unable to achieve significant improvement. We are majorly lacking in understanding the needs of our target audience and this is what we need to learn from our neighbour Bangladesh.