Just fifty years ago, in March 1971, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared independence of Bangladesh from richer and powerful Pakistan. During our war of independence, three million Bengalis were brutally murdered by the Pakistani occupation forces. Even after the independence of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971, Henry Kissinger, the prime backer of Pakistani military’s genocide on Bengalis, saw a newly born Bangladesh as an “basketcase”. Many of the nations in the world except for India and Russia in particular were vehemently opposing the independence of Bangladesh, while Arab nations and Palestinians were branding our freedom fighters as “terrorists”.
After fifty years of our independence, Bangladesh has already emerged as the paragon of socio-economic progress, while according to economic experts, by 2030, Pakistani may seek aid from Bangladesh. Due to magnificent statesmanship of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s per capita income has already left India and Pakistan behind. In 1971, Pakistan was 70 percent richer than Bangladesh and today, Bangladesh is 45 percent richer than Pakistan.
Seeing Bangladesh’s tremendous pace of progress and prosperity, Indian economic pundits are saying, “India, eternally confident about being the only South Asian economy that matters, now must grapple with the fact that it, too, is poorer than Bangladesh in per capita terms. India’s per capita income is 2020-2021 was a mere US$ 1,947 while Bangladesh’s was US$ 2,227. The gap will continue to widen in the coming years.
According to experts, Bangladesh’s growth rests on three pillars: exports, social progress ad fiscal prudence. Between 2011 and 2019, Bangladesh’s export earning grew at 8.6 percent year-on-year, compared to world average of 0.4 percent. The success is largely due to political stability in the country as well putting special emphasis on products, such as apparels, pharmaceuticals, ceramic items etcetera.
A Bloomberg article said, the share of Bangladeshi women in the labor force has consistently grown, unlike in India and Pakistan, where it has decreased. And Bangladesh has maintained a public debt-to-GDP ratio between 30 percent and 40 percent. India and Pakistan will both emerge from the pandemic with public debt close to 90 percent of GDP. Fiscal restraint has allowed Bangladesh’s private sector to borrow and invest.
With the growth of Bangladesh’s economy, we need to prepare ourselves with an effective strategy for the next decade focusing on new forms of global integration and on a continued transformation of the economy. To achieve this goal, we need to have access the developed world’s markets by signing free-trade agreements. And, Bangladesh already has started working on this goal.
One of the key challenges that Bangladesh may face in the coming years when it will start becoming a major competitor of Vietnam in export trades. We need to remember, Vietnam is an old ally of China, which is not only part of China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it has also signed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union in 2019. In this regard, we need to beef-up our negotiating capacity with the respective nations.
While we shall continue our efforts in signing Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, we need to mobilize two fronts – diplomatic and media, in this regard. To achieve this goal, our missions in every western nations in particular as well as major economies in Asia, Europe, America and Australia should be assigned to show performances instead of mere blank words. Bangladesh being a paragon of socio-economic progress now needs to abandon its old-day’s policy of never expecting any performance or achievement from the press wings of its missions in various countries. We need efficient, capable and committed individuals in those important positions who can successfully accomplish their goals. In case of necessity, the office of our Prime Minister can open special wing to monitor and coordinate the activities of the press wings of our missions in various countries.
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