ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Bangladesh: Transformation and DevelopmentSubscribe to Bangladesh: Transformation and Development

Achieving Universal Primary Education

Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in expanding primary education, especially for girls, despite continuing prevalence of widespread poverty and social devaluation of women and girls. This paper argues that underlining this success is a confluence of both demand- and supply-side factors involved in bringing about a profound social change. It explores the changing structure of economic opportunities and gender relations affecting parents' perception of the value of female education. The challenge now is to improve the quality of education that may prove more difficult than the expansion of access.

Structural Dimensions of Malgovernance in Bangladesh

This paper attempts to trace the roots of the governance problem in Bangladesh to the structural features of its polity. These features include the existing politics of confrontation, weaknesses in the practice of parliamentary democracy, the malfunctioning of political parties, the role of money and muscle power in politics, and the rent-seeking collusion among the political parties, state machinery and vested commercial interests. Efforts for improving governance must be directed towards persuading political parties of the advantages of reforms in the existing political institutions. The paper also advocates civic actions in creating widespread awareness of the benefits of better governance, thus raising the political costs of malfeasant governance.

NGO Sector in Bangladesh

The social development scene in Bangladesh is characterised by a strong presence of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The NGOs emerged following the war of liberation to help the communities in distress as part of post-war rehabilitation. Afterwards, with assistance from foreign donor agencies, they expanded their activities to deliver a variety of services including microcredit, essential healthcare, informal education, women empowerment and rights advocacy. This paper traces the evolution of the NGO sector in Bangladesh and evaluates its role in social development.

Economic Transformation and Social Development in Bangladesh

Bangladesh embarked on structural adjustment towards the mid-1980s and in the following decade, its economic performance notably improved. To consolidate this progress on economic and social fronts, Bangladesh needs to strengthen its institutions of economic and political governance. The following collection of 12 papers sheds light on some important aspects of the economic transformation and social development taking place in Bangladesh.

Development Achievements and Challenges

Since independence in 1971 to the end of the 1990s, Bangladesh's record in social development, poverty reduction and economic growth has been very impressive. This paper critically examines the role of policies and institutions in achieving the impressive development outcomes. More recently, there has been some weakening of the momentum of growth and some slackening of the progress in social development. The paper highlights the importance of improving the quality of institutions and governance in order to consolidate the developmental gains of the past decades and work towards further progress.

Macroeconomic Management

This paper examines Bangladesh's macroeconomic performance in the light of market-oriented liberalising policy reforms. By looking at the trends in fiscal, external and investment-savings balances, it analyses how, despite falling inflows of foreign aid, Bangladesh achieved macroeconomic stabilisation and an acceleration of economic growth in the 1990s. The paper concludes that for consolidating the transition from stabilisation to growth, improvements are needed in many areas such as revenue mobilisation, the efficiency of the financial system and the overall investment environment.

Trade, Food Aid and Food Security

This paper argues that trade liberalisation, which permitted the import of rice and wheat by the private sector, has enhanced national food security in Bangladesh. In particular, it highlights the positive contribution of rice imports from India in recent years of major production shortfalls. The paper also makes a case for a flexible rice trade policy to protect farmers from the potential disincentive effects of continued food aid and low-cost commercial imports.

Rice Economy of Bangladesh

Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in attaining near self-sufficiency in the production of rice. This paper traces the transformation of the rice economy of Bangladesh over the past two decades. It examines the factors behind the growth in rice production and the role of market-oriented policy reforms, particularly in respect of the liberalisation and privatisation of agricultural input markets. The paper argues in favour of strengthening the role of the private sector in input markets while emphasising larger allocations of public resources for agricultural research and water resource development.

Rural Non-Farm Economy

The contribution of non-farm activities to generation of employment and growth of rural incomes in the early stages of development is well recognised in the development literature. For Bangladesh, available official statistics do not allow an analysis of the structure and growth of rural non-farm economy, as the data is not available separately for rural and urban areas. This paper uses data available from two national level sample surveys of rural household to analyse the change in the structure of the rural non-farm economy and its contribution to the growth and distribution of rural incomes in Bangladesh during the 1990s.

Impact of Trade Liberalisation

This paper examines the impact of trade liberalisation in particular, and of economic deregulation in general, on economic growth and employment generation. The rapid growth of ready-made garment industry - and, to a lesser extent, that of export-oriented shrimp production - are discussed as evidence of direct beneficial impact of increased trade openness. Besides, trade liberalisation also indirectly contributed to stimulating other parts of the economy, thus contributing to pro-poor growth.

Indo-Bangladesh Economic Relations

The paper looks at the various aspects of Indo-Bangladesh trade relations, including cross-border illegal trade, the comparative trade regimes in the two countries, investment cooperation and the implications of the proposed Free Trade Agreement. It particularly explores the prospects and ways of increasing Bangladesh's exports to India, thus addressing the existing trade imbalance. The paper concludes that mutually beneficial agreements are facilitated if the various aspects of economic cooperation are seen in a comprehensive framework and if there is willingness in both countries to compromise and take a long view.

Grameen Bank, Microcredit and Millennium Development Goals

This paper traces the evolution of the ideas and practice of microcredit as pioneered by the Grameen Bank. Over the years, microcredit programmes in Bangladesh have grown, providing a wide range of services to meet the economic and social needs of its citizens, mostly poor women. It comes up with suggestions regarding the emerging issues of financial self-reliance and institutional sustainability of microcredit programmes.

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