Development refers to a process in which countries’ systems and standards change and become larger, stronger, more successful, and more advanced. This essay is a developmental study focusing on Bangladesh. It is a Southern Asian country nearly engulfed by Indian sub-continent in the western and northern parts, Myanmar (Burma) in the eastern part, and the Gulf of Bengal in the southern part. For an explicit illustration of the general development of Bangladesh, the essay uses the theory of structuralism as one of the famous development theories, which apply to Bangladesh situation. The theory focuses on structural aspects, which impair the economic growth, particularly, in developing nations. The unit of analysis in this theory is usually the transformation of a country’s economy mainly from subsistence agriculture to modern and urbanized manufacturing as well as service economy. As a third world economy, Bangladesh lies squarely in this category as a nation that is still grappling with policy prescriptions, which emanate from structuralized thinking, including intervention from the government to fuel the industrial sector. The structural transformation of Bangladesh is pursued to create an economy, which will eventually enjoy self-sustaining growth by striving to end the act of relying on exports of agricultural and mining products and pursuing inward-oriented development by shielding its domestic economy from that of the superior developed economies.
Challenges of Development in Bangladesh
Though Bangladesh is structurally prepared to augment its economic growth and realize sustainable development, a number of issues still shackle it from making steady strides towards its millennium goals. It is of interest to note that Bangladesh is one of the most highly populated nations in the world, with a steady population growth. This factor has posed a great strain of the meagre resources contained in the country. The un-proportional demographics and resource ratio result in the situation when many nations live below the poverty level even if the recent statistics depicted Bangladesh to be nearing middle-income economy. Furthermore, innumerable people have limited access to education; therefore, the literacy level is chiefly below average. The above-mentioned issues have caused a dragging effect on the economic development of the country.
Besides, Bangladesh faces a challenge of poor governance, which presupposes that the majority of leaders are associated with corruption, which has been injurious to the country’s economy. Due to this misnomer, significant government resources have been misallocated and mismanaged as funds are embezzled for selfish gains. Therefore, rampant graft cases in the country occasion the evasiveness of the foreign investment, as the international community is afraid of investing in a country which security is not guaranteed. Consequently, the country experienced a market crash in 2011, which caused untold injuries to the economy. It, in fact, topples up the challenge of poverty, as employment opportunities are scanty even for a few elites with relevant qualifications. Therefore, the situation does not only discourage citizens from pursuing various career lines, but also devastates the learned people in informal occupations or even antisocial practices.
Finally, Bangladesh is a country where gender inequality and discrimination are common. Women constitute the part of the society most adversely affected by inequality of sexes. For instance, they are victims of segregation in places of work. Moreover, they have fewer possibilities to enter educational establishments and to be in power. Although analysts say that there is an increase in the women’s employment rates, there still exist disparities between the remunerations of men and women performing the same jobs under equal conditions. It is said that women are underpaid as compared to their male counterparts, which, perhaps, has also contributed to their insignificant enrolment on the job market.
A Multidisciplinary Perspective of Bangladesh Development
The developmental trajectory of Bangladesh is unique and can be traced back to 1990. After the reinstatement of democracy and pervasive economic reforms, poverty indices have fallen tremendously from sixty to nearly thirty per cent. Similarly, gender parity in primary and secondary school enrolment has also been achieved, thus augmenting the hope for the rise in the country’s literacy levels in the near future. Alongside the progress witnessed in the education sector, Bangladesh has also realized impressive achievements in the healthcare sector as well as has made remarkable efforts in gender equity. It is also in the midst of a significant economic take-off that has caused the decline in poverty by doubling the income per capita in comparison with that of 2002.
On the social part, it is reported that the total fertility rate of Bangladesh has also fallen significantly. It is a sign that many people have begun embracing family planning policies. Since 1990, there has been a steady downward trend in maternal and infant mortality rates, followed by the rise in life expectancy by at least ten years bringing it to sixty-nine. It is said to be four years ahead of India’s life expectancy, a country that has much in common with Bangladesh. Considering the speed with which the country is developing, it is envisaged that it will soon be among the few developing nations that are on target to realize most of the millennium development goals.
Although still grappling with political challenges, Bangladesh economic achievements do not precisely comply with the typical trails of social and human development. For instance, analysts sought to distinguish between support-led and income-mediated pathways of human development. The latter is characterized by notable improvements in social indicators, which can obviously be traced back to the rapid and broad-based economic growth. On the other hand, the former is based on extraordinary public spending on programs of welfare. In this case, neither of the two pathways is applicable to Bangladesh because although the economic growth rate of the country significantly rose after 1990, reaching six per cent in 2004, it has never exceeded that level. Moreover, the government’s spending on education and healthcare sectors is still below average considering it is a low-income country.
The Role of ICT: Mobile Phone in Driving Development in Bangladesh
Bangladesh economy has also gotten a boost from the emerging Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). Among them, mobile phones have been utilized in mobile learning in a number of educational institutions to eradicate unnecessary barriers to quality education. Besides, the current technology has been of great benefit to the commercial sector where it has made transactions easy and quick through an e-payment scheme, which one can use via mobile phone without living one’s comfort zone. In line with that, the e-business ventures entail marketing and shopping with the use of mobile phones. Concerning the social and political aspects, mobile phones have played an instrumental role in fostering transfer of information, especially through social media platforms. Political policies and information on social cohesions have been reaching people easily owning to mobile technologies. The government is also determined in ensuring the success of other forms of ICT such as modules in higher learning institutions, ICT surveillance systems enhancing security, teleconferencing and audio conferencing in major government agencies, web-based conferencing as well as open and distance learning.
The Role of International Trade and IFI in the Development of Bangladesh
Bangladesh also benefits much from Internal Financial Institutions (IFIs) given that it heavily depends on foreign aid to support its budget deficit. Although economies’ analysts have alluded that, in the last decade, the practice has declined following the scrutiny that donor countries have launched in several developing countries. The ownership of economic policies by Bangladesh other than by IFIs is what the government has highly regarded as the crucial issue for designing the country’s policies and implementing them meritoriously. However, the conditionality of foreign aid itself was insufficient to influence sustainable economic reforms as well as poverty reduction. In some cases, the conditionality brought down flexibility to fit into the dynamics of the varying sectors of the economy.
The studies by IFI have also depicted how agriculture can be made an effective instrument of economic development in Bangladesh, particularly to favour the poor. The exercise attempted to provide independent appraisals of selected policies of IFIs in Bangladesh, although several issues tackled were already known to policy makers. IFI has advocated the reversal of donor policies and governments which neglected agricultural sector. Besides, there is a dire need to increase the resources of the poor as well as generate employment opportunities in rural and non-agricultural sectors.
The Relationship between Gender, Education, and Development
Gender, education, and development are intertwined in nature. Gender equity brings about balanced development structure as both men and women will be working harmoniously towards the achievement of common objectives. In a situation characteristic of Bangladesh, one gender, particularly male, is more favoured in employment position and power roles in comparison with females. Thus, the development is also disabled and the country does not seem to realize its long-term goals quickly. Education, on the other hand, is a catalyst of any meaningful development realised in the country. Countries that have requisite literacy levels also do well in all aspects of development unlike those with minimal levels of literacy such as Bangladesh. Through education, citizens amass impeccable capacity necessary to propel developmental programs. They can also relieve the country of an exorbitant burden of relying on expatriates for technical services, especially in the industrial sector.