It is encouraging to note that Bangladesh continues to make progress in the Human Development Index (HDI), climbing one notch up to the 135th position among 189 countries in the latest UNDP report. The HDI is a metric that attempts to capture changes in developing countries’ quality of living. The latest report shows that Bangladesh continues to boost living standard of its citizen by increasing per capita income, and improving health and education facilities.
The improvement in HDI is a testament to the fact that the country is heading in the right direction defying all odds. It became possible due to sustained economic development under the able leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over the past decade. But while we admire the nation’s steady progress we must not lose the sight of the fact that our ranking looks way too low in this annual index of the UN. The UN categorically said that we still live at a medium level of human development, ranking 5th among South Asian countries, falling behind Sri Lanka (71), the Maldives (104), India (129) and Bhutan (134).So, there is no room for complacency. Even a layman can understand that there is a massive unevenness in the distribution of wealth, healthcare and education among the country’s people. Widening income inequality among different sections of society has made the poor poorer and the rich richer and it is giving rise to a nagging discrimination in society.
Recent reports suggest that people living in extreme poverty have reduced proportionately, but still, a large number of people live in poverty. Furthermore, whenever price of essential commodities rises some more people slip into poverty. This section of the people is being deprived of basic human rights such as healthcare and education. Therefore, the biggest challenge the country faces now is to keep rising inequality in check and to make basic service accessible to the poor.
The poor need to be lifted out of poverty through proper policy support, institutional help and job creation. Otherwise, the poor and the destitute will have little to cheer about the country’s GDP growth and improvement in HDI.