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Structural changes puts Bangladesh ahead of Pakistan

Says Prof Rehman Sobhan

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 7 December, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Structural changes puts Bangladesh ahead of Pakistan

Bangladesh progress in 50 years after Liberation is reflected in major structural changes in the economy and social transformation that has placed it well ahead of Pakistan, noted economist Prof Rehman Sobhan says.

“At liberation Bangladesh was well behind Pakistan in most areas of the macro-economy experienced levels of poverty and lower levels of human development in such areas as education and healthcare,” he remarked on Monday. 

“Over the course of the next fifty years Bangladesh has moved well ahead of Pakistan in most such areas, particularly in the last 25 years and more so in the last ten years,” he added.

Higher rates of growth have moved Bangladesh’s per capita income, which was 61 percent below that of Pakistan in 1972, to exceed Pakistan’s PCI in 2020 by 62 percent.

Such rapid rates of growth have been realised through Bangladesh’s higher rates of savings and investment as well as its higher level of exports which were all well behind those of Pakistan’s in 1972, according to Prof Rehman.

He was delivering lecture at the inaugural session of an international virtual conference on “50 Years of Bangladesh: Retrospect and Prospect,’ organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).

In the area of human development, the most dramatic advances have been registered by the women of Bangladesh whose gender development index has not only moved well ahead of Pakistan but is also ahead of India, according to Prof Rehman.

At the same time, due to better health provisioning, Bangladesh’s life expectancy which was well below Pakistan in 1972 is now 5 years above that of Pakistan’s.

Similarly, in the area of education, in such indicators as years of schooling and literacy rate, Bangladesh once lagged behind Pakistan but have now moved ahead.

“As a result, Bangladesh’s levels of multi-dimensional poverty, which was once higher than that of Pakistan is now well below it,” he noted.

All these indicators of Bangladesh’s progress, compared to Pakistan, have served to validate Bangabandhu’s vision that an independent Bangladesh, in full command of its own destiny, would be able to move ahead more rapidly than under the dominance of Pakistan, he added.

“In the course of these 50 years Bangladesh’s progress may have exceeded Bangabandhu’s expectations,” he commented.

But he said even though Bangladesh’s economy has registered impressive growth and poverty has been reduced, income inequalities and social disparities have widened, which is contrary to building a just society as dreamt of by Bangabandhu, he pointed out. 

“This represents an unjust distribution of the gains from our development and an inadequate recognition, in terms of policies and public support, of the larger constituency of social forces which have also driven our progress,” he stated.

He suggested that much can be done towards bringing greater justice to the governance process if the ruling regime remains committed to realizing Bangabandhu’s vision of a just society.

 Ensuring the rule of law for all, implementing policies and enforcing regulations, remain within the domain of a well-intentioned government and do not require revolutionary upheavals, he said. 

“The move to realise more substantive advances towards a just society may need structural changes which require new legislation, even constitutional amendments, supported by changes in the balance of power which accommodates the needs, rewards the contribution and gives voice to the less privileged segments of society,” he suggested.