Where Bangladesh succeeded and Pakistan failed
Matching our defenses with our lofty ambitions is a prerequisite
Women's empowerment has been a decisive factor in ensuring Bangladesh leapfrogged Pakistan as an economy
Kalshi Flyover Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
Prithwi Raj Chaturvedi
Published: March 21, 2023 3:47 AM | Last Updated: March 21, 2023 4:03 AM
Bangladesh has accomplished what Pakistan was unable to -- a sensible population policy that succeeded in lowering the birth rate.
Pakistan, however, utterly failed in this endeavour. Miftah Ismail, a former Pakistani finance minister, made these remarks while speaking at an event in Karachi.
He cited Pakistan's lack of population planning as one of the causes of the nation's present socio-economic difficulties, adding that “one option to get out of the current maelstrom” was to pay attention to population planning. Miftah Ismail used Bangladesh as a case study of progress and listed four key areas for this: Population control, putting women in the workforce, an export-centric economy, and the establishment of special economic zones.
Miftah Ismail mentioned Bangladesh, Tunisia, and Egypt, saying that these nations too have Muslim societies, much like Pakistan. But all of them engaged in population planning except Pakistan. The former finance minister added that the country's gross domestic product per capita would have been more than 15% if they had matched the fertility rate to Bangladesh's over the previous 10 years. The Pakistani lawmaker said that Bangladesh as well as other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka have progressed significantly due to “accurate planning” whereas Pakistan has been plagued with problems in the last 75 years because of “wrong policies.”
Bangladesh was one of the world's poorest nations in December 1971, the month it gained independence from Pakistan. Its economy and infrastructure had been completely decimated by the catastrophic conflict. The changes Bangladesh has undergone a little over 50 years later are impressive. Since 2000, it has remained among the fastest-growing economies, and in 2015, it crossed the threshold to become a lower-middle-income country
. GNI per capita rose to over $2,500 in 2021, a 20-fold leap from its 1971 levels.
Pakistan currently has an average per capita income of US$1,430, while Bangladesh has an average income of US$2,720. The average life expectancy in Pakistan has not increased as much as was anticipated. Whereas Pakistan has an average life expectancy of 67 years, Bangladesh has an average life expectancy of 73 years.
Bangladesh has achieved impressive strides in a variety of areas, but three strategic development decisions it has made over the years -- investing in people, empowering women, and preparing for disasters and adapting to climate change -- have paid off greatly.
The ex-minister from Pakistan who claimed that Bangladesh's quick economic development was made possible by its female workforce emphasized the significance of female engagement.
Women's empowerment was a key component of Bangladesh's plan to fight poverty. The country had one of the lowest rates of female educational attainment in 1991. Bangladesh was one of the first developing nations to achieve gender parity in secondary school enrollment because of a groundbreaking initiative that provided school stipends for underprivileged rural girls, which was later adopted in Mexico, Cambodia, and other nations.
Females currently make up more than half of students enrolled in lower secondary schools, compared to just 17% in 1970. Many thousands of rural women now have jobs thanks to the country's thriving RMG industry. The percentage of women who are in the labour force has climbed from 21% in 1990 to 35% in 2021.
Child marriage has also declined in Bangladesh; there were 28% female students in Bangladesh's educational institutions in 1971, and the percentage jumped to 51% in 2019. After Pakistan's reign, women have made significant progress, thanks in large part to Bangladesh's extensive efforts to remove obstacles to women's education. Because of this, Pakistanis are now clamouring for Bangladesh instead of Sweden
, Singapore, or New York.
Bangladesh's achievement in developing itself has allowed it to assist other countries and the world community as a whole such as its great generosity in sheltering more than 1.1 million Rohingya who escaped atrocities in Myanmar. It is astonishing to see how this nation has developed from the destruction of war and natural calamities at the outset of independence to become a middle-income country today and is striving for even greater prosperity for all of its citizens.
Prithwi Raj Chaturvedi is a Researcher and Political analyst based in New Delhi,India