Skip to main content

Bangladesh 'surges' past India in per capita GDP: Lessons to learn from Land of River

Bangladeshi garment workers on a strike
By Biswanath Sinha*
Tripura is the only state in Union territory of India with a border in its all four corners with a foreign country – Bangladesh. This is also probably the only state where the indigenous people have been outnumbered in population since Independence by influx happening from across the border.
Much of the recent electoral political history of it has been dominated by the issue of son of soil versus the immigrants into this hilly terrain and its foothills. However, it did not catch much national attention when in 2018 the Chief Whip of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) claimed that about 600 tribals from Tripura went to Bangladesh in search of food and jobs.
Many reports and studies indicate that Bangladesh has been making commendable progress in all social indices over the last decade. In the book “An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions”, development experts Jean Dr├Ęze and Amartya Sen had narrated in 2013 that Bangladesh had been outshining its larger neighbours on indicators such as infant mortality, child immunisation, female literacy, access to improved sanitation, and total fertility rate.
For a country born out of bloody conflict in 1971 having the largest population density (among larger countries) almost three times as dense as India, this is undoubtedly a phenomenal achievement. Over the time, it performed better than India in some other major indicators including hunger index and population growth rate. Only on per capita GDP India was better off. Unfortunately, despite all these, the country was viewed only from the lenses of natural disasters, wrenching poverty, famine and political violence by many so far.
The Bangladesh growth story captured our imagination when in 2019 in its Outlook 2019 Report, Asian Development highlighted how the GDP growth rate outlook for Bangladesh might bypass that for India by 2020.
One year later, the International Monetary Fund’s latest update on the World Economic Outlook released in October 2020, indicated that growth of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) would witness a contraction of over 10 percent. But more importantly it made an observation that in 2020, the per capita income of an average Bangladeshi citizen would be more than the per capita income of an average Indian citizen.
The IMF’s latest report suggests that the gap in per capita GDP between these two countries is set to disappear, and Bangladesh and India are expected to be neck and neck until 2025. The IMF’s projections show that India is likely to grow faster next year and in all likelihood again surge ahead. But, given Bangladesh’s lower population growth and faster economic growth, India and Bangladesh are likely to be neck and neck for the foreseeable future in terms of per capita income.

Social development indicators

While comparing the per capita GDP, there is debate going on to bring into the inflation and the purchasing power parity (PPP) factors. But what is undeniable is that the smaller neighbour has made remarkable strides in human development parameters over a period of time. The following table illustrates it:

How eastern Indian states stand

It is worth mentioning that compared to India, Bangladesh is a smaller country geographical area wise. On impact between the people living across the borders, it will be interesting to see the comparison between Bangladesh and its neighbouring Indian states. Bangladesh has borders with West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram states of India.
Assuming that per capita income of India and Bangladesh is almost at par, then definitely per capita income of all neighbouring Indian states of Bangladesh except Mizoram is lower than the country of the rivers.
While many indicators can be studied for comparison between Bangladesh and its neighbouring Indian states, one interesting point to analyse could be the gap in income of the people there. As per Central Statistical Organisation data, all the states mentioned here except Mizoram have an income level of below the national average.
Considering the fact that Bangladesh has just surpassed India in per capita income, the per capita income in the states of West Bengal, Assam and Meghalaya remain far below the income level of Bangladesh. On this aspect while Tripura is below Bangladesh average, Mizoram could be at par with it. This probably illustrates the reported influx of villagers from Tripura to Bangladesh.
As per the “Human Development Report 2019: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Bangladesh” by the UNDP, inequality in income in India is 18.80 percent while in Bangladesh it is 15.70 percent. it is 15.70 percent. This indicates that proportionately more vulnerable people reside on the Indian side and in near future there is possibility of more migration happening from Indian states to Bangladesh unless the situation is arrested there.

NGOs and women: Key drivers for Bangladeshi growth story

Among many factors for success, roles played by women in the economy and by the Non-Government Organisations in Bangladesh stand out. It is remarkable that in Bangladesh two out of five women of working age are in the labour force, almost double India’s 21 percent participation rate. What is more remarkable is that fact that in Bangladesh, female labour participation is 36 percent and rising; whereas in India it’s 23 percent and has fallen by 8 percent in the last decade.
Bangladesh is also far ahead of India in the latest gender parity rankings. This measures differences in the political and economic opportunities as well as the educational attainment and health of men and women. Out of 154 countries mapped for it, Bangladesh is in the top 50 while India languishes at 112.
Second, unlike in India, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been encouraged to play a crucial role in Bangladesh’s development. An outstanding example is the multi-faceted development agency Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC). According to “The Economist”, BRAC is now the world’s largest charity
Bangladeshi women working in a garment factory
Its programme provides a monitored pathway out of extreme poverty and has been adopted by NGOs in 45 countries. The roles played by many micro finance institutions like Grameen Bank, ASA, BRAC, PROSHIKA, etc. in lifting many families out of the vicious poverty cycle is also well documented.

What Indian can learn from Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a small country in comparison to India. But the economic strive it has demonstrated in the last few decades should be an eye-opener for its larger neighbour. There are many aspects of the development process which India, especially eastern India can adopt and adapt from Bangladeshi stories. In many ways the region is already replicating the Bangladesh microfinance model.
Bandhan Bank and North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB) are almost modelled on them. It can collaborate and learn in the fields of agriculture, fishery, livestock, health, hygiene and education too. Unlike in India, Bangladesh allows the NGOs to generate its own revenue which in turn gets reinvested in further economic activities.
The regulation on the non-profit sector is much liberal there and despite some drawbacks, now it’s universally acknowledged that the non-profit sector has contributed significantly to the country's agenda and its national progress. Unfortunately, with more restrictions put through The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, etc. India seems to walk the opposite path.
---
*With Tata Trusts, Mumbai. Views are personal

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Dalit Hindi professor intimidated, harassed by saffron brigade: 400 activists, academics

Counterview Desk  Over 400 academics and activists have expressed alarm at the Lucknow University ‘protests’ on May 10 against Dr Ravi Kant, associate professor of Hindi and a Dalit, stating it is nothing but “intimidation and abuse” over his remarks on the online channel Satya Hindi, which were taken out of context and made viral on social media. “We are even more concerned that such an incident should occur within the confines a university campus, where free speech and expression without fear must ideally be the norm. Violence and intimidation over differences of opinion should never occur in a university”, the statement regrets, asking the authorities at the university and the Uttar Pradesh government to assure him and his family “protection from further harassment or intimidation.” Text: We are a group of academics and activists deeply concerned by the public heckling and intimidation of Dr. Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well known Dalit scholar, on the premises of t