BANGLADESH MUST LIVE UP TO ITS IMAGE AS AN EMERGING SOUTH ASIAN TIGER: DR. MAIMUL AHSAN KHAN, PROF. OF LAW, DU

BANGLADESH MUST LIVE UP TO ITS IMAGE AS AN EMERGING SOUTH ASIAN TIGER: DR. MAIMUL AHSAN KHAN, PROF. OF LAW, DU

On the verge of celebrating its silver jubilee as an independent nation, Bangladesh has seen many changes, reached milestones in reducing poverty, improving healthcare and education, and empowering of women. A feather in Bangladesh’s cap is its pioneering role in the formation of SAARC, the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation. Some of the core issues of SAARC include regional connectivity, bilateral trade and border security in the South Asian region. There is still a long way to go, especially with two neighboring nuclear powers competing for influence and the region experiencing a refugee crisis.

Bangladesh has been successful in facing many challenges such as settling disputes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. However the problem remains in dealing with the prolonged crisis of the Rohingya refugees, victims of atrocities in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. The fate and status of this minority Muslim community living in Bangladesh as refugees is the most critical problem in Bangladesh-Myanmar relations.

Dr. Maimul Ahsan Khan, professor of law currently teaching Jurisprudence and Law of International Institutions at the University of Dhaka, aired these opinions during an interview with the international online news portal South Asian Monitor (www.southasianmonitor.com). Dr. Maimul Ahsan Khan is specialized in jurisprudence, Islamic law, political science, human rights, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Oriental studies. Khan taught at the University of Illinois-UIUC, the University of California-Davis and Berkeley and the Technical University of Liberec-Czech Republic. He has served as a Fulbright Fellow at the College of Law in University of Illinois-UC. He spoke on the strategic relationship of Bangladesh with China and India. Kamruzzaman Bablu interviewed Dr. Khan from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

SAM: There has been an increase in the exodus of the Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh following the killing, rape and arson by the Myanmar army and hardliner Buddhists. However, Bangladesh is not prepared to take them in as refugees and provide shelter. As it is, a good number of Rohingya have already taken shelter in Bangladesh. In this context, some are in favor of offering refuge to the Rohingya’s while the others oppose. What do you think?

Khan: The first question is whether it is merely harmful for the Rohingya’s or also a great loss of credibility for Bangladesh? The issue should be considered from international and national perspectives. In the global village we are in today, this invokes many questions that require some realistic answers and solutions.

The issues are related to ethnic-religious relations between Rohingya Muslims and Muslims of Bengal, a shared history of about one millennium. Ethnic tension between state-sponsored terrorists and peaceful civilians in Myanmar has been repeatedly occurring for decades. Rohingya Muslims are often deemed as bandit groups, attacked by the Magh Buddhists who were not supposed to be engaged in such a whole scale brutality against innocent people living more than five hundred years in their vicinity as fellow-citizens. As a sovereign neighbor, how have we, along with numerous human rights organizations and groups, been tolerating these crimes against humanity? In fact, there is every reason to consider these heinous and widespread atrocities as war crimes. There is a popular saying, “winners have a thousand mothers and losers have none”.

SAM: Does it mean that Bangladesh has been marked as a weak and ineffective country before the world for its failure to assist the ousted Rohingya Muslims as refugees?

Khan: It does not indicate anything directly about the status and prospect of our own statehood. However, it demonstrates the lack of capability of our governmental machineries when it comes to display respect for our own public opinion and concerned international communities. Our governmental approach can be considered as immature or rather shortsighted when it comes to addressing the hopes and aspirations of our people and international communities. Bangladesh is considering the Rohingya issue once as a burden, another time as a problem that could flare up in an unmanageable magnitude. The tragic events are directly and indirectly revisiting us with a terrible picture of ethnic cleansing at our doorsteps, and we have been failing to address those in any responsible manner that match our image as an emerging tiger in the South Asian region.

Sometimes it is argued that we have not signed any treaty or international legal instruments or documents on this. This is totally nonsense. In such a grave circumstance, we do not need to put emphasis on the legal texts. We need to see what we can do to rescue the lives of human beings irrespective of race, religion, and gender.

SAM: How do you think other powerful countries in Asia, especially India, will react if Bangladesh decides to protect Rohingya refugees?

Khan: A huge multi-ethnic country like India has its own predicaments regarding issues with its bordering territories. Why does India have to be compassionate to Muslims in Myanmar, especially under the leadership of PM Modi, who represents Hindu fundamentalists? However, we need to separate his leadership from a variety of issues of India as a state and its Muslim community, which has to live up to its own responsibilities and liabilities. Modi or Mamata of West Bengal may or may not be well-wishers of Bangladesh when it comes to a major regional, humanitarian or religious issue because they have their own stakes and constituencies to reckon with. We all need to appreciate that in this region of the world we are still fearful of the creation of a new state entity. For India and Pakistan, Rohingyas might be reminiscent of the episode of our liberation struggle. For China, it might be the same.

SAM: Is the position of India and China same regarding Bangladesh as both are willing to use Bangladesh for their own interests?

Khan: Firstly, look at the unprecedented rise of China in all fronts of the global stage. Two decades ago many Chinese governmental officials, including the premier or president of China used to say that they would never be a strong rivals of the US as it had accumulated so much power of every type that was known to the human history. Since 1997 the addition of the concept of Two Economies in One Country added a stronger value to the theory of mainland China. Now the new geopolitical scenario of global trade and business favors Beijing. While I had been teaching a course on the possible rise of Chinese economy as a competitor of Japan or United States, with a timid voice I had to compare China with India. Even then I was under direct attack from my fellow American professors, who believed firmly that New Delhi had a much brighter future than Beijing. My disagreement appeared as an insult to their academic prudency, superiority, clarity and comprehensiveness. On the other hand, Shining India could easily overshadow even the prospect of the revival of the Japanese economy, which is shrinking day by day in size and performance. The major academic problem with many of our academics and some of the Westerners is that they often argue like politicians rather than far-sighted researchers and innovators.

SAM: Bangladesh and China signed 26 deals and MoUs (Memorandums of Understanding) involving $24 billion during the two-day Bangladesh visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping. How do you evaluate this?

Khan: Actually 24 billion dollar is nothing for a country like China. The country’s Silk Road project will involve nearly 18 trillion US dollars in the coming decades. China is the only country in the world that maintains a foreign reserve of over 3 trillion. Western Chinese cities are now directly connected with many European cities, such as London. Londoners can buy even furniture or electronic goods from China via the Chinese online giant Ali Baba. Chinese willingness and capability to invest one trillion dollars every year in other economies around the world is anything but a fantasy. In the entire African Continent, no Western companies can beat the companies sponsored by the Chinese government and Chinese business communities. In this backdrop, the 24 billion dollar investment package for Bangladesh is not a great deal at all. The problem is that whether we can absorb that money and I am telling you we are completely unprepare and incapable to absorb that kind of fund.

Though India is our nearest and biggest neighbor, our business communities prefer Chinese companies over Indian, which by nature is still reminiscent of the East Indian Company sponsored by the British. India came up with an offer of $2 billion loan and assistance during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015. This 2 billion dollar is actually nothing in comparison with the offer made by China. Beijing’s attitude is clear: the size of the joint venture between China and Bangladesh is not a problem and there is no dearth of capital for Bangladesh. It tells India: do not be jealous, you can also have 10 to 20 billion dollars for any joint ventures. Our problem is who would be concerned for our environment protection? As all these capitals are coming here to make quick profit, so our tiny country may turn into a big junkyard of India or China.

SAM: Do you think that China has taken Bangladesh as one of the vital strategic gates to exercise its supremacy in this region as well as in the international arena?

Khan: The dynamism of Chinese policy makers and their economy is a miracle. What have they done so far? One study shows that the amount of building materials like cement and rods they have used within the last few years, is whatever the entire America did within one hundred years. So how huge was the development work? In addition, it has a population of 1.28 billion. The size of the American population is about one-fourth that of China. Now 300 million Chinese can speak in English, the country is ready to provide scholarships to foreigners more than America, Canada, and European Union combined just with a condition that you have to learn Chinese language.

SAM: How can Bangladesh earn benefits through tactful diplomatic channels by developing good relations simultaneously with India and China?

Khan: There is a theoretical possibility. However, practically we do not see that will materialize. We are still in a very preliminary stage of our diplomatic growth regarding our maneuvering capabilities as a diplomatic power. We have very little maneuvering power.

SAM: India barred more than 50 upstream rivers to Bangladesh, thus imposing fatal natural calamity on us. However, why do the people of Bangladesh and its politicians fail to be vocal unilaterally on the issue?

Khan: Bangladesh is the biggest delta of the world. The country was created by the accumulation of silt over thousands of years. That is why it is called the “Poli Mati Desh” (land of silt) and the people’s mindset is like the silt. Once they created Pakistan, then went against Pakistan, and then created Bangladesh. Once 90 percent people supported Awami League and then 90 percent people supported BNP. It is may be because of the climatic conditions of this country.

Now look at Farakka Barrage. If you look at the history, the Chanakya and Manu laws of India categorically prohibit even the Brahman (the highest class of Indian people) from creating any artificial barrier on anything including water, wind and whatever. If somebody does that, it is said that the person should not come to the temple for worship. It means that even a Brahman becomes unholy if he blocks the flow of water. Therefore, India even has no moral right to continue Farakka Barrage or other dams. However, the Bangladeshi people including the narrow-minded and divided politicians show no sign of uniting against this aggression.

SAM: There is a negative attitude from the Indian side regarding any development and progress in Bangladesh. During the agreement between Bangladesh and China last November (2016) for purchasing two Chinese submarines, the reaction of India was very harsh. How do you consider this?

Khan: I think Bangladesh government has no option but to maintain good relations with China. The government had to buy the submarines. If government is unwilling to buy those from China, the Chinese may not continue to work on the Padma Bridge project along with all other projects. Bangladesh has fewer options. Now China has offered a proposal for building a bullet train line from Dhaka to Kunming City of China through Myanmar. From Dhaka to Kunming, it will take only two and half hours or maximum three hours. At the present, one cannot even go to Comilla in three hours from Dhaka. Dhaka-Kunming connectivity looks very promising on that respect. The Chinese may move into healthcare industries both in Bangladesh and in China. Many Bangladeshis travel to India for healthcare purpose and China might invest in this promising sector, promoting a healthy competition between China and India.

SAM: Any Chinese project with Bangladesh is being opposed by India from the very beginning. How can Bangladesh overcome such pressure from India?

Khan: The Soviet Union used to impose their will on Afghanistan, which they ended up invading and paid a terrible price. Then came the United States and they fell into same trap. They find it so hard to extricate themselves from that now. The Bangladeshi people historically have stronger opposition to any foreign entity imposing their will on their motherland. Many Asian countries started far down the ladder when comes to achieving national development. The present day Malaysia was much like Bangladesh.

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JANUARY 18, 2017

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BANGLADESH POISED TO BE THE NEXT ASIAN TIGER

BANGLADESH POISED TO BE THE NEXT ASIAN TIGER

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in many economic and social indicators, with the country now standing on the cusp of a take-off, Kaushik Basu, chief economist of the World Bank, said yesterday.

“Your country stands at the threshold of doing very well,” he said in his public lecture organised by Bangladesh Bank at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. “It is actually not far-fetched to say that Bangladesh can be the new Asian Tiger.”

“A little bit of ambition can make a huge transformation.”

But the country will also face many challenges as it grows and gets more integrated with the globalised world.

Subsequently, Basu recommended improving infrastructure and the ease of doing business, creating business ethos and providing skills and education to workers to reap the demographic dividends.

Basu shared the view citing various indicators of progress such as an increase in per capita income, foreign direct investment and foreign exchange reserves.

The indicators have changed since his first visit to Dhaka in 1992.

Poverty and infant mortality, for example, have dropped and life expectancy increased.

Basu, who is the second WB chief economist from a developing country and the first from India, said the investment rate as a percentage of the gross domestic product was 17 percent in 1992 and the per capita income $330.

Bangladesh’s investment to GDP ratio has now grown to 29 percent and per capita income stands at $1,314.

Bangladesh roughly invests 30 percent of its national income, which is in line with the East Asian economies, according to Basu.

The current pace of investment is a signal of long-run growth, Basu said, adding that the investment rate needs to be increased to 33-34 percent to speed up economic growth to 8 percent and the overall development.

Basu, also the senior vice president of the WB, said the multilateral lender forecasts that the Bangladesh economy will grow at 6.5 percent this year and 6.7 percent next year.

“This growth rate takes you neck-to-neck with the growth rates of China,” he said, adding that the rising labour cost in China has opened up huge opportunities for Bangladesh, where there is an abundance of cheap labour.

“You must not think small,” said Basu, adding that the country can take advantage by using its competitiveness in the garment and other sectors.

Economic advancement comes with challenges.

As Bangladesh grows, opens up and becomes more connected with world trade, it will be impacted for fluctuation of global economy and financial markets, he said.

“For that, you have to increase your infrastructure,” Basu said, stressing the need for better ports and enough electricity generation and more efficient business process and business ethos.

On the domestic front, the country also needs to design good policies to address the challenges it will face as it grows, he said.

Good policies are also necessary to ensure inclusive growth, reduce poverty and inequality.

If policies are not designed well, corruption and leakage can take place, he warned.

“Economic progress does not depend only on economic policies. Good monetary and fiscal policies can also help. But it also depends on human minds.”

Basu also lauded the increase in foreign exchange reserves ($26.5 billion) and said it should increase further.

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DECEMBER 15, 2015

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BANGLADESH BECOMING NEW ‘ASIAN TIGER’: REPORT

BANGLADESH BECOMING NEW ‘ASIAN TIGER’: REPORT

Bangladesh is in a race for becoming a new ‘Asian Tiger’, according to a report run by Business Insider and posted on World Economic Forum web site.

The report said when people talk about the ‘Asian Tigers,’ they’re typically referring to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The four countries experienced rapid growth between the 1960s and 1990s.

But now there’s another country that should come to mind: Bangladesh, the report said.
The Bangladesh economy has been one of the top performers in Asia over the past decade, averaging annual growth of more than 6 per cent.

Much like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan during the industrialisation of their economies, most of the growth that Bangladesh has experienced has come from garment exports, which the CIA World Factbook says accounts for more than 80 per cent of its exports.

In a note sent out to clients on Monday, Gareth Leather and Krystal Tan, Asia economists at Capital Economics, wrote that Bangladesh has picked up about two-thirds of China’s low-end manufacturing market share in Europe.

But if Bangladesh is to reach the government’s ambitious growth target of 8 per cent a year by 2020, ‘it is essential that it starts to diversify out of the garment trade into other sectors, such as electronics and other consumer durables, where there is more scope to add value.’

In order to diversify out of the garment trade, Bangladesh, according to Leather and Tan, must do two things: improving its infrastructure and investment climate.
Poor infrastructure makes it difficult to transport goods across the country. Additionally, more than 20 per cent of the population of more than 156 million aren’t connected to the power grid, and companies often have to use their own back-up power generators because of the high susceptibility to blackouts.

Those factors, combined with high levels of corruption, make Bangladesh one of the hardest places in the world to conduct business, the report said.

According to Capital Economics, more needs to be done in reducing corruption, simplifying customs procedures, making land acquisition easier, improving private sector companies’ access to credit and making the security situation more stable.
The government is already taking steps to improve the investment climate.

Leather and Tan said, ‘Among the measures the government is planning to introduce include removing red-tape to expedite the process of starting a business (to seven days instead of 19.5 days), issuing construction permits within 60 days (instead of the current 278 days) and reducing the time it takes for a company to be connected to the national grid to 28 days (compared with 404 days at present). There are also plans to simplify property registration, enhance contract enforcement, streamline cross-border trade procedures under a World Bank-sponsored agenda, and digitise tax payments to improve collection. Progress on these fronts would increase Bangladesh’s appeal as an investment destination.’

The capital markets are taking notice. Bangladesh’s local stock market, the DSE 30, rallied 15.5 per cent during the first quarter of 2017. It’s up another 2.3 per cent in the first week of the second quarter.

In a note sent out to clients recently, Exotix Partners Head of Frontier Markets Equity Strategy, MENA and South Asia Research, Hasnain Malik said the market (Bangladesh stock market) was being powered higher by earnings growth, local interest in equities, and increasing foreign investor interest.

Malik believes there is a lot to like about the market’s fundamentals: domestic political stability, geopolitical support from regional powers China and India, macroeconomic growth and currency stability, fast-paced urban growth and extreme
population density and almost all of the 20 biggest publicly traded companies offer direct exposure to Bangladesh’s domestic economy.

‘In our view, it is too early to let go of the tiger’s tail,’ Malik writes. ‘Bangladesh public equity valuations are just beginning to catch up with its high growth and high returns on capital…’

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APRIL 20, 2017

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CAN BANGLADESH BE THE NEXT ASIAN TIGER?

CAN BANGLADESH BE THE NEXT ASIAN TIGER?

In the past decade Bangladesh has been amongst the top performing economies in Asia, averaging an annual growth rate over 6 percent.

And, like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan during the early phase of industrialisation , much of the growth has been driven by exports.

The similarities have driven Business Insider’s Jonathan Garber, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, to assess whether the country may be the next Asian tiger.

Problems of infrastructure, including poor roads and an insufficient power grid, and widespread corruption limit the country’s ability to diversify the economy, they say.

They suggest more work must be done to reduce corruption, simplify customs laws, ease land acquisition, improve private access to credit and stabilise the security situation.

They also note the government’s efforts to improve the business climate by reducing and simplifying red tape affecting businesses and taxpayers.

The efforts have led to an uptick in the capital market with the DSE rallying 15.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017.These market developments are powered by growth of earnings, local interest in equities and rising interest among foreign investors, according to a report by researcher Hasnain Malik.

Malik praises the market’s fundamentals, including political stability, support from India and China, macroeconomic growth and currency stability, speedy urban growth and extreme population density, as solid building blocks.

But, “it is too early to let go of the tiger’s tail,” writes Malik.

“Bangladesh public equity valuations are just beginning to catch up with its high growth and high returns on capital…”

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JUNE 05, 2017
 
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THE FIFTH ASIAN TIGER: CAN BANGLADESH BECOME THE LATEST ECONOMIC SUCCESS STORY?

THE FIFTH ASIAN TIGER: CAN BANGLADESH BECOME THE LATEST ECONOMIC SUCCESS STORY?

YASHVARDHAN BARDOLOI

A junior reporter takes a look at the history of Bangladesh, once known as East Pakistan, the rise of its economy, and how the country can use its strengths to develop into a force to be reckoned with

Established as East Pakistan after India’s partition in 1947, Bangladesh was marked by neglect and discrimination in the two decades before it gained independence. Of the two Pakistans, the East was more populous, but remained politically and economically dominated by West Pakistan.

More than 1,600km of Indian territory separated East and West Pakistan. Liberation activists said the central government in West Pakistan engaged in ethnic and linguistic discrimination against the majority Bengali East Pakistanis, who were also largely under-represented in the Pakistani bureaucracy and army. Only the West Pakistani native tongue, Urdu, was recognised as an official language. Economically, the government of West Pakistan was accused of taking surpluses from the East to fund the West’s imports, while the West withheld the allocation of funds for development in the East.

As maltreatment and mismanagement grew, calls for freedom from West Pakistan escalated, culminating in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, which led to the creation of Bangladesh. Following its brief and bitter war for separation, the country had grim prospects. The leaders of its independence movement lamented its industrial weakness and low productivity, and few outside observers were optimistic about an economic turnaround. Bangladesh was considerably poorer than an already poor Pakistan, with a GDP (gross domestic product) per capita of US$130 against Pakistan’s US$177.

Even today, more than four decades later, Bangladesh can hardly be considered well-off. Its income per capita, at US$1,600, is way too low, and its Human Development Index (HDI) score places it at 139th in the world. Yet, the country has recorded quietly remarkable growth, with an economy that has potential for future development.

Bangladesh exports more garments than India and Pakistan combined, thanks to the country’s cheap labour.

The World Bank reports that poverty has declined from 31.5 per cent to 23.2 per cent, lifting some 15 million people from the state of being extremely poor. The country has overtaken Pakistan in terms of GDP per capita. And, with an annual GDP growth rate of seven per cent, it may pull further ahead of its neighbour. The country once struggled to produce anything. Now, 29 per cent of GDP is from industry; Bangladesh exports more garments than India and Pakistan combined, and is a destination of choice for international clothing giants.

Following independence from Pakistan, the Bangladeshi government introduced a socialist economic system, nationalising industries across the economy. This was damaging to growth, with chronic shortages and inflation afflicting the country. In 1975, the government veered towards more market-friendly policies, privatising some industries and taking steps to create a more entrepreneur-friendly environment. Growth chugged along in the 1980s and 1990s, with support from international donors and the International Monetary Fund. The restoration of democracy in 1991, after a decade of military rule, laid the foundation for further development and encouraged foreign investors.

Since 2004, the economy has managed an average growth rate of around 6.5 per cent. The country has aggressively pursued export-oriented industrialisation (EOI), the economic policy that was implemented with great success by the Asian Tigers – Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea – during their decades of breakneck growth. EOI dictates that a country exports according to its comparative advantage, focusing on producing goods which, given its human and physical capital, would be optimal when compared to other nations. Bangladesh’s biggest export is textiles, where low wages draw large businesses, particularly from Western discount clothing chains.

Looking ahead, some observers believe automation could pose a huge threat to Bangladesh’s textile industry. Developing countries like Bangladesh derive their manufacturing edge from cheap labour, but if capital investments in rich countries result in machines that are able to mass-produce garments for a lower price, that advantage is gone. Industry experts, however, note that such concerns may be overstated. Sewing requires more dexterity than is often appreciated, and even the most advanced robots today struggle with fine motor skills. The most advanced machines would be too expensive to be employed in textile production. It is unlikely that machines will outcompete Bangladesh’s low-cost factory workers in the immediate future.

A growing tide of protectionism in the US and Europe could also undermine manufacturing in Bangladesh, which mainly relies on exports to the European Union and the US. That said, textile manufacturing has long been an obsolete industry in the developed world, so it is relatively unlikely that Bangladesh’s manufacturers will be slapped with particularly punitive tariffs.

All things considered, Bangladesh should look to move up the value chain in its manufacturing sector. The East Asian tigers, too, began with low-cost production, but the transition from low-middle-income status to high-income status is only possible with more capital – and knowledge-intensive manufacturing – as notably shown by South Korea and Taiwan. The Bangladeshi government has shown a commitment to investing in technology through programmes such as “Digital Bangladesh”. But it needs to do better. Digital Bangladesh has been criticised as half-hearted, haphazard and hopeless in a country that has the lowest internet penetration in South Asia and significant electricity generation deficits.

Corruption is endemic in South Asia; Bangladesh is no exception. Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index put the country at an ignominious 145th place, below even Nigeria and Ukraine. Patronage, bribe-taking and cronyism are rampant in the economy, severely impeding growth and deterring business activity. Stronger governance and a tough crackdown on corruption, perhaps through an independent anti-graft commission, will be prerequisites to sustained growth in the country.

The next decade is critical for Bangladesh. If global economic currents and government policy work in its favour, the country could find itself adorning book covers as the latest Asian success story. Failure would condemn the world’s eighth largest population to a generation of needless misery.

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Edited by Ginny Wong
DECEMBER 07, 2017

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THERE COULD BE A NEW ‘ASIAN TIGER’. HERE’S WHY

THERE COULD BE A NEW ‘ASIAN TIGER’. HERE’S WHY

When people talk about the “Asian Tigers,” they’re typically referring to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The four countries experienced rapid growth between the 1960s and 1990s.

But now there’s another country that should come to mind: Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh economy has been one of the top performers in Asia over the past decade, averaging annual growth of more than 6%. Much like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan during the industrialization of their economies, most of of the growth that Bangladesh has experienced has come from garment exports, which the CIA World Factbook says accounts for more than 80% of its exports.

In a note sent out to clients on Monday, Gareth Leather and Krystal Tan, Asia economists at Capital Economics, wrote that Bangladesh has picked up about two-thirds of China’s low-end manufacturing market share in Europe.

But if Bangladesh is to reach the government’s ambitious growth target of 8% a year by 2020, “it is essential that it starts to diversify out of the garment trade into other sectors, such as electronics and other consumer durables, where there is more scope to add value.”

In order to diversify out of the garment trade, Bangladesh must do two things, according to Leather and Tan: Improve its infrastructure and investment climate.

Poor infrastructure makes it difficult to transport goods across the country. Additionally, more than 20% of the population of more than 156 million (about 31 million) aren’t connected to the power grid, and companies often have to use their own back-up power generators because of the high susceptibility to blackouts.

Those factors, combined with high levels of corruption, make Bangladesh one of the hardest places in the world to conduct business. According to Capital Economics, “more needs to be done on reducing corruption, simplifying customs procedures, making land acquisition easier, improving private sector companies’ access to credit and making the security situation more stable.”

The government is already taking steps to improve the investment climate. Here’s Leather and Tan:

“Among the measures the government is planning to introduce include removing red-tape to expedite the process of starting a business (to seven days instead of 19.5 days), issuing construction permits within 60 days (instead of the current 278 days) and reducing the time it takes for a company to be connected to the national grid to 28 days (compared with 404 days at present). There are also plans to simplify property registration, enhance contract enforcement, streamline cross- border trade procedures under a World Bank- sponsored agenda, and digitise tax payments to improve collection. Progress on these fronts would increase Bangladesh’s appeal as an investment destination.”

The capital markets are taking notice. Bangladesh’s local stock market, the DSE 30, rallied 15.5% during the first quarter of 2017. It’s up another 2.3% in the first week of the second quarter.

In a note sent out to clients on Thursday, Exotix Partners Head of Frontier Markets Equity Strategy, MENA and South Asia Research, Hasnain Malik says the market is being powered higher by earnings growth, local interest in equities, and increasing foreign investor interest.

Malik believes there is a lot to like about the market’s fundamentals:

1. Domestic political stability

2. Geopolitical support from regional powers China and India

3. Macroeconomic growth and currency stability

4. Fast-paced urban growth and extreme population density

5. Almost all of the 20 biggest publicly traded companies offer direct exposure to Bangladesh’s domestic economy

“In our view, it is too early to let go of the tiger’s tail,” Malik writes. “Bangladesh public equity valuations are just beginning to catch up with its high growth and high returns on capital…”

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JONATHAN GARBER, Markets Editor, Business Insider
This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider.
APRIL 11, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CLIMATE - Global Warming Challenge, CURRENT ISSUES, Distribution & Poverty, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, G-8, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GLOBALIZATION, GROWTH & TARGET, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, IMPACT OF CAPITALISM, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL - PERCEPTION ON BANGLADESH, N-11, NGO'S, Poverty, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STOCK MARKET, STRATEGY & POLICY, TOURISM, TRADE BODIES, TRANSPARENCY & CORRUPTION CONTROL, UNITED NATIONS, WORLD - GEOPOLITICS | Leave a comment

THERE’S A NEW ‘ASIAN TIGER’

THERE’S A NEW ‘ASIAN TIGER’

JONATHAN GARBER

When people talk about the “Asian Tigers,” they’re typically referring to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The four countries experienced rapid growth between the 1960s and 1990s.

But now there’s another country that should come to mind: Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh economy has been one of the top performers in Asia over the past decade, averaging annual growth of more than 6%. Much like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan during the industrialization of their economies, most of of the growth that Bangladesh has experienced has come from garment exports, which the CIA World Factbook says accounts for more than 80% of its exports.

In a note sent out to clients on Monday, Gareth Leather and Krystal Tan, Asia economists at Capital Economics, wrote that Bangladesh has picked up about two-thirds of China’s low-end manufacturing market share in Europe.

But if Bangladesh is to reach the government’s ambitious growth target of 8% a year by 2020, “it is essential that it starts to diversify out of the garment trade into other sectors, such as electronics and other consumer durables, where there is more scope to add value.”

In order to diversify out of the garment trade, Bangladesh must do two things, according to Leather and Tan: Improve its infrastructure and investment climate.

Poor infrastructure makes it difficult to transport goods across the country. Additionally, more than 20% of the population of more than 156 million (about 31 million) aren’t connected to the power grid, and companies often have to use their own back-up power generators because of the high susceptibility to blackouts.

Those factors, combined with high levels of corruption, make Bangladesh one of the hardest places in the world to conduct business. According to Capital Economics, “more needs to be done on reducing corruption, simplifying customs procedures, making land acquisition easier, improving private sector companies’ access to credit and making the security situation more stable.”

Ease of doing businessCapital Economics

The government is already taking steps to improve the investment climate. Here’s Leather and Tan:

“Among the measures the government is planning to introduce include removing red-tape to expedite the process of starting a business (to seven days instead of 19.5 days), issuing construction permits within 60 days (instead of the current 278 days) and reducing the time it takes for a company to be connected to the national grid to 28 days (compared with 404 days at present). There are also plans to simplify property registration, enhance contract enforcement, streamline cross- border trade procedures under a World Bank- sponsored agenda, and digitise tax payments to improve collection. Progress on these fronts would increase Bangladesh’s appeal as an investment destination.”

The capital markets are taking notice. Bangladesh’s local stock market, the DSE 30, rallied 15.5% during the first quarter of 2017. It’s up another 2.3% in the first week of the second quarter.

In a note sent out to clients on Thursday, Exotix Partners Head of Frontier Markets Equity Strategy, MENA and South Asia Research, Hasnain Malik says the market is being powered higher by earnings growth, local interest in equities, and increasing foreign investor interest.

Malik believes there is a lot to like about the market’s fundamentals:

  • Domestic political stability
  • Geopolitical support from regional powers China and India
  • Macroeconomic growth and currency stability
  • Fast-paced urban growth and extreme population density
  • Almost all of the 20 biggest publicly traded companies offer direct exposure to Bangladesh’s domestic economy

“In our view, it is too early to let go of the tiger’s tail,” Malik writes. “Bangladesh public equity valuations are just beginning to catch up with its high growth and high returns on capital…”

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APRIL 06, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, DECENTRALIZATION, Distribution & Poverty, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, G-8, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GLOBALIZATION, GROWTH & TARGET, INDUSTRIES, N-11, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SOCIAL SECURITY, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STOCK MARKET, STRATEGY & POLICY, TRADE BODIES, TRANSPARENCY & CORRUPTION CONTROL, WORLD - GEOPOLITICS | Leave a comment

‘ASIAN TIGER’ BANGLADESH FEATURED IN WEF VIDEO

‘ASIAN TIGER’ BANGLADESH FEATURED IN WEF VIDEO

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has featured Bangladesh in its new video as the new “Asian Tiger” for its top economical performances in Asia over the past few decades.

The video was shared on Facebook on Wednesday.

The video shared on Wednesday states that Bangladesh’s economy has grown at an average of 6%, over the past 10 years, and that the nation is relishing such growth with the support of the textile industry which makes 80% of the country’s export.

Besides, Bangladesh has also taken 66% of China’s low-end manufacturing share in Europe.

However, the WEF also depicts that Bangladesh needs to develop the environmental and infrastructural investment in order to diversify out of the garment trade.

WEF reports, poor infrastructure hinders the transportation of goods across the country. In addition, more than 20% of the population is disconnected to the power grid. Therefore, companies often have to use their own back-up power generators because of the high vulnerability to blackouts.

The WEF also considers corruption as a major drawback for the country’s business sector.

According to Capital Economics, “more needs to be done on reducing corruption, simplifying customs procedures, making land acquisition easier, improving private sector companies’ access to credit and making the security situation more stable”, so that companies can pursue their business without any obstacles.

On April 6, the Business Insider UK said that Bangladesh would be a potential candidate for being on the list of Asian Tigers which already includes countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan – the four countries that experienced rapid growth between the 1960s and 1990s.

The Bangladesh government targets to achieve an ambitious growth of 8% by 2020.

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APRIL 21, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, DECENTRALIZATION, Distribution & Poverty, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, G-8, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GLOBALIZATION, GROWTH & TARGET, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL - PERCEPTION ON BANGLADESH, N-11, NGO'S, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SAARC, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STOCK MARKET, STRATEGY & POLICY, TOURISM, TRADE BODIES, WORLD - GEOPOLITICS | Leave a comment

BANGLADESH: THE NEW ASIAN TIGER

BANGLADESH: THE NEW ASIAN TIGER

The Business Insider UK report said the Bangladesh economy has been one of the top performers in Asia over the past few decades

Asian Tigers refer to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan – the four countries that experienced rapid growth between the 1960s and 1990s. Business Insider UK on Thursday suggested another name to add to the list: Bangladesh.

The report said the Bangladesh economy has been one of the top performers in Asia over the past few decades, averaging an annual growth of more than 6%.

Much like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan during the industrialisation of their economies, Bangladesh has attained most of its growth thanks to garment exports, which accounts for 80% of its total share of exports, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Citing Asia economists Gareth Leather and Krystal Tan of Capital Economics, a London-based economic research consultancy, the report said that Bangladesh has picked up about two-thirds of China’s low-end manufacturing market share in Europe.

But if Bangladesh is to reach the government’s ambitious growth target of 8% a year by 2020, it must diversify its trade into other sectors, like electronics and other consumer durables.

Leather and Tan put emphasis on improved infrastructure and investment climate as the major requirements needed to diversify out of the garment trade.

The two economists further claimed that poor infrastructure had made transporting goods across the country difficult.

Additionally, more than 20% of the Bangladeshi population of more than 156 million (nearly 31 million) were not connected to the power grid, and companies often had to use their own back-up power generators because of the high susceptibility to load shedding.

These factors, combined with high levels of corruption, have made Bangladesh one of the hardest places in the world to conduct business.

According to Capital Economics, more needs to be done to reduce corruption, simplify customs procedures, make land acquisition easier, improve private sector companies’ access to credit and make the security situation more stable.

In the latter part, the economists focused on the current government initiatives to improve the investment climate. For example, removing red-tape to expedite the process of starting a business (to seven days instead of 19.5 days), issuing construction permits within 60 days (instead of the current 278 days) and reducing the time it takes for a company to be connected to the national grid to 28 days (compared with 404 days at present).

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APRIL 09, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, Distribution & Poverty, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GLOBALIZATION, GROWTH & TARGET, INDUSTRIES, N-11, NGO'S, NON ALIGNED MOVEMENT, Poverty, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN & DUTY, SOCIETY, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STOCK MARKET, STRATEGY & POLICY, TOURISM, TRADE BODIES, UNITED NATIONS | Leave a comment

BANGLADESH’S GDP PER PERSON IS NOW HIGHER THAN PAKISTAN’S

EAST OVERTAKES WEST

BANGLADESH’S GDP PER PERSON IS NOW HIGHER THAN PAKISTAN’S

WHEN Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan in 1971, it was much poorer than the country it left. Industry accounted for only 6-7% of its GDP, compared with over 20% in Pakistan. The battle for independence had killed or displaced millions, damaged roads and railways, and severed ties with Pakistan’s bankers and industrialists (including the owner of one of the world’s biggest jute mills). Even before the war, Bangladesh had been trampled by another apocalyptic horseman: a cyclone killed hundreds of thousands in 1970. The country’s independence leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, complained that West Pakistan had not promptly shared its bumper wheat crop or “given a yard of cloth for our shrouds”.

Last month revealed a remarkable turnaround. Bangladesh’s GDP per person is now higher than Pakistan’s. Converted into dollars at market exchange rates, it was $1,538 in the past fiscal year (which ended on June 30th). Pakistan’s was about $1,470.

Strange as it may sound, Bangladesh jumped ahead because of an advance in Pakistan. On August 25th Pakistan released the results of its census, updating earlier population estimates. They showed that the country has 207.8m people, more than 9m more than previously thought. It may now have the fifth biggest population in the world, surpassing Brazil’s. But the new count also lopped 4-5% off Pakistan’s GDP per person, the arithmetic consequence of revealing so many more people.

A caveat should be noted. A dollar stretches further in Pakistan than in Bangladesh because prices in the former tend to be lower. So Pakistan’s $1,470 per person actually has more purchasing power than Bangladesh’s $1,538.

This is nonetheless a good moment to celebrate Bangladesh’s economic progress. Its annual growth has averaged more than 6% over the past ten years and has run above 7% over the past two. Industry accounts for 29% of its GDP. A country that once lacked cloth for shrouds now exports more ready-made garments than India and Pakistan combined. Working conditions are still far worse than they should be. They are also far better than they once were.

Bangladesh’s GDP per person received a boost from another source. Its last census, in 2011, led to a large revision of the country’s population, larger even than Pakistan’s. But in Bangladesh’s case, the revision was downwards.

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This article appeared in the Asia section of the print edition under the headline “East overtakes west”
SEPTEMBER 27, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, BENGAL - Heritage, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, G-8, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GROWTH & TARGET, HISTORY OF BENGAL, INDUSTRIES, N-11, NGO'S, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, STOCK MARKET, STRATEGY & POLICY, TOURISM, TRADE BODIES | Leave a comment

BANGLADESH RISES LIKE A PHOENIX AND IS NOW IN FOR ECONOMIC MIRACLES LIKE KOREA

BANGLADESH RISES LIKE A PHOENIX AND IS NOW IN FOR ECONOMIC MIRACLES LIKE KOREA

By Lee Kyung-sik
Publisher, The Korea Post media
With Foreigh Relations Editors Min Byung-il and Park Young-ho

The Korean guests, and the ambassadors and other international guests, for that matter, were pleasantly surprised on the evening of March 27, 2015 at the Lotte Hotel as they unexpectedly heard Ambassador Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh welcoming the guests at the his National Day reception in ‘impeccable’ Korean language.

Annyong Hashimnikka?” he began meaning “Welcome to our celebration!” It can also translate, “How are you?”, “How have you been faring?” or “I can tell you are well!”—and the liberal translation could go on and on.

Ambassadors normally do so normally at the beginning of the speech and then return to English. In sheer contrast with almost all other hosts, Ambassador Rahman went all the way through! Most of the Korean guests were surprised both with admiration and astonishment—as it was truly a rare example.

Ambassador Rahman declared, “Rising like a phoenix from the devastations of the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh now is a proud nation with global reputation on all fields of socio-economic development.” Then he said, “Under the dynamic and courageous leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is marching forward towards materialising its Vision 2021 i.e., to become a middle-income country by the 50th anniversary of our independence.”

큰 이미지 보기
Ambassador Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh and Minister of Health & Welfare Chung Chin-youb (11th and 8th from left, respectively) cut a celebration cake at the reception with other ambassadors.

Ambassador Rahman had a long string of important remarks which will be presented at end of this article, but this statement must be added first. He said, “We also visualise Bangladesh as a developed country by 2041. And we take great inspiration from the Korean development model—known widely as the Han River miracle.” (See excerpts from the speech of the ambassador at the end of this article.)

Yes, Bangladesh is most welcome to all the accomplishments we made through hard work on the part of the people and the wise leadership of the Presidents such as Park Chung-hee, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

Korean dignitaries and distinguished international guests, as well as ambassadors, literally filled the ballroom to the brims. Among them, from the Korean side, were Minister of Health & Welfare Chung Chin-youb,

From The Korea Post media came Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik with Vice Chairmen Min Byung-il and Park Young-ho who provided assistance in the coverage of the function in all five media outlets of The Korea Post media, including http://www.koreapost.co.kr (Korean) and http://www.koreapost.com (English) as well as the regular-sized Korean-language print newspaper http://www.koreapost.co.kr/pdf/list.php.


Ambassador Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh speaks at the National Day reception of Bangladesh.

Among other important Korean guests in attendance were: CEOs Dongcheol Seol of WE Global Company LTD, Roe-Hyun Myung of LS Cable & System Ltd, Sungki Kim of Bluetooth Korea Corp and Soton of S.N. Food Co. Ltd.; Presidents Hee Chen Lee of Art Marketing Institute Co., Yoo Kun-Young of GCF (Global Cooperation Foundation), M. Zaman of World Trade & Tour Co. Ltd.; and Vice Presidents Si-Bo Joo of POSCO Daewoo and Jeffrey Han of S&H Global Trading Corp.

Among the senior diplomats attending the reception were Ambassadors Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d’Ivoire, Andrei Popkov of Belarus, Mohamed Abdi Gello of Kenya, Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines, Rohana Ramli of Malaysia, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Hakan Okcal of Turkey, Riyad A. Almubaraky of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Hernan Brantes Glavic of Chile, Bader Mohammad Al-Awadi of Kuwait, Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, Mohamed Abdelaal of Sudan, Ruben Eloy Arosemena Valdes of Panama, Shiferaw Jarso Tedecha of Ethiopia, Alexander Andreevich Timonin of Russia, Antonio Quintero Nobre of Portugal, Emma-Francoise Isumbingabo of Rwanda, Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia, Khamsouay Keodalavong of Laos Republic, Dato Mohd Rosli Sabtu of Brunei Darussalam, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo Polanco of Dominican Republic, and Niroshani Manisha Gunasekera of Sri Lanka.

Spouses of the ambassadors pose for The Korea Post camera.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Rahman:

His Excellency Mr. Chung Chin-youb, Minister of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea (thanks Mr. Minister—I know you are also a renowned orthopaedic surgeon—for gracing this occasion with your kind presence here today; by the way, my wife is a medical microbiologist and I was also trained as a medical doctor)! My dear friends and colleagues from the Seoul diplomatic corps, and dear distinguished Korean friends.
26th March is the most important day in the lives of all Bangladeshis—living at home in Bangladesh, or abroad, like in Korea. On this day in 1971, our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed independence of the Bengalee nation. This came after more than two decades of our peaceful political struggle to break the shackle of political oppression, cultural apartheid and economic injustices.

We pay profound homage today to the memories of our Father of the Nation as well as to the memories of three million martyrs of our glorious Liberation War of 1971. We are also indebted to more than 200,000 women and girls who lost their honour in the hands of the occupation forces and their local collaborators in 1971. I am happy to inform you that in order to achieve international recognition of one of the most heinous genocides committed in the history of mankind, Bangladesh parliament and the government has recently adopted 25 March as Genocide Day. We seek support of all nations in this regard to prevent recurrence of genocide and crimes against humanity—anywhere in the world.


Minister of Health & Welfare Chung Chin-youb makes a congratulatory speech.
Rising like a phoenix from the devastations of the 1971 Liberation War, Bangladesh now is a proud nation with global reputation on all fields of socio-economic development. Under the dynamic and courageous leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is marching forward towards materialising its Vision 2021 i.e., to become a middle-income country by the 50th anniversary of our independence. We also visualise Bangladesh as a developed country by 2041. And we take great inspiration from the Korean development model—known widely as the Han River miracle.

Korea has been a dependable development partner of Bangladesh ever since its birth as an independent nation. As the 3rd biggest foreign direct investor in Bangladesh, Korea has been a pioneer in Bangladesh’s industrialisation and infrastructure development. Bangladesh is also the 2nd biggest recipient of Korean ODA—aligned to Bangladesh’s development plans, a unique and distinct feature of Korean development cooperation.

Hundreds of Korean businesses and industries are operating in Bangladesh. Our bilateral trade hovers around US$2 billion—with huge potential for a quantum leap. Korea has been a major partner in our infrastructure development as well—be it in road or railway network, or in developing our health or ICT infrastructure. Korea’s participation in two of the biggest multi-purpose bridge construction projects in Bangladesh; or establishment of post-graduate nursing institute; or building a 1000-bed specialised hospital are just few testimonies of the two countries’ expanding horizon of cooperation.

Just in this month, a Korean conglomerate has won a huge exploration contract to explore deep sea off-shore gas reserves in Bangladesh. Next month, launching of a unique ICT project named Giga Island—to connect a remote Bangladeshi island with mainstream Bangladesh, through e-education, e-health and e-commerce—would bring a new trajectory in Bangladesh-Korea relations.

Thousands of Bangladeshi workers are working here with great satisfaction, and contributing to the economic development of both Bangladesh and Korea. Hundreds of Bangladeshi students are also doing higher studies in Korean universities. These students will learn from Korea’s development model and apply their knowledge in Bangladesh’s socio-economic and technological development.

Ambassador Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh, Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media, and Vice Chairman Park Young-ho of The Korea Post media
On the cultural front, the two countries share similar democratic and secular values. Bangladesh is a country of peaceful and secular people—just like our Korean brothers and sisters. As in Korea, women empowerment, health and education take the centre-stage in our development planning as well. We take pride in our rich and diverse cultural diversity, and welcome other cultures with open arms. No wonder the Korean wave or Hallyu has reached even the far-flanged parts of Bangladesh. Popular Korean TV dramas are now watched by millions of people in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi youths are great fans of K-Pop stars like Psy for his epic song Gangnam Style. Personally, I am great fan of Korean drama.
Just like in Korea, Bangladesh has many touristic attractions on offer. Some rarest and most ancient Buddhist monasteries and relics are just a few among many tourist attractions Bangladesh boasts about. Cox’s Bazaar—the 120 km-long soft-sand sea beach, is the longest unbroken sea beach in the world. Sundarban (beautiful forest) is the largest mangrove forest in the world where the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger roams around and draws eco-tourists from all over the world. I invite our Korean friends to visit Bangladesh, and enjoy the world-famous hospitality of the people of Bangladesh.

Lee Kyung-sik edt@koreapost.com

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MARCH 29, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, DECENTRALIZATION, DEFENCE & SECURITY, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, GROWTH & TARGET, IDENTITY & PATRIOTISM, INDUSTRIES, N-11, NGO'S, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STOCK MARKET, STRATEGY & POLICY, TRADE BODIES | Leave a comment

BANGLADESH ECONOMY: A TALE OF MIRACLE

BANGLADESH ECONOMY: A TALE OF MIRACLE

MAKSUDUZZAMAN LASKAR

*** ”Moreover, some mega projects like Padma Bridge, Metro Rail, Nuclear power plant, Karnaphuli Tunnel, Expressway, Chittagong Coxes Bazar Railway, coal fired power plant in different location which are the symbol of future Bangladesh and would encourage the people to go with the entrepreneurship and new efforts.” ***

The performance of Bangladesh economy is considered one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In South Asia, Bangladesh has ranked 3rd after India and Bhutan in terms of annual GDP growth. A few years ago, Bangladesh was lagging behind Pakistan, but Bangladesh has now overtaken Pakistan. Bangladesh has overcome all challenges and defied all economic analysis with a steady progress in all indicators despite a sluggish world economy.Bangladesh economy has performed sustainable annual GDP growth in the last decade. During this period, economy has experienced a steady growth of over 6 per cent and exceeded 7 per cent per annum in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016 and with an expected growth 7 per cent rate in FY 2016-2017 as per provisional assessment.

According to estimates released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the economy grew by 7.1 per cent during FY 2016, compared to 6.6 per cent in FY 2015. In FY 2017, BBS provisionally estimated the GDP growth at 7.24 per cent.

In 2016, to the GDP, service and industry sector had a contribution of 53.1 per cent and 31.5 per cent respectively. On the other hand, the contribution of agriculture in GDP has decreased significantly. In 1990 the share of agriculture in GDP was 30 per cent and it came down to 15.4 per cent in 2016, whereas, the share of industry sector was only 7.70 per cent in 1990.

Consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has predicted for Bangladesh to be among the top three fastest growing economies in the world by 2030. They have also said in a report that Bangladesh will overtake Malaysia within 2050 in terms of GDP and PPP. As per their report, Bangladesh ranked 31st among 32 world largest economies in 2016.
World Economic Forum (WEF) published an article where Bangladesh touted to be a next Asian Tiger after South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Bangladesh has also performed significant progress in some social sectors. Reducing child mortality, increasing life expectancy level, eradication of poverty and hunger, higher enrolment and reducing dropout in primary education, empowering women are the example.

As per Human Development Report 2015, infant mortality rate in Bangladesh is 30.7 per thousand but in India it is 37.9 per thousand. Life expectancy at birth in Bangladesh 70 years, but in India it is 66.5 as per the same report. Under age 5, mortality rate in Bangladesh is 37.6 per thousand, but in India it is above 40.

Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in Bangladesh in the 1990/91 was 574 per 100,000 live births, which was one of the highest in the world. According to Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Survey (BMMS), maternal mortality declined from 322 in 2001 to 194 in 2010, a 40 per cent decline in nine years. As per Human Development Report 2015, Bangladesh ranked 142 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index.

Textile industry is a key factor in Bangladesh economic advancement with a whopping about 80 per cent share of total export earning, contribution of foreign remittance, pragmatic economic policy taken by the government through introducing several social safety net programmes for poverty alleviation, strong political determination for subsidizing in Agriculture and export sector, balanced socio economic programmes to cover vulnerable areas like northern district and for the extremely poor people, ambitious ADP allocation to implement big projects, rapid infrastructural development programme taken by the government to facilitate power, road, bridges and connectivity.

The upward trend in the development of living standard has brought forth a target of transforming Bangladesh into a middle income country within 2021. Bangladesh became a lower middle income country in 2015.

The per capita income of Bangladesh rose to USD 1602 in FY 2016-2017 which was USD 1466 in 2015-2016 and USD 1316 in 2014-2015 and USD 1190 in 2013-2015. The poverty level has also reduced significantly. In 1991-1992 poverty rates were 56.70, and 40.40 per cent in 2005, but substantially reduced in 2010 to 31.5 per cent and in 2015 it was 24.81 per cent.

In 2015 ultra-poor people were estimated at 6.50 per cent. To achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), poverty reduction target was fixed at 1.20 per cent per year against which Bangladesh achieved 1.74 per cent.

There had been a common concern prevailing among some foreign and local analysts during ’70s, ’80s and ’90s about the economic future and stability of the country. This was also an assumption that the country will not be able to feed its people with its resources and would have to rely on the external sources to meet the demand for food and other essentials.

Moreover, authority failed to provide any visible or believable socio-economic plan or target encouraging the people. People only engaged themselves using their inherent capacity and entrepreneurship for their own existence and there was no goal in their mind how and how much they could contribute to their country.

Present ruling Awami League government is seen to visualize the prospect of the country to the people with some ambitious vision and mission to make the Bangladesh a middle-income country within 2021.

This has created some kinds of encouragement to the people and brought hope and aspiration which are very much required for them. Recently a national daily published a survey report showing that about 70 per cent of young respondents are satisfied with the state of the present economy.

Moreover, some mega projects like Padma Bridge, Metro Rail, Nuclear power plant, Karnaphuli Tunnel, Expressway, Chittagong Coxes Bazar Railway, coal fired power plant in different location which are the symbol of future Bangladesh and would encourage the people to go with the entrepreneurship and new efforts.

Sufficient energy, adequate infrastructure, eradication of corruption, good governance, people oriented administration, making easier for doing business and developing the best democratic practices will remain as challenges.

Recently, some of the economic indicators are showing negative trends. Workers remittance slowed down and achieved 14 per cent below the earnings of 2015-2016.
Export earnings of 2016-2017 have not met the target, though slightly higher than the previous year, flash flood in some districts during the Boro season may impact on rice production which may impact on food security temporarily. Some observers are predicting lower growth of export and remittance in the future.

However, in an economy, all the indicators might not behave similarly, but this does not indicate any immediate challenges. The instance of the abolishing quota system by the buyer countries on buying garments and collapse of Rana Plaza compelled observers to predict negative consequences but ultimately Bangladesh has succeeded in overcoming the situation.

Strong political commitment of ruling party towards economic development is necessary. With a pragmatic specific target of the government, people can also participate in the process of development. For example, the government has targeted to complete Padma Bridge within 2018 and expecting huge economic activities with the completion of this mega project.

People have been experiencing visible progress of the project and making their economic plan to have the benefit of the project. Padma Bridge is a good example how the new hopes and aspirations could create from an appropriate economic planning.

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AUGUST 22, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, AGRICULTURE, CHALLENGES, CLIMATE - Global Warming Challenge, CURRENT ISSUES, Distribution & Poverty, ECONOMY, ENERGY - NATURAL RESOURCES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, GROWTH & TARGET, INDUSTRIES, Poverty, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty, STRATEGY & POLICY | Leave a comment

SHEIKH HASINA WORLD’S 3RD HONEST POLITICIAN

sheikh-hasina-world_s-3rd-honest-politician-copy.png

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UN ADOPTS BANGLADESH’S RESOLUTION ON ‘CULTURE OF PEACE’


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BANGLADESH: MIRACLE OF THE EAST

BANGLADESH: MIRACLE OF THE EAST

MUHAMMAD IMRAN, AMBASSADOR OF BANGLADESH TO THE UAE

The country has remained resilient and continues on with its economic growth trajectory
Ibn Battuta, a fourteenth century Moroccan traveller and scholar who visited Bengal in 1346 AD, described this region as a water-soaked garden of immense fertility and opulence with abundance of food grains where most of the people were engaged in agriculture and in weaving textiles.

After almost seven centuries, the description of this renowned globetrotter still somehow fits to this deltaic plain of lush greenery that emerged in 1971 as an independent nation, Bangladesh. Today, this densely populated country of 144,000 sq km produces enough food for its 160 million people and with a booming apparel industry. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of ready-made garments in the world. Although more than 50 per cent of the GDP is generated through the service sector, almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product.

Stacking Intermodal container in Port of Chittagong

The nine-month war of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 not only ravaged the economy but also completely destroyed the physical infrastructure of the country to such an extent that the country was ridiculed as a ‘basket case’ by a leading diplomat of that time. But the people of Bangladesh overcame this perilous economic and social condition with enormous courage and determination. They have strived and succeeded to rise from the ashes to bring vibrancy in the economy with continued expansion of infrastructural facilities.

Bangladesh has now become a role model for fighting poverty, empowering women and disaster management. It had met most targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the areas of health and education. Life expectancy at birth in the country is 71 years, at least five years higher than that of its neighbours.

Bangladesh has made commendable progress over the past 40 years in achieving food security despite frequent natural disasters and population growth. Food grain production increased three and half times between 1972 and 2016, from 10 million tonnes to 35 million tonnes with one of the fastest rates of productivity growth in the world averaging 2.7 per cent per year since 1995. It is the fourth largest producer of rice in the world. Bangladesh’s agricultural sector has benefited from a sound and consistent policy framework backed up by substantial public investments in technology, rural infrastructure and human capital.

From an agrarian economy of 1970s, the economy is now increasingly led by export-oriented industrialisation. Bangladesh has become an example of growth, progress and development for the emerging economies. With a continued average economic growth of over 6 per cent during the last 10 years and despite various challenges faced as a developing country, Bangladesh now proudly stands as an emerging trade and investment destination in South Asia. The steady growth in export business, hard-working labour force and committed entrepreneurs supported by the pro-business, pro-investment policies are leading Bangladesh towards the line of global business competency.

Bangladesh’s unequivocal position for peace, harmony and regional stability together with the determined policy for economic cooperation and development through international as well as regional trade have helped the country achieve and retain this impressive economic status. Despite all odds at national and international levels, Bangladesh has remained resilient and continued on with its economic growth trajectory, recording an impressive GDP growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2016.

Garment exports, the backbone of Bangladesh’s industrial sector, accounted for more than 80 per cent of total exports of $34.25 billion and surpassed $28 billion in 2016. The sector continues to grow. Other key sectors include pharmaceuticals, ceramics, leather goods, and electronics and light and medium industries. It is a major destination of global IT outsourcing and a globally acknowledged builder of ocean-going vessels. Bangladesh is one of the top bicycle exporters to the EU countries. The growth has been nurtured and sustained by adoption of newer technologies keeping pace with outside world. Bangladesh now has 130 million mobile phone users and about 60 million people are connected to the Internet.

BAPTA UNION COUNCIL, BOLA DISTRICT, BANGLADESH. PHOTO/JEFF HOLT WORLD PNEUMONIA DAY Kulsum (father) and Shah Alam (mother) with their baby Nadim, who was diagnosed and treated for pneumonia through the Community Health Volunteer program. Another baby died of pneumonia in 2005, prior to the start of Save the Children’s program.

Steady export growth combined with increasing flow of remittances from 10 million overseas Bangladeshis living across the world, which totalled about $15 billion, are the largest contributors to Bangladesh’s sustained economic growth. Bangladesh has also attained a satisfactory foreign currency reserve of $32 billion in recent months.

According to the World Bank and IMF, the Gross Domestic Product (based on current price) of Bangladesh is now $227 billion. It ranks Bangladesh as 44th in the world economy in terms of GDP. According to the World Bank, that will rise to $322 billion by 2021. Goldman Sachs had termed Bangladesh’s economy as ‘the miracle of East’.

In Bangladesh, a strong middle class is gradually forming which according to some estimates is close to 18 per cent of the population. Due to emerging middle class of about 30 million and in general better income level of common people, domestic demand is growing and that becomes an important driver of economic activity.

Bangladesh has been consistent in pursuing a policy of “friendship to all and malice towards none” as enshrined in the constitution. Bangladesh enjoys excellent relations with the member states of the UN. For more than two decades, Bangladesh remains a leading contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions across the globe. Currently, about 10,000 personnel from the armed forces and civil service of Bangladesh are assisting friendly countries under the UN peacekeeping missions.

The present government under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has adopted a long-term perspective plan and has been working hard to transform Bangladesh into a knowledge based middle-income economy (by raising the per capita income to $2,000 which now stands at $1,466) by 2021. It also aspires to become a developed country by 2041 and thus realise the dream of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to build a Sonar Bangla or Golden Bengal

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MARCH 26, 2017

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SHEIKH HASINA: RISE OF A REMARKABLE WORLD LEADER

SHEIKH HASINA: RISE OF A REMARKABLE WORLD LEADER

MIR MOSHARREF HOSSAIN

Today is the 71st birthday of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She was born on September 28, 1947. Eldest daughter of the greatest Bengali of all times, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina is three time’s Prime Minister of Bangladesh today. Due to her tireless and relentless efforts, Bangladesh is at the door of becoming a middle income country after overcoming so many obstacles. With grief of losing her family from inhuman and barbaric killings, she returned to Bangladesh from deportation ignoring dictator’s bloody-eyes on May 17, 1981. Beside adverse political, social and economic environment, the nature environment was also slumber the day she returned.

In her long struggling journey, she faced oppression, conspiracy and trickery to establish democracy to protect the people’s rights. She has been working since tirelessly with her life at stake for the implementation of the dreams of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Since she had closely observed her father’s political life from childhood and been involved with politics in her student life, she became active in politics after returning to Bangladesh to address the needs of people, stressed from dictator’s maladministration. Her father, and architect of independence, never walked behind in fulfilling Bengalis’ dream of independence despite a very long jail time. He was never scared for his life. That Sheikh Mujib’s blood runs through the veins of Sheikh Hasina.

At least 20 attempts were made to kill her prior and after her return to Bangladesh. But she never left her goal of implementing her father’s dreams. She has been working with great bravery. It is only a matter of time to fulfil Bangabandhu’s dreams considering her works for the people and the country’s development.

I want to mention an event here. I visited Germany to participate in a programme of World Newspaper Association. While sitting at the Bangladesh High Commission, I expressed my wish to visit the house where Bangabandhu’s daughters stayed on August 15, 1975. I came to know that, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana were not in Germany on that day. They were lucky to leave Germany just before. Because, after brutally killing Bangabandhu and his family members, Colonel Faruk-Rashid and their associates sent their men to that house to kill both Bangabandhu-daughters which was the very first attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina. Its Allah’s mercy and kindness, they just left Germany for Belgium. They received the news of the killings of their parents, brothers and family members there and their run for life and security started.

They reached India and meet Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at that time. Sheikh Hasina remained in her shelter. After long six years, she returned to her homeland.
Listening to their post-1975 agony, any Bangladeshi will shed tears even today. And I remembered Sheikh Russel — a life, full of potential, was taken away by cruel bullets of assassins. Born on the same month of my birth, Sheikh Russel was only a year younger to me. Can we overcome this grief?

I have been very lucky to observe the daughter of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina, very closely being the chief patron of the country’s renowned children organization, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela. She came to the programmes of the organization whenever possible. It revealed that she besides being a skilled leader is an affectionate mother.

***We find her humanism during her recent visit to the Rohingya refugee camps. Only a mother can embrace a child, who suffered inhuman torture and now living at the refugee camp, with tearful eyes like her.***

Talking personally about PM Sheikh Hasina, firstly, she is very truthful. Very easily, she tells the tough truths. She is very pious. Intense motherly love, she has deep inside, touches our heart the most. She draws everyone close to her like an affectionate mother. She owns a soft heart to make people her own. She is like a mother to some; like a sister to some; like an aunt to many — we find all affectionate roles of a woman in her. We find her humanism during her recent visit to the Rohingya refugee camps. Only a mother can embrace a child, who suffered inhuman torture and now living at the refugee camp, with tearful eyes like her. We doubt if any other statesman will ever be able to establish themselves as an idol of humanity like her. And that makes Sheikh Hasina different from everyone.

The signs of prudence that Sheikh Hasina displayed while leading this nation is very hard to portray in short. She declared to build ‘Digital Bangladesh’ after taking charge of the government for the second term in 2009. She promised that implementation of the ‘Padma Bridge’ project is her one of her first targets. She had to face international conspiracy with that project. But unstoppable Sheikh Hasina became stronger, braver. Works of Padma bridge project with own funding is proceeding in great speed. We are transforming into ‘Digital Bangladesh’ with high confidence. The people of Bangladesh have already started to get benefits of that. The country progressed significantly under her leadership.

Many criticized her decision of making Padma bridge with own funding and building ‘Digital Bangladesh’ as daydream. But these are not any dream or imagination, rather reality in front of the people of the world now.

During the three terms of Sheikh Hasina’s government, the people and the world witnessed huge development of Bangladesh. Many development projects have started under her guidance. Declaration and implementation of ‘Digital Bangladesh’; implementation of Vision 2021 on the way; punishment of Bangabandhu’s murderers; judgement and punishment of war criminals; enormous success in meeting country’s electricity demand; starting of Padma bridge project works; notable success in women’s empowerment and development; improvement in quality of education and uplifting literacy rate from 53.7 per cent (2008) to 72.3 per cent (2017); promoting foreign currency reserve from USD 5.79bn (2008) to USD 33.4bn (2017); elevating per capita income of Bangladesh from USD 698.7 (2008) to USD 1602 (2017); expanding the border and increasing the area of Bangladesh through successful claim of enclaves from India and sea area from both India and Myanmar; strong handling of terrorism inside the country; playing bold role in stopping insurgency from Bangladesh against neighbouring countries, etc are few among many success stories of her government.

The problem of influx of refugees, who are subject to ‘ethnic cleansing’ and inhuman torture, from Myanmar at the south-east border of our country is currently creating deep concern all around the world. We believe the diplomatic acumen of Sheikh Hasina will solve this international humanitarian problem.

Sheikh+Hasina+President+Obama+Attends+Annual+Rfoq9W5AYA0l
Sheikh Hasina has now become a world leader from people’s leader. She received international laurels and many coveted awards from all around the globe. ‘Planet 50-50 Champion’ award; ‘Agent of Change’ award; ‘Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize’; ‘Mother Teresa Award’; ‘M K Gandhi Award’; ‘Peace Tree Award’; ‘UN Environment Prize’; ‘Champions of the Earth Award’; ‘ICT Sustainable Development Award’; ‘South-South Cooperation Visionary Award’ are some of the most notable accomplishment of Sheikh Hasina. Fortune declared her 10th among 50 greatest leaders of the world in 2016.
Her political insight, honesty, devotion, patriotism and capability of leading in international arena, assures us that, Bangladesh received a proper leadership at proper time. If this type of leadership continues, the plan of making Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021 and developed country by 2041 will not be hard to achieve.
We all wish and pray for her good health on the 71st birthday.

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The author is the Chairman of Mohammadi Group of Companies Ltd
SEPTEMBER 28, 2017

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SHEIKH HASINA: AMBASSADOR OF PEACE

SHEIKH HASINA: AMBASSADOR OF PEACE

BAPPY RAHMAN

Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, holds a place among the more distinguished in the history of Bangladesh. Her political struggle in the defence of democracy has placed her in a unique position, one which accords her the dignity which comes with being in the struggle.

Sheikh Hasina always spoke out against oppression and violation of human rights.

This commitment has hardened over the years particularly her parents, brothers and many relatives were brutally assassinated by the misguided members of the military in 1975 soon after the independence of Bangladesh. As her commitment, Bangladesh has always been at the global forefront in demonstrating its consistent engagement with human rights mechanisms and institutions and in living up to its national and international obligations to promote and protect human rights.

Sheikh Hasina recently visited the struggling refugee camp that has absorbed some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled recent violence in Myanmar. British media brands Sheikh Hasina as ‘Mother of Humanity’. The Rohingya crisis is a human rights crisis with serious humanitarian consequences. The Rakhine State in Western Myanmar is home to at least 800,000 Muslims, most of who self-identify as Rohingyas. For decades they have suffered legal and social discrimination. While there are historical economic relations with the Buddhist Rakhine community, there are also long-standing tensions between the two groups. In 2012, widespread violence in Rakhine left some 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya, displaced. On 25th August 2017, a deadly assault allegedly by Rohingya insurgents on multiple police posts in Northern Rakhine triggered a new cycle of violence, prompting an estimated 313,000 civilians to flee across the border into Bangladesh. The renewed fighting has resulted in humanitarian operations across Rakhine coming to an abrupt halt, leaving more than 350,000 people deprived of much-needed regular assistance. The latest clashes come less than one year after a previous assault by insurgents on three border guard posts on 9th October 2016 triggered a series of violent incidents and military operations that saw more than 87,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh in search of refuge. According to the UNHCR source, the initial influx of Rohingyas to Bangladesh dates back to 1978 with a large arrival in 1991-1992.

Presently, 33,148 are living in two official camps managed by the UN Refugee Agency in Nayapara and Kutupalong.

In a humanitarian gesture the government of Sheikh Hasina has earmarked about 2,000 acres of land to set up some temporary camps for the Rohingyas. Rohingya refugees are now entering Bangladesh in thousands through various points, thereby creating a massive socio-economic condition on this side of the border. Failing to find accommodation in the existing camps, hundreds of them have set up shanties on the roads.

They are also destroying forests and trees at various places in a bid to create temporary shelters. The enormity of the situation has prompted the government to handle it in a better and coordinated way. Sheikh Hasina has already instructed the Disaster Management and Relief minister to find land to construct temporary shelters for the refugees. Accordingly the said area has been earmarked at Ukhia in Cox’s Bazar to provide shelter to the Rohingyas on a temporary basis until they return to their homeland. The refugees will be given food and medical treatment and other humanitarian help as required. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the parliament-‘No matter how much sufferings we’ve to go through, we’ll share our food with them, if necessary, as we can’t throw them (Rohingyas) into the Naf River or the Bay of Bengal. We’ll have to give shelter to them’.

Sheikh Hasina and her government successfully resolved the ethnic problems in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) through talks without any third-party mediation. The CHT Peace Accord ended 22 years of war between the Government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS). The accord was signed during Sheikh Hasina’s government on December 2, 1997, ending a two-decade long bush war that claimed the lives of 20,000. The indigenous community was persecuted and deprived of human rights, basic needs from the British colonial periods. Internal displacement of aboriginals was started by the Pakistan government and continued till 1997. Land grabbing, Bengali settlement, internal displacements, ethnic non recognition in constitution of country, militarization of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and others issues made the indigenous people revolutionary and ultimately force them to demand autonomy of CHT. The conflicts between indigenous people and government came to end after signing Peace Accord of CHT in 1997.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, center, meets with Rohingya Muslims at Kutupalong refugee camp, near the border town of Ukhia, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Hasina visited the struggling refugee camp that has absorbed some of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled recent violence in Myanmar, a crisis she said left her speechless. (AP Photo/Saiful Kallol)

Through discussion and dialogue and through diplomacy, Sheikh Hasina resolved and implemented the 68-year old Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) with India that brought justice and fairness to thousands of stateless people of both India and Bangladesh. After extensive talks between Prime Minister Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, the two sides signed 22 agreements, including on cooperation in maritime safety and to curb human trafficking and fake Indian currency. Under this agreement India received 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (covering 7,110 acres) in the Indian mainland, while Bangladesh received 111 Indian enclaves (covering 17,160 acres) in the Bangladeshi mainland. The enclave residents are to be allowed to either reside at their present location or move to the country of their choice. After the Land Boundary Agreement, India lost around 40 square kilometres to Bangladesh.

Under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, Bangladesh was successful in passing two other landmark resolutions with consensus in 2012. These are:

Autism and other Disabilities and People’s Empowerment. Sheikh Hasina believes in ‘inclusivity’— no one must be left behind in the nation building efforts and also in enriching and contributing to humanity.

The global leaders applauded Sheikh Hasina’s achievements and they honoured her by awarding a number of UN Awards such as MDG-4 Award in 2010 when she achieved MDG-4 goal, South-South News Award in 2013 when she successfully interlinked local 13,800 clinics and 4,501 Union Information Service Centres with digital Internet connection, South-South Leadership Award in 2014 as she provided vision and leadership to global South. In 2015, she received two other UN awards. These are: Champion of the Earth for taking visionary leadership role in handling climate change, ITU Award for her leadership in telecommunication.

Sheikh Hasina often says, ‘I do politics for the people’. She is truly a symbol of peace and stability. She is a symbol of accommodation and wellbeing. Sheikh Hasina is the ambassador of peace.

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[The author acknowledges with gratitude the different sources of information.]
The writer is an Assistant Professor, Department of Public Administration, Jagannath University, Dhaka
SEPTEMBER 19, 2017

Posted in - REVOLUTIONARY VOICES -, ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, BENGAL - Heritage, BENGAL - Heritage, Culture & Archeology, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, HISTORY OF BENGAL, LEADERS - IN ITS TRUE SENSE, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, SHEIKH HASINA | Leave a comment

FORGET AUNG SAN SUU KYI. THIS IS THE REAL HEROINE OF THE ROHINGYA CRISIS

FORGET AUNG SAN SUU KYI. THIS IS THE REAL HEROINE OF THE ROHINGYA CRISIS

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

In my Wall Street Journal column this week, I contrast the leaders of two neighboring countries in the news lately — Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina.

Though Ms. Suu Kyi is far better known in the West than Ms. Hasina, the two leaders’ lives bear striking similarities. Both were born in the turbulent 1940s, during the first flush of independence for many postcolonial Asian nations.

Their fathers — Gen. Aung San and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — are regarded as the founding fathers of their nations. Political rivals assassinated both of them.

An additional piece of trivia: Both leaders spent a part of their lives in Delhi, Suu Kyi as a student in the 1960s, and Hasina in exile after the 1975 murder of her father and much of his family.

Of the two, the soft-spoken Suu Kyi has a much larger following in the West. Since she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign to restore democracy to her country, Suu Kyi has symbolized quiet determination against great odds. Her fluent English and cosmopolitan image have not hurt.

By contrast, Hasina, despite being born into a prominent family herself, has never been part of her country’s Anglophone elite. After interviewing her last week in New York, I asked her to sign a copy of her father’s unfinished memoir for me. She wrote her name in elegantly lettered Bengali.

GettyImages-130232357 Sheikh Hasina Wajed, Bangladesh’s prime minister, at the Chancellory on October 25, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall/Getty

But though “the lady of Dhaka” may not translate as readily for Western consumption as “the lady of Yangon,” the Rohingya crisis is undoubtedly Hasina’s moment.

By accepting a large number of refugees in her poor and densely populated land, Hasina has shown greater compassion than many leaders from larger and richer countries. As Hasina said to me, “Bangladesh is not a rich country, but we have a big heart.”

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Sadanand Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
OCTOBER 02, 2017

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SHEIKH HASINA NEW STAR OF EAST

SHEIKH HASINA: NEW STAR OF EAST

KHALEEJ TIMES: SHEIKH HASINA NEW STAR OF EAST

A leading daily newspaper of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on September 30 highly appreciated Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her humane approach in the Rohingya issue, dubbing her as the “new star of the East.”

“The Bangladesh prime minister is the new star of the East … expressions has no better hero than her this week – for her compassion and empathy in opening the border to save thousands of fleeing Rohingya,” noted journalist Allan Jacob wrote in an article in the Khaleej Times, the longest running English language newspaper published in the UAE.

“We should have featured Sheikh Hasina on these pages earlier, before despots, tyrants, shamed gurus, and other wannabe nobodies who became somebodies,” he acknowledged in the article titled “Sheikh Hasina knows the art of compassion.”

“But it’s always nice to look at issues and personalities in hindsight, as is my wont. Let me also confess here that my original idea for this week’s column revolved around a South Indian actor and his opportunistic pitch at political stardom, but I shifted gears when I realised the Bangladeshi prime minister was the new star of the East,” Jacob wrote.

He said: “Yes, we missed this noble trait as the media was distracted by a Nobel peace laureate’s fading charm in Myanmar. I too bear the burden of guilt for ignoring Sheikh Hasina’s humane approach to an unfolding catastrophe though I intently listened to her speak last week during the UN General Assembly summit. “It broke my heart,” the premier said.

Jacob wrote with leaders like the Bangladeshi PM at the helm, there remains hope in a world that is suffering from migration fatigue. Her actions seemed faint at first, but when Khaleej Times sent a reporter to the centre of the crisis on Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar where thousands of hungry people scrounge for a meal, live in ramshackle dwellings amid the dirt, grime and filth, the gravity of the problem came to light. It hit us hard and it hurt.

“I realise journalism is a collaborative effort, where ideas, people and their feelings come together for the right Expressions – and a universal cause. It’s okay to disrupt some ideas for a creative and emotional process that rattles and shakes you out of your comfort zone,” he said.

Jacob wrote world media are guilty of reporting the exodus through the eyes of Suu Kyi, who appears helpless to save the Rohingya after they were driven out by the Myanmar army from Rakhine, a state in the country. Many do not realise that the junta still wields real power in the country though her party, the National League for Democracy, won the polls two years ago.

For Suu Kyi, he it is about surviving her electoral gains – or should I say spoils of the ballot – than preventing a mass of people from being thrown out of the country. She is a refugee of her personal political struggle that has not found its social and human voice. She’s entrenched and struggling to break free from the trappings of power and the paraphernalia of being First Counsellor, as her military resorts to ethnic cleansing.

Indeed, she has dug herself into a hole and has become a symbolic leader who is devoid of emotion when talking of human suffering – she looked pale, a shade of her former activist self when she defended the purge.

“I have scant sympathy for the so-called icon as her voice failed her when she needed it most. If democracy is for the chosen majority, it becomes flawed and dangerous. And it’s easier striking deals with juntas and despots. Suu Kyi’s cultivated silence here has been deafening. I said so in one of our Editorials. I will say it again – I dislike the sound of silence when one should shout out for humanity,” Jacob said.

He said Suu Kyi may have lost her voice but it’s a great relief that Sheikh Hasina has found hers. Both Suu Kyi and Sheikh Hasina are daughters of freedom fighters. They have witnessed tragedy at close quarters. The difference though, is stark. One chose to be a spectator while the other displayed gentle mercy when lives were literally on the line.

Sheikh Hasina’s small country of 163 million took in 430,000 Rohingya in one go. Two weeks to be precise. The flow has trickled according to the latest reports, Jacob wrote.

“I’m reminded of an interview she gave during her visit to New York for the UN summit,” he said. “We already have 300,000 refugees but we have a large heart to take more, despite the difficulties of space,” Sheikh Hasina said.

Jacob wrote it was not just an act of compassion, it showed courage during tragic circumstances.

He said German Chancellor Angela Merkel was brave to allow 1.2 million refugees from war-torn countries, but Bangladesh is different, its resources are limited. This was an influx not of its making but the PM did not walk away from her human side.

The total number of these migrants has crossed 800,000. Sheikh Hasina has put forward a five-point plan to solve the issue that has religious, economic and social undertones.

Jacob wrote what makes her special is that she’s not asking for funds from the developed world. She wants us to show our collective mercy, our concern, and our commitment through deeds. “If Bangladesh with its myriad issues, (it’s growing at 7%) can do it, what’s stopping the richer countries from stepping out of their comfort zones?,” he questioned.

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OCTOBER 01, 2017

Posted in - REVOLUTIONARY VOICES -, ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, BENGAL - Heritage, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, DEFENCE & SECURITY, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, GLOBAL INDICATORS & BENCHMARK, GROWTH & TARGET, HISTORY OF BENGAL, ISLAM, LEADERS - IN ITS TRUE SENSE, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, REGIONAL COOPERATION, Regional Policy, SHEIKH HASINA, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality | Leave a comment

SHEIKH HASINA, HER POLITICAL INSIGHT AND BANGLADESH DEVELOPMENT

SHEIKH HASINA, HER POLITICAL INSIGHT AND BANGLADESH DEVELOPMENT

A K AZAD

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of the greatest Bangalee of all time Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has inaugurated a brilliant chapter in Bangladesh`s development history. She has uplifted the country’s image and made a significant contribution to the national economy and politics.

With her sincere and relentless efforts, the country is enjoying a balanced relationship with some of the key players of the world politics. She has been able to create a positive acceptance throughout the world, earning prestigious global awards as marks of recognition to the country’s gradual development in all key fields.

Despite conspiracies against her and her government, Sheikh Hasina has become not only a beacon of Bengali nation, but also an icon of South Asian politics, by her bold and visionary leadership.

By the way of her outstanding leadership, she has been able to splash her importance in South Asian region. Amid spate of horrific terror attacks across the country, she could encourage foreign friends to invest here, making the way to boost country`s development.

Though several world leaders criticised the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League (AL) government for the January 5, 2014 national election. After the elections Sheikh Hasina also made a successful visit to United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) as well. It has been just three years, the world leaders are now inspired by her diplomatic strategy.  Responding to her life-awakening call, now foreign investors are ready to invest billions of dollars in Bangladesh.

Examples of her diplomatic strategy

Sheikh Hasina, maintaining strong ties with Russia and India, started to build ties with China. Balancing China, India, and Russia is no easy task, but it is indeed Sheikh Hasina’s diplomatic strategy. Hasina`s charm leadership and strategic plans have put Bangladesh on centre-stage of international and regional politics.

During the liberation war in 1971, China along with the United States (US) took an “anti” stand in the name of what they called the “ping-pong diplomacy.” Governments came and went, with the US recognising Bangladesh reluctantly and China vetoing our entry into the United Nations.

China only recognised Bangladesh after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the man they held responsible for breaking up Pakistan.

In an attempt to carve out innovative ways to strengthen the more than three decade old bilateral and diplomatic relations with the emerging Asian giant, Sheikh Hasina undertook a high-profile five-day official visit to China since coming to power for the third time. It was her first foreign visit since taking charge of Bangladesh’s new government, after the landslide victory in the December 2009 elections.

The much anticipated high level talks between Sheikh Hasina and her then Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao yielded a resolution to create a “closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation.” This was a crucial stepping stone in Hasina’s ambition to get a “comprehensive partnership” with Beijing, according to analysts.

The landmark talks dealt with a spectrum of issues that were significant for both countries. China gave a positive answer to Hasina’s call for Chinese financial aid and technical support for development projects, collaboration in agriculture, and the power sector. Chinese premier Web Jiabao then assured Hasina of overall backing and support in all areas.

The far-sighted Sheikh Hasina also took her maiden visit to China when she was in opposition. It was then called an “ice-breaking” trip.

It has been 45 years since Bangladesh was born, the two superpowers (China and US) of the world are now busy to maintain a balanced relationship with their Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. It has been possible only for her effective diplomatic strategy.

Xi Jinping`s visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently spent two days in Bangladesh, making the historic visit in three decades by a first Chinese President.

After signing 40 agreements during the visit, Chinese President told media, “We agreed to elevate China-Bangladesh relations from a closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation to a strategic partnership of cooperation and to increase high-level exchanges and strategic communication, so that our bilateral relations continue to move ahead at a higher level.”

 Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping

On October 14 after bilateral talks, Bangladesh and China signed 40 agreements, including loan and investment deals in the infrastructure sector worth over $20 billion, as they upgraded their ties to a strategic partnership.

Xi and Hasina witnessed the signing of 27 agreements and memoranda of understanding involving the two governments. Chinese state-owned and private entities also signed 13 agreements mostly with Bangladeshi private enterprises.

John Kerry`s visit

After suspending the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for Bangladeshi products, US tried to put Bangladesh in pressure waging voices over the existence of global terrorists in Bangladesh. They frequently said Islamic States (IS) backed militants existed in the domain of Bangladesh and carrying out terror attacks across the country. But, out far sighted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina always dismisses their allegations. She always says, “There is no existence of IS back militants in Bangladesh. Those who are making isolated attacks here, they are from local oppositions and off the rails.

 John Kerry and Sheikh Hasina

Sensing her boldness and far sights over the world politics, US sent its State Secretary John Kerry to visit Bangladesh for maintaining balanced relationship. Amid the wake of militant attacks across the country, John Kerry arrived in Dhaka on August 29 to discuss the global challenge, preventing the rise of militancy and violent extremism in Bangladesh and the region.

Kerry`s tour at the end of the tenure of Obama administration, diplomatic sources said the visit is quite “extraordinary” and carries “special significance” as the US government is giving importance to Hasina`s government after giving it the cold shoulder for years.

WB President Kim`s visit

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proved that it is wrong to depend on foreign aids for the country`s development. The Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project was designed to be funded by donors such as the World Bank (WB), JICA, ADB etc. After a scandal of alleged corruption by some people associated with project preparation the global financing organisation WB withdrew its commitment and other donors followed.

Then the premier announced to construct it with own-finance, proving Bangladesh is now well-off enough to complete any project with own-funds.

Later, WB also announced that no evidence was found over corruption in the Padma Bridge Project, but the announcement could not heal the cold relation with Bangladesh authority.

 Sheikh Hasina and Jim Yong Kim

Recently, WB president Jim Yong Kim visited Bangladesh and heaped praises upon the country, its people and leadership for becoming a model for poverty reduction despite being saddled with a long list of hardships.

He also lauded Bangladesh’s role in empowering women and terming the country as a model in women’s progress.

During the visit, WB President pledged Bangladesh to give USD $3 billion over the next three years to help the country become less vulnerable to climate change and to combat malnutrition of children.

Earlier, the WB released two reports that Bangladesh has done an impressive job in reducing poverty over the last decade and has the potential to end extreme poverty by 2030 if it takes firm steps to make growth more inclusive to benefit all Bangladeshis.

The reports titled ‘Bangladesh Development Update’ and ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality’, find that Bangladesh is making sustained progress in poverty reduction and increasing opportunities.

Under the new $1.90 poverty line based on 2011 purchasing power, 28 million, or 18.5 percent of Bangladeshis lived in extreme poverty in 2010, according to the reports.

More than 16 million people in Bangladesh graduated from extreme poverty between 2000 and 2010, the reports said.

A beacon of Bengali nation

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in BIMSTEC summit lauded the steps taken by Sheikh Hasina to fight terrorism in the country and went on to tell her that she has “given a new template on how to fight terrorism”.

 Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina

Earlier on Sheikh Hasina`s birthday, Modi also highly appreciated her leadership saying her resolute leadership has provided the people of Bangladesh a beacon of hope during a difficult period.

“From development to security, Bangladesh has made rapid strides in its progress towards peace and prosperity for all citizens, under your able stewardship,” Modi wrote in the birthday message to Hasina.

Remarkable success in power sector

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has become a role model of development in South Asia as she could overcome all complexities to boost countries development.

Though political demonstrations centering the January 5, 2014 national election disturbed the country`s development temporarily, her brilliant leadership and effective steps helped national economy to overcome the situation soon. Despite traffic and non-traffic barriers, foreigners are now inspired by her diplomatic strategy to invest in Bangladesh.

Under her dynamic leadership, the country has achieved tremendous success in the overall development. After assuming power by the Awami League-led government in 2009, the power generation capacity was only 4,942 MW and real electricity production was only 3,268 MW. Now the power generation has arisen up to 14,539 MW (Megawatt) and 76 percent of the total population has been brought under electricity coverage and the nation has witnessed the continued turnaround of recovering from the chronic energy crisis.

 The common people across the country are proud enough to see a tremendous success of this government in the power sector as load shedding, a perennial problem before 2009, is no more in both urban and rural areas.

The government has set a target to generate 24,000 MW electricity by 2021 and 40,000 MW by 2030 to cover the whole country with electricity. The villages normally die soon after the dusk into the darkness of the night, but the scene has now changed as most of the households remain alive at night in rural Bangladesh.

Incredible economic boost

On the overall economic front, the Awami League government has scored the GDP (gross domestic product) rate at 7.2 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year by the outstanding leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The current year’s GDP has been fixed at 7.5 percent with the confidence that it will grow in the same pace steadily in the years to come.

Meanwhile, the per capita income has already reached USD1466 and the foreign currency reserves exceeded USD 30 billion in June 2016 to lead Bangladesh to be a middle-income country very soon.

The government under the bold and visionary leadership by Sheikh Hasina has been progressing towards materializing the vision-2021 along with turning the country into a Digital Bangladesh.

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NOVEMBER 15, 2017

Posted in ACHIEVEMENTS - SUCCESS, BENGALI NATIONALISM, CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, ECONOMY, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY, GROWTH & TARGET, HISTORY OF BENGAL, LEADERS - IN ITS TRUE SENSE, SHEIKH HASINA, STRATEGY & POLICY | Leave a comment