The current month holds a significant amount of importance for Bangladesh on account of three reasons to celebrate:
- 50 years of independence of the country
- 50 years of collaborative relationships with India
- Birth anniversary of the father of the Nation- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On March 7 1971, Sheikh Rahman raised his voice to call for independence by launching a civil disobedience campaign and organising armed resistance at a gathering in the racecourse ground in Dhaka, ultimately leading to a Bangladesh liberation war on 26 March 1971. Until then the area was known as East Pakistan which was sparked by Bengali nationalism and the self-determination movement. The war was initiated as a result of operation searchlight launched by the Pakistani military Janata from west Pakistan targeting the people of East Pakistan on the eve of 25th March 1971. Finally, what we now call as Bangladesh came into existence.
The journey of Bangladesh after it gained independence was inexplicably unanticipated, especially after the assassination of the father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was assassinated by a group of junior army officers motivated to overthrow the government in the month of August 1975, nearly four years after independence.
Bangladesh had been exploited by British and Pakistani colonial exploitation for decades. This made its population reach new levels of poverty and its economy becoming undiversified and underdeveloped. The industry and services sector were also not very established and the country faced the problem of poor infrastructure. The population growth was also rapid. The country was also known as a test case for development and an international basket case.
Success of Bangladesh
Despite all these unfavourable circumstances the country has done extremely well in the past five decades. It has overcome its problem of resource constraints to make spectacular economic and social progress. The growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country is also enviably good. According to a report, Bangladesh’s GDP highest searched to 7% in the 2010s from a depressing 3% in 1970s. In fact, its GDP had crossed 8% just before the pandemic rerouted our lives. Even though the pandemic has had immense effects on the growth rate and production of all the countries affected by it, Bangladesh is still in a better position with its GDP growth trajectory showing a faster rise in comparison to other countries. In 2020, the per capita income has been pushed 23 times above the level it was in 1973. This comes primarily on account of high growth rate.
The country has also shown exuberant results when it comes to developing itself from an agricultural dependent economy to an industrial and service sector driven economy. The efforts the people of the country have put in in the last 50 years of its existence are clearly visible with the fact that the agricultural share in Bangladesh GDP is only 13% in comparison to 35% share of industry and 52% share of the services sector.
Bangladesh is also a world economy and is intricately integrated with global trade. The country has witnessed an increase in its export, imports, and remittances over time due to a lot of reasons. Higher remittance flow allows the country to have a higher level of imports flowing into the domestic boundaries of the country. Furthermore, the increasing growth rate has assisted the country to reduce dependency on foreign aid to undertake development work. This reduction has been by almost half in terms of its share in GDP in 2020 as against its share in the year 1973, reflecting the true status of self-reliance, growth and positively shaped economy.
The world still left spellbound by the efforts of the country in revamping its economy tremendously in the past two decades. The sectors such as readymade garments, textiles, telecom and insurance have recorded impressive growth and are widely appreciated for their contribution to the GDP. The country has also been constantly improving its position in the human development index.
From a country that was left in the turmoil by its exploiters, Bangladesh has come a long way. It is no more placed at the bottom of the heap. The country has continuously evolved as an emerging and promising economy which is reflected by its GDP numbers loitering between 7 to 8% in recent years. Even during the pandemic year, when most of the world economies were struggling to stay afloat, Bangladesh delivered an almost sterling performance. It became the best performer in South Asia by scoring over 5% growth. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the country’s importance in the South Asian block as well as in the world, in general, is ever-increasing and can hardly be ignored.
Strategic ties between India and Bangladesh
Both the countries share a historic relation in South Asia. The stepping stone of these bilateral ties was kept with the visit of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi to Dhaka on 19th March 1972. The Indo Bangladesh treaty of friendship, cooperation and peace was signed between the two prime ministers- Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Ever since the countries have been working together on many fronts to establish a bilateral relationship of importance.
In the present economic scenario, Bangladesh has become India’s biggest South Asian trade partner with study strengthening of Bilateral ties between the countries. In the financial year 2018 to 19 India’s exports to Bangladesh accounted for as much as 9.21 billion US dollars while the imports from the country were 1.04 billion US dollars. India has promised and assistance of US dollar 10 billion to Bangladesh, making India a major development partner of the country. India has also extended three lines of credit in the last 8 years amounting to 8 billion US dollars for the development of roads, shipping, railways and ports.
According to the economist intelligence unit (EIU), India and Bangladesh might sign a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) over the next five years once Bangladesh comes out of the United Nations’ least developed countries status in 2026.