Bangladesh’s founders declared their independence from Pakistan over 50 years ago. This decision was reached in the face of adversity, including starvation and war. Many people were slain by Pakistani forces or fled to India. Although the Pakistani military got US support, well-known people such as Henry Kissinger described the new country as a “basket case.” In response to these difficulties, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar staged the first-ever super-benefit to raise funds for UNICEF’s Bangladesh relief efforts.
Bangladesh’s Cabinet Secretary informed reporters earlier this month that the country’s GDP per capita had increased by 9% in the last year, to $2,227. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s per capita income is $1,543. Pakistan was 70 percent wealthier than Bangladesh in 1971; today, Bangladesh is 45 percent wealthier. “It is not out of the realm of possibility that we would be asking for aid from Bangladesh in 2030,” one Pakistani economist said.
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India, which prides itself on being the only South Asian economy that matters, now faces the reality that it, too, is poorer than Bangladesh in terms of per capita income. In 2020-21, India’s per capita income was $1,947.
Exports, social advancement, and fiscal restraint are the three pillars that support Bangladesh’s growth. Bangladesh’s exports expanded at an annual rate of 8.6% between 2011 and 2019, compared to a global average of 0.4 percent. The country’s success is partly due to its continuous focus on products where it has a competitive advantage, such as clothes.
Meanwhile, unlike India and Pakistan, where women’s participation in the labor force has fallen, Bangladeshi women’s participation in the labor force has constantly increased.