From the Editor: Losing the momentum


Author: Enayetullah Khan

So the government of Sheikh Hasina has managed to ensure it will not be turned into some pariah on the global stage due to the blatant hijacking of democracy that it staged on January 5, even if not too many countries are impressed with its shenanigans. Most of the diplomatic corps stationed in Dhaka attended the oath-taking ceremony of her new council of ministers (which was notable for featuring some really old faces once again). Slowly but surely, acknowledgements are starting to stream in from other governments. The prime minister need not fear being isolated on the international stage.   Well, this was never the danger to be honest, if we take it to mean foreigners closing the door on us. It’s not as if Bangladesh is aid-dependent, but the only real, tangible sway foreign governments can hold over a country such as ours is through sanctions such as cutting off aid, or trade restrictions. But let’s be frank now – any form of economic sanctions with the potential to hurt millions of Bangladeshis for the fault of one party or faction, or even just one person, would hardly have helped them to retain the moral high ground in the effort to make Sheikh Hasina see the light and turn back from the autocratic path she is pursuing. When it comes to trade, the only industry that really binds Bangladesh to the world, its nearly $20 billion slice of the globally $300 billion textile industry, is too beholden to the astonishingly cheap price of labour in the country to suddenly pack up and leave These were never the threats, and I’m happy to note that these fears have never been propagated in these pages.   The threat has always been the damage we stood to inflict upon ourselves. And as the World Bank’s briefing this week disclosed, with its prediction that GDP growth is set to decelerate for a third successive year, we better believe that this is a very real threat. Once again, the main reason identified for this (the Bank is predicting growth of just 5.7 percent, against a target of 7.2 percent, and a third of a percentage point down on the 6 percent growth registered in the last fiscal) is political turmoil. Decelerating economic growth really, however respectable the figure on its own might be, really isn’t the condition in which Bangladesh, especially with its young demography, can meet the aspirations of its 160 million people. For years now, we have been latching on to the hope of seeing Bangladesh “take off”. You can’t take off by slowing down. –


Leave a Reply