Bangladesh outshines India in prosperity rankings

Bangladesh ranked 103rd out of 142 countries on the 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index, while India fell five notches to 106.

On his old income as a day-labourer, Nur Islam could barely support his wife and six-year-old son. Three years ago in desperation, he moved 200km away to Dhaka from his hometown of Mymensingh.

Bangladeshi women work in a small garments factory in Dhaka on May 29th. [Munir Uz Zaman/AFP]
He does not regret his decision.

“Now, I earn enough by driving a rickshaw and I’m happy that I left my village,” the 35-year-old told Khabar South Asia, adding he now plans to send his son to school.

Such success stories abound across Bangladeshi society despite political turmoil that often hinders the country’s economic growth and development.

Experts and economists attribute the progress to the industriousness of Bangladesh’s workers. They also cite huge investments by successive governments in education, health and population control programmes during the past three decades.

Now, signs of growing prosperity are reflected in a new ranking of world economies by a leading international research organisation, the London-based Legatum Institute.

According to the institute’s 2013 Prosperity Index published last October 29th, Bangladesh surpassed India by ranking 103rd out of 142 countries. The South Asian powerhouse dropped five places to No. 105.

Legatum Institute gives each country an overall rank based on eight indices: economy, education, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, health, personal freedom, safety and security, and social capital.

Bangladeshis “not only live 3.4 years longer than their Indian counterparts, but fewer are undernourished. A lower number die in infancy and more have access to sanitation,” Legatum reported. The study also notes that India bested Bangladesh in such areas as safety, security and personal freedom.

A blend of policy decisions and grass-roots implementation has led to Bangladesh’s success in economic development, some experts say.

“I believe significant progress in the poverty-alleviating sector through microfinance, as well as in the health sector, has contributed to overall prosperity in Bangladesh,” Zaid Bakht, economist and research director at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told Khabar.

Other factors, including growing awareness of the importance of education, technological advancement and improved telecommunications, have helped the country to progress, said Dhaka University Psychology professor Shamim Karim.

“People are now more aware about their basic needs and ways to achieve them. They want to live better and for this, they know education is a must,” she told Khabar. “Through individual gains, the entire nation is prospering as a whole.”

– By Syed Tashfin Chowdhury for Khabar South Asia in Dhaka