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Key Economic Data 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
Millions of US $ 56,844 51,900 45,500 54
GNI per capita
 US $ 440 400 390 175
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bangladesh

Update No: 054 - (31/08/10)

High Court Verdict Declares Seventh Amendment Illegal
In what is being hailed as a landmark verdict, the Bangladesh High Court has denounced the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution as illegal. This very amendment was responsible for legalizing General Ershad’s regime. In February of this year, the appellate division of the Supreme Court had declared the Fifth Amendment to be illegal. That amendment had legalized the regime of General Zia-ur-Rahman. The court noted that during General Ershad’s nine-year rule, the country’s Constitution was made subordinate to martial law; deemed unconstitutional. While the Fifth Amendment ratified all changes made to the Constitution and all government activities between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979, giving legitimacy to three regimes including that of General Ziaur Rahman, the Seventh Amendment ratified the proclamation of martial law and other orders by General Ershad between March 24, 1982, and November 10, 1986. General Ershad, the then Chief of Army Staff, declared himself the Chief Martial Law Administrator and imposed martial law on March 24, 1982. The High Court’s decision to declare both amendments as illegal perhaps denotes a changing role for Bangladesh’s courts. Yet it may also be interesting to note whether such changes are a result of a broader, legitimate movement to uphold democratic principles in a country that has been fraught by instability, authoritarian rule and corrupt leaders. Also, in producing such verdicts, scholars of constitutional law should address whether the Court system in Bangladesh is working towards the betterment of its citizens by providing them with larger lessons through such cases.

Bangladesh’s Interest in the IPI Project
A local news agency has reported that Bangladesh is displaying a keen interest in Iran’s offer to join the proposed Iran, Pakistan and India pipeline also known as the Peace Pipeline. A senior official from Bangladesh’s Finance Ministry has noted that since the pipeline will reach Calcutta, it would tremendously benefit Bangladesh’s dwindling gas reserves if the country were to be included in the project. Currently, while Bangladesh’s total demand for gas supplies stands at 2300 million cubic feet, it is falling short of this demand by 300 million cubic feet.

A Thousand Prisoners Released
In what appears to be a rather strange move, approximately one thousand prisoners have been released from Bangladesh’s jails to ease the problem of overcrowding. Most of these prisoners had served almost 20 years without receiving a trial. Bangladesh’s 67 prisons are known for their overcrowded character and appalling living conditions. Some of the female prisoners have also been subject to abuse in the past while others are suffering from serious illnesses like tuberculosis. But even though overcrowding could be an issue, releasing a thousand prisoners to deal with the problem hardly seems to address the larger issues involved. A more appropriate method of dealing with the problem would be to address years of neglect and instead focus on building much-needed infrastructure. Moreover, the problem obviously speaks directly to a faulty and weak trial system. If prisoners are not receiving a trial even after 20 years, then the problem of overcrowded prisons seems to be the least of the country’s worries! It is rather shocking to an observer that the situation has been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that releasing prisoners is considered to be the more appropriate method to deal with the problem. 

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