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BANGLADESH


  
  



Key Economic Data 
 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
GDP
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: 060 - (26/07/12)

Summary: With the World Bank pulling back its loan commitment for the Padma Bridge Project, the Sheikh Hasina government has not only pledged domestic resources for its completion but also targeted Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus for playing a role in the rejection of the loan. The master mind behind the micro-lending Grameen Bank, however, seems to be making major advancements in the social business sector by bringing Japanese NGO on board and accepting chancellorship of a UK university. On the ever burning issue of military coup and mutinies, while the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the government of extra-judicial killings and torturing of paramilitary personnel who mutinied in 2009, more than 250 people have been convicted by a court for killing senior officers and dumping bodies in sewers. Finally, on a positive note, Bangladesh and India are on the verge of sorting their Teesta river sharing issues and land boundary conflicts.

Hasina government to fund Padma bridge project
Blaming the World Bank for wasting time over the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, PM Sheikh Hasina said that the government will be mobilising internal resources and the bridge will be built by the people of Bangladesh itself. Hasina said that the government would dedicate a total of US$ 2,760 million on the project from which the World Bank pulled back its loan commitment over alleged charges of corruption. She has also asked Finance Minister A Muhith to explore ways for realising compensation from the bank for delaying the project by more than one and a half years. High costs of the project might require the government to drop some other development projects. The bridge is important as it would connect the southwest and central regions with capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong and it is expected to contribute about two per cent to the gross domestic product.

Interestingly, she told the Awami League’s Central Executive Committee members that Muhammad Yunus may have 'influenced' the World Bank's decision to pull out from the proposed Padma bridge project. This is the first time the PM dropped the broad hint even though leaders of her Awami League party have been blaming the former Grameen Bank Managing Director for the World Bank's cancellation of the US$ 2.9 billion project. The statement has come under severe criticism from the opposition parties particularly the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Calling the remarks “unexpected” the BNP said “the person who is holding the responsible post of the Prime Minister should not make such comments”. Furthermore the BNP reiterated the allegation that top government officials were involved with 'corruption' in the Padma bridge project as raised by the World Bank.

Muhammad Yunus accepts UK university post and collaborates with Japanese NGO
Founder of the micro-lending Grameen Bank and Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus is set to become the new Chancellor of the Glasgow Caledonian University. Yunus will succeed journalist, broadcaster and politician Lord Macdonald of Tradeston. Often referred as the “world's banker to the poor”, Prof Yunus launched the Grameen Bank in the late 1970s to offer microcredit to the poor. The model has been copied in developing countries around the world. In fact, he recently announced the opening of a new charity called the Grameen Scotland Foundation that aims to alleviate economic, health and social inequalities in Scotland's poorest communities. Prof. Yunus has had collaboration with the Glasgow Caledonian University in the past, and the university opened the Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Bangladesh to help bring nurse and midwifery training to international standards in 2010. Glasgow Caledonian also set up the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, which researches the impact of microcredit on the health and well-being of communities in Scotland and overseas.

In addition to this the Nobel Laureate signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with S K Dream, a Japanese NGO that supports disadvantaged people, to collaborate on the creation of a social business hub on automobile workshop and auto mechanic training centre in Bangladesh with Japanese investment and technology. The objective of the social business is to create vocational training programmes to develop human resources and create job opportunities for young people in Bangladesh from disadvantaged families. The joint venture will offer training in the field of auto mechanics at various levels of proficiency and aims to produce automobile spare parts in the future. It is expected that the new social business, which is a non-dividend company aiming at solving a social problem, will begin its work in Bangladesh in June 2013. The MoU was signed at the Social Business Forum Asia organised by Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan.

253 paramilitary guards, male nurses jailed over 2009 mutiny
In a ruling over the 2009 mutiny in Bangladesh, a court has convicted 253 paramilitary guards and male nurses on charges of murdering many senior army officers. Many of the convicted were charged with going on a killing spree, dumping the bodies in sewers and digging of shallow graves. Scores of senior army officers were killed during the uprising that started when soldiers at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters in the capital Dhaka mutinied. More than 4,000 BDR soldiers have now been convicted in cases related to the mutiny, and another 2,000 are facing trial.

Of the 253 found guilty, 140 were male medical assistants of the hospital and 80 were trainee medical assistants. At least 30 guards who were being treated there and a few of their attendants were also jailed. Some of these hospital staff were charged with trying to torch bodies of their commanding officers and helping dump the officers' bodies in graves near the hospital. The mutiny spread from Dhaka to BDR posts across the country, with thousands of guards taking up arms against senior officers in the worst military rebellion in Bangladesh's history. It shook the stability of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's newly elected government, which ended the revolt by negotiating a settlement.

There have been demands to expedite the judicial proceedings as the Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Bangladesh authorities of torturing and killing paramilitary soldiers accused of involvement in the mutiny, the latest in a string of complaints against the country's feared special police force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). According to the HRW more than 47 people have died in custody and many have been subjected to severe beatings and electric shocks. Moreover, more than 200 people have been killed by the RAB or the so called “death squad”. Additionally, Amnesty International has urged different countries to stop selling weapons that could be used by the elite forces in the wake of extra-judicial killings. The government, however, has denied the allegations of torture and custodial killings.

Bangladesh-India relations
Bangladesh has agreed to give India “time” and “space” over the Teesta river accord and the land boundary agreement (LBA) given the current political conditions in New Delhi in which the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is unable to build consensus over policy issues. In addition to concretely working towards sealing the Teesta agreement and sorting out boundary disputes, the two countries are also looking at negotiating a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA). Relations between the two neighbours have improved tremendously over the past couple of years given the determination of the political leadership in both countries to iron-out their differences. Ratification of the two agreements have been delayed. The UPA government in New Delhi is unable to bring the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and ally Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on board. In foreign secretary levels talks recently, Bangladesh also raised the issue of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) firing on the border to which the latter maintained that the infiltrators from Bangladesh side are not always villagers straying across, but people with criminal intent. In an attempt to improve communication the two neighbours have tried to revive the local administrations' interface, making it easier for rural bodies to deal with each other and the problems of infiltration.


 

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