DHAKA, July 19: In spite of being the underdog, Bangladesh has overtaken its mighty neighbour India on a range of human development indicators, opines Nobel prize-winning Indian philosopher and economist Amartya Sen.
After the launching of his new book ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions’ published by Penguin, in an interview with the British national daily The Guardian on Tuesday last, the Nobel laureate economist lauded Bangladesh for its development in sanitation, women empowerment, life expectancy, child immunisation and child mortality.
Half of all Indians have no toilet. In Delhi when you build a new condominium there are lots of planning requirements but none relating to the servants having toilets. It`s a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It`s absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails, says Sen, adding that Bangladesh is much poorer than India and yet only 8% don`t have access to a toilet.
This is India`s defective development, he adds.
Even more stark is the comparison with Bangladesh. Our hope is that India`s public policymakers will be embarrassed by the comparison with Bangladesh. On a range of development indicators such as life expectancy, child immunisation and child mortality, Bangladesh has pulled ahead of India despite being poorer, says Sen.
Amartya Sen pointed out that Bangladesh achieved the development in women empowerment through the combined affords of the government and non-government organizations.
What makes this comparison so powerful is that Bangladesh has targeted the position of women not just through government policy but also through the work of non-governmental organisations such as BRAC and the Grameen Bank. As a result, there have been astonishing successes, says Sen, such as a dramatic fall in fertility rate and girls now outnumbering boys in education. All this has been achieved despite having half the per capita income of India.
He says, We believe that India is in a very difficult situation now and the glitter of the achievement might well hide that.
Sen says the book isn’t a critique of the government’s policies but points out the success stories and the failures of the country.
It’s an effort to engage and tell India how and why it has ended up behind an economically far weaker country like Bangladesh in key human indicators, he adds.
banglamail24.com/msh/1955 hrs, July 19, 2013