A FIFTH of Bangladesh’s population remaining out of the development process and, thus, continuing to be marginalised, as experts have assessed, is worrying. Although there has been visible progress in several social and economic areas, about 30 million people still remain marginalised with limited access to even basic needs such as health and education, as experts said at a discussion on the inclusion of marginalised people in development process in Dhaka on Wednesday. While the macro narrative of consistent economic development and digitisation holds sway over everything, experts have rightly pointed out that one in every five people is left outside development and discriminated against in economic status, working pattern, sex, disability, ethnicity, geographic location and diseases. Such discrimination suggests that the country is headed towards a lopsided development process that excludes a major part of the population. The benefits of economic development and the growing gross domestic product have reached a few while inequality, in diverse ways, has only but widened. Growth in the gross domestic product or other indicators is sign of sort of a growth, but sustainable development is what ensures the inclusion of everyone.
People from ethnic minority communities, sex workers, professionally marginalised people such as cleaners and sweepers, people with disabilities, third-gender people, aged people or people marginalised because of geographic locations comprise the chunk of marginalised people and are vulnerable to poverty as their consumption is close to, or at times below, the poverty threshold of $1.9 a day. Income inequality has for long remained near the danger mark — with the Gini coefficient remaining largely static at 0.482 since 2016, up from its previous mark of 0.458 in 2010, while the index above 0.5 is said to pose high risks of social unrest. A recent World Bank report shows that Bangladesh has seen a marked gap between eastern and western divisions in poverty reduction, leaving people of certain geographic locations out. People from ethnic minority communities have also been manifestly left behind, with poverty rate of about 64 per cent in sharp contrast with the national average of 21 per cent. People of different professions have also been continuously facing social and economic exclusion while discrimination in terms of gender and disability is also what could hold back the attainment of sustainable development goals framed by the United Nations.
It is high time the government realised that the macro narratives of development, consistent gross domestic product growth or increase in per capita income do not reflect everyone’s reality. The government must ensure that the benefits of development, economic and otherwise, reach all. The micro narratives of marginalised people, often unheard or preferably kept unheard, must be listened to and be accordingly covered by the policy.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial