Professor Murshid Sheds Light on the Unlikely Rise of Bangladesh

The professor attributed Bangladesh’s unexpected success to several factors. 

The professor attributed Bangladesh’s unexpected success to several factors. 

On Thursday, September 24, Director General at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Dr. K.A.S. Murshid came to Colgate to give a lecture titled “From Test Case to Development Paradox: The Bangladesh Story.” Murshid, father of Colgate’s Assistant Professor of Political Science Navine Murshid, visited campus to discuss the rise of Bangladesh over the last twenty years.

According to Murshid, in previous years, many viewed Bangladesh as a “basket case,” referring to Henry Kissinger’s term for countries who were dependent on aid from other countries. However, over the last twenty years, Murshid argued that Bangladesh has taken on a new identity, one far from a “basket case.” During the twenty-year period from 1990 to 2010,  Bangladesh has had the greatest gains in the basic condition of people’s lives seen anywhere.

“From 1990 to 2010, Bangladesh’s life expectancy rose from 59 years of age to 69 years of age,” Murshid said. Additionally, Murshid discussed how, by 2010, more than 99 percent of children in Bangladesh were enrolled in school. He noted how this is twice as many as there were enrolled in 2000.

Murshid attributes Bangladesh’s newfound successes to family planning, microcredit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), remittance and labor exports, the ready-made garment (RMG) sector and the pharmaceutical industry that emerged due to drug policy change in 1981. He also cited the “green revolution,” which dramatically increased food production by using modern technologies, such as high yield varieties (HYV) modern irrigation and biotechnology. 

In addition to these six factors, Murshid spoke of Bangladesh’s current health infrastructure, which has allowed for access to safe water through fielding hand-pumps. The health infrastructure has given birth to initiatives such as an oral-saline campaign, a total sanitation campaign and an immunization campaign, which have promoted greater health throughout Bangladesh. Furthermore, rural areas of the country have also adopted community clinics to maintain health as a priority.

While Murshid discussed the elements that have contributed to Bangladesh’s current progress, he also spoke of factors that are necessary for future success. Murshid mentioned policy reforms, technology and institutions as three factors that need to be focused on to contribute to Bangladesh’s future.

“The combination of these three elements are crucial to Bangladesh’s growth,” Murshid said. 

Lastly, Murshid spoke of Bangladesh’s immediate future and some of the problems the country could potentially encounter, such as food insecurity, nutritional challenges, “big ticket investments” like energy and infrastructure, labor shortages and being “growth stuck.”

Senior Annie Garcia attended the lecture for her International Economics class in which they have been discussing growth development.

“Today’s talk really shed light on our in class discussions and allowed me to better understand some of our class’ topics,” Garcia said.

 Sophomore Courtney Dunphey also attended the discussion for her CORE India class, expressing her interest in the talk.

“It was especially interesting how he discussed the paradox between how Bangladesh is so impoverished yet the life expectancy has risen over the last twenty years,” Dunphey said.