Human development report 2015: Where does Bangladesh stand?

Naim Rahman | Published: December 29, 2015 22:19:03 | Updated: October 24, 2017 23:05:08

Human Development Report is regarded as the best approach for measuring the levels of human resource in a country at a given time. Since 1990, every year Human Development Report is published by the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) focusing on major development issues. This year is the 25th anniversary of the publication of its Human Development Report. 
According to the UNDP, enlarging human choices is the main notion of development. Though human development aims at promoting the expansion of human choices, questions are raised about the way these choices are to be implemented. Basically, the UNDP does not count economic progress as the main parametre of human development. On the other hand, it considers other important aspects of human life such as health, education, social security etc as crucial determinants of human development. This year the UNDP has focused on 'Work for Human Development' as its broad parameter. Work has been regarded as a key yardstick of economic and human wealth, including unpaid works, voluntary works and creative works.
This year Bangladesh's ranking is 142 among 188 countries. Unfortunately, we could not improve our ranking from the previous year. Though we have progressed slightly in human development index from 0.567 to 0.570, we still lag behind the average level of medium development countries which is 0.630 out of 1.00. Even if we compare our position with other South Asian countries, we are far behind the average human development value. When inequality is measured in human development index, we can see that our situation is really worse. So, inequality is a big concern for development of Bangladesh. We have little success in gender development index. 
Now, let us consider work indicators of Bangladesh. Agriculture contributes nearly 50 per cent of total employment. Service sector contributes 37.4 per cent, while manufacturing sector contributes only 14.5 per cent which is below the average rate in developing countries. Our total employment ratio is 4.5 per cent and youth unemployment is 8.7 per cent. Productivity of labour is always a big problem in Bangladesh. Our labour productivity is too low compared to that of all other south Asian and developing countries. Mobile phone and internet user rates are also not satisfactory for us. We have shown little progress in social safety nets. However, our old age pension rate is comparatively better than that of other South Asian and developing countries. Our mandatory paid maternity leave ratio is also quite impressive. 
Bangladesh is improving with the index of health and education but the pace is slow. We are approaching vision 2021 to become a middle income country through rapid digitisation at all levels of the country. Unfortunately, we are yet to demonstrate a balanced development in many fields. There may be some causes such as political instability, lack of governmental commitment, infrastructural problems etc. Budget constraint has also been a big problem for Bangladesh. The government could not allocate proper budget for the education and health sectors. Though our average per capita income is more than US$1300, we could not distribute the income equitably. We have failed to reach digital services at the grassroots level. Social disparity has widened over the years. Wealth is gathered in only a few hands.
For achieving desired level of human development, we will have to take some practical measures. Combined efforts of public and private sectors are necessary for ensuring social services. The government should ensure income equality and social inclusion of women. Inclusive growth and environmental sustainability should be maintained for long-term development. Internet and digital services should be available for the common people. The government will have to spend more on education and health sector. Strong political commitment and political stability should be ensured for achieving these goals. Only good governance can ensure transparency and participation of the citizens at all levels of national activities. 
The writer is a student, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka.

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