Pakistani columnist Zaigham Khan writes:
Today, Bangladesh radiates a very different image. Its GDP is growing at a whopping 7.1 percent, creating jobs, throwing up a vibrant middle class and reducing poverty. For six years in a row, Bangladesh’s GDP growth has remained greater than 6 percent and most economists expect this run to continue. Pakistan barely touched 5.8 percent GDP growth after a decade last year and this may drop to less than five percent during the current financial year.
Even more importantly, economic growth is reaching the poor. While well over 40 percent of Bangladeshis lived in extreme poverty in 1991, according to a World Bank estimate, extreme poverty has gone down to less than 14 percent. In other words, about 50 million fewer Bangladeshis are in extreme poverty as a result of the improving economy. …
Contrary to Pakistan’s model of crony capitalism, where protected industries and sectors have thrived, Bangladesh has provided opportunities to its entrepreneurs. Pakistan is producing sugar that it cannot sell to anyone except itself, and sinking huge resources on elite housing societies that enrich Pakistan’s who’s who but destroy the national economy. Crony capitalists from both sectors are ruling us and multiplying their wealth through their hold over the state.
… The cuntry’s net enrolment rate at the primary school level has reached 98 percent while secondary school net enrolment is now around 54 percent, up from 45 percent in 2000. Pakistan, on the other hand, has the lowest primary (72.5 percent) and secondary (43.9 percent) school enrolment rates in the region.
Improvement in human development is indicated by a sharp drop in population growth. Bangladesh’s current population growth is merely 1.1 percent per annum while Pakistan is growing at 2.4 percent annually. This growth is resulting in resulting in the shrinkage of the availability of natural resources per person.
I once speculated on Razib Khan’s blog that Bangladesh might be the country that makes the least world headlines per capita.
Unfortunately, not even Khan (Razib, that is) wrote much about it, despite being Bangladeshi himself.
(I really can’t think of anything beyond the occasional Islamist murder of some public atheist, though Razib argued that it was a function of Bangladesh being more, not less, secular than Pakistan, where you can punish atheism and blasphemy through the courts).
Anyhow, this lack of coverage is a pity… after all, it has a population greater than Russia’s (crammed into an area the size of England). But it seems to be doing pretty well of late.