Industry Report: Celebration of eid already begins throughout the country. But about 25 million people will not be able to enjoy the eid happiness due to sluggish business, poor turnover and poverty related causes. This was unveiled by a study of the Global Economist Forum, a United Nations think tank organisation.
In place of fighting against poverty, the common people will not celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr festivity in poverty-prone areas of Rangpur division.
A majority of the population in these countries live in poverty. Their existence is blight on the phenomenal economic growth that their governments are so proud of having achieved over the decades. These people, some argue, suffer not because their governments are not doing enough to help them rise out of poverty, but because they are doing exactly what’s necessary to keep them in that state. Poverty, in that case, is not just something that happens-it is something that’s made to happen. Because if you believe in the Machiavellian prescription for a well-ordered republic, perpetuation of poverty is how you keep that order.
According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2015-16, 86.2 percent of the labour force in Bangladesh is engaged in some type of informal employment, up from 75.2 percent in 2000. It’s a huge number by any estimate. The fact that informality remains pervasive, even after those rosy GDP statistics that are shoved down our throats every now and then, means poverty and inequality are still pervasive too. (See Page-2)
Whoever had predicted that globalisation would reduce poverty and help the developing countries grow with all their jobs, sooner or later, coming within the bracket of the formal sector was just updating the colonial-era formulae of exploitation.
The poor and marginalised, low-income groups working in the agriculture and non-agriculture sectors, in construction, wholesale and retail trade, accommodation, restaurants, in the garment sector, in the streets cleaning, sweeping or vending, in the breaking yards dismantling ships, or extracting stone from the quarries… they don’t figure in the success manual. They are the pariahs, a shameful chapter in the glorious book of our success. Ela Bhatt, who equates poverty to “violence with tacit consent,” gave a moving description of how these people function in an increasingly urban world.
To understand the true extent of poverty in Bangladesh and the condition of these poor, untaxed people in the informal sector, far removed from the benefits of our growing economy, it’s important to look at things at disaggregated levels instead of trying to see the whole picture. The conditions of these people vary from each other. They come from different backgrounds and face different realities and challenges. Among some challenges faced by them is lack of access to quality education, wide infrastructure gaps, social discrimination, shock-induced vulnerabilities, insecurity, etc. Add to them the fact that often they lack skills necessitated by the rapid technological changes, lack of overall employment and job security, as well as absence of an inclusive growth policy in the country.
Unless we take all these factors into consideration and push for changes in how poverty or “development” is still treated at the highest level of policymaking, the poor will get poorer and the rich will continue to be richer. This is a difficult fight, hence the need for unity among the poor themselves for the social and economic advancement that they desire. The oligarchs of the rich and powerful who influence our growth charts and statistics as well as our policies will always be around trying to control them but they can always push back through their unity and clarity of purpose. They have the number in their favour. As some recent demonstrations have proved, no change is impossible when enough people unite with integrity and fight for their own rights.
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