Development and equal distribution
A very interesting but serious rational quip suddenly amused all of my colleagues at the conference hall last week when Professor Dr. Mijanur Rahman, vice chancellor of Jagannath University, related the term of development with Jackfruit, a very familiar fruit to the nation.
Understandably, his aphorism was much more realistic because jackfruit can never be eaten up by one individual and of course certain parts of its cereal are used as vegetables. Again, its abandoned peel is also a good food for animals; however it needs to remember that it is often pilfered by vested quarters, jackal, and squirrel for example. Likewise, development must have the similar pin so as to the jackfruit. Thus, it must have a strong vigilance to dispel the cloud. Interestingly, this is the biggest fruit of the country and it is the national fruit too and of course this fruit carries the heritage of the nation.
Dr. Rahman referred his interesting quip to a piece written by him published recently in a vernacular daily under the title of "Make sure to share out development to everybody". He wrote, Bangladesh has tremendously progressed in all areas of human need; people don't die of starvation today, have enough sustenance for three times, income raises at the figure of 1752 dollar for each, Gross National Product (GDP) has increased by 7.65 per cent.
High-rising buildings touch the sky, average people are enjoying the pace of development however, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening unevenly. Wealth accumulation is terribly concentrating and this tendency has been going on at a good pace. Amid this very discomfort economic bumping, the nation has been celebrating Bangla Nababarsha (Bengali New Year).
To be sure, development of economy cannot ensure the fate of all. Professor Amartya Sen is the perfect economist who finds the gap between development and social equity. He showed that famine spreads not only for the scarcity of foods but its equal distribution.
It can little guarantee us that development ensures social prosperity proportionally. Instead, concentrated wealth expedites inequality, devours growth, and people feel insecurity far and away. What is important today is to make sure the way of distribution that ensures equality.
The word 'liberation' was the prime concern of our independence that finally refers to 'free from deprivation', inequality' 'repression', 'meanness of mind' and also to the liberty. Liberty in a broad sense encompasses a number of actions including equity and freedom. Certainly, developing countries lack this sort of social phenomenon. Bangladesh had been in a poor structure since birth and struggling to come away from this net. Hopefully, this relentless struggle has successfully made into a new phase after the graduation to the status of developing nation. This certificate literally has no meaning if we do not make out the real function of democracy.
On the other hand, development which is conventionally envisaged as to the increase of GDP and GNP is often misleading. For example, increases of per capita income do not guarantee gender equality which is an urgent need. Freedom of thoughts and cultural liberty are substantial criteria of development concept.
Again, statistics confirms that, in 2016, only five per cent people of Bangladesh possess 29.5 per cent wealth whereas this figure was only 24.6 per cent in 2010. It is well known statistics that 90 per cent GDP of Bangladesh is controlled by only 9-10 per cent people. Experts find "the country's 160 million people are divided into two segments. One is a small number of extremely powerful people, no more than one million, and another is extremely powerless people comprising 159 million.
This situation is better explained by an ordinary slum dweller, who opines the people of this country have one foot on the chunk of ice and another foot on the burning coal. No one concentrate on the plight of the poor people. They are the exploited ones" (Taha Husain, Problem of Development in Bangladesh: causes and remedies).
This very trend inclusively makes up the real social picture of the country. Obviously, it is frustrating because the concentration of wealth produces social schism and thereby increases grievances. Truly, long repression widens the gap and persistence of this unevenness escalates social insecurity.
So, Bangladesh needs today development and its smooth flowing to every corner with equal pace. But, factually, it is hard to ensure amid capitalist economic structure because it encourages individualism and personal benefit. The function of state thus is always perfunctory as it reluctantly infringes other's rights. Accordingly, it is a huge problem for democratic function. Another problem for development is the lacking of inclusiveness of decision. For example, many developing partners opted for less important projects for the mass people or the partners suggest for the project which is commercially viable and penchant.
As remedies, we need the concept of inclusive development plan; but often it faces stumbling-block due to political and cultural issues. In fact, development of Bangladesh in history was considered as political issues. Heavy weighted political persons consider their respective region to be developed for winning votes.
Moreover, this is very partial to think Dhaka city as the only place of development. Just to remember, this city is strategically important for politics or others; if not all. Communication and structural development of remote areas need to consider along with capital city development. It needs to ensure that development should never be partial.
Back to the outset, Dr. Mijanur Rahman gave the right emphasis in his writing on the distribution and disbursement of wealth to all the people and all the areas on the basis of equality. Indeed, it is the right way to claim to be developed. This should be the pledge of this New Year.
The writer is Professor and Chairperson, Department of Philosophy, Jagannath University, Dhaka