Causes, Consequences and Transformation Possibilities of Poverty-Disparity-Inequality in Bangladesh ISBN: 978-984-33-9791-1, Author: Dr. Abul Barkat
Noted economist Abul Barkat has been published a book on ‘poverty-disparity-inequality’ from Muktobuddhi Prokasana. This book in bangla entitled ‘Bangladeshe daridro, boisommyo osomotar karon porinam o uttoron somvabona: akivuto rajnoitik aurthonitik totter onusondhane’ (March, 2016).
It analyses – socio-economic formation, mode of production, production relation, monopoly profit, productive force, means of production, poverty structure, price syndicate, market terrorism, political economy of rent-seeking, corruption, causes of disparity and inequality, good governance and globalization, and strategies of poverty reduction.
Professor Barkat explores an offshoot market designed by financial body, telecommunication industry, gateway business, health, education and higher class lawyer. It’s a development game rule of an exploitative mode of production dominated by the rent seekers who never create wealth but take away wealth created by others. Very interesting point is those rent seekers maintain a channel with politicians through cognitive and regulatory capture.
Author methodically estimates the people who earn less than 67 taka per day or consume less than 2122 kilo calorie per day – can be poor. During the period of 1985-86, the poverty rate was 55.7%, and then the rate was 31.5% in 2010. Now 22% people live under the poverty line (official story, 2015-16). But author argues that food consumption and income is not real indicator to measure poverty. He comments – it’s a ‘livestock method of measuring poverty’.
Master mind Barkat highlights the extreme and hardcore poverty, its structure and dimensions. He refers – income poverty, food poverty, jobless poverty, housing poverty, education poverty, health poverty, child poverty, poverty of older people, poverty of women empowerment, poverty of landless people, poverty of immobilize people, exterminate people; poverty of slum people, ecological poverty, insecurity induced poverty of mass people, poverty of political freedom, poverty of haor, baor and marginal people.
Author informs us – people cannot be an equivalent member of society due to lack of three resources, 1. Material resources: income, nutrient food, proper education, health care, rights in khas land, forest, water bodies and employment; 2. Spiritual resources: thoughts on life, model of ideal person, mutual respect, aspiration, completeness of life; 3. Emotional resources: love, belief, justice, inclusion.
Writer through – real income, land ownership, ownership of black money and population dynamics, estimates that out of 16 cores people, 10 cores 55 lacs people are poor. If we consider price hike and low unemployment then the rate would be 83%. He in his ‘rich-poor class pyramid’ identifies – 44 lacs rich, 75 lacs higher middle class, 1 core 56 lacs center middle class, 5 cores 1 lac middle class, 2 cores 71 lacs low middle class, 13 cores 13 lacs extreme poor and 6 cores 55 lacs hardcore poor people in Bangladesh.
Author explains the situation ‘poverty’ makes people powerless, isolate, hopeless, helpless and weak. It is sturdy of middle class, extreme and hardcore poor people to acclimatize with health shocks (cancer, kidney damage, liver diseases) and natural shocks (river erosion, flood, cyclone and environmental crisis).
He points out 75% of 2.5 lacs cores taka has been looted by rent-seekers grand alliance (1975-2016). Criminalization of politics and economics has formed a capacity to control market, election, muscle power, fundamentalist groups, terrorists’ body, law/justice and media – the common stature which makes people stillness.
Author precisely has given a balance sheet of 40 years Bangladesh. Escalation component: black money, corruption, illegal export-import, number of slum, distress of older people, NGO’s, killing group, speed money, land encroachment, unemployment rate, religious business, private education, hospitals and clinics, students of CSE and BBA, madrassa students, injustice with mass people. But, national political capital, employment rate, industrialization, economic opportunity, public participation, local entrepreneurs, secular attitude with other religion, mutual respect, practice of general knowledge, philosophical studies, democratic culture are day by day lessening.
Writer asks us – why people beg, drive rickshaw, causes of isolation of people, children sleep in bush of karwan bazaar, people remain hungry at night, unemployment rate increases and women split brick? Mentioning term ‘of the 1%, for the 1% by the 1 %’( Joshep Stigliz) the development would not touch mass people if we do not take the strategy of ‘inclusion of the excluded’. Author emphasizes for economic opportunity, social facilities, guarantee of transparency, political freedom and protective security. Otherwise, the total process would be FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).
Abul Barkat recommends to employ home grown development philosophies – provide moral and material incentive to marginal people, exclude black economy politics, negative externality; stop the politics of religion, do not accept foreign aid with unfavorable conditions, ensure proper distribution system, empower the women, ensure knowledge and skill based education, improving the mass people oriented health care system, ensure social safety nets and freedom of mass media.
Also, author explains the utilization strategies of fundamental resources – land, water bodies, forest and human resources for collective welfare. It is totally politico-economic decision to lessen poverty, distress, inequality, deprivation and discrimination in the attention of mass people. It is high time to put an end development-deprivation trap, biopiracy, bioterrorism, information terrorism and eradicate ‘nexus of common unholy interests’.
Shishir Reza, Environmental Analyst & Associate Member, Bangladesh Economic Association.