grameenasia.com - sustainability capitalism - how asia leads the way

Asia Pacific world leading partnership area of yunus and pro-youth economics friends -japan as number 1 partner in innovations needed by grameen in bangladesh; malaysia 2013 became first asia host of the global social business summit ; philippines 2013 is host of microcreditsummit. One of the best vilage mapping webs is http://gramweb.net  ; 
 

reports welcomed at http://yunusasia.com

This site  The Web 

Asia leads the premier league of 100 million job creators with 3 entries - rsvp isabella@unacknowledgedgiant.com womenuni.com to nominate other premier league job creators 
Dr Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh
Ali Baba Ceo, China

 

Sir Fazle Abed, Bangladesh.

From Globalizing Asia: (1) More than thirty years ago, Norman Macrae (1975), who was then the deputy editor of the Economist, talked about the coming of the “Pacific Century.” According to him, the world had gone through the “British Century” (1775-1875), the “American Century” (1875-1975), and now was entering the “Pacific Century” (1975-2075?). Asia was seen as a newly rising leader in the international political and economic system. Its extraordinary vitality has forced development scholars and practitioners to “ReOrient” the history of capitalist development in the region.
The family of Norman Macrae is delighted to be able to sponsor the first Global Assembly round Dr Yunus in Glasgow 4 July 2010. Norman met Dr Yunnus in 2008 in London during the first social business book tour of Dr Yunus. The last 2 articles Norman wrote were on Dr Yunus. From independence as poorest nation in the world, Bangladesh has succeeded by developing  microentreprenurial economy where priviatization models led by those who care about vital needs have built the greatest grassroots networking movements yet seen. Bangladesh provides a sustainbility model the whole world can gain from benchmarking. Moreover Dr Yunus proposl that the 2010s is humanity's most exciting decade is news youth around the world could be celebrating http://yunusuni.com/  and social actioning now http://erworld.tv/ .  

Are you doing  project with Dr Yunus in Asia? send us details of links we can blog. Leading Yunus University partners in Asia include: Kyushu Japan Grameen Technology Lab; Asian Institute of Technology Bangkok, Yunus Centre   

If your country or network believes in this brand of economics please send us your link : "invest in curious productivity of children, families and community since healthy society generates strong economies not the other way round" - signed Scotland, Bangladesh 1 2, France 1 RVP info@worldcitizen.tv
11 June 2011 - Norman Macrae probably Europe's senior economist dies nearing 87 - obits
- The Economist: Unacknowledged Giant ; 
Financial Times: journalist who delighted in paradox with unrivaled ability to foresee the future
Daily Telegraph: The Economist's internal spirit;  The Scotsman - the internet's futurist
The Atlantic - Clive Crook remembers; national review "someone you never knew existed"
 India Times - Prophet of Change ; New Statesman "entire career at The Economist" ; Matt Ridley - death of a great optimist
London Times - subscription - journalist who changed minds and opened many more ; Pot-TEX : a giant of journalism
- can you help edit companion pieces to http://normanmacrae2010.blogspot.com/  

Would you like to host  Norman Macrae sudent essay party - tell us the title of the essay and ones we think Norman would want questioned as part of 2010s most exciting decade we will offer $1000 prize for provided you can get at least 10 entries 

RSVP info @worldcitizen.tv

Sunday, April 14, 2013

associated friends of yunus and yunus journalist around asia 1:29 pm edt 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MIcroeconomics : Union of Nations

Notes from Yunus Speech to Manmohan Singh and India Parliament Dec 2009:

Let us detereine that 2030 we'll create a well-functioning South Asian Union.  There will be no visas required, no customs officials limiting travel among the South Asian countries.  There will be a common flag, along side our national flags, a common currency, and a large area of common domestic and international policies.

Let's dream that by 2030 we'll make South Asia the first poverty-free region of the world.  Let’s prepare to challenge the world to find a poor person anywhere in South Asia.

Let’s dream that by 2030 South Asia will set up a reliable state-of-the-art healthcare system that will provide affordable care for all people.

Let's dream that by 2030 we'll create a robust financial system to provide easy access to financial services to every single person in South Asia. 

Let’s dream that by 2030 the first career choice for every child growing up in South Asia will not be to work for some company but to launch his or her own enterprise.

And let’s dream that by 2030 we'll have a range of creative and effective social businesses working throughout South Asia to solve all the remaining social problems.

Do all these dreams sound impossible?  If they do, that means they are likely to come true if we believe in them and work for them.  That’s what the history of the last fifty years teaches us.

EVERY INNOVATION FOR HUMANITY WAS ONCE A DREAM

We can describe the world of 2030 by preparing a wish-list.  This wish-list will describe the kind of world we would like to create by 2030. That's what we should prepare for.
Dreams are made out of impossibles.  We cannot reach the impossibles by using the analytical minds which are trained to deal with hard information which is currently available. These minds are fitted with flashing red lights to warn us about obstacles that we may face.  We’ll have to put our minds in a different mode when we think about our future.   We’ll have to dare to make bold leaps to make the impossibles possible.  As soon as one impossible becomes possible, it shakes up the structure and creates a domino effect, preparing the ground for making many other impossibles possible.

We'll have to believe in our wish-list if we hope to make it come true.  We'll have to create appropriate concepts, institutions, technologies, and policies to achieve our goals. The more impossible the goals look, the more exciting the task becomes.

Fortunately for us, we have entered into an age when dreams have the best chance to come true.  We must organise the present to allow an easy entry to the future of our dreams.  We must not let our past stand in the way.

So let’s agree to believe in these dreams, and dedicate ourselves to making these impossibles possible.
At YunusForum - young netizens (and the young-in-heart) web round the identity that impossible becomes possible when connecting right people right time right place right action

3:36 pm edt 

Grameen Fibreglass
Bahrain & Dhaka

From an invitation to an event, to by-the-by talks on social business, two minds came together to conceive the idea of a joint venture to produce fibreglass products in Bangladesh -- a dissemination of the concept of social business.

"There is so much demand in Bangladesh that setting up 10 industries in 10 years is no big deal. You make it, and people want to buy it," says Shahed Ahmed, managing director of Alliance Fibre Glass and Artificial Marble and Granite Company.

In Bahrain early this year, Ahmed met Muhammad Yunus, chairman of Grameen Telecom Trust, who was invited to inaugurate a Family Bank branch. The bank was built following the model of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and the low-income Bahrainis, like fishermen, farmers and women, who make cottage industry products, would receive loans at subsidised rates.

"Yunus gave a speech where he said that the world is heading towards bad days instead of better days because of climate change, credit crunch and various other reasons. And one of the solutions he proposed was to do social business, where people like us, who were more fortunate than others, can invest in an industry instead of giving charity a single time," says Ahmed.

He quoted Yunus as saying: "And this will sustain by itself and continue to make money and continue to help the needy for as long as the venture is there."

Yunus encouraged all to set up industries that would help minimise poverty, he said in an interview with The Daily Star in Dhaka on Wednesday.

"After dinner, we sat for a cup of tea, when I was introduced to Yunus as an expert in fibreglass. Yunus immediately showed interest and said he imported fibreglass gas tanks from China to store biogas."

"I suggested that I can make the fibreglass tanks in Bangladesh and I can train the Bangladeshi people to make these in the country. It would be an import substitute," says Ahmed. He has 35 years of experience in fibreglass business.

Yunus invited Ahmed to Bangladesh and after a couple of meetings later, Grameen Telecom Trust and IES Alliance of Bahrain signed a memorandum of understanding on June 1 to set up a joint-venture fibreglass company in Bangladesh.

"Usually in Bangladesh, there is no follow-up or enthusiasm about starting a new venture. But this time, things fell into place quite fast," Ahmed says.

"Then I read his book, and understand the idea that he is trying to sell. I figured that it was workable and even more convinced."

He says normally rich people just donate to charity. "I could give $10,000 this year, but the charity will come back the next year for more. But with this type of social business, you make a factory that makes profit and you don't take the profit yourself but you reinvest in another factory."

In social business, investors get back their investment amount only, but he says that in his case, he does not need the money back now as he has other running business in Bahrain. He will use the returns to expand operations.

"Before, I donated cash. Now, I will teach Bangladesh a new skill. That is of fibreglass."

The proposed company, Grameen Fibreglass, which will be set up at the Grameen Social Business Industrial Park in Kashimpur, Gazipur, is expected to begin operations by October this year.

The company will initially produce fibreglass biogas tanks, which are much better as there is no wastage of gas. Usually, in tanks made of concrete and cement, there is a 20 percent loss of gas because of the porous nature of concrete and cement.

"Grameen Shakti itself will be our customer and we also plan to sell the tanks in the local market and export to the US and countries in the Middle East," the business investor living in Bahrain says.

"I am eventually also going to make artificial marble and granite that is the need of the day, especially in the garments industry, restaurants, banks and for use as domestic kitchen tops."

Artificial marble made of resin will replace the stainless steel basins in kitchens, he says. "I will provide the items at reasonable prices in Bangladesh."

In garment factories, workers need to work on smooth surfaces while cutting the cloth. They usually work on steel or wooden tables but the marble top will change that, Ahmed says.

"If the surface is not smooth, the cloth may get a scratch or tear that leads to wastage. But with a table top made of marble, no damage will be done. And the best part about this top is that the more you use it, the smoother is becomes. It becomes like silk to touch."

On initial investment, "I don't want to disclose the amount of investment at this moment, as, frankly speaking, the taxation structure in Bangladesh is very vague. Until I get to know all those, I want to say that I will invest as much as required."

In future, he also plans to make air spoilers -- a piece of fibreglass with an aero-dynamic shape that is fitted in front of trucks and pushes air back and the truck takes 10-15 percent less fuel to go forward.

The company will make two types of corrugated sheets as well. One will be translucent to make the roofs of factories and greenhouses. The second type will be thicker and fire resistant, rustproof, coloured, will carry a warranty of 50 years, and can be used to make warehouses, hangers and industrial units.

"We are also going to make one of the biggest water storage tanks in the world -- 25 meters in diameters and 10 meters high. The acid resistant tank can be used to store fuel, chemicals, sewage, and also have a mechanism to store rainwater during the monsoons."

In future, the IES Alliance boss says, the company will expand to produce the internal and external parts of trains by hand lay-up. The process does not require a huge investment and women can do this work sitting in their homes. They will come and collect the required raw materials and mould and once they make it, they will bring it back to the centre, Ahmed adds.

Grameen Fibreglass will initially hire 40 people. Ahmed will bring fibreglass experts from Bahrain, who are also Bangladeshi expatriates, to train the workers here.

One of them with 20 years of experience in Bahrain's fibreglass industry has already joined as the plant manager.

The manager has helped assemble a fibreglass tank imported from China for Grameen Shakti. The tank is now being used to store biogas, which will distribute gas via pipes to households to cook food, he says.

The joint venture will produce fibreglass tanks to promote biogas use, pipes to improve sanitation, building materials to help the overall infrastructure of Bangladesh by transferring the latest technology and creating employment opportunity.

"The prospect clicked for both of us. Yunus' involvement has given me immense national and international exposure and support. And the best part is that we will be using this to help the poor and the needy and better the lives of the people in Bangladesh."

1:41 pm edt 

Kyushu

Prof. Okada & Prof. Hara from Kyushu University Japan discussions of various inventions including 6 taka biodegradble diaper

more on grameen and kyushu from the creative lab web in germany- Kyushu University has 20,000 students and GCL@Kyushu University is the first Grameen Creative Lab worldwide established at a university! The rather unknown city of Fukuoka is considered to be the new hot spot of Japan, home to many medium-sized companies with the potential to become the new economic leaders of Japan.
After an intense week of training on social business as well as strategy sessions, the organizational set-up as well as the activities of GCL@Kyushu University have been defined. GCL@Kyushu University will not only be a hub for students to work on social business ideas but will be home to professors of different disciplines (e.g. agriculture, biology, business, law) conducting research on how social business plays into their field of expertise. Thus Kyushu University will significantly contribute to the promotion of social business as well as continue building a theoretical scientific fundament for social business.
Returning to Germany with many great impressions, the GCL team is looking forward to a fruitful cooperation in the future.

1:33 pm edt 

2013.04.01 | 2010.07.01

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Extracted frrom Growing Up with 2 Giants by Dr Yunus 2006 
Bangladesh has quietly and steadily built a very strong foundation to make the big leap forward. We are ready to launch ourselves into a path to cross $1,000 per capita income, 8 percent GDP growth rate, and reducing poverty level to under 25 percent in the near future. But our political attention remains riveted to day to day party politicking rather than strategic national issues.

Lucky to have two giants as our neighbours

India and China are almost there. They have already reached the 8 percent growth rate and 25 percent poverty level. They are becoming such political powers and economic power-houses that the whole world is gathering around them to get their attention.

Bangladesh is lucky to have two globally sought-after giants as her next door neighbours. These giants are not sleeping giants. They are super-active, and growing very fast. We must learn how to take advantage of fast growing giants. We must assess our best interest in building our relationship with them. In their turn, they’ll assess their best interest in having us as their neighbour.

Obviously, they will look at us as their market, their competitor, their partner, and also as a potential trouble-maker. From our side we must make it absolutely clear that we have no intention to be trouble-maker for our neighbours, nor do we want to see them as trouble-maker for us.

But a section of our politics finds it a very attractive theme to impress on the common people of Bangladesh that India is behind all the terrible things that happen in Bangladesh. If you don’t vote for our party, India will turn Bangladesh into her client state.

Countries are not made of saints only or angels only. There are bad people in India, who can dedicate themselves to do bad things to Bangladesh. Similarly, there are bad people in Bangladesh committed to do bad things to India. Both countries must remain vigilant to catch the bad people and punish them forthwith to uphold the friendship between the two countries.

Growing up with giants

When our giant neighbours bring the whole business world to their door-steps, our door-steps come very near to the business world. Visibility and contacts are very important factors in business. They come to us easily because of having important neighbours. If we play our cards right, our economy can pick up the speed of our neighbours.

Growing neighbours are also sources of technology and experience. Expanding economies keep moving towards more and more high-profit products and services, leaving behind low- profit, labour intensive items. This creates opportunities for neighbours. This is not to suggest that Bangladesh has to satisfy herself only with the markets and the products which giant neighbours are not interested in. What Bangladesh can do will depend on our level of efficiency and management skill. Bangladesh can find niche to provide high value specialised products and services to her giant neighbours.

I am emphasising on the fact that having two fast growing giant neighbours is a great boon for us. Let us dispel the fear that living between two giants is a scary prospect — that we may be stepped on from any side, any minute! On the contrary, we’ll be the beneficiary of coasting effect of having two giants next to us. We can get a ride on the fast train with them.

 

An open-door, open-arm country

Future of Bangladesh lies in being an open-door, open-arm country. We must not live under the fear of the Indian wolf. We must get the constant fear of the Indian wolf out of our system. If it is a real threat, we’ll have to prepare for it and get on with our lives. If it is imaginary, we’ll have to get our minds cleansed out. Frequent cries of Indian wolf is a sign of our political emptiness.

In the world today domination does not come through sneaky conspiracies. Domination comes from economic power. If we remain a poor country, everybody will dominate us, not just India. Moving up the economic ladder quickly is the best protection from all dominations. Let us not confuse this issue.

In order to move up the ladder quickly we should open all our doors, invite everybody in, encourage our people to spread themselves all over the wide world, show their talents and win over the confidence and appreciation of the whole world. Hiding behind closed doors is no protection at all.

Let’s make Bangladesh the cross-roads of the region

Let’s envision Bangladesh as the cross-roads of the region, if not the world. Let people, products, investments from all over the world flow into Bangladesh, and out of Bangladesh, with utmost ease, safety, and efficiency. Let’s make our laws, institutions, bureaucracy, travel and transportation facilities, financial system most friendly to the movement of people, investments, goods and services in and out of Bangladesh. Let’s build everything in Bangladesh in such a way that Bangladesh becomes the natural first choice of hard-nosed investors and traders. Let Bangladesh be Bangladesh International. Let us all agree on this vision and then move forward unitedly to make it a reality at the fastest possible speed.

To make Bangladesh an international cross-roads we’ll have to address the following:

i) Reduce corruption level drastically.
ii) Provide reliable electricity all over the country.
iii) Open up ICT and make Bangladesh a very attractive country in terms of state-of-the-art ICT.
iv) Build a mega-port in a suitable location along the Chittagong coastline capable of serving the following countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Eastern India, Myanmar, and South-Western China.
v) Build highways to connect the mega-port with all six countries.

We must visualise Bangladesh as the ICT, industrial and trading hub of the region. On the first day of 2006 we have signed a document which has the potential to change the economy of SAARC region. The document we signed was the document relating to SAFTA agreement. Now Bangladesh should take the lead, rather than wait for initiatives to come from other countries, to move SAFTA forward. We can be smart, open our doors, convert disadvantages into opportunities, and change our destiny.

Geographically, Bangladesh is strategically located to provide access to international shipping to Nepal, Bhutan, Eastern India, Myanmar, and South-Western China. We should start making appropriate preparations, in consultation with these countries, to create facilities for access. Again, it’ll to be our call to draw attention of our neighbours. We’ll have to do our home-work well to show them the benefits accruing to them by opening up the access to the sea-routes through Bangladesh, and doing business with Bangladesh. We’ll have to resolve formidable political and technical issues with India. Remaining passive is not at all to our interest. It is actually very costly in terms of gains foregone. True leaders not only have visions, they have to have the burning drive to push through the solid walls of obstacles to make their visions come true. Vision must be backed up by hard work and dedication.

Mega-port at Chittagong

Mega-port at Chittagong is the key to making Bangladesh the cross-roads of the region. With the economy of the region growing at a sustained high speed, demand for the access to a well-equipped well-managed port will keep on growing. A region, which includes two giant economies, will be desperately looking for direct shipping facilities to reach out to the world. Chittagong will offer the region the most attractive option. Even today, despite the problems of present Chittagong port, Kunming is requesting permission to utilise this facility.

With global competition becoming more fierce shorter and shorter lead time for delivery will become the magic formula to attract business. An efficient mega-port at Chittagong will be in high demand. This port can be built and owned by a national or international company with government participation in equity. It can contract out the management of the port to a professional port management company.

International airport

Mega-port may support an international airport in its proximity. With appropriate aircraft servicing facilities and hotels, this airport can become an airline hub. It has the advantage of cutting distances to many Asian cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Shanghai, etc, and taking off the pressure from important SAARC airports.

Highway network

During the SAARC Summit held in Dhaka recently, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, proposed to build a highway network to connect the SAARC countries. We should enthusiastically welcome this proposal and offer our plan to build highways connecting Nepal, Bhutan, Eastern India, and Pakistan. We should make sure that our highway network extends upto Cox’s Bazar, so that it can be connected with Myanmar, Thailand, and China in the eastern side.

Regional water management plan

With borders opening up, highways criss-crossing the region, businesses growing, we can create mutual trust among our neighbours, leading to right kind of political climate to engage them to work towards preparing a regional water management plan in conjunction with the plan for regional production and distribution of electricity. Fortunately, this region has an enormous capacity to produce hydro-electricity. With political understanding Bangladesh can meet her ever growing electricity need from a mutually beneficial arrangement with Nepal, Bhutan, and India.

$100 lap-tops for school children

Bangladesh has a very young population. Half the population is under the age of 18! If we pay serious attention to them we can create a dramatically different next generation. Some countries are already signing up with MIT Media Lab to provide $100 lap-top to each school student, just like text books. Lap-top to a child gives a message. Message is: Discover yourself, discover the world, create your own world. There is no reason why we cannot sign up with MIT Media Lab to do exactly the same and give lap-tops to our students. Let us not miss this world-changing opportunity.

One way to let all children, poor or rich, boy or girl, urban or rural, feel equal is to ensure access to computer and internet. This connectivity also takes off some of the unevenness in our educational facilities. We have already witnessed a telecommunication revolution. Within a short span of five years mobile phones have reached every village in Bangladesh. At the end of 2006, one in every eight persons in Bangladesh will have a telephone! With $100 lap-top, every school student will have access to internet telephony.

Our young people can be role model

I meet many Bangladeshi young people when I am visiting foreign countries. Many of us are used to meeting Bangladeshis in New York. But it is a quite different experience to meet young Bangladeshis in a small town of Spain, or in an island in Italy, or in Argentina, Chile, Columbia. They show up to meet me at the hotel or in the conference where I am speaking. They discover my presence in the town from the newspaper reports. They come individually. They come in groups. Among everything else they express their worry about the political situation in the country. I ask them how they got there. Each tells a horror story. Each time it is a story of perseverance, tenacity, and high risk adventure. It is quite an experience to hear them tell the story of how they moved from one country to the next, how they switched from one livelihood to another. They are doing well now. They have learnt the local language and understand the local way of life. They are at ease with local people. Story one gets from a migrant worker working in an Asian country is different, but not too different. It is the story of how they are cheated by the man-power agents, and how they are mistreated by the airport officials at the time of departure as well as at the time of visits.

Bangladeshi young people reached out to all corners of the world with basically individual and family initiative, using network of friends and relatives. Government has built some facilities to help them by making it easy for them to go out. But you hear more about the harassment, bribes, extortion and unresponsiveness of the government officials than nice things about these arrangements. These young people who live under extreme difficulties are making a big contribution to the national economy. They have been sending a very substantial amount of money as remittances.

Overseas remittance

The piece of information that amazed me is: in 2004, Bangladesh received $3.4 billion in remittances, compared to India’s $21.7 billion (and China’s $21.3 billion). That is quite an achievement! With nine times larger population, India’s share would have been $30.6 billion if she had received the same per capita remittance. Bangladesh remittance earning rate compares well with Pakistan too ($3.9 billion). Total remittance to Bangladesh constituted one-third of the total foreign exchange earnings of the country. Despite all the problems faced by Bangladeshi migrant workers, this is a very significant chunk of foreign exchange earning contributed by them.

More important than the quantum of foreign exchange earning, remittances go directly into poverty reduction. The World Bank Global Economic Prospects Report says this remittance inflow has helped cut poverty by 6 percent in Bangladesh and given a boost to the rural economy.

Building up respectability as a nation

Bangladesh is a rather new name in the list of nations. It came to world’s media attention mostly through disasters — floods, cyclones, tidal-waves, etc. Reporting on disasters always highlights poverty, and helplessness. That’s the image of Bangladesh that sticks in people’s mind. Two recent negative images have been added to that. One, Bangladesh has been repeatedly found to be the most corrupt country in the world, and two, suicide bombers are killing innocent people in Bangladesh.

Image of a country is very important when it comes to dealing with the world. The better the image a country has, the better is the deal it gets. To be successful in international relationships we’ll have to build up respectability as a nation. Luckily for us Bangladesh has a very strong positive side which counters the negative image to a large extent.

Bangladesh is enormously respected globally for being the birth place of microcredit. Every country in the world feels the need for microcredit. No country can ignore it. They study microcredit in academic institutions, discuss it in meetings, conferences and workshops. Most countries, rich or poor, have active microcredit programs. They all pay respect to Bangladesh for being the originator country. Bangladesh, microcredit, Grameen have become synonymous in the minds of people around the world.

Bangladesh is remembered as the country which gave the world oral saline to combat diarrhea.

Bangladesh earned respectability by demonstrating her skill and efficiency in disaster management. World media publicly suggested that tsunami affected countries and the US, after devastating Katrina, should learn from Bangladesh in disaster management.

Bangladesh is cited as a success story in producing enough food to feed her people despite doubling the population in 35 years.

In terms of human development indicators Bangladesh is third from the top


Bangladesh birth rate has declined significantly. Fertility rate declined from 6.3 percent in 1975 to 3.3 percent in 1999 - 2000, reduced almost to half. This is cited as a global success story.

Economic performance and human development indicators of Bangladesh have been moving upwards since early 1990s. GDP growth has been over 5 per cent during this period.

Bangladesh has very impressive performance in terms of the human development indicators. In terms of these indicators Bangladesh came out in number three position in the developing world, after China and Cave Verde.

Life expectancy of women in Bangladesh used to be lower than men. Now it is higher than men, a better performance compared to South Asia as a whole.

Female labour force participation rate increased dramatically between 1983 and 2000, both for rural and urban, with sharper increase in rural, than in urban. Female labour force participation rate in rural area increased from 7 per cent in 1983-84 to 22 per cent in 1999-2000. Urban rate increased from 12 per cent to 26 per cent during the same period.

Child and infant mortality have been falling at more than 5 percent a year, malnutrition among mothers has fallen from 52 percent in 1996 to 42 percent in 2002. Primary school enrolment rates have reached 90 percent, up from 72 percent in 1990. Enrolment in secondary education has been rising. Bangladesh has already eliminated gender disparity in primary and secondary school enrolment and has made remarkable progress in providing universal basic education.

In the past decade, Bangladesh reduced infant mortality by half, at a rate faster than any other developing country has done, increased adult literacy rates by 8 per cent for women, and 6 per cent for men.

In terms of infant mortality rate and female primary enrolment, Bangladesh is ahead of West Bengal, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh of India.

Progress towards achieving millennium development goals (MDG) in Bangladesh is surprisingly on track. According to data on current trends, Bangladesh has either met or is expected to meet most of the MDG targets. If right policies are pursued dedicatedly there is a good chance that Bangladesh will reduce poverty by half by 2015.

Capacity has been built, we are ready to go

Bangladesh has outstanding accomplishment in reducing child labour. According to UNICEF, percentage of child labour in Niger is the highest (66 percent). Bangladesh has one of the lowest percentages (7 percent). Nepal is 31 percent, India 13 percent.

The list of our accomplishments is long and very impressive. We notice the admiring eyes of international delegates focused on Bangladeshi delegates when we attend international conferences, be it microcredit, disaster management, health, education, renewable energy, environment, women empowerment, or child labour.

When we visit capitals of SAARC countries we are always asked: “How did you do it? What must we do to catch up with you?”

I am not saying that Bangladesh is on top of everything. Far from it. Our list of failures is much longer than the list of successes. I bring up the list of successes to point out how wrong we are when we throw up our hands in the air to say in frustration that we’ll never make it. This list of successes will convince anybody that not only will we make it, we have already made it in many respects, and will do better than many others around us, and like us.

Good news that comes out from these successes is that we have created the capacity to address all our problems roundly and solidly. Not only we have gained self-confidence, we are ready to earn the confidence of the world. Soon a Bangladeshi passport can bring out admiration and respect from others, rather than suspicion and disrespect.

It is hard work to score points in respectability. It is easy to lose points. One tiny incident, one tiny misstep, one tiny callous decision can push us down quite a bit in respectability. Let us hold on to what we already have, and add to it, as much as we can. It is our very precious capital in facing the world.

Here are our two most important tasks at the moment: we must combine all our efforts: 1) to make sure we hold our election on time with the participation of all major political parties, and 2) make sure we reduce corruption sharply and immediately.

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