Bangladesh: Development Against All Odds

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Bideshi Blond provides the relevant statistics proving the claim. Being a developing country with limited resources it is really tough to take the country forward.

No wonder many development activities are being carried out by the government and the NGOs. But many individuals are also working against all odds to help Bangladesh overcome its problems. Here we bring you some efforts by development workers and human right activists viz-a-viz common people as seen through the eyes of the bloggers.

Morris the pen writes about Khokon, a Bangladeshi volunteer who has been running open sky schools for the poor and without any institutional support. Khokon says:

“Why should we beg? Can we not provide for our own requirements?” Well-wishers have occasionally offered books and food, which have been accepted gratefully. A Japanese supporter arrives frequently to help out with the class. But this is not a venture which depends on charity: it meets all its needs by itself. Indeed, Kohkon is scathing about the priorities of many NGOs. ”I prefer to call this an NPO” (Not-for-profit organisation). “What do I need with a logo, an air-conditioned office and a Landcruiser?”

Tom in Bangladesh Barta digs deep into the state of the Rickshaw pullers in Bangladesh and finds:

“Rickshaws are ubiquitous in Bangladesh: they crowd the roads pulling two or three passengers, fridges, plastic flowers, food (alive and dead) and anything else that can be crammed on the small plastic covered seats. Rickshaws are found all over south and south-east Asia, in many different forms, but it is in Bangladesh that they really go overboard. New rickshaws are covered in garish decorations, streamers, bells and paintings of mosques, lilies, actors, tigers and futuristic cities. They then fill the cities and villages, being the main mode of transport – 57% of all journeys in Bangladesh are on a rickshaw. Rickshaw pulling represents 6% of national GDP, 14 million people (10% of the total population) rely on it directly or indirectly for their livelihoods, and there are 800,000 pullers in Dhaka alone. However, rickshaw pullers have some of the lowest social status going.”

Tom is involved in a small advocacy project designed to target social attitudes towards rickshaw pullers and directly empower pullers to access policy makers and the public in general to demand their rights – that to dignified, respected work.

Journalist Tasneem Khalil publishes a breathtaking story in his blog about Mandi and Koch indigenous people in Modhupur, Bangladesh:

“This is the story of how the Bangladesh state, through its forest department, is treating one of the most colourful ethnic minorities in the country as easily dispensable burdens. This is the story of how the Asian Development Bank and its evil twin the World Bank is financing projects of mass destruction in the name of development, destroying acre after acre of sal forest. This is the story of how multi-national chemical merchants like Syngenta, Bayer, and ACI are marketing deadly poisons to the unaware farmers. This is the story of how pastors and maulanas are leading a campaign of cultural invasion taking away the very identity of the Mandi population. This is the story of how the Bangladesh Air Force is in a daily bombing spree in Modhupur, endangering the ecological life of the area.

And then, this is the story of resistance, how the Mandi adivasis, persecuted for hundreds of years at the hands of civilization are now resisting and trying to turn things back, to desperately make their voices heard by an uncaring country.”

The BNWLA Hostel Appeal Blog tells about its efforts to raise fund with initiatives like Music performances and personal contributions. The aim is to build a shelter:

“for survivors of abuse, rape, trafficking, domestic slavery and acid attacks, as well as people living with HIV and AIDs and abandoned babies. It…will provide a hostel, school, training centre and playing area. The hostel's aim is to help people initially recover from trauma in a safe environment and then look to the future, through reintegration with society: a new start and a chance to rebuild shattered lives for the women and children who pass through.”

Ulysses of Back to Bangladesh praises the youth of Bangladesh who are making a difference, say it's in cricket or photography. The problem is that the culture has a historical tendency to tilt towards elders and towards the past. But he concludes that “the future of Bangladesh is in good hands”.

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