Politics, Governance and middle Income Aspirations: Reality and Challenges
Notwithstanding the relative political calm and stable macro-economic fundamentals that followed the heightened bouts of political violence and conflicts in 2013 and 2015, Bangladesh continues to find it challenging to overcome an entrenched sense of political uncertainty1 that is also impacting on the quality and pace of its economic performance. At independence, the dominant concern was about the economic future of the country.2 Over the course of forty-five years, this concern was significantly mitigated as a poverty-stricken, disaster-prone vulnerable economy has confounded observers at home and abroad alike in scripting a remarkable story of economic transformation and resilience. The achievements came neither overnight nor by the efforts of any single quarter. But the change has been real and the country today has legitimately embraced a higher-level aspiration of middle income status within the coming decade.3 Progress in economic development, however, was not mirrored in progress in political development.4 At independence, politics had seemed to many as the lesser challenge. In a twist of irony, it is deficits in political development today that appear to stand in the way of an accelerated realization of its true economic potential and the foundational dream of an inclusive, humane society.