THE impact of economic growth on the pace and magnitude of poverty reduction depends to a large extent on the nature of inequality of income arising from the very growth process. As such, the concept of pro-poor growth strategy appears to point out the crucial association of growth and inequality on the extent of poverty reduction. Adaptation of &ldquoro-poor” growth strategy is thus favoured over growth maximisation in Bangladesh’s planning documents as a means of achieving faster decline of poverty, thereby reducing income disparity. With poverty alleviation being an area of major policy thrust of the successive governments, this year’s poverty figures for Bangladesh have come as a shocker.
The figures show that more than 50% of the population are now living below the extreme poverty level. To measure extreme poverty, the amount of income of a person that the poverty researches agreed upon is equivalent to $1.60 per day. The progress made so far is very poor given the emphasis laid on the issue by the different governments and concern expressed by the donors. In most of the literature on the issue, poverty is looked upon as a kind of ailment. Poverty is a problem isolated from other social conditions within which the affected ones live.
Unsurprisingly, poverty mitigating agencies take the affected the people individually and try to help them out through creating job opportunities for them in a piecemeal fashion. Such interventions hardly make much difference in the lives of the people. Most countries of South and South-East Asia that are now bracketed with the rich nations did not always have such a glamorous status. Poverty was not a stranger to those societies even a few decades back. International agencies, donor countries and governments were active in those countries to lift them out of the curse of backwardness and poverty. If one looks at the history of development of those countries, it would be found that Bangladesh’s status vis-à-vis the more successful countries of South-East Asia was not always like this.