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Presenting his paper, Ahmad Ahsan said that 31.9 per cent of the country's urban population lives in Dhaka. In the big cities of China this rate was 3.1 per cent, in India 6 per cent and in Indonesia 7.4 per cent.

Professor of economics at Georgetown University in the US, Martin Ravallion, said that the social safety net programme did not really do much for poverty alleviation. In the morning session of Thursday's event, he said that in the context of developing countries it was seen that the ultra-poor benefitted more from the overall basic income generating projects rather than from expenditure in the social sector.

This overgrowth of Dhaka city may be convenient for private sector investment, but it has created social imbalance. The gap that has emerged between Dhaka and the other cities has affected people's overall wellbeing. We must proceed towards decentralisation.
Binayak Sen, director general, BIDS

Ahmad Ahsan said satellite images of various countries at night gave a picture of the development of the respective countries. He pointed out that the map of Northern Vietnam had lights all over. A large part of Indonesia too was covered in lights. Lights in the night meant economic activities were going on in those particular areas. On the other hand, the satellite image of Bangladesh at night revealed the lights were concentrated in Dhaka, with some amount in Chattogram. Yet in neighbouring India, the line of lights was extensive in the state of Bihar and in West Bengal too. He said, even though Bihar's economy was smaller than that of Bangladesh, it was very decentralised.

All this led to the population of Dhaka to cross all limits. The traffic jams in the city was causing around 2.5 per cent loss to the GDP.

Migration alone won't end poverty

Over 30 per cent of the country's GDP comes from Dhaka city. Rural people come to Dhaka for work in a desperate bid to keep their heads above the poverty line. However, BIDS director general Binayak Sen feels that such migration is not the only means of bringing about regional parity. This overgrowth of Dhaka city may be convenient for private sector investment, but it has created social imbalance. The gap that has emerged between Dhaka and the other cities has affected people's overall wellbeing. We must proceed towards decentralisation.

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