The development cycle of Bangladesh is wonderful. In the beginning, 90 percent of the poor people in the ‘bottomless basket’ spent their days in fear of storms, floods, cholera, measles and smallpox. Today, 50 years later, the underdeveloped country has turned its back on the country.
The analysis of this progress does not match the conventional development theory. Not only does the organization collapse as it builds, but so does BRAC, which began in 1982, becoming the world’s largest innovative development organization. It is no coincidence that these two impossibilities have been made possible. Participation of non-governmental organizations like BRAC in the development journey of the country with a sense of community has given impetus to development and has given BRAC the intention to grow.
Bangladesh’s development is not like the other ten countries. A big difference is the position of the private sector in the development of this country. A common trend in post-World War II socio-economic development was investment in infrastructure and industry. The United States has given the lion’s share of this investment. Political, economic and military considerations have worked in the case of giving. Germany, Japan, almost the whole of Europe, Singapore, South Korea or the Philippines একই all have the same pattern. However, India did not receive any share of this investment. On the contrary, the English made arrangements for bathing in blood even when they left India. What was left was disunity, communalism, capitalism and immense poverty.
As a direct and indirect result of this, a bloody anti-government Naxal movement started in India. Educated youth joined it. On the other hand, the liberation struggle started in Bangladesh under the wise leadership of Bangabandhu. The economic liberation movement started with the freedom struggle.
Highly educated youths like Sir Fazle Hasan Abed came to the forefront of the social and economic liberation movement from outside the government. He formed a development organization. Hundreds of young people from the university joined these organizations, now known as NGOs. The war of liberation laid the foundation for the participation of private organizations in the development of Bangladesh.
That is why many political ups and downs, slanders or attempts at politicization have failed to question the legitimacy of NGOs. For the same reason, the entry of any ideological organization other than the staunch supporters of the spirit of the liberation war did not take place in the mainstream of NGOs.
Another tendency of local NGOs like BRAC in the development of Bangladesh is that they are not theoretical but observational. The United Nations, the World Bank or foreign NGOs believe in the theory. They are accustomed to seeing once the big push for infrastructure development, again the liberal economy, ever-or institutional reform, from such ever-evolving platforms.
Columbia University professor Katherine Level, on the other hand, in her book Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, did not find any of BRAC’s theories on poverty alleviation. Instead, she found some principles. Those policies are also the essence of BRAC’s success-failure, experimentation. These principles can be called BRAC’s DNA, but he is developing DNA.
BRAC participated in the theoretical discussions, but did not interfere with the theory. Accepted as much as he thought was good, discarded the rest without hesitation. They have given the most importance to the opinion of the poor people. Various initiatives have been taken under their supervision. BRAC is constantly learning from global theory and its own successes and failures.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed used to call BRAC a big laboratory. As a result, BRAC’s initiatives have always been relevant. The government, too, has embraced these initiatives whenever it can, out of the grip of foreign aid, ever – or through the mediation of donors.
The government has worked with BRAC to introduce food saline, sometimes giving BRAC the responsibility of testing to prevent dropouts in primary schools, sometimes giving secondary level teacher training. BRAC has become the biggest partner in TB eradication activities. Apart from this, the sub-institutional education system, Kishori Club, has sometimes taken over the entire activities of BRAC by holding the hands of field officials.
Another area of public-private partnership in development is the participation of women. BRAC has always worked for the establishment of women’s rights and equality. BRAC founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed had a strong position in this regard. So selectively they are the ones who have gone to the higher positions of BRAC, who believe in women’s empowerment and equality. I am not saying that gender equality has been established in Bangladesh.
On the contrary, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed on his 70th birthday has said that the biggest regret is the inequality between men and women. However, all the development workers in Bangladesh agree that the UN does not need the World Bank’s index to measure the progress that has been made. The active participation of women in development in the leading role of NGOs like BRAC has made a difference in the development of India and Pakistan in particular with Bangladesh.
Now the question is, will the contribution of NGOs in the development journey of Bangladesh for half a century remain the same in the days to come? I don’t think so. There is a saying in English, ‘What gets you here, will not take you there’ যাত্র the journey to the new destination will be new. Crossing the boundaries of least developed countries in particular, Bangladesh has faced new challenges such as gender equality, poverty alleviation, employment, climate change and preparations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In this new development journey, in finding a new path, in outlining a new public-private partnership, it is important to keep in mind that the core of the partnership is the spirit of the liberation war and the commitment to take the country forward
Stays. Otherwise, the wonder that we have come so far may be lost.
KAM Morshed: Senior Director, BRAC