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US Outperforms European Countries and The Emergence of a Multi-Polar World

35m Bangladeshis still live below the poverty line. Regular monitoring of progress is emphasized in recent Poverty Watch Report 2022 to assess the actual poverty line Bangladesh is among five countries where the world’s extremely poor reside.

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Photo taken on April 15, 2023 shows the construction site of Bangladesh's Ghorashal-Polash Urea Fertilizer Project in Narsingdi, central Bangladesh. (Xinhua)

US OUTPERFORMS EUROPE IN THE ECONOMIC SPHERE

The Economist magazine in an article (13 April 2023) has lauded the impressive US economic performance compared to the other rich countries in the West. If GDP is taken as an example The Economist states “In 1990 America accounted for a quarter of the world’s output, at market exchange rates. Thirty years on, that share is almost unchanged, even as China has gained economic clout. America’s dominance of the rich world is startling. Today it accounts for 58% of the g7’s GDP, compared with 40% in 1990”. The magazine adds “For the world as a whole, America’s outperformance says much about how to grow. One lesson is that size matters. America has the benefit of a large consumer market over which to spread the costs of r&d and a deep capital market from which to raise finance. Only China, and perhaps one day India, can boast of purchasing power at such a scale”.

DISAPPEARANCE OF A UNIPOLAR WORLD

The very fact that China and India are cited as examples illustrates that the unipolar world that was accepted since the Second World War no longer exists and the US has to take along NATO and the European Community members to take the challenge posed by China and the non-aligned Movement members of Indian sub-continent and African countries freed from British, Portuguese and other European nations.

MONRO DOCTRINE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE US ROLE

In this newly emerging situation, Monroe Doctrine played a crucial role in the US warning the European nations not to interfere in the American continent. Since the Spanish-American War, the United States had a significant hand in various conflicts around the world. The US surrounded by two oceans had the luxury of living in a separate world of its own and impose the Monroe Doctrine as it saw fit. Albeit Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy that opposed European colonialism in the Americas. It argued that any intervention in the politics of the Americas by foreign powers was a potentially hostile act against the United States. The Monroe Doctrine was issued at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved or were at the point of gaining, independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires. The Monroe Doctrine stated that further efforts by various European states to take control of any independent state in the Americas would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” President James Monroe asserted that the New World and the Old World were to remain distinctly separate spheres of influence. A lot of water has flown under London Bridge and today’s world has a completely different shape.

STEPHEN WALT ON THE DISAPPEARANCE OF UNIPOLARITY

Harvard Luminary Stephen Walt in an article observed former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s warning of the “undeniable danger” of U.S. unilateralism, and of former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine’s statement that “the entire foreign policy of France is aimed at making the world of tomorrow composed of several poles, not just one.” Current French President Emmanuel Macron’s support for European unity and strategic autonomy reveals a similar impulse…Although the Biden administration recognizes that the US is back in a world of several great powers, it seems nostalgic for the brief era when the United States didn’t face peer competitors. Hence its vigorous reassertion of “U.S. leadership,” its desire to inflict a military defeat on Russia that will leave it too weak to cause trouble in the future, and its efforts to stifle China’s rise by restricting Beijing’s access to critical technological inputs”.

SINO-RUSSIAN ENTENTE

Taking into consideration the picture drawn by Stephen Walt recent visit by XI-JINPING to Moscow (the 40th time the two leaders-Vladimir Putin- have met in person) is significant. The two leaders have publicly declared “limitless” solidarity and displayed the efficiency of the Western efforts to reach essential goods to the needy. It was to emphasize that the Communist system is superior to that of the West. As an example, China has launched its Belt and Road Initiative to construct infrastructural needs of the middle and poverty-stricken countries that do not have the resources to finance their needs.

INDO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

UN vote on the Russian invasion of Ukraine clearly displays that the motion was backed by 141 nations with 32 abstaining and seven, including Russia, voting against it. India reiterated its position on the invasion, saying that peaceful dialogue was the only way out. Delhi has increasingly faced pressure to take a firm stand on Russia. Many countries, including the US and Ukraine, have publicly appealed to Delhi to take a clear stand and “do the right thing”. But India has resisted the pressure and continued with its strategy of not criticizing Russia directly. It has abstained from similar resolutions both at the UNGA and at the UNSC in the past. The two countries have decades-old trusted relationships since the Cold War. Russia is also India’s largest arms supplier even though its share has dropped in recent years largely due to Delhi’s decision to boost domestic defense manufacturing and a widening imports portfolio. The two countries also have a history of diplomatic cooperation — Moscow has vetoed UNSC resolutions over the disputed region of Kashmir. Delhi, however, has talked about the importance of “the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states” in its past statements on Ukraine.

BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR

One must recall the repeated vetoes given by the Soviet Union on efforts by Western nations in total disregard of the genocide perpetrated on unarmed Bengalis by the Pakistani military junta for a political solution with the Pakistani military regime. It was not for nothing that many countries from the East and the West realized, not for the first time, that the Western so-called cry for democracy was a farce. From the US Edward Kennedy visited the refugee camps in Indian West Bengal in millions were welcomed by then-Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi but for whose untiring efforts liberation of Bangladesh from the clutches of Pakistani hordes could have been indefinitely delayed. If we switch from 1971 when Bangladesh’s liberation was fought to the present time we find an entirely different world. US-European suzerainty is gone, multi-polarity has appeared and a Sino-Russian entente has emerged. As this article had indicated earlier the world would not like to have a saber-rattling contest between the US and Russia with nuclear weapons. The great majority of the people of the world would prefer a peaceful solution of the Ukraine problem that would ensure Russia her territorial integrity with Ukraine not joining either the Russian side or the Western side.

BANGLADESH IS AN EXAMPLE OF POVERTY AND CORRUPTION

According to a report published in Dhaka Tribune(Syed Zakir Hussain and Meraj Mavis-January 22 2023) After Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, 80% of its people initially lived below the poverty line, but now that percentage has reached 20%. However, the actual number of poor people has not decreased in this period, considering the percentage, a report revealed on Saturday. Still, 35 million people in Bangladesh live below the poverty line — a fact that came out in the Bangladesh Poverty Watch Report 2022. During the launching program of the report, experts and economists said that 35 million people remained poor since 1990 despite the poverty rate halving in the last three decades. They also urged the government to take and implement policies required for decentralization to uplift marginalized people above the poverty line, ensuring inclusive growth. The report was jointly compiled by the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) and the Centre for Inclusive Development Dialogue (CIDD). Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of InM and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), in his opening remarks said: “Income-based poverty measurement will not eliminate the actual poverty. We have to find out about multidimensional poverty.” Atiur Rahman, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said that: “The economy is facing some challenges regarding geopolitical tension, energy shortage, and supply chain disruption, and the government should take steps considering these challenges.” Mustafa K Mujeri, chairman of the CIDD, said: “It’s true that poverty is in constant decline. The government has taken initiatives to solve this problem. But poverty is not only measured by ‘lack of income’, rather it includes the shortage of choice, opportunity, and lack of being heard.” Prof Salma Akhter, trustee of CIDD, in her keynote presentation, said that: “About 94% of the Garo males work as day laborers while the remaining are engaged with informal sectors.” All members of the community consider themselves poor throughout the year as men earn Tk300 a day, while women only Tk100. Around 60,000 people from the Munda community face shortage of food for three to four months every year. The daily income of the Mal Paharia community varies from Tk100 to Tk200. About 92% of 129,000 Santals live below the poverty line. Most women and children in these groups face additional marginalization, and rights violations, and have fewer opportunities to access education, health, economic opportunities, protection and justice, Prof Salma added that the legal, administrative and other social institutions do not usually work equally to protect the rights of ethnic minorities and transgenders. Thus, their voices remain mostly unheard as the marginalized communities in Bangladesh are powerless and less organized than other citizens in claiming their civil rights.

SUGGESTIONS TO ACCELERATE SOCIAL INTEGRATION

The report offered several key activities to accelerate their social integration. The key will be to integrate these policies into the government’s broader inclusive development strategies, which address cross-cutting and national-level issues such as strengthening inclusive growth, ensuring financial inclusion of the marginalized, reducing income and social inequality, accessing quality education, health, nutrition, and other basic services, adopting appropriate macroeconomic policy, addressing the marginal groups or regions, and implementing initiatives at the local level. Apart from the philosophies behind corruption, it would be useful to find out the causes of corruption in countries like Bangladesh. It is easy to give advice from armchairs on the ways to remove corruption from societies like ours. But in countries where millions of people are illiterate and have to depend on so-called literate persons to translate government orders which again would not be done without bribe millions of people remain at the mercy of middlemen to get service which in some cases are free entitlement to the recipients. So the nexus between corruption and receiving government services are clear. Corruption, therefore, has to be eliminated. But it is easier said than done. Corruption has taken such deep roots in our societies that it has become impossible to eliminate corruption. Additionally, when corruption has backers at a high level with powerful connections one has to keep quiet and suffer the indignities of becoming a victim. 35m Bangladeshis still live below the poverty line regular monitoring of progress emphasized in the recent

POVERTY WATCH REPORT 2022

Poverty Watch Report 2022 to assess actual poverty line Bangladesh is among five countries where the world’s extremely poor reside. According to a report published in Dhaka Tribune(Syed Zakir Hussain and Meraj Mavis-January 22 2023) After Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, 80% of its people initially lived below the poverty line, but now that percentage has reached 20%. However, the actual number of poor people has not decreased in this period, considering the percentage, a report revealed on Saturday. Still, 35 million people in Bangladesh live below the poverty line — a fact that came out in the Bangladesh Poverty Watch Report 2022. During the launching program of the report, experts and economists said that 35 million people remained poor since 1990 despite the poverty rate halving in the last three decades. They also urged the government to take and implement policies required for decentralization to uplift marginalized people above the poverty line, ensuring inclusive growth. The report was jointly compiled by the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) and the Centre for Inclusive Development Dialogue (CIDD). Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of InM and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), in his opening remarks said: “Income-based poverty measurement will not eliminate the actual poverty. We have to find out about multidimensional poverty.”

Atiur Rahmnan, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said that: “The economy is facing some challenges regarding geopolitical tension, energy shortage and supply chain disruption, and the government should take steps considering these challenges.” Mustafa K Mujeri, chairman of the CIDD, said: “It’s true that poverty is in constant decline. The government has taken initiatives to solve this problem. But poverty is not only measured by ‘lack of income’, rather it includes the shortage of choice, opportunity, and lack of being heard.” Prof Salma Akhter, trustee of CIDD, said that: “About 94% of the Garo males work as day laborers while the remaining are engaged with informal sectors.” All members of the community consider themselves poor throughout the year as men earn Tk300 a day, while women only Tk100. Around 60,000 people from the Munda community face shortage of food for three to four months every year. The daily income of the Mal Paharia community varies from Tk100 to Tk200. About 92% of 129,000 Santals live below the poverty line.

Most women and children in these groups face additional marginalization, and rights violations, and have fewer opportunities to access education, health, economic opportunities, protection and justice, Prof Salma added. She further said the legal, administrative, and other social institutions do not usually work equally to protect the rights of ethnic minorities and transgenders. Thus, their voices remain mostly unheard as the marginalized communities in Bangladesh are powerless and less organized than other citizens in claiming their civil rights. The report offered several key activities to accelerate their social integration. The key will be to integrate these policies into the government’s broader inclusive development strategies, which address cross-cutting and national-level issues such as strengthening inclusive growth, ensuring financial inclusion of the marginalized, reducing income and social inequality, accessing quality education, health, nutrition, and other basic services, adopting the appropriate macroeconomic policy, addressing the marginal groups or regions, and implementing initiatives at the local level. Apart from the philosophies behind corruption, it would be useful to find out the causes of corruption in countries like Bangladesh.

It is easy to give advice from armchairs on the ways to remove corruption from societies like ours. But in countries where millions of people are illiterate and have to depend on so-called literate persons to translate government orders which again would not be done without bribe millions of people remain at the mercy of middlemen to get service which in some cases are free entitlement to the recipients. So the nexus between corruption and receiving government services are clear. Corruption, therefore, has to be eliminated. But it is easier said than done. Corruption has taken such deep roots in our societies that it has become impossible to eliminate corruption. Additionally, when corruption has backers at a high level with powerful connections one has to keep quiet and suffer the indignities of becoming a victim.

Kazi Anwarul Masud

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a retired Bangladeshi diplomat. During his tenure, he worked in several countries as the ambassador of Bangladesh including Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Germany

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