Bangladesh’s Economic Rise and the Geo-political Implications

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 9, No. 7, July 2021

By Tridivesh Singh Maini
Jindal School of International Affairs,OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat

Dhaka, Bangladesh, in November 2007. Md. Ziaul Hoque.

In recent years, Bangladesh has exhibited healthy growth rates and emerged as an engine of South Asian growth. In 2019 for instance, the South Asian nation grew at an impressive 8.4%. The country witnessed a 9% rise in per capita income for the year 2020-2021 (its per capita income was estimated at 2,227 USD, and it surpassed India’s GDP per capita during 2020-2021 which was 1,947 USD).

The World Bank has revised Bangladesh’s GDP growth for 2020-2021, as a result of higher than expected remittance flows (while earlier it had predicted that the South Asian nation’s GDP would grow by 1.7% it has revised estimates to 3.6%). The International Monetary Fund’s forecasts for the South Asian nation’s economic growth are higher. “According to IMF, [the] global economy will grow by 6.0% in real term[s] in 2021 and 4.4% in 2022. Whereas, their forecast for Bangladesh is 5.0% in 2021 and 7.5% in 2022,” said the minister.

Bangladesh’s economic progress has been attributed to a holistic, economic vision with a strong thrust on social service indicators and policies that focus on strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector.

Bangladesh’s increasing importance in South Asia

In addition to its economic rise, Bangladesh is also keen to enhance its overall image in South Asia.

First, Bangladesh is amongst the 40 countries that provided assistance to India in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The South Asian nation provided India 10,000 vials of Remdesivir, when the second wave of Covid-19 was at its peak. Apart from Remdesivir, Bangladesh provided PPE kits and zinc, calcium, vitamin C and other tablets.

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The Quad of India, Japan, Australia and the US: A Work in Progress

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 3, March 2019

By Commodore Anil Jai Singh, IN (Retd)

An Indian Navy sailor stands guard on the deck of the INS Shivalik during the inauguration of joint naval exercises with the United States and Japan in Chennai on July 10, 2017.
ARUN SANKAR/AFP/GETTY

The recent statement by the Commander-in Chief of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson at a press conference in Singapore that the ‘Quad’ or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the USA, Australia, India and Japan may need to be shelved was met with a mixed reaction in the regional maritime security discourse. However, this was not a fatalistic view but rather a tacit acknowledgement of the divergent views amongst the Quad partners on certain fundamental issues. He made this statement based on his discussions with Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of the Indian Navy at the recent Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi where Admiral Lanba said that there was not an immediate potential for the Quad.

The idea of a Quad was first articulated by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the East Asia Summit in 2007; in the same year he spoke of the confluence of the two oceans – the Indian and the Pacific- and introduced the term Indo-Pacific during an address to the Indian Parliament. The first attempt to shape the Quad was the decision to enhance Exercise Malabar — the annual bilateral Indo-US naval exercise into a quadrilateral construct. However, China understandably expressed strong reservations about this as an anti-China initiative. Australia succumbed but a trilateral exercise was nevertheless held between the US, Japan and India.  For the next decade, while the Quad was spoken of periodically at various fora, very little was actually happening on the ground to give it concrete shape.

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Boycott the Chinese Language: Standard Mandarin is the Medium of Chinese Communist Party Expansion

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 11, November 2018 

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

These urban traffic signs in English and Mandarin are located in the Chinatown district of Seattle. Consciously preferring the use of traditional characters and Taiwanese Mandarin in the U.S. would be a statement against the Chinese Communist Party and its usage of Standard Mandarin and simplified characters. Interestingly, the characters in these street signs are the same in the traditional and simplified sets.

China is one of history’s most dangerous countries. In August, the United Nations reported that China is holding approximately one million minority Muslims in Xinjiang concentration camps. China supports anti-democratic regimes and terrorist groups worldwide. Its military is seeking to expand its territory in: Japanese and South Korean areas of the East China Sea; Philippine, Malaysian, Bruneian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese parts of the South China Sea; and Indian and Bhutanese territory in the Himalayan mountains. President Xi Jinping has since 2013 increased military spending, hyped China’s nationalism, repressed minorities and human rights activists, eliminated term limits on his increasingly personal form of rule, and extended the geographic reach and individual depth of state surveillance.

Average citizens in democracies who see this trend can feel powerless in response. But there are tools at the disposal of empowered citizens and social movements to encourage, complement and accentuate actions taken by our democratic governments. Both citizen and government action is essential to encourage democracy and democratic elements in China, history’s most powerful totalitarian state.

These tools include consumer boycotts and protests at Chinese embassies, for example. But there is an additional social movement tactic that could powerfully communicate the world’s criticism: a boycott of mainland China’s national language, Standard Mandarin, a combination of the Putonghua dialect spoken in Beijing with simplified characters. Putonghua is also called Modern Standard Chinese, which was promoted since the 1940s, and which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have zealously promoted since 1956 as a form of increasing state control beyond Beijing. I here call the combination of simplified characters and Putonghua, “PRC Mandarin” or “CCP Chinese”. Taiwan uses traditional characters and speaks a slight variant of Mandarin called Taiwanese Mandarin (Guoyu).

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Watch for greater Bangladesh Army attempts to quash unrest, and a further turn towards terrorism by militant student groups

Unrest in Bangladesh has increased due to trials against Jamaat-e-Islami leaders stemming from war crimes in 1971 (Washington Post). Watch for greater army involvement in attempts to quash violent protesters. Such military action is likely to increase a turn towards terrorism by extremist youth groups. The most active of such groups will be Jamaat-e-Islami’s militant youth wing — the Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS).

The ICS is strongest in universities and a member of some legitimate international Islamic organizations. However, they are intolerant Wahhabists, linked to Bangladesh domestic terrorism, and likely connected to international terrorist organizations (University of Maryland).