Introduction: In this twenty-first century, one of the most widely discussed topics throughout the world is Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In September 2000, meeting at the United Nations Millennium Summit, the worldís leaders agreed to a remarkable document, the Millennium Declaration. This historic achievement committed the global community to a hard and specific agenda for human development. Rather than simply agreeing that development should continue along much the same lines as before, or call for general improvements, the Declaration demanded that the world set its sights higher and aim for eight specific goals, most of which were to be achieved by 2015 and for which there are now 48, mostly numerical, indicators. What subsequently came to be known as the Millennium Development Goals are:
1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2) Achieve universal primary education
3) Promote gender equality and empower women
4) Reduce child mortality
5) Improve maternal health
6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7) Ensure environmental sustainability
8) Develop a global partnership for the development
Prospects: Bangladesh’s progress also stands out in cross-country comparisons. This supports the proposition that higher social/ human development outcomes can be achieved even at a lower level of per capita national income. Bangladeshis growth performance was relatively modest with a per capita GDP growth of about 2 percent per annum. The growth performance started to improve only in the nineties. Similarly, the pace of income-poverty reduction was very slow. During the period between the early eighties and early nineties, the incidence of income-poverty declined by 0.8 percent per year in Bangladesh compared with 1.9 percent for India, 1.4 percent in Pakistan, and 3.6 percent in Sri Lanka. – Notwithstanding the relatively slow income growth and modest pace of income poverty reduction, Bangladeshís achievements in the broad area of human development were faster and, in some respects, remarkable. Although the level of social deprivations in Bangladesh is still high, the pace of improvement has been encouraging. Indeed, the pace of progress in reducing TFR, bringing down the level of under-five mortality, and lowering the prevalence of child malnutrition is not only higher than the average progress recorded in LDCs, but also stands out in the overall context of South Asia.
Present strategy: The relatively higher social progress at a low level of income is also indicated by the comparison of predicted (for a given level of per capita income) with the actual values of social indicators achieved by the country. Compared with the predicted values, the actual progress recorded has been higher for the contraceptive prevalence rate, lower for population growth rate as well as for TFR and CBR, higher for life expectancy at birth and child immunization coverage, and lower for IMR. While there has been considerable progress in the expansion of literacy, the pace needs to be accelerated.
Bangladesh has one of the most vulnerable economies, characterized by extremely high population density, low resource base, and high incidence of natural disasters. These have adverse implications for long-term savings, investment, and growth. Such defining features impart certain uniqueness to the formulation of the poverty reduction strategy. The present strategy addresses three key tasks facing the nation: The first one focuses on the need for consolidating past economic and social successes (the task of sustaining the positive gains). The second one pertains to the compulsions of avoiding the pitfalls of past development experiences (the task of overcoming the negative tendencies).The third one draws attention to the new challenges that the nation has to confront in the context of globalization as well as new problems that arise from the present phase of domestic development (the task of addressing new challenges). The success of the strategy of poverty reduction and attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDC) would depend on the extent to which the above three tasks are addressed in the coming decade.
Conclusion: Bangladesh had adverse initial conditions at the start of its journey three decades ago. With one of the most vulnerable economies of the world characterized by extremely high population density, low resource base, high incidence of natural disasters, and extremely adverse initial circumstances associated with the inheritance of a war-ravaged economy, the implications for long-term savings, investment, and growth were deemed extremely bleak. Bangladesh which was once termed the test case of development may indeed represent a learning site for keeping the hopes alive for other equally less fortunate post-colonial societies with adverse initial conditions. This would be especially important in the context of overcoming the persistent economic pessimism and hopelessness.