Fresh perspectives needed to boost South Asian connectivity

Indian students travel in a crowded bus during the morning rush hour in Bangalore, India. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ram Upendra Das and Nitya Batra, RIS

One of the easiest ways to boost economic activity is by promoting regional economic integration that facilitates freer movement of goods, services and investment, helping to achieve regional developmental objectives by creating jobs. But in eastern South Asia, this process is being held up by misguided decisions, strategies and outdated ideas. Read more…

Bangladesh’s politicians should keep their hands off Grameen Bank

A 29-year-old Bangladeshi woman known as Tattahakallayani or Info Lady shows a 15-minute video played in a laptop at one of their usual weekly meetings at Saghata, a remote impoverished farming village in Gaibandha district, 120 miles (192 kilometers) north of capital Dhaka, Bangladesh. Dozens of “Info Ladies” bike into remote Bangladeshi villages with laptops and Internet connections, helping tens of thousands of people - especially women - get everything from government services to chats with distant loved ones. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Niaz Asadullah, University of Malaya, and Zaki Wahhaj, University of Kent

Increasing state control over Grameen Bank will not serve Bangladesh’s best interests. And it will be detrimental to the nation’s progress on gender equality.

Bangladesh has improved its rank in this year’s Global Gender Gap report, moving from 75 in 2013 to 68 in 2014. Read more…

Political Islam in Bangladeshi democracy

Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, acknowledge their leader during a rally in Dhaka, 4 February 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mubashar Hasan, Griffith University

Recently Bangladesh was side-tracked from an electoral democracy. Earlier this year, the ruling party Awami League formed government after a one-sided election. Bangladesh’s major opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), boycotted the election on the grounds Read more…

A view from the India-Bangladesh border

Members of the India-Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Committee rally behind the fence marking the border between India and Bangladesh. Both the border and the bilateral relationship are far from static. (Photo: Jason Cons)

Author: Jason Cons, Bucknell University

On 18 December 2013, the Indian National Congress party government introduced a bill in parliament to facilitate the realisation of the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh. This bill was the latest in a long series of attempts to enable the exchange of 161 enclaves Read more…

Time out for democracy in Bangladesh

Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh and leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia, talks to BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a public meeting in Dhaka on 20 January, 2014. The BNP had boycotted the violence-marred 5 January election that was won by the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League party. Zia says the election was illegal and seeks reelection with in the shortest possible time. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

More often than not, the news out of Bangladesh is about natural disasters or the tragic costs of ill-disciplined early industrialisation. Now it’s the political system that’s collapsed. But in many ways, Bangladesh gets a worse press wrap than it deserves.

The Bangladesh economy has been a bright spot in South Asia, and among the best performers right across the Asian region. Read more…

Sham election sets dangerous standard for Bangladesh

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a press conference after the national election in Dhaka on 6 January, 2014. Hasina insisted her walkover win in an election boycotted by the opposition was legitimate and blamed her rivals for the unprecedented bloodshed on polling day. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tom Felix Joehnk, Bangkok

For more than two decades Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League (AL) and Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have ruled Bangladesh. They hate each other viscerally and refuse to communicate, much less negotiate. Both women inherited their political followings from relatives who were assassinated. They have since turned the country’s two largest parties into patronage-based personality cults that specialise in looking backwards. Read more…

Democracy’s no-show at Bangladesh’s elections

A Bangladeshi woman working at a government community centre shouts out names of other women registered to work at polling stations as security personnel in Dhaka on 4 January, 2014. The opposition led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, boycott polls and called a 48 hour strike in a bid to torpedo the 5 January, general elections which were won by the Awami League. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Syeda Naushin Parnini, University of Malaya

Democracy in Bangladesh is paralysed. This was demonstrated at the so called 10th general election held on 5 January 2014, which failed to reflect the will of the Bangladeshi people. Instead, it was boycotted by the major opposition parties, the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition, and unilaterally ran by the incumbent Awami League (AL) in cooperation with the toothless Electoral Commission. Read more…