Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence

Published on 26 March 2021

Today (26 March) sees Bangladesh mark its 50th anniversary of independence, with celebratory events and warm wishes sent to the country from leaders across the world. In development terms, Bangladesh has achieved incredible progress in poverty reduction over the past fifty years and has provided many lessons for other countries, development practitioners and academics. IDS itself has a long history of working with partners in Bangladesh and is privileged to continue working with them on some of today’s most pressing development challenges, including inequalities and impacts from climate change.

In particular, IDS holds Memoranda of Understanding with BRAC International, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, and the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, and these partnerships cover research collaboration, south-south learning, staff exchanges and capacity development. IDS is also proud to have many alumni from and based in Bangladesh from its world-leading post-graduate teaching programmes.

Marking the anniversary, Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies, said:

“Bangladesh’s progress over the last fifty years in addressing poverty, vulnerability and health challenges has been extraordinary, and offers lessons to the world in the ‘doing’ of effective development. At the same time, climate and environmental change, multiple inequalities, and rapid urbanisation pose huge ongoing challenges at a time of rapid change.

“This Anniversary provides a moment to reflect on the past and present of Bangladesh’s development experiences, and to acknowledge our longstanding, rewarding partnerships and mutual learning with brilliant individuals and institutions in the country, as we collectively look to the future.”

Sohela Nazneen, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, said:

“From being labelled as a place ‘bountiful in miseries’ in the 1970s, to heralded an ‘inspiring country’ by the World Bank, there is a lot to learn from Bangladesh’s journey in the last 50 years in reducing extreme poverty, increasing life expectancy, getting girls to school and generating steady economic growth. How Bangladesh now moves forward is an urgent issue as the progress made to date faces multiple challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Through long-standing partnerships with Bangladesh IDS researchers have been a witness to the country’s history and we hope to remain a part of its future progress.”

Kazi Jawoad Hossain, Chevening Scholar and IDS Master’s Candidate, said:

”On the Golden Jubilee of our independence, Bangladesh has much to celebrate for its impressive achievements in a range of socio-economic areas. However, its democratic backsliding risks impeding the development of more equitable outcomes. Bangladesh is an extremely resilient nation, but to tackle future challenges we need development cooperation as well as indigenous innovations.”

Current IDS collaborations in Bangladesh include, the Child Labour Action Research Innovation in South and South-Eastern Asia (CLARISSA) programme, co-developing innovative and context-appropriate ways to avoid engagement in hazardous, exploitative child labour and the disability inclusion programme to improve employment rates for people with disabilities.

IDS is also working with partners in Bangladesh on two large programmes on women’s rights – Sustaining Power (SuPWR) and Countering Backlash: reclaiming gender justice – and on the health and well-being of slum dwellers in Bangladesh, including the social and economic impacts from Covid-19 lockdowns, as part of the ARISE Hub (Accountability and Responsiveness in Informal Urban Settlements for Equity in Health and Well-being).



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