The poverty of most Bangladeshis is viewed as an important – but not urgent – issue by Bangladesh’s elites. They do not feel threatened by the extent of poverty, or by poor people. Some sections of the elite appear to know little about the poor. The poor are instead viewed through a somewhat idealistic lens, as homogenous, deserving objects of traditional elite philanthropy.
Poverty alleviation is at one level viewed as a moral project. At another level it is synonymous with the broader, technical project of development: development will solve the problem eventually, without any special focus on the poor. The state is expected to provide education for the poor, but not to act in any more direct way to protect their livelihoods. The proper role of the state is to promote development in the broad sense, not to ensure that the poor are fed.