Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

Track II diplomacy in solving Asia’s refugee crisis

A Rohingya refugee walks at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 7 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Authors: Melissa Conley Tyler and Tiffany Liu, Asialink at the University of Melbourne

In February, experts from government, think tanks, civil society and academia met in Bangladesh for the ninth meeting of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration (ADFM) to address the challenge of people movement and displacement in the region. The dialogue has already seen some positive outcomes, and it highlights an important role for non-official actors in diplomacy.

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Japan’s contributions to maritime stability in the Bay of Bengal

A floating dock of the Indian navy is pictured at the naval base at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, 1 July 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Sanjeev Miglani).

Author: Michael van Ginkel, Stable Seas

Japan has a vested interest in contributing to regional maritime stability in the Bay of Bengal. It holds important Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) that open commercial opportunities by increasing connectivity with littoral countries. Japan has more actively contributed to the maritime stability and security efforts of countries like India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in its transition from isolationism to internationalism. Read more…

COVID-19 batters Bangladesh’s already struggling economy

Garment workers return from a workplace as factories reopened after the government has eased the restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 4 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/ Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Fahmida Khatun, Centre for Policy Dialogue

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hit Bangladesh at a point when its economy was already under stress. Except for remittance income, all major economic indicators were underperforming during the first few months of the 2020 fiscal year (FY2020). Read more…

Containing COVID-19 in Bangladesh

Homeless and impoverished Bangladeshi people receive food provided by volunteers during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 27 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Suvra Kanti Das).

Authors: Asad Islam, Gaurav Datt and Sisira Jayasuriya, Monash University

COVID-19 is now in Bangladesh. It is one of the world’s most densely populated countries with poor healthcare infrastructure, weak logistical facilities, widespread poverty, and inadequate safety nets and income transfer mechanisms. It has not faced a crisis of this magnitude in its five decades as an independent country. Read more…

Bangladesh’s garment industry unravelling

Relatives of victims killed in Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, mourn at the site during the fourth anniversary of the collapse in Savar, on the outskirt of Dhaka, Bangladesh, 24 April, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Sanchita Banerjee Saxena, UC Berkeley

Seven years ago, one of the worst industrial disasters in history — the collapse of an eight-story commercial building in Rana Plaza, Dhaka — demonstrated to the world the heavy price of producing cheap clothing to fuel the ‘fast fashion’ industry for consumers in the global North. Read more…

Bangladesh economy grapples with growing pains

A worker works in a factory of Ananta Garments Ltd in Savar 10 June, 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Biraj).

Author: Fahmida Khatun, Centre for Policy Dialogue

Bangladesh began 2019 with a renewed hope that its newly elected government would bring in political and economic changes as promised in its election manifesto. Although the economy has maintained high GDP growth, electoral promises remain unfulfilled in several critical areas. Many old woes continue to hamper the economy: a weak fiscal balance, a fragile banking sector and a shaky external sector.

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Bangladesh’s authoritarian shift

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina before their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, 5 October 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Altaf Hussain).

Author: Ali Riaz, Illinois State University

In Bangladesh the ruling Awami League has established total control over state machinery and politics since the managed election of December 2018. Simmering popular discontent found expression in agitations against the killing of a student, price hikes and government-appointed university administration corruption in 2019.

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Smarter strategies for sharing South Asia’s rivers

A fisherman stands as he checks his fishing net along the Indus River, Hyderabad, Pakistan, 11 June 2017 (Photo:Reuters/Akhtar Soomro).

Author: Ashok Swain, Uppsala University

South Asia is facing severe water scarcity. As the region’s population grows and its economies develop, a lack of sustainable water development strategy is leading to increasingly acute water shortages.

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Using the NRC as a Hindu nationalist tool

The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, gestures as she attends a protest march against the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam, Kolkata, India, 12 September 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri).

Author: Ajay Gudavarthy, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India’s Assam state is being used to mark non-documented citizens as ‘infiltrators’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ and thus ineligible for registration. Such a system has been a long-standing demand of the local Assamese in order to protect their language, land and culture from ‘outsiders’ — primarily referring to the Bengali speaking population. This system is now being promoted by Hindu nationalists aiming to spread their ideology through India.

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Bangladesh’s regional majoritarian challenge

Rohingya refugees gather to mark the second anniversary of the exodus at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, 25 August 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Rafiqur Rahman).

Authors: Champa Patel, Chatham House, and Rudabeh Shahid, University of York

Bangladesh is a country often subjected to the whims of its geography. Being surrounded by India and Myanmar means that ensuring good relations with its neighbours is paramount to maintaining regional cohesion but these relations are coming under strain as India’s and Myanmar’s majoritarian impulses resonate across their borders.

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Countering India’s terror blind spot in West Bengal

A student of a madrassa (religious school) writes during an examination in Kolkata, eastern India, 7 March 2006 (Photo: Reuters/Jayanta Shaw).

Author: Iftekharul Bashar, NTU

In July 2019, India’s State Minister for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy accused Jama’at-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) of using some madrassas (religious schools) in West Bengal for radicalisation and recruitment activities. The claim came a week after Indian police arrested four members of the pro-Islamic State (IS) faction of JMB in West Bengal.

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Making the most of Bangladesh–India trade

A man sits in a boat on the waters of the Brahmaputra river near the international border between India and Bangladesh in Dhubri district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India 4 August, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

Author: Mustafizur Rahman, Centre for Policy Dialogue

The World Bank estimates Bangladesh–India bilateral trade potential to be US$16.4 billion. The actual trade figure for the 2019 fiscal year was US$9.85 billion. This gap captures the prevailing economic relationship between the two countries and represents what could be if the attendant challenges were adequately addressed. Read more…

Academic freedom under pressure in Bangladesh

Thousands of students exit the campus of Dhaka University in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Photo: Reuters/Rafiqur Rahman).

Author: Mubashar Hasan, University of Oslo

Bangladesh has made economic progress under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The country has maintained an impressive growth record of between 6–7.9 per cent over the past five years. The World Bank endorses the country as among the five fastest-growing economies in the world and forecasts economic growth as both strong and stable.

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What neighbours can expect from Modi’s second term

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives with Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena during his welcome ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 9 June 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/ Dinuka Liyanawatte)

Authors: Arun Upadhyaya and Carter Chapwanya, Shandong University

After inviting heads of BIMSTEC governments to his swearing in ceremony, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited both the Maldives and Sri Lanka within the following 10 days — suggesting that his ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy will be the anchor of his foreign policy for his second term. Read more…

Looking beyond the good economic news in Bangladesh

Activists of leftist alliance cover their mouth with black cloths as they join in a rally to demand a new election under caretaker government, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 3 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Ali Riaz, Illinois State University

Bangladesh’s economy will continue its high growth into 2020 according to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank. This comforts the government, serving as a morale booster for the ruling Awami League (AL). AL is being criticised for their part in the questionable December 2018 election, widely described by global commentators as ‘farcical’. Read more…