Category Archives: Development

Confessions of a Development Practitioner

Shahana Siddiqui

Published in the Daily Star Forum in July 2010.

This piece runs a critical eye over the do-gooding industry.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Uncertain

Syeed Ahamed.

Published in the Daily Star Forum in July 2010.

This piece puts the budget under a microscope.

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Innovation begins at home

Published in Bangladesh Brand Forum Anniversary issue:

At 1.30 AM the night before the PM was going to launch the Digital Innovation Fair, an email reached my inbox:

‘I just came back from Novo theatre, the venue for the Fair. Even at midnight, it was buzzing with people from many ministries setting up their stalls for the 4th. I cannot recall a more energetic group of government people up and down the hierarchy all single-mindedly focused on showcasing multi-dimensional service deliveries. Each stall has become a pride and joy of a government agency. The energy was unmistakable, infectious really. ‘

On the opening day, I reached the fair an hour early partially to check out the atmosphere.   The email from the fellow organizer sounded a tad exaggerated.  These are government bureaucrats after all – can this really be true?   I ran into Dr. Ananya Raihan, who has been working on popularizing the use of technology in the development sector for years.  His eyes were glowing.  ‘These are dream come true for us.  For so many years we hosted such fairs from the private sector and wondered aloud if the government will ever come with us and here we have almost all the ministries showcasing their innovation in e-service delivery’.  As I walked by the stalls amid hundreds of visitors I had to pinch myself as well – is that really the Joint Secretary who is calling the young student and excitedly explaining their ministry’s project?  Is that really the Bangladesh Bank Governor proudly talking to his junior staff about the funky interior of their stall?  How was all this possible?

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Dhaka traffic: The common sense approach

by Rumi Ahmed and Jyoti Rahman

Published in the Daily Star on 7 January 2010.

We need massive funds to build power plants. Instead of waiting for donors’ funds, let’s use our common sense to fix the traffic problem. Instead of paying consultants for recommending expensive constructions, let’s listen to experts with local knowledge.

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Where do the children play?

Jyoti Rahman and Rumi Ahmed

Published by the Daily Star on 5 October 2009.

ACCORDING to American political philosopher John Rawls, a society should be judged on the welfare of its most vulnerable. In this regard, macroeconomic survival of the global recession or buoyant foreign reserve is not enough to understand the quality of our social life. Since children are among the most vulnerable in any society, a good test using the Rawlsian framework of how the Bangladeshi society is faring would be to look at how our children are doing.

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Microcredit 2.0

Mridul Chowdhury and Jyoti Rahman

Published by Forum on 7 September 2009.

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Food Prices and Food Security

Jyoti Rahman

Published in the Forum on February 2009

“We will have to … reduce price hike and improve people’s living standard,” said the prime minister at her first news conference after the landslide election victory. Since then, she and her senior ministers have repeatedly stressed that bringing down the prices of essentials within people’s purchasing power is a priority task for the government. This is not surprising given the importance most voters accorded to high prices in the lead up to the election.1

The Awami League capitalised on voters’ concerns by pointing to its better record on this issue. Prices of essentials — the proverbial rice, lentil, cooking oil and salt — either remained virtually unchanged or fell between 1996 and 2001, while all prices rose under its rival (Chart 1). To put the price rises in context, a male farm labourer earned an average daily wage of 48 taka in 1996 (with which he could buy 3.1 kg of rice), 67 taka in 2001 (buying 4.3 kg of rice) and 95 taka in 2006 (buying 3.7 kg of rice). Continue reading