Bangladesh: Promise and Performance

The movement for Bangladesh was carried forward in the name of creating Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal). Implicit in the idea of Sonar Bangla was the vision of a society economically prosperous, free of exploitation, democratically governed, tolerant of pluralism and respectful of people's rights. This study, a collection of articles by some of the best known scholars on Bangladesh, is an attempt to analyze how the country has performed in the three decades since her independence. The articles illuminate the critical debates that have defined Bangladesh's politics and policies since her birth: the identity question; the issue of democratization and community and peoples' participation; challenges of economic growth, human development and poverty alleviation; social transformation and the empowerment of the under privileged groups; and the role of civil society and effective governance in fostering democracy and development. The articles describe the dynamics of the political economy, the composition of the ruling elites and their political strategies to hold on to state power on the one hand and the demands of the excluded groups on the other seeking expanded participation in the political system. The book presents a complex picture of the gradual evolution of interactions between state, society and external actors. Ten papers presented at an international conference - Bangladesh at 25 - held at Columbia University in New York in December 1996 which have been revised and updated, are included in this volume together with an introduction providing a brief political history and a concluding article analyzing Bangladesh's challenges and opportunities in the new millennium. The volume is designed to serve as a standard textbook for courses on Bangladesh and South Asian studies.