Bangladesh Current Affairs - 2019

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South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De)Centralization Work Report: World Bank

As per the report released by World Bank on ‘South Asia Economic Focus, Making (De)Centralization Work’, Bangladesh has become the second-fastest growing economy in South Asia after Bhutan. According to the World Bank, Bangladesh and Nepal are estimated to grow faster than India in 2019.

The latest edition of this World Banks’s report finds that strong domestic demand, which support high growth in past, has weakened, driving a slowdown across the south Asian region.

Key Highlights of Report

The overall growth in South Asia is projected to slow down this fiscal in line with a global downward trend. Growth in South Asia is projected to fall to 5.9% in 2019, down 1.1% points from April 2019 estimates, casting uncertainty about a rebound in short term.

In India, growth is projected to fall to 6% this fiscal year and is then expected to gradually recover to 6.9% in fiscal year 2021 and to 7.2% in 2022.

The growth rate of Pakistan is projected to decrease further to 2.4% this fiscal year, as monetary policy remains tight, and planned fiscal consolidation will further compress domestic demand.

As per the report, the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh is projected to moderate to 7.2% this fiscal year and 7.3% in 2020. The country’s economy is likely to maintain growth above 7%, supported by a political stability, robust macroeconomic framework, and strong public investments.

In 2018 Bangladesh has reduced current account deficit due to rising export and remittances which was above $15.5 billion. However, the report indicates that the financial sector vulnerability, fiscal pressures and loss of external competitiveness pose challenges to its growth rate.

Moreover, despite slowdown in industrial growth rate, the industrial sector remains strong as Bangladesh’s garment industry benefited immensely from trade tensions between United States and China.

The World Bank report suggests Bangladesh to address key structural challenges such as reducing infrastructure deficit, improving urban management, managing climate change risks and enhancing human capital.

Bangladesh lifts ban on Hilsa export to India

Bangladesh Government will allow 500 tons of Hilsa fish to be exported to India prior to the eve of Durga Pooja. Bangladesh accounts to nearly 75% of world Hilsa production. The government of Bangladesh had imposed ban on its export to India due to its over – exploitation.

About Hilsa

Hilsa is an endemic species of Bangladesh. It is generally referred to “King of Fish” for its soft texture and pleasant flavor. It is the national fish of Bangladesh.

Why did Bangladesh stop export of Hilsa?

The population of Hilsa was fast decreasing in the river systems of Bangladesh. This was mainly due to

  • Over exploitation, construction of dams, dumping of domestic and industrial wastes into water bodies.
  • The fish are also affected by the oil spills.
  • Their required amount of plankton reduced due to chemical pollution.
  • There are around 4 million fishermen involved in Hilsa fishing alone! This led to over exploitation.

The fish is also smuggled out of Bangladesh after the ban. This causes high loss of revenue for the government.

Hilsa was under grave danger mainly due to over – consumption.  Apart from reduction of its population, the size of the fish also began to reduce. Therefore, the Government of Bangladesh brought in several measures to save the species. The export ban was one such step.

IUCN Status of Hilsa

The fish received the status of “Threatened Species” under IUCN red list.

Steps by Bangladesh to save Hilsa

Bangladesh had introduced ban on catching baby Hilsa in 2018. It had announced strict fines on people buying and selling Hilsa weighing less than a pound. Even today in order to protect the endemic species, Bangladesh has prohibited Hilsa fishing in Padma and Meghna rivers during breeding season.

Steps by Bengal Government to save Hilsa

The Bengal government has a local state legislature that empowers the Fisheries department to fine and arrest people catching Baby Hilsa.

Cultural significance

A Bengali feast is incomplete without the Hilsa. In the past, Bengali families presented Hilsa (wrapped in red sari) to the groom’s family. It is also offered to Goddess Saraswati during Navarathri festival.

Habitat

Hilsa unlike Salmon cannot be farmed. This is mainly because of their peculiar habitat through aquaculture. The adult Hilsa swims several kilo meters upstream to fresh water from sea for spawning (laying eggs) and return back to sea.

The fish is abundantly present in the Sunderbans and in the slow flowing waters of Ganga – Brahmaputra. They are usually found at the mouth of the river.

The fish is also found near the mouth of Godavari river of Andhra Pradesh. It plays a significant role in the recipes of Andhra as well. The people of Andhra offer the fish to goddess Lakshmi during Navarathri festival.