Small is Beautiful and Bountiful: Bangladesh, from Basket-case to Development model?


Masadur Rahman


Nord University


Key Takeaways

    How To Apply Insights

    • For least developed countries, an inclusive development policy aimed at improving rural livelihood
    • Priority: Rural agricultural development policy and minimum disruption of human interaction with the natural environment.

    Findings & Research Conclusions

    Bangladesh, a basket case in the 70s, achieved remarkable developmental goals during the last three decades. With its moderate annual growth rate, lower than neighbouring India, it has been surprisingly good at improving the lives of the rural poor. This paper addresses the question, despite a comparatively lower annual growth, how the so-called ”development basket case” has managed a disproportionate poverty reduction for its amount of growth? Interpreting the findings, this paper attributes such a development to its social organization of the economy with a strong rural connection on two major dimensions: a. increased agricultural production; and b. small scale business activities. The combined effects of both these rural economic activities are the increased income of rural households, increased enrolment in educational institutions of the rural poor, female students in particular empowering women. Small loans contributed to the welfare of the rural women, through providing possible means by which they gained control of their economic life. This achievement, in turn, exerted pressure for social change that included child education, women’s participation in the economy and politics. There were also cases of borrowers, who left worse off. The varied effect, apparently, was due to structures of network relations. The paper concludes with a discussion on how NET (Network Embedded Trust) works including the concept of social capital. It is suggested that the concept should be oriented to broader power structures, which remained neglected in existing literature.

    Research's methodology

    A combination of available research findings and fieldwork.


    Mostly theoretical, and limited evidence.

    EconomyActivities that involve human interaction with social and natural environment through they satisfy their needs and social demands.
    Social networksOn going informal social relationships, which influence individual perceptions of needs, and choice of means to satisfy needs.
    DevelopmentQualitative changes in people’s livelihood and well-being brought about by their interaction with environment, both natural and social

    Reference this research

    Rahman, Masudur, Small is Beautiful and Bountiful: Bangladesh, from ‘Basket Case’ to ‘Development Model’? (October 30, 2015). OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 08, No. 10, pp. 79-94, 2015.

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