According to the news published in The Daily Star on 18 October 2016, on World Poverty Day World Bank President Jim Yong Kim heaped praises upon Bangladesh, its people and leadership for becoming a model for poverty reduction despite being saddled with a long list of hardships. He said, from 2000, the economy has been growing at 6 percent on average every year — and that growth has lifted millions out of poverty. New data from the WB, released earlier this month, showed that 20.5 million Bangladeshis escaped from poverty between 1991 and 2010. In percentage terms, the poverty rate dropped to 18.5 percent in 2010 from 44.2 percent in 1991. Kim said, “Large non-governmental organizations and private sector companies — including Brac and Grameen Bank, which are known around the world — brought microfinance, investments in female-owned small businesses, and other initiatives to empower poor people.”
Although on the occasion of World Poverty Day, Bangladesh has managed to earn heaps of praise by WB President Jim Yong Kim; but the ground reality of the millions of poor people of the country depicts a very different picture. Bangladesh still has the highest number of slum dwellers in the South Asian region, which is 60% of the urban population. Nearly 80% people of Dhaka live in makeshift or dilapidated houses and suffer from largely water and sanitation related diseases. Slum areas are characterized by acute poverty, overcrowded environment, poor housing, scarce of drinking water and unhealthy disposal of waste. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Bangladesh has the highest percentage of undernourished people in South Asia. According to UNICEF, 37% of children under five are under weight, 49% are stunted and 13.5% suffer from acute malnutrition. Furthermore, poverty has forced tens of thousands of women and girls to the low paid labor force where they face endless oppression and exploitation and became the slaves of the economy. Also, microcredit did not empower poor people of the rural areas rather it trapped them into the vicious cycle of increasing debt and repayment.
In fact, poverty is the inevitable fruit of the manmade capitalist system, because it has allowed a small group of people to accumulate huge amount of wealth by sucking the blood of poor. According to the 1998 UNDP report, if the 225 richest people in the world give only 4% tax on their wealth, it would be sufficient to fulfill all the basic needs of developing countries. Moreover, Allah (swt) has bestowed Muslims world with huge natural resources and wealth. But our subservient ruling class is draining our wealth in the West according to the advice of the imperialist’s economic club such as WB and IMF. Decades ago, in the name of eliminating poverty, WB has forced Bangladesh to accept the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), which explicitly states that, “the private sectors will be the engine of economic growth” and “the government will create an environment friendly environment…” It further states, that Bangladesh has to increase GDP 7% annually to deal poverty effectively. In other words, it needs to open her economy for multinational companies to exploit the country’s cheap lobour. When these companies will make huge profit through exploitation, only then a small amount of wealth will “trickle down” to the masses of Bangladesh, which will help to alleviate poverty. We already know that in 80’s the WB readily destroyed whole of Africa and Latin America by forcing them to accept their policy for poverty alleviation. So, can we ever expect Bangladesh will come out of poverty following the prescription of WB and IMF? Can we ever expect, the Capitalist economy which is the root cause of poverty worldwide, to eliminate poverty from Bangladesh? By implementing this system, debt in Bangladesh has already increased from $6.59 to $169 within last 43 years per capita.
We need to understand that the economic hardship and dire poverty Muslim world is facing today is the punishment of Allah because our rulers implemented flawed manmade Capitalist system instead of a blessed system given by Allah (swt). Hence, to eliminate poverty we need to abandon this flawed economic system and implement Islamic economic system under the shade of the second Khilafah Rashidah (Caliphate). By using the large number of manpower of the country, plenty of fertile alluvial lands and ample reserves of natural resources through Islamic economic principals the Khilafah will create a strong, debt free, independent and stable economy. Also, to make the country independent the Khilafah will break the shackles of imperialist’s institutions like IMF, WB, ADB etc, stop taking financial aid from them and reject their oppressive terms and conditions. The natural resources will be declared as public property and its benefit will be equally enjoyed by every citizen of the state. Instead of focusing on GDP, it will focus on the proper distribution of wealth, so that basic needs of every citizen can be ensured. Not only that, the Khilafah will prohibit all kinds of interest based transactions and direct and indirect taxation on income and implements Zakat system to uplift the condition of poor and destitute. On the top of everything, the Khilafah will implement the entire economic system of Islam which will eradicate poverty from the face of the earth. So, the time has come for people of Bangladesh to uproot the hegemony and oppression of manmade Capitalist system and re-establish the system of Khilafah, in the way of Prophethood, which will make poverty history.
Fehmida Binte Wadud