Bangladesh has become one of Asia's most remarkable and unexpected success stories in recent years. Once one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, Bangladesh remained an economic basket case—wracked by poverty and famine—for many years after independence in 1971. In fact, by 2006, conditions seemed so hopeless that when Bangladesh registered faster growth than Pakistan, it was dismissed as a fluke.
Being in the business of measuring poverty is a challenge for the World Bank. If poverty declines, critics accuse us of trying to showcase our success. If it rises, they say we are ensuring that we stay in business. And if it stays the same, they accuse us of trying to avoid these two charges.