It is good that Bangladesh has climbed up three spots—from 139 to 136—in the Global Human Development Index (HDI) 2017, according to the Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme. This again illustrates the tremendous progress we have made over the past years as a nation.
However, if we look at South Asia in general, we see Bangladesh is still lagging behind four other countries in the HDI. This means there is still much room for improvement. The child mortality rate in Bangladesh, for instance, has gone down quite substantially over the years, while life expectancy has gone up to 73 years, as compared to 66 years both in South Asia and India, which is encouraging but what quality of life is being provided to that child must also be considered. This is where we must ensure better healthcare, nutrition and education for all so that our population becomes healthier and more productive and so that every citizen is provided with the maximum opportunity to add value to our society. Thus addressing the widening inequality in wealth and wellbeing is a crucial step in the development process.
Given that we still fall way short of most other countries of the world in the HDI, we must increase our pace of improvement quite significantly in order to catch up. This will require us to rapidly increase our overall investment in human capital, which is something that our policymakers urgently need to recognise.
While there is much to celebrate in regards to our performance in the HDI, that should not give us any sense of final accomplishments, but should be seen as a benchmark of where we are and how much we have left to do to get where we should be.