Kamrul Hussain, a small trader in Cumilla, sits sprawled across a sofa in his comfortable two-room apartment in the city. He is gloating. “I cannot wait for us to become a developing country. I might actually be able to buy this place if that happens,” he says.
“Hopefully I can finally have some savings after paying my rent,” he adds with a laugh.
Above him, his fan whirs away at full speed, owing to the massive amount of electricity the country produces. There are hardly more than two hour-long blackouts per day anymore. 'Digital Bangladesh' is already paying dividends.
Kamrul is just one of the millions of Bangladeshis who feel their luck about to turn after the recent huge announcement that Bangladesh had almost met the criteria for becoming a developing country from a least developed country.
By doing so, Bangladesh joins the illustrious rank of economic giants to graduate similarly which includes Botswana, Cape Verde, Maldives, Samoa and Equatorial Guinea.
It hasn't yet but it could, anytime now. And the government is already preparing for the bright future about to come.
One of the first steps has been to change the spelling of some of the district names. For instance, Jessore is now Jashore. Chittagong is now Chattogram.
However, these are indeed the start. The newly formed Ministry of Spelling has also decided to make more wide-scale changes as it slowly adopts Banglish. “The world is connected now. We cannot have our social media influences out there making spelling errors and confusing the world. So we are looking into other words as well,” Shotik Banan, the newest incompetent minister says.
He adds that too many Bangladeshis misspell Bangla words when writing them in English. “Vaiya, listen. You cannot just write Fridays with your nephews and then totally misspell nephew in Bangla and confuse people. Especially if you are male,” he says
The ministry has so far remained tight-lipped about what other changes are incoming but there are sure to be more.
A hungry people
Makbul Ahmed, a construction worker in Dhaka, isn't too worried about the changes. Names can change and so can spellings, he said. It is all okay as long as his income rises. “I heard a person in Bangladesh earns over a thousand dollars or will once we become a developing country,” he says during his break.
He has been toiling hard the entire day and cannot afford to miss work. “Rice costs almost Tk 60 a kg. But that won't be a problem once I start earning more.”
Plans are already in place to feed and help the people grow wealthier.
Another 20 million tonnes of rice is expected to be exported from Myanmar soon to hopefully push the price of the staple down. But that is a stone that kills two birds. Asking that his name not be disclosed, a food ministry source explains that while the government is exporting an extravagant amount of rice, there is a deeper purpose. “Soon, Myanmar won't have enough to eat. Then if they choose to take back their people from our land, we will sell the remaining rice back to them,” he says.
It's an ingenious scheme designed by a government that has consistently surprised people with how clever it is.
While the price of almost everything is up, the government has somehow maintained high Gross Domestic Product growth. In fact, GDP is higher than income. While that may usually mean that the value of money should rise, i.e. inflation should fall; in a unique country like Bangladesh, what is generally the rule works in completely the opposite manner.
Of course, there are jealous enemies to blame. On numerous occasions, their names have been mentioned but the police are yet to make a statement on this.
When a foreign report said that the economy of Bangladesh was not doing well, contrary to what the thoroughly unbiased Statistic Board of Bangladesh had said, the enemies' names were heard again. “Motivated and Baseless!” The uninformation minister had said.
They came up again during allegations in the government's involvement in nefarious activity. In fact, any time any of the government's wrongdoings surfaced, out came the names.
Who they are and where they are from has not been known. But rest assured, the state mechanism knows.
They always know.
Osama Rahman is a subeditor, The Daily Star.