Bangladesh is most vulnerable to several natural disasters and every year natural calamities upset people’s lives in some part of the country. The major disasters concerned here are the occurrences of flood, cyclone and storm surge, flash flood, drought, tornado, riverbank erosion, and landslide. These extreme natural events are termed disasters when they adversely affect the whole environment, including human beings, their shelters, or the resources essential for their livelihoods.
The geographical setting of Bangladesh makes the country vulnerable to natural disasters. The mountains and hills bordering almost three-fourths of the country, along with the funnel shaped Bay of Bengal in the south, have made the country a meeting place of life-giving monsoon rains, but also makes it subjected to the catastrophic ravages of natural disasters. Its physiography and river morphology also contribute to recurring disasters. Abnormal rainfall and earthquakes in the adjacent Himalayan range add to the disaster situation.
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Effects of El-Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the apprehended climatic change have a great impact on the overall future disaster scenarios. Since Bangladesh is a disaster prone country, it is subject to colossal damages to life and property almost every year. Flood is a recurring phenomenon in the country, locally termed as Bonna or Borsha based on the intensity of monsoon rain, magnitude and time of occurrence. When the floodwater damage resources, and disrupt communication and livelihood systems, then it is treated as Bonna.
Bangladesh gets damaging floods like that of 1988, which bring untold sufferings to millions of people, and result in human deaths, loss of livestock, spread of diseases and hunger, damaged standing crops, destroyed physical and economic infrastructures, damaged fish and shrimp ponds and hatcheries, etc. Cyclone and storm surges occur frequently and cause significant destruction in the coastal areas of the country. Nor’westers and tornadoes also frequently hit different places.
Tropical cyclones and tornadoes uproot trees, telephone, telegraph and electricity lines, destroy bridges, culverts, and houses, kill people and domestic animals, leaving serious and adverse effects on the economy as well as on the whole environment. Although this country with monsoon climate has enough rain, droughts frequently take a significant portion out of the agricultural economy of Bangladesh, and cause hunger, instability, and insecurity. The northwestern part of the country is vulnerable to drought. Disastrous rosions are mainly associated with the major river systems of the country and are seen along these river banks i. e. , the Brahmaputra- Jamuna, the Ganges-Padma, the Lower Meghna, and other rivers. The effects of a natural disaster, or a combination of more than one natural disaster may be direct loss of life, and certainly damage to physical properties. This requires large resources for disaster management including mitigation, recovery and preparedness. Therefore, the consequences of these natural hazards and the resulting environmental degradation pose a serious threat to the economic development of the country.
The situation calls for an effective disaster warning and dissemination system. A timely and accurate alert system about impending disasters will help reduce the loss of life and property (Pramanik, 1991). Natural disasters cannot be prevented, but the damage can be mitigated with adequate planning and adaptation. The impacts of these disasters vary with their type and magnitude. They also critically depend on institutional strength and response by the different agencies that usually take measures to mitigate and eventually overcome the losses, such as the government and other civil service organizations.
It has often been pointed out that the worst disasters in the world tend to occur between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, which is coincidentally the area that contains the poorer countries (Carter, 1991). This applies to Bangladesh where the cause of natural disasters is its geographical setting. The lofty Himalayas in the north, and the funnel-like shape of the Bay of Bengal in the south, have made Bangladesh one of the worst victims of the catastrophic ravages of natural disasters like floods, cyclones, storm surges, droughts, etc. Various anthropogenic activities contribute to worsen the situation.
Due to recurring disasters, the country is subject to food shortages in spite of its fertile land, network of rivers, subtropical monsoon climate, and hard working people. A large part of the population is dependent on agricultural production. But harvesting of produce is often affected by extreme natural events and the weather patterns frequently associated with them. Bangladesh is a land of many rivers, and heavy monsoon rains. The upstream deforestation, heavy rainfall, melting of glaciers, and soil erosion play a vital role in causing siltation in riverbeds. This in turn leads to natural disasters like floods, flash floods, etc.
The upstream activities also enhance the magnitude of damages caused by these disasters. The upstream withdrawal of water due to the Farakka barrage across the Ganges in India leads to local drought conditions in regions of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the largest delta in the world. Cyclones can cause immense loss of life and destruction of property during pre-monsoon (April- May), and post-monsoon (October-November. ) periods. The Bay of Bengal is the breeding place of catastrophic cyclones. Heavy rains accompanying cyclones, and the tidal waves due to wind effects, called storm surges, cause most of the damages.
Storm surge heights are directly related to cyclone intensity. Besides that, coastal configurations and bathymetry are also related to surge heights at the time of cyclone landfall. Astronomical tides in combination with storm surges lead to further amplification of surge heights, resulting in severe flooding. It is the pre-monsoon period when most of the abnormal rainfall or drought conditions frequently occur in different parts of Bangladesh. Also there are locally severe seasonal storms, popularly known as Nor’westers (Kalbaishakhi). Severe Nor’westers are generally associated with tornadoes.
The tornado forms within the Nor’wester, and moves along the direction of the squall of the mother storm. The north and northeastern parts of Bangladesh are the most active seismic zones, and had experienced earthquakes of moderate to high intensity in the past. Erosion in Bangladesh is a regular and recurring phenomenon. Erosion of land surfaces, riverbanks, and coastal areas is already causing serious problems for the country. An increase in rainfall in summer is apprehended due to climate change, and this would in turn increase the surface erosion. Land erosion will intensify through current deforestation, and other land use practices.
Natural disasters have a tremendous impact on the overall economy of the country. Apart from the instant impacts, natural disasters can also leave long term impacts. Almost every year due to natural disasters and climatic hazards, Bangladesh is subject to colossal loss of life and damage of property. All the national planning efforts for development are disrupted by these calamities that leave behind damaged infrastructure facilities, physical assets and land. The human suffering goes beyond description. Introductory Observations Bangladesh next General Elections could be held in 2013 at the year- end but ince January 20 2014 is the outside limit as per the Constitution, they are being termed as General Elections2014. Therefore Bangladesh at the outside limit is only five months away from General Elections 2014 which could turn out as probably the most significant elections held so far. Bangladesh stands today at crucial political cross-roads where the nation was engulfed in 2013 with incessant violence centred on the politics of national identity on one hand and opposed on the other side by political groupings banking on the religion of Islam in electoral politics, desperately bent on pushing Bangladesh towards an Islamist Caliphate.
The Shahbagh Protests that erupted in early 2013 were an expression, going by the large-scale participation of Bangladesh youth of both sexes and women protestors of all ages, as expressing rejection of Bangladesh collaborators who colluded with the Pakistan Army in the ethnic genocide, rape and plunder that it unleashed on their fellow Bengalis of then East Pakistan; demanding death sentences for these collaborators has been vociferous this year as it was as an electoral issue in the last General Elections. Hence the demand for death sentences for such Bangladesh traitors was a natural response in the Shahbagh Protests.
Violent rear-guard reactions from the Jamaat-i-Islami supporters were also not long in forthcoming. Analytically, it is debatable that unrestrained violence by Right-wing elements in Bangladesh can cow down the popular upsurge against the Bangladeshi Jamaat leaders who collaborated with Pakistan Army’s brutalisation of what is now Bangladesh. So on the eve of General Elections 2014, Bangladesh and also neighbours like India breathlessly wait in expectation as to whether the politics of national identity and Bangladesh nationalism prevails over the politics of Islamisation of Bangladesh, outsourced from abroad, in terms of voter’s preferences.
One saving grace however is the imponderable of the perceptions of ‘young voters’ and women voters who perceptionaly view the Bangladesh Nationalist Party being intimately tied with Islamist radical organisations like the Jamaat and the Hefazat-e-Islam and would tend to reject that brand of politics. Bangladesh General Elections: Seats Won by Political Parties in Last Two Elections Before viewing perspectives on the forthcoming General Elections it may be pertinent to illustrate the voting patterns in Bangladesh in the last two General Elections and the seats won by each political party. The picture emerges as follows: 001 2008 * Bangladesh Nationalist Party 198 30 * Awami League 62 230 * Jatiya Party 14 27 * Jamaat-e-Islami 18 2 From the above figures the major deduction that emerges is that something very extraordinary and drastic has to surface against the incumbent government in the next four to five months which could enable the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to reach triple figures in terms of seats to enable it to be within striking distance of displacing the incumbent Government. In terms of politically divisive electoral issues dominating the last two General Elections nothing significant has changed, with the exception of the sentencing by the War Crimes Tribunal leaders and the banning of the Jamaat on Court orders and ruling out its putting up candidates for the next General Elections. Would these two developments generate a heavy political downslide of the Awami League? It does not seem so.
Bangladesh General Elections 2014: Major Observations Viewing the political scene five months in the run-up to the General Elections, the following major observations can be made: * National reconciliation between the two major political parties is definitely not visible. * Political forecasts are banking on the old formula of the ‘Anti-Incumbency’ factor that would suggest that the Awami League would be voted out and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party would logically assume the mantle as per this trend. * The results of the recent city civic elections being swept by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party is also being quoted to reinforce the above assertion. Large-scale violence can be expected during the electioneering as all the opposition parties have at least one major issue on which they whipped up frenzy and violence in2013. This trend seems likely to continue. * The Awami league however maintains that the cities civic elections cannot be read as a trend in the making; the general elections in an unprecedented trend breaking development may witness the continuance of the Awami League in power. Recent Developments That Could Possibly Have a Bearing on Forthcoming Elections. The following recent developments could possibly affect or queer the election campaign and the outcome of the General Elections: * Jamaat-i-Islami being banned by Courts orders. Foreign Minister’s unsuccessful visit to India bringing the India Factor into focus as an electoral issue. * Awami League rejects calls by Bangladesh Nationalist Party for reintroduction of Caretaker Government system in the run-up to the General Elections * Election Commission giving recognition to new political parties. * The Hefazat-e-Islam factor gaining salience. On a Public Interest Litigation petition filed in January 2009 by a Sufi group which practices Islamic mysticism, the High Court ruled recently that the Jamaat’s charter was in violation of the country’s Constitution and declared this Islamist organisation as illegal. The ruling was confirmed by the Bangladesh Supreme Court.
This creates a number of complex impacts on the election campaign in the run-up to the General Elections. The first impact would be that the Jamaat cannot field candidates for the General Election though the order does not ban political activity of the Jamaat. The second impact would be on the Bangladesh Nationalist Party as the main opposition party which had the Jamaat as its leading coalition partner. It would rob the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of much of its firepower in the election campaigns and also its outcome. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni’s visit to India recently drawing a blank on crucial issue like the Teesta Waters sharing agreement and the Land Boundary Agreement drew much attention from Bangladesh media columnists.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister during her New Delhi visit pressed for resolution of these agreements speedily so and also cautioned that “If the Bill does not go through and the Teesta Waters sharing deal are not signed they will become important issues in the run-up to the Parliamentary Elections in my country”. But evidently with India itself being dominated by election year politicking, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister drew a blank from both the Indian Government and the main Opposition Party. This could be a big handle for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to use against the Awami League, moreso, when the Awami League is perceptionaly viewed as very close to India. The Awami League has rejected calls by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party for reintroduction of the Caretaker Government system to be put in place for 60 days on announcement of General Elections.
Ironically, it was the Bangladesh Nationalist Party which was forced to introduce this system after the 2006 elections when this Party which had risen to power questionably due to electoral malpractices and was forced to backtrack after massive political boycott of the Parliament by all opposition parties. A Caretaker Government was put in place to remedy the political situation. But a new factor has crept in after the recent city civic polls where the Bangladesh Nationalist Party swept the polls in major urban centres. There are voices within the Bangladesh Nationalist Party that when political trends in voting are as it is favouring them, is it worthwhile for them to insist on reintroduction of the Caretaker Government system? The Election Commission is in the process of examination of giving recognition to new political parties. About forty one new outfits have applied so far.
Only the Bangladesh Nationalist Front is in the run for recognition. The main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has threatened an agitation and possible boycott of elections as it insists that the new party’s logo and election symbol is very much akin to that of the older party. The Hefazat-e-Islam surfaced more significantly in 2010. It is headquartered in Chittagong and is a coalition of a dozen or so radical Islamist organizations drawing its strength from the thousands of ‘madrassas ‘run and controlled by it. It came into focus in May 2013 when it led a 50,000 man march to Dhaka to protest against the Shahbagh Square protests calling for execution of war criminals.
This turned out to be a very violent protest in which fifty of the protestors were killed in clashes with the police. It has recently withdrawn from the 18 member Opposition Coalition to continue its struggle alone to get its 13-point agenda enforced which is basically radical Islamist in content. Primarily, it is against women emancipation and education and also granting inheritance rights to women. What the Hefazat-e-Islam stands for can best be explained by BBC’s report on it which reads: “It has traditionally not sought power through elections, but has looked to use its street muscle to change Bangladesh’s traditional secular culture and politics through the imposition of what it believes are proper Islamic ways. Bangladesh media suggests that Hefazat is determined to influence the outcome of the 2014 General Elections and some view it that it could emerge as the kingmaker. This implies that radical Islam would find great acceptance in the forthcoming General Elections. It is a perspective that is in the realm of speculation going by the Jamaat’s past election performances in which it failed dismally despite whipping up Islamist causes. Concluding Observations While the Bangladesh General Elections 2014 domestic dynamics and internal challenges are covered in the perspectives outlined above what have not been covered are the eternal Islamist forces that are likely to play a significant role this time.
Initially it stands pointed out that Bangladesh is at critical political crossroads where its advance to establish its national identity shorn of 1971 events and Islamist radicalism is being desperately being challenged by radical Islamist organisations bent on transforming Bangladesh into an Islamic Caliphate, Bangladesh radical Islamist organisations draw their ideological inspiration and financial sustenance from religious organisations in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. This election may witness an extraordinary influx of funds from these countries to assist the emergence of Bangladesh Islamist organisations as strong political factors in General Elections 2014.
They may not be able to capture political power directly but could claim to emerge as kingmakers. The ruling Awami League will have its hands full in maintaining Bangladesh law and order situation and internal security in the coming months to ensure free and fair elections. Natural resources – Curse or blessings Abstract: The resource curse refers to a complex phenomenon that resource rich countries fail to take the advantages from their natural resources. According to this term countries with abundance of natural wealth are unable to gain the benefits of having the resources that they are supposed to get in comparison to the countries with fewer natural resources.
This paper describes the existence of resource curse, how to deal with this curse and its implication to development of Middle East. Introduction Even though a country with plenty of natural resources should progress in terms of GDP and economic growth at far more pace as compared to countries with far less resources or with no resources at all as compared to them, studies and experiments do tend to suggest otherwise. True, natural resources reserves do help a country raise individual living standards, economic growth, nevertheless, unless made full use of it can result in a negative GDP too. Experiments after being carried out in this regard has shown that in some countries despite resources being available in plenty their progression was not in line with it.
On the contrary, countries which should have struggled to make their way through, as they had little resources or none at all, in reality have out-performed countries with abundant resources through the help of their service and manufacturing industries. While on the other hand some natural-resources rich countries have done exceptionally well as they utilized their wealth with perfection. To sum up, it can neither be said having less natural resources will mean a country can not progress nor can it be said that having enough of it will prevent a country from moving further forward. The whole thing has got to do more with whether proper utilization of it was made or not. Is there a resource curse? If a closer look is taken at some countries in the Middle Mast, for example, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq, it can be seen that they all share some things in common.
These countries have more oil reserves than any other countries in the world; they are governed by Islamic laws, the fate of the people lies at the hand of their leaders, and where democracy is not present at all. General people have nothing to say as to how the country would be run and armed forces are often used as a weapon by the leaders to ensure that power does not come out of their hands. Despite having natural wealth, these countries have not performed as per expectation. Still they have slow population growth and poor life expectancy than average, low quality education and health care, low market diversification, poor socio-political development indices.
There are some other natural resource-rich countries, where natural resources could not bring blessings. In some African countries civil war occurred over the control of the resources which may lead to separatism. People from natural resource areas want to keep control over their resources. Thus they get engaged in conflict with their Government. The Government’s abilities to perform go down badly. For instance, in Angola and Sierra Leone, some rebel groups in the area where natural recourses like diamond, gold etc are located, are engaged in different forms of crimes like extortion, drug dealing, kidnapping foreign executives of multinational companies for ransom. The revenues from natural resources can go up and down.
When the prices of the natural resource rise the economy of the countries dominated by natural resources booms and again if the price falls down the economy also plummets. For instance, the price of crude oil shot up from $10 per barrel in 1998/1999 to $140 per barrel in the middle of 2008. Again in December 2008 the price plunges to $40 per barrel. On 29th of December 2009 the price was $76. 19 per barrel. The wild fluctuation of the price of natural resource can have a great impact in the Governments annual development budget if the economy depends absolutely or mostly on natural resources. In the resource rentier countries, the Government does not tax the citizens because they have fixed sources of income from resource rent. They do not have to explain about their policies, rules, and laws to the public.
People also do not or can not complain about their living standard, health, Government policies etc even though they are poorly served by the Government. As a result, the relationship between the rulers and public collapses. In the Middle East people can not protest against any Government policy. In fact the rulers, dependent on natural resource rent, tend to be repressive, corrupt and poorly managed. In the resource abundant countries human resources are often ignored. Instead of investing in the development of education, health and research, Government make huge expenditure on buying luxurious products, military, police from which the only rulers or elite societies get benefited. The countries which have natural resource, the giant multinational companies gather there.
They want to get control over the resource to mine it by paying a token money. They try to get the control either by bribing money or other forms of gifts to the rulers of that country, or by creating pressure from their own country to the resource owner country. If the Government is not accountable to its citizens, it is very tough to avoid such pressure or the greed of bribe. Thus the multinational companies are spreading corruption in the poor, but with natural resource, countries. For example, Niko, a Canadian company is in charge of gas exploration in Bangladesh. In 2005 because of the incompetence, technical fault of Niko, two huge blowouts of gas occurred. Bangladesh faced a loss of tk7. 650 billion in local currency ($1=tk70 approximately) including gas and environmental damages. But instead of paying the compensation they gave a luxurious car which cost 10 million in local currency to the state minister for energy as a bribe to avoid compensation. There are many countries with little or no natural resources at all, which have been able to develop. Resource-rich countries like Middle East could not perform well in terms of economic growth. Even the growth of some countries with ample natural resources was negative. On the other hand countries with low natural resources performed extremely well. Most of the resource poor countries like Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong grew rapidly during the period.
They achieved rapid economic growth from export industries based on manufactured products. Lack of natural resources could not be an impediment in their development. Some countries with affluent natural resources used this wealth effectively and thus they became developed. USA for example, was a resource rich country. But unlike others it used its mineral resources as a ladder of progression. Natural resources played an important role in the technological and industrial development. US made a huge investment in exploration, geological knowledge, transportation and the technologies of mining, refining and utilization. US excelled other countries in the world in mineral sector.
Mineral sector contributed a lot to enhance the knowledge and technological capabilities. In the way to leadership in manufacturing, the mineral sector of the USA was an important issue. According to Wright (2004) “resource extraction in the United States was more fundamentally associated with ongoing processes of learning, investment, technological progress, and cost reduction, generating a manifold expansion rather than depletion of the nation’s resource base. ” It had a great effect in the progress of education. By the nineteenth century, the education system of the US in mining engineering and metallurgy came out as the world leader. Columbia School of Mines which was opened in 1864 became the leader.
Later University of California at Berkeley developed into world’s largest mining college. Wright (2004) wrote in his journal that “The most famous American mining engineer, Herbert Hoover—an early graduate of Cal’s cross-bay arch rival, Stanford—maintained that the increasing assignment of trained engineers to positions of combined financial and managerial, as well as technical, responsibility was a distinctive contributing factor to U. S. leadership in this sector. ” In 1917 a survey was conducted which found there were 7500 mining engineers in the USA. Thus natural resources contributed in the progress of law, investment and education which led to overall development in America.
Considering all the evidences, it can be said that natural resource is neither a vital element of development nor a curse. Development depends on lots of factors like Government policies, accountabilities, human resource development, education, fiscal policy, manufacturing industries etc. When a Government can not rule the country properly, it becomes authoritarian and repressive. It uses the rent from natural resource to dominate the public and avoid accountability, transparency. At that time resource becomes a curse. But for this natural resource can not be blamed rather the mismanagement can be blamed. If the natural resource is utilized appropriately, it can be blessing. How can a state overcome the resource curse?
Some evidences suggest that there is a negative relationship between natural resources and growth. So resources were called a curse by many researchers. But it is not always true. A country can get rid of this curse by taking some steps. The guaranteed income from natural wealth can be used as a source of investment rather than a source of public disbursement. The transformation of natural assets into manufacturing capital can lead to break the curse. The country can use the resource rent to develop the infrastructure. The country can invest the rent in different sectors like manufacturing, health, education, development of law and order, human rights. If the country can manufacture goods in a large volume, it can export them.
Income from exports will reduce the dependence on natural resource. The government can launch a comfortable taxation system. It will establish the relationship between the ruler and the public. Whenever government will take money from the citizens, it will have to explain the incomes and expenses of the country. It will provide accountability and transparency. The Government can share the revenue with the local people. When the local community was given the power to handle resources of the country, it not only motivates long-term investment but also takes the pressure off the shoulder from central government, and also helps to alleviate poverty.
Through the proper management of natural resources, a government can sustain the welfare of the country; can raise the life standards of the people living below the poverty line and thus make the natural resources as a blessing. ‘The Middle East will not develop until its oil reserves run out’. Discuss. Most countries in Middle East, if not all, have some things in common such as monarchy system, oil reserves, no accountability and transparency, absence of democracy, repressive. Economy of these countries relies on their oil income. As they do not rely on tax from its people, they can avoid accountability and other responsibilities to the people.
Because of oil being present there in plenty and the income the government extracts from selling them to other parts of the world being more than enough for them to run their country, the government do not feel it important to build manufacturing industries in their country. But at some point down the line this oil reserve will come to an end. Then these countries will be forced to find other sources of income and only then they will really start thinking to build other service and manufacturing industries. This may open the doors for private sector. When the private sectors thrive, it will bring investments from different places which will also in turn create plenty of job opportunities. Government will have to invest for the development of human resource to cope with demand for skilled people. As a result there will be a literate society.
The rulers will loose legislation blocks to investment, private employment, exorbitant regulatory barriers, poor enforcement of commercial contracts and dispute resolution, taxation barriers. The multinational companies (other than Oil companies) will be attracted to these countries to expand their businesses. Huge investment will come that will contribute to the development of the countries. Another thing, when rulers will tax the citizens, they will have to explain their policies, incomes and expenses. As a result accountability and transparency will grow up. It can lead to democracy. When the rulers will start thinking of the welfare of the public, it will help to sustain the democracy and development of the country.
The example of UAE can be taken. It is expected that the oil reserve of UAE will run out in twenty years. The rulers realised this. So they are trying to move to other sectors, for example tourism. Now Dubai is one of the most lucrative tourist places. Every year millions of tourists from all over the world visit Dubai. Government are earning a substantial amount of revenue from tourism sector. Dubai is attracting the business companies from the western world. Currently Dubai is one of the best places for business. Almost all of the international companies have branches in Dubai. Thus the Government of UAE is reducing dependence from oil. Another example is Kuwait.
They are utilizing the rent from oil for off-shore investment. This way they are trying to stabilize the economy. As long as the countries of Middle East will get revenue from oil, they will remain averse to make changes. They will stay in vicious circle until the oil reserve will be depleted. The sooner they realize that oil reserves are not unlimited, they will move to the way to development. Conclusion: Though some of the evidences identify natural resources as a curse, but the resources themselves are not a curse. Mismanagement of the resources makes them a curse. But there is no short term option to get out of the curse. Oil in the Middle East is a sensitive issue.
When the Government will decide to use the resource for the development of the living standards of citizens, they will transform into a good government from authoritarian rulers. International pressure and internal pressure can shake the rulers. But because of having a large oil reserve, the rulers can avoid all forms of pressure. This paper has illustrated all the facts related to natural resources. According to Kirk Hamilton and Giovanni Ruta, (2006) “Whatever the level of government, good management is a precondition for good performance. Natural resources are “governance-intensive. ” Sound management of these natural resources can support and sustain the welfare of poor countries, and poor people in poor countries, as they move up the development ladder. “