Disclaimer: This article is the author’s personal opinion. The InCAP is not responsible for anyone’s perspective.
The race has started! Pretty soon, we would again be hearing the most used phrase in US Presidential Election – “An American dream”. Trump & Biden (Biden probably as Bernie seemed to have a really long way to go!) both will vehemently try to prove himself as the staunchest supporter of the American Dream!
A dream that neither George Washington nor the Founding Fathers had dreamt, the dream which was not known to Abraham Lincoln! The dream that was created and instilled by the PW-II (post world war-II) struggling capitalism to strengthen itself and to inspire the Baby Boom Generation (1946-1964) to consume more…
Earn and Consume was the tagline for the boomers.
As capitalism was trying to overcome the shock of the shortage of “Man” the first and inevitable pre-requisite of production line during the PW-II, unlike today.
The boomers conformed…
Thus Capitalism slowly started to transform itself into Consumerism. The concept of Brand and brand affiliation had evolved. The boomers built the Super Power USA, laying a particularly strong foundation of the American economy by producing more and consuming more than that!
The boomers built a sustainable economy based on spending!
The boomers not only contributed to the US economy but also had their mark in American Culture from Hippie to Hip-hop. These boomers were the ones who fought and died in the Vietnam war or opposed the war, arranging processions and written petitions.
America made the best and utmost utilization of the boomers in all the aspects possible in the last century. Now, these 70+million boomers are in the retiring age, and daily 10 thousand of the boomers are retiring and claiming social benefits that are due.
Once the builders are now proclaiming their dues!
Immense pressure is created on the US economy, where fewer provisions were made! This situation was predicted earlier and was termed Silver Tsunami. The very same situation Bangladesh will be putting itself in 2050.
A far-fetched problem – is it at all?
According to World Bank Data, from 2015 to 2021, in these six (6) years additional 48 million people would be joining the workforce of Bangladesh (aged 18 to 60), i.e., 48 million people would turn 18 in these five (5) years. On average, 9.6 million people would join the workforce every year from 2015 till 2021.
Is Bangladesh taking the full advantage of this dividend?
With the present rate of unemployment amongst the youth (42%), it seems the country is endowed with a “divine dividend” which it does not how to utilize. Yearly in total, 1 million jobs were created from 2015-2018, which is 3 million jobs (Public & Private) during these periods against 29.4 million new workforces! And the employment opportunity took a dip in late 2018 and onwards.
From 2019 till the first quarter of 2020, the job market stumbled like the share markets of the country!
Presently the opportunity created is less than two (2) lacs! Baffled Bangladesh is failing to take any advantage of the situation and ends up sending this workforce worldwide illegally. They die in the seagoing to Malaysia or in the Mediterranean heading Europe.
Though the two visions that the government had declared, were based on these millennials – Vision 2021 and Vision 2041: a) To become a Middle Income Country by 2021 and b) To become a Developed Country by 2041. Both are based on earning (and spending as well) of these 48 million millennials.
Visions had been declared and engraved in government papers; however, new job opportunities were not created either was there any huge foreign or local investment. On the contrary, billions were siphoned out.
And now, with BREXIT, AI marching in and Covid-19 outbreak, it is too late for Bangladesh!
Considering the present economic state of Bangladesh, it is obvious that the government of Bangladesh shall not be able to arrange the employment of this 48 million new workforce in the next 5-8 years.
The most labor dense industry Bangladesh has, is ready-made garments. Which already had been compelled to terminate or lay-off four (4) lacs of its employees. Automation, AI marching in, and the emergence of Vietnam as a garments manufacturer had put Bangladeshi ready-made garments business in the back foot.
Vietnam is emerging as the next garment capital of the world due to Chinese support and the other five (5) reasons:
1. Sharing Borders (Easy and faster transportation of raw materials from China)
2. Leaders with similar Ideology
3. Easier terms and less bureaucratic FDI terms
4. Available skilled labor, and above all
5) Vietnam is in the list of USA’s MFN (Most Favoured Nation) countries thus enjoys trade facilities in the USA.
Considering the above, the RMG sector might end up its dominance in the GDP of Bangladesh, and presumably, even if the RMG sector survives, this shall not be as labor dense as it were earlier and would not be able to contribute as it did in the economic growth of the country. To be precise, the RMG sector might end up losing its glory as the employer for the unskilled mass.
Thus the Divine Dividend has turned out to be the nemesis for Bangladesh and has left us with two (2) specific options, and unfortunately, none is inspiring.
Option: Dog eat Dog
Considering the fact of our failure in employing these millennials, the first thing these millennials would try is to go abroad by any means -More dead bodies of Bangladeshi millennials would be found in the Arab sea, the Mediterranean sea, and the South China sea.
A few would escape death and join as an illegal worker with the least payment.
But that is not all!
The ones who would stay in the country will first search and will get frustrated and turn themselves into drugs, and the ones who won’t, will demand a means of life. And this “Demanding” portion would probably be the majority.
A demand the government will not be able to fulfill. The complaint would turn in to grief and later an outrage! There might be one Bouazizi, might be many, might be none, but indeed they will come down to the street and snatch away what they need. Apprehending this, “Begum Para” was created, money siphoned off in billions in past decades.
But the question is, can every one of this privileged class fled away! It would not matter if they can or can not, Bangladesh would be a land of chaos for sure, and local or regional groups with arms shall rise like Libya.
There shall not be any law and order and none to govern the country (as everyone would flee). Bangladesh would be a perfect case of a “Failed State” which had earlier proclaimed GDP growth of above 8%!
Another Paradox in Economics!!!
Option: Land of Pleasure & Pimps
Presently in Bangladesh, we have 104 UGC approved universities. Roughly 104,000 students graduate from these public and private universities yearly (on an average). This excludes the National University graduates, which is significant in numbers.
With the certificate in hand, these millennials would not accept a menial job. Moreover, due to their exposure to consumerism and products, these graduated millennials shall opt to live the “Charbakian” life.
However, there is none to provide them with the loan, and the lack of employment opportunities shall compel the millennials to compromise. Those who could not move out of this by then failed state or get themselves any job in any of the public or private sector shall either have to start a very small business or the females shall turn in to prostitutes and the males into pimps. With them shall join the garment workers and the other employees who lost their jobs due to Automation & AI march in RMG sector and Post Corona economic depression.
Along with physical pleasure shall come alcohol and drugs. And the pimps shall also play the role of pedlars. This is not NEW, a concept rather a historically proven one! The main attraction and product of Thailand was once “Pleasure” in other terms, prostitution. The present economy of Thailand is built mainly on the prostitute’s earnings. It took Thailand 35 years to come up to the present stage of economic stability, considering the numbers of youth, for Bangladesh, it might be half of Thailand’s time or less, but certainly, the overall social values and social texture shall be changed entirely.
Babies without a Father or crossbreed babies shall be a regular phenomenon, and the present religious foundations would turn in to mere rituals.
The initial shock would be a surge in the number of STD affected. Later this would flatten out, and that also would be for the sake of “business” with the help of NGOs. Thus the opportunist NGOs shall exist.
Thousands of perverted individuals would be there to cater to the needs of the customers, and unfortunately, the whole nation shall have to be a silent salient part of this pleasure trips.
The silver line is, in the latter phase, Bangladesh might end up in having a stable economy with this Prostitution Money (if properly used and not siphoned off) as it happened in Thailand. However, the changes in the socio-religious values and texture can never be revoked!
About The Author:
Ajeyo Rohitashwo ~ Al Quazi
Member of the Advisory Council,
World HRD Congress