Virtual Bangladesh : Economy
East Bengal--the region that was to become East Pakistan and now Bangladesh -- was a prosperous region of South Asia until modern times. It had the advantages of a mild, almost tropical climate, fertile soil, ample water, and an abundance of fish, wildlife, and fruit. The standard of living compared favorably with other parts of South Asia. As early as the thirteenth century, the region was developing as an agrarian economy. It was not entirely without commercial centers, and Dhaka in particular grew into an important entrepôt during the Mughal Empire. The British, however, on their arrival in the early seventeenth century, chose to develop Calcutta as their commercial and administrative center in South Asia. The development of East Bengal was thereafter limited to agriculture. The colonial infrastructure of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reinforced East Bengal's function as the primary producer--chiefly of rice and jute--for processors and traders in Calcutta and beyond.
The partition of British India and the emergence of India and Pakistan in 1947 severely disrupted the former colonial economic system that had preserved East Bengal (now East Pakistan) as a producer of jute and rice for the urban industrial economy around Calcutta. East Pakistan had to build a new industrial base and modernize agriculture in the midst of a population explosion. Pakistan's five-year plans opted for a development strategy based on industrialization, but the major share of the development budget went to West Pakistan, that is, contemporary Pakistan. Blame was placed by various observers on the West Pakistani leaders who not only dominated the government but also most of the fledgling industries in East Pakistan. More information about the economic exploitation is available.
Post Independence Bangladesh had to face the devastation wrought by earlier economic exploitation during the Pakistan era as well as destruction of critical infrastructure during the war. After many years of economic problems, Bangladesh has started to rebound with steady growth in recent years.
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