Bangladesh a better place to live than India, survey says
Low-lying Bangladesh is prey to typhoons and hurricanes every year. Salty ocean water routinely destroys the flat country's arable farmland.
Many of the millions of garment-factory workers take their lives into their hands when they show up for work at derelict factories, 95 per cent of which are estimated to need structural repairs.
Political strikes paralyze businesses in the capital of Dhaka.
And yet there is some evidence that bedevilled Bangladesh is still a better place to live than India, the big brother next door that has been heralded as a 21st-century superpower.
According to a new study called the Legatum Prosperity Index, Bangladesh fares better than India when it comes to the "joy of everyday life," and "the prospect of being able to build an even better life in the future."
Call it a bit of good news for a country still reeling from bad publicity after the Rana Plaza collapse in April, which killed more than 1,100 people.
The study, released by the U.K.-based Legatum Institute and reported by journalist Heather Timmons on the website Quartz, ranks Bangladesh 103rd out of 142 countries. India is ranked 106th and falling.
In Bangladesh, people “not only live 3.4 years longer than their Indian counterparts, but fewer are undernourished, a lower number die in infancy and more have access to sanitation."
In the eight categories used to measure prosperity, India is ahead of Bangladesh in health, safety and security, and personal freedom. In other categories, such as education and governance, Bangladesh is ahead. (Bangladesh also fared better than Cambodia and Pakistan in the study.)
Norway ranks No. 1, a position it has locked down since 2009, followed by Switzerland and Canada.
Canada had the survey's top score for personal freedom and was third in education, behind New Zealand and Australia. Canada's lowest score was for entrepreneurship and opportunity, where it came in 16th.
Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead