Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladeshi economist Mushfiq Mobarak argued that in developing countries, lockdown-based social distancing would not be feasible to mitigate its spread. This was because they would be unable to impose restrictions, undertake mass testing, or provide adequate safety nets to the poor. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to allow the reopening of work places (as early as April 28, 2020), especially in the export-oriented garment industry, and has done economically better than its South Asian counterparts. A crucial enabling factor for this pandemic-era economic growth has been the explosive boom in digital money. On the downside, free speech has been sharply curtailed, and women’s futures were further jeopardized when the garment industry was severely hit by order cancellations. But perhaps the most frightening development is the effect of climate breakdown and the mass movement of populations within Bangladesh as well as in and out of the country.
Bangladesh in 2020: Debating Social Distancing, Digital Money, and Climate Change Migration
Annu Jalais is an environmental anthropologist working on the human–animal interface, migration, and climate change, particularly in Bangladesh and India. She is the author of Forest of Tigers: People, Politics and Environment in the Sundarbans (Routledge, 2010) and the co-author of The Bengal Diaspora: Rethinking Muslim Migration (Routledge, 2015) and is Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. Email: <email@example.com>.
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Annu Jalais; Bangladesh in 2020: Debating Social Distancing, Digital Money, and Climate Change Migration. Asian Survey 1 February 2021; 61 (1): 194–201. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/as.2021.61.1.194
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