Bangladesh — the overcrowded, overpopulated flood-prone state that, founded in 1971, is barely older than the internet — is now one of the richest countries in South Asia. The region was rocked by this week’s data that Bangladesh’s GDP per capita will exceed India’s this year, despite India having a 25 percent lead just five years ago.
There is no doubt about what has tipped the balance: COVID-19. While India has struggled to bring the virus under control, Bangladesh’s data-led innovative public health approach and rapidly improving digital infrastructure has allowed the economy to continue growing. But will the world take note, and realize that there are newer (and more stable) South Asian partners beyond the traditional ones? Will the new “Global Britain” prioritize the Bengal Tiger for a trade deal? And will the U.S. president (whether that’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden, come January 2021) consider Bangladesh a priority in South Asia, or stick with familiar partners?