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Tensions and Negotiations in Neoliberalism: Emergence of Garment Kormi as the Model Citizens

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Abstract

Bangladesh has enjoyed consistent growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the last 30 years, and recently the World Economic Forum (WEF) has projected Bangladesh as the new ‘Asian Tiger.’ Bangladesh is also termed South Asia’s ‘Standout Star’ and the new ‘Royal Bengal Tiger of Asia.’ Beyond these glowing depictions of growth and bright futures, in Bangladesh, the perceptions and politics of jobs in the garment industry and other low-paid works are much more mixed. Crucially, these millions of jobs are commonly presented in the media as propelling the country toward eradicating poverty, economic inclusion, freeing women from patriarchy, and contributing to socio-economic development at large. This chapter thus reflects the tensions and negotiations in neoliberalism that accompanied the garment kormi’s becoming the model citizen in the country.

Keywords

  • Bangladesh
  • Garment kormi
  • Garment worker
  • Government policy
  • Socio-economic development
  • Model citizen
  • Negotiations
  • Neoliberalism
  • Ready-made garment industry

My golden Bengal, I love you (Amar sonar Bangla, ami tomai bhalobasi)

—National Anthem of Bangladesh, Rabindranath Tagore, 1906

Bangabandhu desired to transform the country into a prosperous ‘Sonar Bangla’ (Golden Bengal) where women would participate side by side with men to build the nation.

Prime Minister of Bangladesh at the Global Women Leaders’ Forum, 2016 (Prime Minister of Bangladesh—Sheikh Hasina addressed during the official opening of the Global Women Leaders’ Forum, 2016 in Sofia, Bulgaria [see Hasina, 2016a])

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Bangladesh as part of greater Bengal (Bangladesh, West Bengal, Tripura, Jharkhand, and parts of Southern Assam and East and Central Bihar, as well as Bengali speaking parts of Myanmar [see van Schendel, 2004]) was one of the prosperous regions on the Indian subcontinent, drawing traders, pirates, travelers, and immigrants. It lost its prominence through invasions and colonialism throughout history (Kabeer, 2000, p. 56).

  2. 2.

    Grameen Bank has introduced the idea of microcredit, with a vision to reverse conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral (as Grameen Bank proposes on their website) (see Grameen Bank, 2021). Grameen Bank and its founder, Professor Dr. Muhammad Yunus, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

  3. 3.

    BRAC is one of the pioneering NGOs in Bangladesh. BRAC is the #1 non-governmental development organization in the world, measured by innovation, impact and governance [and the number of employees and the number of people it has helped] (see BRAC, n.d.).

  4. 4.

    Some parts of the following sections were previously published in Hasan (2020).

  5. 5.

    The BGMEA has recently introduced the version 2.0 of their website. In the current version, there are less photos and some of the statements are different than quoted in this chapter.

  6. 6.

    Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) is a women’s human rights organization. The organization has been in Bangladesh on a voluntary basis for more than three decades and pioneered the women’s movement with the slogan ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’ (see BMP, n.d.-a).

  7. 7.

    See, for instance, UNICEF, 2010; MoWCA, n.d.; BAL, 2013.

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Correspondence to Mohammad Tareq Hasan .

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Hasan, M.T. (2022). Tensions and Negotiations in Neoliberalism: Emergence of Garment Kormi as the Model Citizens. In: Everyday Life of Ready-made Garment Kormi in Bangladesh. Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99902-5_3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99902-5_3

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

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