NYU Alum in Bangladesh Reflects on Political Violence and Its Effect on Business

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March 20, 2015

Tabinda Murshed is a 2014 graduate of NYU originally from Bangladesh. I met her at the Dhaka Apparel Summit in December 2014. She recently had returned to Bangladesh to join her family’s business in the garment sector. We’ve been emailing and she sent this reflection on the effect of the ongoing political violence on business in Bangladesh.

IN PURGATORY – between resolution and dissolution

Bangladesh has been in a political war for the past 6 months. Continuous blockades (hartal) are crippling the nation. Recently, the political field has been eerily calm. None of us seem to have a grip on the political pulse; we’re all trying to figure out whether things are improving or if it is the calm before a storm. But my city Dhaka, seems to have stopped caring; its back to its semi-functional chaotic self. We don’t hear much of it, but apparently the situation outside Dhaka is dire; transportation has been cut almost completely leaving the outsiders immobile and unable to sell their goods in the city.

In Dhaka, our businesses are collapsing. We’ve lost nearly 15% export in the RMG sector, which from a producer’s point of view is losing out on three quarters of our cutting and making portion of total export. We’re all worried; our factories are struggling to pay their workers. Many face vandalism, which has already cost the industry around $500 million. Our transport cost is five times the regular price and productivity has reached new lows due to absentee workers. Some fear for safety, some fail to come into the city from the outskirts, others take up paid rioting as a day job. You can’t really blame them for it- they have families to feed. They know when and if salary is paid, they’ll get their share. But rioting is sure pay for the day.

Honestly, at this point we have stopped caring about those with power. What would be the point? Who do we blame for the current state of our country? Do we blame the opposition for causing this chaos or the government for its failure to protect us and come to a resolution? Now, we just want a solution, a moderately safe space to carry on our lives and livelihood.

Tabinda Murshed


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