Nepal, Bangladesh graduate from LDCs
By 2026, Bangladesh, Nepal and Laos will graduate from being least developed countries (LDCs) to developing countries. Graduating from LDC is an outcome of an elaborate process involving stakeholders within the United Nations (UN) and respective national governments, and is based on an assessment of a country’s income levels, human assets index, and economic and environmental vulnerabilities. Having LDC status has advantages in terms of development aid. But countries aspire to move to the next stage of the development hierarchy, and signal to the world that they have robust political and economic institutions.
In that backdrop, the UN General Assembly’s resolution last week charting out the progress of the three countries is good news. Usually, the UN system gives a three-year transition period so that countries can adjust their development plans before moving on from LDC status. But given the devastation unleashed by the pandemic, Bangladesh, Nepal and Laos will have a five-year transition period.
Bangladesh’s development story, where it has focused on social development indicators and harnessed the power of civil society, is remarkable. Nepal, despite staggering instability (it has seen a civil war, three Constitutions, and over two dozen governments in 20 years), has benefited from foreign aid and domestic political demand for better developmental outcomes. To be sure, both countries have a long way to go. But this is where India can step in. New Delhi is seen as an active political player in Dhaka and Kathmandu — but its developmental role is often ignored. India can make a difference, and build goodwill in the neighbourhood if it continues to help both countries meet their nationally determined development objectives.