Last year, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced that her vision for the Bangladesh ready-made garment (RMG) sector was to reach $50bn in exports by 2021. It is an important and ambitious goal for a nation that has worked hard to develop a brighter economic future. With the RMG sector accounting for 81 per cent of Bangladesh’s overall exports, reaching such a milestone could help the nation substantially reduce poverty and strengthen economic outcomes for millions of people.
Transforming industries and economies requires dedication and commitment from numerous stakeholders, ranging from the government to the private sector. That’s why the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh—two coalitions of brands that source garments from Bangladesh—have undertaken an enormous and unprecedented effort to inspect every factory from which their members source, and to ensure that safety issues are thoroughly addressed. Read more
This month, the FT interviewed a senior executive at Uber in India about the US taxi-hailing company’s plans for rapid expansion in the country. But later that week, a 25 year-old woman said she had been raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi. The government banned the service from operating in the capital and asked state governments to ban all unregistered web-based taxi services.
Swept away by its bold ambitions, it seems Uber has fallen foul of local circumstances in its rush to recruit new drivers. The company declined to discuss this and related issues followed the alleged rape. But are Indian taxi services any more cautious in selecting their drivers? And assuming Uber gets past the rape case, can it go on to succeed in India? Read more
After a 23 year-old student was brutally raped in New Delhi in December 2012, women’s safety has been at the centre of public debate in India. A year on, the US-based Pew Research Centre conducted a survey and found that nine out of ten Indians feel rape is a “very big problem” in the country. Read more
India’s long-awaited plan to extend the option of a visa on arrival to more tourists was finally confirmed this week, following discussions between the relevant ministries.
By easing the paperwork for international visitors, India hopes to boost the tourism industry which has taken a hit over the past year as concerns over security have hurt India’s reputation. Read more
Those were the days
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve 2012, many private clubs and bars in India held a minute’s silence and others cancelled parties altogether, to mark the horrific gang rape of a 23 year-old student in the nation’s capital.
One year on, it seems women’s safety remains an issue. Much of India’s urban population is choosing to bring in the New Year at home this year. Read more
Poland has some of the worst roads and most dire traffic death statistics in the European Union – which is why a recent decision pressing Polish authorities to allow for the registration of right-hand-drive cars is causing consternation.
According to the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, Niilo Jaaskinen, advocate general of the European Court of Justice, said that Poland has been too restrictive in refusing to register cars from the UK and Ireland to drive on Polish roads. The European Commission filed a complaint against Poland over the issue in 2011. Read more
After being banned for eight years, dance bars are set to reopen in the state of Maharashtra, home to India’s commercial capital, Mumbai.
This week, the Supreme Court overturned a ban put into place by the Bombay Police (Amendment) Act 2005 that led to the closure of an estimated 1,500 establishments and the loss of over 75,000 jobs – but probably far more than that in reality. Read more
South Korea’s shutdown of two more atomic power plants because of safety concerns could hardly be worse news for the country’s nuclear energy industry, coming as Seoul struggles to increase nuclear exports to developing countries. Read more
By Qazi Arif of Envision Architects
Nearly two weeks have passed since the disaster at Rana Plaza in Savar, Dhaka, which is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, and the deadliest structural failure in modern times.
It is easy to simply say the building was poorly constructed. How and why is harder to understand, given the confusion and and buck-passing surrounding building permits and construction regulation. How can this be prevented in future? Read more
Last week’s tragedy at a nine-storey factory complex in Bangladesh has sparked a long-overdue debate on outsourcing to low-wage workers in precarious conditions and what action multinationals should take.
Coincidentally, it is in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster that the Walt Disney Company, the world’s largest licensor, has stopped production of goods under its brand name in Bangladesh. Read more
By Ifty Islam of Asian Tiger Capital Partners
The collapse of Rana Plaza, the eight-storey building housing garment factories in Savar, near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has seen more than 300 killed and over 1200 injured, with many hundreds still missing.
Coming only five months after 111 deaths in an earlier factory fire, the overwhelming sentiment in Bangladesh has gone from shock to moral outrage about the scant regard for human life among the factory owners. There have been violent protests across Dhaka by thousands of enraged garment factory workers. Read more
The Samsung saga involving a toxic chemical leak at its major chipmaking factory doesn’t seem to be over yet.
South Korea’s environment ministry said on Tuesday that it will investigate the incident to see if some hydrofluoric acid was leaked to the outside of the plant and whether Samsung’s safety facilities are well maintained to protect its workers from toxic chemicals. Read more
China has gained such fame for food safety crises that Chinese consumers are normally delighted to be told that what they are eating is imported rather than local.
But on Tuesday Ikea turned the tables by announcing that the Swedish meatballs in its mainland cafeterias are safe – precisely because they are Chinese. Read more
A toxic chemical leak at a Samsung plant in South Korea killed one worker and injured others, renewing concerns about safety at the technology giant.
Much like many of its manufacturing peers, the South Korean chaebol has already faced a series of accusations that it has failed to protect workers both at home in South Korea and abroad at its China factories. Read more