Professor Dr. M. Akhlaqur Rahman

Dr. M. Akhlaqur Rahman  ( Bengali : 6th December 1925 -  4th May 1992)
was an  internationally renowned , outstanding , as well as one of the most respected Economists in Bangladesh .He had a long experience in teaching and research and  was Ex- Chairman and Professor of Economics at Jahangir Nagar University, Savar. He was involved in the establishment of BIDS and earned international reputation for his academic contribution in the field of interregional economics, growth and development economics.

Dr. M. Akhlaqur Rahman                                                     
Born :      6th December 1925 Village Tegoria, Sunamganj, Sylhet.
Expired :  4th May 1992 ( aged 64 yrs.) Dhaka
Residence : Gulshan, Dhaka
Education : B.A Economics ( Aligarh )
M.A Economics ( Dhaka University)
M.A Economics  (  Manchester )
Ph.D  ( MIT )
Occupation : Economist, Planner and Thinker
Years Active : 1952 – 1990

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Professor Dr. M. Akhlaqur Rahman ,  a famous Educationist and Economist is recognized both in Bangladesh and abroad. He was awarded the “ Independence Award “ in 1990 by the Jalalabad Jubo Forum for Education from Sylhet. He received an award in completion of the 25 years of the Liberation of Bangladesh (1991 – 1996 ) from the Faculty of Social Science with deep respect and in “Memoriam” as a “ Beloved Teacher “ from the Economics Department. He also received the “Life Achievement Award” in Economics from the Bangladesh Economic Association from the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Personal Life :
Professor Rahman  was born on 6th December, 1925 in the village of Tegoria, Sunamganj subdivision , Sylhet. His father late, Daras Chowdhry was a teacher in the local school. Dr. Rahman started his basic  education here. Later, he went to Balaganj Upazilla  Mongolchandi  Nishikanta High School and Habiganj Government  High School. He graduated from Sylhet Madan Mohan College with merit. After this he went to Aligarh in 1944, He completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1947 from Aligarh Muslim University. As a lover of Music and Art he spent some time at Shanti Niketon personally under the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore who praised him profoundly. It was there, that Dr. Rahman discovered his true forte “ Economics “.
Dr. Rahman did his M.A in Economics from the Dhaka University in 1950 and again completed his M.A in 1954 from Manchester Victoria University. He did his Ph.d from MIT Cambridge in Economics in 1962 from the United States of America.
Internationally renowned both abroad and Bangladesh as an Economist, was the Chairman of Economics Department, Jahangir Nagar University , Savar. He was attached to the University till he passed away in 1992. Besides teaching, he was also an internationally credited economic researcher both home and intensely did progressive research for a long time for which he was connected with national and international organizations.

Positions :
1950 -1952 :  Lecturer in Economics ,  Dhaka University
1953 – 1954 :  Research Assistant, Manchester University, U.K
1955 – 1958 : Reader in Economics, Peshawar University , Pakistan
1957 – 1960 : Member, Board of Editor, Pakistan Economic Journal
1958 – 1963 :Senior Economist, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Karachi.
Member Pakistan Agriculture Censor Board Committee.
1963 - 1967 :  Director Planning and Research, IWTA , Dhaka. Senior Economist at Pakistan Institute Development Economics. Chief Economist and Honorary Planning Advisor,  Government of Erstwhile East Pakistan.  Vice President Pakistan Economic Association. Editor Pakistan Economic Journal. Member Power Rite Commission, East Pakistan.
1966 – 1967 : Member Pakistan Malaria Eradication Commission.
1968   : ( Short time ) Director Consultant WHO, for Evaluation of Malaria Eradication Programme in Syria. Chief Economist Advisor for East Pakistan and member Power Rite Commission.
1969 – 70 :   Member Panel of Economists fro Fourth – Five Year Plan.
1970 – 71 :  Member Taxation Commission, Pakistan.
1967 – 1972 : Chief Economist Advisor, United Bank Limited, Karachi, Pakistan.
1973              : On, an Independent Consultant.
Political Life :
Dr. M. Akhlaqur  Rahman held a prominent position in the political arena at the then East Pakistan. He started his political life at Sylhet  Madan Mohan  College. His political activities were prominently highlighted while at the University of Dhaka . He contributed greatly at the student politics. He also held a extremely distinct and praiseworthy role during the 1952 Language Movement. He attended the Bharat Muslim League Honour Award from Sylhet in 1946. His contribution during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in respect of ideological and philosophical aspect is noteworthy.

"Dr. M. Akhlaqur Rahman" My Unforgetable Father - An Enigma
(A Tribute from a daughter)
                                                     
My father Mohammed Akhlaqur Rahman was born at Sylhet, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on 6, of December 1927. His father was late Mohamed Daras choudhury. He was a businessman in those times. He had landed property as well as business in brass, real estate, clothing etc. He had the largest warehouse in Bhodorail in Tegoria, Sylhet District. My grandfather was also a teacher in one local school's known as the Pathshala. My father attended this school in his childhood. My grandmother was Zubaida Khatoon who came from an old aristocratic Zamidar family. She was beautiful and wise. She was well read for those times. She was a great influence on my father, the eldest of seven children.

When he was barely three, he went to school. So it seems he was a child prodigy. He continued his schooling from Balaganj Upazilla's Mongol Chandi Nishikanta High School and Habiganj Government High School. He left for Muslim Aligarh University in India. He passed his B.A. in 1947 from this University. The come hither aura of Arts, Literature, Music and Shantiniketan was a great influence on my father. So, he went there for a while. There he met the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore. Both spent sometime together and exchanged views. Tagore praised him for his endeavours and put him on his right track to pursue his forte ------- Economics. His insatiable curiosity made him quite knowledgeable about literature.

He did his M.A. in Economics from the University of Dhaka in 1949-50 from 1950-52. He was a lecturer in Economics, Dhaka University. He left for Manchester in United Kingdom in 1953 and did his M.A. again in 1954 from the Victoria University in Economics. He was a Research Assistant, a Junior Lecturer, in Manchester University in United Kingdom in 1953-54. From 1955-58, he was a Reader in Economics, Peshwar University, Pakistan.

My father was a teacher, so apparently hard from the exterior and so soft-hearted from inside. Though he led a comfortable life, he was a socialist at heart. He believed that the poor were the core round which resolved the shaping of the political philosophy. It was the poor who mattered the most. They were important. Here, I would like to relate an instance — Once he brought a very ill beggar from the roadside to a doctor in College Gate, Mohammadpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He asked the doctor to administer whatever help the man needed, and paid his bill. Dr. Yasmeen Mohiuddin, a Professor of Economics came to visit us from Nashville University, Tenessee. She is a student of my father's and a family friend. While she was being driven to her hotel by my father. On the way, a beggar woman had come forward asking for alms. Just at this point, she was speaking aloud her thoughts of buying a French Chiffon saree. She had said that my father had instantly shouted --- "How can you talk of French Chiffon in a country where so many people are poor" ? She told me about this personal experience after his Qulkhani which she had incidently attended. Dr. Mohiuddin also told me that this is where my father probably gave her the poverty focus in research which she had seeked when she was here from the U.S. in 1971. This was great influence on her. This concern for the poor showed those sparks of socialistic beliefs in him.

My father's kindness, generosity and perseverance can be seen during the 1971 crisis, where he fought for a worthy cause. At that time he was the Chief Economist Adviser in the United Bank of Pakistan, Karachi under Agha Hassan Abedi. His untiring efforts are of praise where he raised funds for the stranded Bengalees in West Pakistan. Does this not put a light on his kind nature towards the poor and the unknown ? He was always rushing to help people who really needed it. This is a virtue unheard of today where everyone expects something back. It also shows that he was not at all status conscious and that he fitted in with all types of people.

I am recalling another incidence my father used to mention often about the Bania Chong Malaria Epidemic, in Sylhet. It happened when he was in class VIII or IX. It was during the British Regime and he was there from Sylhet. The affected people were near naked and hanging from roof tops and branches of trees, half conscious. The horror of the epidemic was such that people drank their own urine. My father with the other volunteers sang A song saying: (translated)

We will live We will live and build a Golden Bengal

" Bachbo, Bachbo, Re Mora Shonar Bangla Gorbo Noya Bangla Gorbo" (Radha Romon Dutta Purpkaisthya, Popularly Known as Radha Romon From Jagannathpur Upazila under Shunamganj District Sylhet)

My father and the other volunteers sent S.O.S. to all the missions in the world. There was an instant reply. People from all over the world helped those who were in the epidemic. While on the job, he himself fell prey to

Malaria. He was in deep coma and was hospitalised in Shillong, in Assam. He regained consciousness after a month's time. Everyone wanted to help this brave boy who had helped people with so much fervour. After taking Quinine for nearly six months, he was eventually cured. This is probably the reason why he successfully carried out the Evaluation of the Malarial Eradiction Programme for three months in Syria, Damascus. He was then the Director Consultant WHO, 1968.

My father believed that the purpose of this life and living is to understand and explain all things that describe it. Marxism offered him the explanation of those things. Since his beliefs were his own, it did not matter to him what others thought or if they ever agreed with him. Being a teacher, he tried to convey his message through his political conviction. He believed in idealistic philosophy and wanted to practice it. He had made a name already for himself in East Bengal as a militant of the all Bengal Student's Federation. His political ambition was life long, and those who knew him, knew this very well. He suffered mentally because his hopes and aspirations in politics did not materialise. It was rather shocking for him that he was not offered the post of a Professor in the Department of Economics, Dhaka University. He was perturbed. It may have been due to his high personality and ego and some jealousy maybe ? Jahangir Nagar University was elated that Dhaka University did not offer for him. What was their loss was a tremendous gain for them. They offered and he accepted. He nearly twice won the Vice - Chancellorship in Jahangir Nagar University. He had won all the votes for the post of the Vice - Chancellor. Since he did not see eye to eye with the Government, and then President, there was a two weeks delay in phoning him. As he did not telephone, he was not offered the post even though he rightfully deserved it.

My father's student life was deeply rooted in politics. He took an active role in the 1946-47 Sylhet, Referendum. He actively campaigned in it. He became President of the reorganized East Bengal unit of the students' Federation, soon after 1947. Following the movement he suffered political harassment from the Pakistan Government which barred him from going abroad for higher studies, in United Kingdom. By then the police had a disreputable dossier on him. According to my father, he was opposed by Nurul Amin the then Prime Minister of East Bengal.

My father often spoke to us about the Language Movement of 1952. He played his role there too. The facts he related to me helped me very much in my subsidiary paper, Political Science. My father had said " The role of literature in building up of a nation – in particular and of a civilization in general is unique and universal. Nobody could contribute effectively to literature without the help of the mother tongue. Most important is the fact that mother tongue is the only vehicle for developing creative literature by any people".

"Mother tongue is the most important vehicle for rousing and motilising the creative productive, capacity of masses. To participate, the people must understand, to understand, they must receive ideas through their own mother tongue. National literature cannot be created in a language other than the mother tongue. People's state cannot be created by depriving the people of their oven mother tongue. The surest way of suppressing a nation is to supress is mother tongue. This has always been the classical weapon of imperialism and it has always failed in the long run". He had given five points on this saying : a) Making Bengali the effective State Language of Bangladesh", b) Making Bengali the effective medium of instruction at all levels as quickly as possible", c) By making Bengali a fit language for the advancement of Scientific knowledge", d) By raising Bengali Literature to the level of any advanced literature in the world", e) By making the vehicle for the creation of a classless society in Bangladesh". Human memory is short but it should not be so short to forget Dr. Akhlaqur Rahman as a brilliant student leader, a leading progressive Economist, Educationist, Researcher and Planner. He left a big abyss which cannot be fulfilled in the intellectual arena.

His insatiable curiosity about everything took him to delve into the spiritual world as well. He became a spiritual healer. He had helped many a people. Maybe not many people know about it and possibly he did not want to show it also. Now he has passed on to the spiritual world with all his hopes and dreams and aspirations.

The government of the day cannot be forgiven for his long imprisonment on suspicious charge of complicity in a case against Colonel Taher. This left my father very upset and broken in body, but definitely not undaunted in spirit. My father was a great patriot and in this respect Bangladesh is a loser. He did not rightfully get his well deserved niche in his lifetime. This made him very sad and frustrated indeed. Gradually this brought his illness and

then, his demise. His death is everyones' loss and mine particularly. His colourful and jovial personality which endeared him to us all will forever have a hold in our hearts. Though people have a tendency to forget, his bottomless contribution to the society and the country should not be forgotten. His progressive movement was for a sect of poor working class society for whom I hope he'll forever remain a progressive, shining example. Isn't it a grave injustice for a man who gave so much ? He has never asked for anything in his whole lifetime if I haven't a very short memory. He knew only to give and did so till his last breath. He has given a scholarship in his name — "Dr. Akhlaqur Rahman Scholarship " for the Economics Department of Jahangir Nagar University for meritorious students. He had also opened a trust fund in Sylhet under his mother's name — "Zubaida Khatoon Trust Fund" for the gifted students there.

I fervently hope that God will certainly bestow all his kindness on such a soul who was misunderstood so much in his lifetime. I say, think about it for a while and ponder on it. I am sure you will agree with me. My father often used to recite a verse from the great poet Mirza Ghalib:

̏ Nahi gale naghma ho nahi parda – e – saj Main hou apin shaksat ki awaz ̋ (Urdu)

"

Ami shurer protiddhoni Noi geeter asto shat, Ami shljdhui, shobdo, Nijer bhenga jabar". (Bangla)

How very true, this is of Dr. Akhlaqur Rahman, who was a unique person, in reality and unforgetable person and will remain so. He is that lone star in the vast expanse of our universe which will forever shine and twinkle and nothing will ever diminish its sparkle. He is irreplaceable, but maybe there is or will be someone who will carry on with his ideas and views. I hope there is a rebirth of such a person who will finish what my father had undertaken. This is my prayer. The nation and the world will surely benefit from it.

Written by: Tahmina Rahman
26th April, 1993

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