A Brief History of Bangladesh Economic Association
Bangladesh Economic Association is the exclusive professional organization of economists of Bangladesh—the aim is to protect the public interests and to interact amongst economists and learn the art of teaching and research and improve their expertise in chosen area of their interest. Around five thousand BEA members spread all over the country and even abroad. It has long and chequered seventy-two years old history, as it was founded in 1950 by universities, colleges, banks professionals, and academicians to bring together teachers, professionals, and all others practicing and interested in Social Sciences. Its head office situated at Dhaka. National Professor Dr. Husain, Abul Fazal Atwar, Reader of the Economics Department and later Head of the Commerce Department of Dhaka University was the first president of the Pakistan Economic Association. its first conference held at Islamabad in 1950. Association started to publish its journal titled Pakistan Economics Journal (PEJ) in 1950. Authors of PEJ were well-known international and national economists and academics mainly from East Pakistan. PEJ was the first economics journal in Pakistan. The association held its annual conference until 1968.
The widespread inequalities between the East and West had increased substantially and that wealth was concentrated in the hands of twenty-two families fuelled resentment among Bengali Economists who accused the first military dictator of Pakistan Ayub Khan’s regime of reducing the East to an internal colony. East Pakistani members of the Pakistan Economics Association included Prof. Dr. Nurul Islam, Prof. Dr. Akhlaqur Rahman, Prof. Dr. Anisur Rahman, and Prof. Rehman Sobhan. Prof. Dr. Mazharul Huq was the elected President of the Pakistan Economic Association in 1968. The West Pakistan economists included Professor Matin of Peshawar University; Professor Rafiq Ahmad of Punjab University, Professor I. A. Mukhtar (IBA) Karachi University, Dr. Parvez Hasan, the Chief Economist of the West Pakistan Planning Department; Dr. Moeen Baqai of the State Bank of Pakistan and Dr. Mahbubul Haq, who had been elevated to the position of Chief Economist in 1968. The Bengali economists, with few exceptions, saw Mahbubul Haq to be the architect of the inequitable policies of the Ayub era. They blamed the Pakistan Planning Commission for its bias against East Pakistan in the allocative priorities for distributing public expenditure in all planning periods.
Professor Nurul Islam, the eminent Professor of Economics of the then Dacca University and member of PEA was on leave to serve as the first Pakistani Director of the Institute of Development Economics in Karachi. He collected a group of dedicated East Pakistani economists from PEA to serve as an informal ‘think tank’ and prepare an ‘economic manifesto’ for East Pakistan (and eventually for Bangladesh). A galaxy of East Pakistani economists, many of whom had frequently articulated East Pakistani economic grievances and were strong supporters of the charismatic leader of the Awami League Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s political agenda. Most of them were teachers at Dacca University, which had inherited a veritable reputation for its Economics Department before Independence.
The East Pakistani intellectuals, especially the economists of the Pakistan Economics Association, contributed the most in preparing a strong case for East Pakistan’s autonomy and in providing the 6-Point Plan. Since 1979, the activities of the Pakistan Economic Association have stagnated due to severe political turmoil. In independent Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) officially started its journey in 1974 with the guidance and support of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Economists of independent Bangladesh formally handover the charge of the presidency to Prof. Dr. Mazharul Huq who was the elected President of the Pakistan Economic Association in 1968. BEA First Conference was held at the Teachers Students Center (TSC) of Dhaka University in 1974. The President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Mohammad Mohammadullah inaugurated the conference on Sunday, 17 March 1974. In His inaugural speech, President Mohammad Mohammadullah asked economists to give problem-solving guidance in light of the overall situation. Since then Bangladesh Economic Association is devoted to theoretical and empirical research in Economics and Social Sciences in general and on Bangladesh-related economic issues in particular. In addition to providing a firm academic basis for economic policy-making. BEA activities also provide a window through which the outside world can view the nature and direction of economics in Bangladesh.
Over the past 72 years, BEA has earned a national and international reputation and recognition for its outstanding activities. Its Executive Committee consists of renowned economists of Bangladesh including the Nobel Loriet Prof. Dr. Muhmmad Yunus. To give a glance at its eminence, a few names may be quoted to just have a look as to how the BEA remained a center of academic excellence all along the passage of time. These few eminent persons are—Abul Fazal Atwar Husain, Prof. Dr. M. N. Huda, Prof. Dr. Nurul Islam, Prof. Dr. Mazharul Hoque, Prof. Dr. Akhlaqur Rahman, Prof. Dr. A. N. M. Mahmud, Prof. Dr. K. T. Hossain, Prof. Dr. Mosharraf Hossain, Prof. Dr. Anisur Rahman, Prof. Dr. Wahiduddin Mahmud, Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Almgir, Prof. Dr. Ashraf Uddin Chowdhury, Dr. Mohiuddin Alamgir, Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed, Prof. M. Shafiullah, Prof. Dr. M. Solaiman Mandal, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Prof. Dr. Taherul Islam, Dr. Abdul Ghafur Dr. Rizwanul Islam, Prof. Dr. S.R. Osmani, Prof. Rehman Sobhan Prof. Dr. Momtazuddin Ahmed, Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Ahmad, Prof. Dr. A. T. M. Nurul Amin, Dr. Atiur Rahman, Prof. Dr. Amirul Islam Chowdhury, Prof. Dr. Shamsuddin Ahmad, Dr. Selim Jahan, Dr. Debapriya Bhattachraya, A. K. M. Shameem, Dr. Sajjad Zahir, Prof. Dr. Muinul Islam, Prof. Dr. Abul Barkat, Prof. Dr. Toufic Ahmad Choudhury, Dr. Jamaluddin Ahmed FCA, Prof. Dr. Md. Aynul Islam etc. All these luminaries in the field of economics and social sciences made a mark in shaping and making economic policy of the nation of their time.