Akbar Ali Khan can be source of inspiration for bureaucrats

Akbar Ali Khan (1944-2022)
Zahidul Karim

The way Akbar Ali Khan devoted himself to writing and speaking for the sake of the country and its people, is unprecedented. His work ethic could work as an example for the officials of administration and his life can be inspiration for many.

Former colleagues and dignitaries thus remembered the life of writer, economist and former adviser to a caretaker government at a webinar titled ‘Akbar Ali Khan: His contribution to Bangladesh state and society’ on Monday.

Former adviser to a caretaker government Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, former cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, former finance secretary Mohammad Tareque, former Economic Relations Department (ERD) secretary Aminul Islam Bhuiyan and Center for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya spoke at the webinar conducted by South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance’s adviser Salahuddin M Aminuzzaman.

Debapriya Bhattacharya said Akbar Ali Khan was a bureaucrat, writer and freedom fighter. He did not fade away after retirement, but raised his voice on contemporary issues.

He asked the bureaucrats to be inspired by Akbar Ali Khan so that they do not sink into oblivion post retirement.

Debapriya Bhattacharya remembered Akbar Ali Khan’s role at the juncture of the country’s democracy while he resigned from the post of caretaker government’s adviser.

Four advisers including Akbar Ali Khan resigned in December 2006.

The pathway to return to democracy might have been different had they not resigned at that time, he added.

Saying that role of Akbar Ali Khan did not get recognition, Debapriya Bhattacharya said the current reigning political party has become most benefited from the resignation of the advisers.

Also, no state level condolence was delivered after the death of Akbar Ali Khan which was unfortunate.

Addressing the event, Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury said Akbar Ali Khan mostly passed his student life in the dormitory and the university’s library and his room were full of books. He also excelled in his professional life.

Akbar Ali Khan also held the position of chairman of National Revenue Board, finance secretary, and top official of administration cabinet secretary. He did not hold these positions during the rule of a single political party rather he did his duty during several governments, Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury added.

Akbar Ali Khan became more popular because of his writing after retirement, Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury said adding that it is the character of bureaucrats to change colour to work with all governments but Akbar Ali Khan did not change his colours.

Aminul Islam Bhuiyan there is no area where Akbar Ali Khan did not work and if anyone remembers him after 100 years they will do it because of his books. Whether he worked at the World Bank or finance ministry, nobody will remember that much, he will be remembered for his books, Aminul Islam Bhuiyan added.

Mohammad Tareque said Akbar Ali Khan will live for 100 years because of his book Democracy in Bangladesh and people will remember this book forever.

Recalling their memories from their professional life, former additional secretary Aftab Uddin Ahmed said, “Many high officials got angry at us, but Akbar Ali Khan never shouted at us. If anything needed a correction, he himself did it. He is our symbol of inspiration.”

Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said many think bureaucrats need not be pundits and need no study, but Akbar Ali Khan proved this is not right and he is their ideal.