Discovery of Bangladesh Explorations into Dynamics of a Hidden Nation Akbar Ali Khan ISBN 984 70220 0028 8 1996 208p 215x136mm HB Tk.300.00 US$23.00
Bangladesh is the last major nation-state to proclaim its identity. Here is a nation that changed its statehood twice in less than twenty-five years. The twists and turns of her recent history baffle the historians. This study explores the historical roots of this apparently enigmatic nation. Methodologically, it breaks new ground in Bangladesh studies in two ways. First, it makes explicit the underlying theories in the historical framework to explain the historical evolution of this hidden nation. Secondly, it explores the micro foundations of social and political institutions in this region. Starting with an analysis of micro institutions at the grass-roots level, this study examines the determinants of the structure of rural settlements in Bangladesh and suggests that the lack of corporateness of rural settlements contributed to political fragmentation, instability and factionalism in this region. It puts forward the hypothesis that the weakness of institutions in rural areas of Bangladesh provided a congenial environment for conversion to Islam while rural institutions in much of South Asia arrested the spread of Islam.
Akbar Ali Khan was educated at Dhaka University and subsequently at Queen’s University, Canada, where he received his PhD in Economics. He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1967 and had varied experience. Dr. Khan later served in several senior government positions in independent Bangladesh and retired in 2001 as Cabinet Secretary, Government of Bangladesh. Between 2001 to 2004 he served an Alternative Executive Director at the World Bank in Washington. He has authored several monographs and articles on economic history, public policy, economics of water resources, and rural development. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan was Advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh in 2008.
Cover design: Ashraful Hassan Arif Cover picture: Main entrance of Sardar Bari, Sonargaon. The mansion was built by a rich Hindu merchant in the early twentieth century. It now houses the Bangladesh Folk Arts and Crafts Foundation museum.