|Turbulence and Tranquillity
ISBN 984 05 1751 1 2006 232pp 215x136mm HB Tk.500.00 US$27.00
The book is an autobiographical account of the author’s journey through life beginning with the pre-partition years of India. The author’s ambivalence about what really happened at that time and why, is reflected in the book along with stories of his youthful days in Bengal and of the school years in the social and political context of the country. The communal divide of India, the political negotiations and the terrible conflicts at the time of the independence of India and Pakistan are briefly captured. Coming to East Pakistan was not without a silver lining. The short lived enthusiasm for Pakistan gave way to discontent and apathy due to neglect of East Pakistan by Pakistan’s rulers. A new nationalism in East Pakistan soon emerged based more on Bengali ethnicity, language and culture. It was the beginning of a fairly long search for identity of the people of East Pakistan and a struggle to assert their rightful place in Pakistan.
Drawn on a broad canvas are his experiences as a student activist, a participant in many of the cultural and political movements of the time and later as a socially conscious civil servant. He also covers the brief period of his assignment in the Pakistan Embassy in Belgium in 1970-71 and refers to the Bangladesh independence struggle following the events of March 25, 1971.
Reflecting on the issues and events of the time, the author gives accounts of his meetings and conversations with some national leaders, which throw interesting light on their political perceptions, character and personalities. In other cases, he narrates personal experiences, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. The author’s work in Africa and Europe as a staff member of the World Bank also features.
The author’s contemporaries will relate to many events narrated by the author from their own experiences. For the later generations, the book provides rich and varied material to trigger their interest in further reading and research, which would lead to a better understanding of the history and politics of the Indian sub-continent from the forties to the mid-seventies.
Azizul Jalil, born in Calcutta and brought up in that city in the thirties and forties, studied at the Dhaka and London Universities in the fifties. He joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1958 and served in various positions. During this period, he studied at the Oxford University in England and at the Williams College in USA. After a brief period as an Economic Counselor at the Pakistan Embassy in Brussels, he joined the World Bank in Washington in 1971, where he worked till 1990. He served as the World Bank Resident Representative in Zambia in 1977-80. After his retirement, he continues to live in Washington, regularly visiting Bangladesh and other countries and places of interest. He contributes articles to Dhaka newspapers and magazines.