Thursday, 29 September, 2022

The departure of a changemaker

Akbar Ali laid to eternal rest

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 10 September, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

People from all walks of life on Friday bade farewell to former caretaker government adviser and eminent economist Dr Akbar Ali Khan who passed away on Thursday night.

The uncompromising changemaker has left a rich legacy as one of the most distinguished faces in public service. His write-ups on different issues ranging from economy to literature enlightened readers and his bold statements guided the nation at the time of crisis.

Akbar Ali, also a teacher and researcher, breathed his last on Thursday night after a prolonged illness. He was 78.

He fell ill at his residence around 10:00pm and died on the way to hospital.

Akbar Ali was laid to eternal rest at Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard in the capital at 3:30pm on Friday following his namaz-e-janaza at Gulshan’s Azad Mosque after Jumma prayers.

The valiant freedom fighter was given a guard of honour after the janaza.

Planning Minister MA Mannan, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, Gonoshasthaya Kendra Trustee Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury and former Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Badiur Rahman, among others, attended his funeral.

Earlier in the day, the body of the noted personality was kept at his Gulshan residence where people from different strata along with his relatives, near and dear ones and eminent citizens paid their last respects to him.

Former secretary Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, former Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Ghulam Rahman and banker and analyst Mamun Rashid went to his residence to pay homage to Akbar Ali.

Akbar Ali was born in 1944 at Brahmanbaria’s Nabinagar. He studied history at Dhaka University and secured first place in first class in both BA and MA examinations.

Later, he went to Canada where he studied economics at Queen’s University and obtained MA and PhD in economics.

Akbar Ali joined the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) in 1967 but did not hesitate to respond to the call of his country when the time came.

He was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment in absentia by a military court of the occupation forces as he joined the Mujibnagar government as deputy secretary at the Ministry of Defence during the Liberation War.

Akbar Ali taught development economics and development administration for three years at the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre.

After his retirement from government job, he taught postgraduate courses in governance and development studies at Brac University.

He held various important positions in various ministries. He worked at the Ministry of Finance for more than 16 years at levels of joint secretary and above. He was chairman of the NBR and secretary of the Internal Resources Division for nearly three years.

Akbar Ali served as finance secretary for more than five and half years covering three consecutive governments. He was appointed cabinet secretary in 2001 and retired from the post in 2002.

He was made an adviser in charge of finance, planning, commerce, posts, telegraph and telephones ministries in the caretaker government in 2006 but he resigned protesting the failure of the chief adviser in ensuring a free, fair and impartial election.

Akbar Ali also served as the first chairman of the Regulatory Reforms Commission during 2007-2009. He was the chairman of Social Development Foundation for two years.

He wrote columns in newspapers and published 14 books and several articles on economics, history, public administration, literature and water resources in various national and international journals.

His first book ‘Some Aspects of Peasant Behavior in Bengal’ was hailed by The Journal of Economic History (USA) as “a significant contribution to the growing body of new economic history in South Asia”.

Akbar Ali’s book ‘Discovery of Bangladesh’ was rated by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh as the best publication in humanities for 1996-98 period and was awarded the Justice Md Ibrahim Gold Medal.

His book ‘Parathaparatar Arthaniti’ was highly commended for its wit and originality by ‘Desh’, the most widely circulated literary magazine of Kolkata.

Akbar Ali’s publications include ‘Abak Bangladesh Bichitra Chhalanajale Rajneeti’ (2017), ‘Gresham's Law Syndrome and Beyond’ (2015), ‘Ajab and Jabor Ajab Arthaniti’ (2013), ‘Andhakarer Utsa Hote’ (2011) and ‘Friendly Fires, Humpty Dumpty Disorder and other Essays’ (2010).

His last book was his autobiography titled ‘Purono Sei Diner Kotha’ which sheds light on his life with diverse experiences and accomplishments.

Akbar Ali was a member of the American Economic Association and a life member of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. He was awarded Maulana Akram Khan Gold Medal for distinguished public service and the Mercantile Bank Gold Medal for economic research.

He was elected fellow of Bangla Academy in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the economics and history of Bangladesh.