Professor Rehman Sobhan Recognized with the BDI Lifetime Achievement Award

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A Prof Rahaman

Professor Rehman Sobhan (accompanied by his wife Professor Rounaq Jahan) receiving the BDI Lifetime Achievement Award from Professor Munir Quddus, President, Bangladesh Development Initiative (BDI). February 23, 2013.


Dr. Munir Quddus, USA

In a impressive award banquet on the campus of University of California, Professor Rehman Sobhan was recognized with the Bangladesh Development Initiative’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for his lifelong work as a “scholar whose work has positively impacted the lives of the poor.”  The program was part of the International Conference on Bangladesh organized jointly on February 22-24, 2013 by the Bangladesh Development Initiative (BDI) a US based non-political research think tank and advocacy group of Bangladeshi professionals based in the United States.  The Center for South Asia Studies (CSAS), one of world's leading research organizations on South Asia studies, co-hosted the conference with BDI and provided important logistical support. 

Attended by more than 150 guests, the program featured a number of dignataries including Professor Pranab Bardhan, a renowed development economist who teaches at UC Berkeley, Mr. Dan Mozena, United States Ambassador to Bangladesh, Mr. Akramul Qader, Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Mahfuz Anam, Editor and Publisher of Daily Star, Professor David Lewis, author of a recent book on Bangladesh, and Advocate Rizwana Hasan, winner of the Magasaysay award in 2012.

Following the award, Professor Sobhan delivered his acceptance lecture on “The Injustice of Poverty” tracing the history of development efforts in Bangladesh over the last 50 years.   He spoke of his early work with colleagues that led to the “two economy theory” which provided the theoretical basis underpinning the political demands which eventually led to the struggle for justice and the creation of an independent Bangladesh.

 In his lecture, Professor Sobhan noted, “My presentation will focus on seven themes addressed by me in the course of my work over the last 55 years which has sought to challenge various forms of injustice at the national, regional and global level. Since injustice tends to originate in the inequities in the distribution of power and opportunities any move to correct them involves structural change which draws us into the realm of political economy. In each of the seven areas discussed by me I have been engaged in debates which have had major political ramifications which eventually influenced their outcome. I will therefore attempt to draw upon my exposure to these struggles for change and to share with you some lessons from the underlying political economy which has influenced their course.”

 In introducing Professor Sobhan, BDI President, Dean Munir Quddus, read messages from Professor Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate (Economics, 1998) and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate (Peace, 2006). In his congratulatory note, Professor Sen wrote, “It has been one of the great privileges of my life to know Rehman Sobhan well and benefit from his wisdom and insight as well as his warmth and affection.  We met first 60 years ago in Cambridge, and different episodes in his life as well as mine have been linked together through our friendship and the fact that we have remained in close touch throughout these six decades.  Rehman’s understanding of the process of development as well as ways and means of defending the functioning of a democratic system is altogether unparalleled, and I have been very fortunate to benefit from it.  And more.”

 Nobel Laureate Professor Yunus in his congratulatory message said, “I am very delighted to hear the news that the Bangladesh Development Initiative has chosen Professor Rehman Sobhan as the recipient of the ‘2012 BDI Lifetime Achievement Award’. The selection could not have been better. As his former student and a close follower of his for a long time I had the privilege of seeing him as an outstanding intellectual leader, as a political thinker, as a passionate debater, as a researcher, as a writer, as an organizer, as an institution builder, and as a fighter for social causes. I extend my heartiest congratulations to him for his long list of glorious achievements.”


Munir Quddus serves as the dean of the business school and professor of economics at Prairie View A&M University.  He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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