ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics of Planning in Post-independent Bangladesh

Untranquil Days: Nation Building in Post-Liberation Bangladesh by Rehman Sobhan, New Delhi: Sage, 2021; pp 384, `444.


The very idea of a “Planning Commission” conjures images of a group of seasoned apparatchiks in a cold, damp, smoke-filled room contemplating where the economy would go in the next five years. In fact, state planning in a neo-liberal world was progressively becoming a relic, an antiquated institutional part of the government with little relevance, in one word—a shadow of its earlier incarnation. Although, a small revival has taken place as national governments are tasked to implement and report Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) achievements, etc, to the international organisations. But in the 1960s and 1970s, when socialism and the socialist model mattered—sometimes as a model for pursuing economic development or as a counterweight to the Western, capitalist model—most developing countries had robust planning commissions.

One might be excused for being sceptical that the memoirs of a planner can be interesting, but this is no ordinary planner. The author, Rehman Sobhan, distinguished himself as a “politician economist” (in his own words) in addition to being a political economist with a long association with the nationalist struggle in Bangladesh. He was a freedom fighter who dedicated a large part of his professional life for the cause of the liberation of Bangladesh, first as a firebrand public intellectual, pointing out the mechanisms of the exploitation of Bengalis by the Pakistani establishment and later as a policymaker in the new nation. And the book under review, Untranquil Days: Nation Building in Post-­Liberation Bangladesh, is much more than the memories of a technocratic planner.

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Updated On : 24th Apr, 2022
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