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Professor Nurul Islam

Position: 
Honorary Member
Bio: 

Professor Nurul Islam has fully earned his reputation as one of the world’s leading development scholars and practitioners. He received his B.A. and an M.A. in economics (ranked first in the first class) from Dhaka University, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. He held prestigious Fellowships at the London School of Economics, Cambridge, Oxford and the Netherlands School of Economics. He had taught in, and Chaired, the Department of Economics at Dhaka University. Among his twenty nine books are: Development Planning in Bangladesh: A Study in Political Economy, published by UPL in 1979 and reprinted in 1993; and Making of a Nation: Bangladesh — An Economist’s Tale, Dhaka, Bangladesh: UPL, 2003. He received the Bangladesh Bank Award (2009) for his original contributions to theoretical and applied development economics. Throughout his long and distinguished career as an economist, researcher, social scientist and public intellectual, Professor Islam has worked tirelessly to uphold the welfare and interest of the people of Bangladesh. Through his many books, articles and speeches, he has contributed to a corpus of knowledge that has improved our understanding of economic theory and planning, poverty, process of economic growth, and role of politics in developmental dynamics.

Professor Islam has remained active outside the world of academe. He has served as the Assistant Director General, Economic and Social Policy Department, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); as the Deputy Chairman/Minister, Bangladesh Planning Commission Ministry, Government of Bangladesh, 1972–75; as the Chairman of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and the Director of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. He served as a member and Chairman of the UN Committee of Development Planning Policy; Member, Executive Committee, International Economic Association (IEA), 1968–74; Treasurer, IEA, 1974–75; Member, UN Committee on Development Planning, 1974–77; Member, Executive Committee, Third World Forum, 1974–77. He also served on the editorial board of The World Economy (1977–80) and on the advisory committee of World Development (1977–97).

Professor Islam’s role as the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the newly established nation was critical and historic. Along with a distinguished cohort of fellow planners and economists, he led the group in planning to rebuild the nation after the massive and sustained destruction during the nine-month long liberation war in 1971. Even before the war, he played an instrumental role among a core group of economists who had advised Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to underscore the economic argument for an independent Bangladesh.