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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Rehman Sobhan

Rehman Sobhan

Born     1935
Nationality     Bangladeshi
Alma mater     Aitchison College
Cambridge University
London School of Economics
University of Dhaka
Occupation     Economist
Spouse(s)     Salma Sobhan (−2003; widower)
Rownaq Jahan (-present)
Parents     Khondker Fazle Sobhan
Awards     Independence Day Award (2008)

Rehman Sobhan (born 1935, Bengali: রেহমান সোবহান) is a Bangladeshi economist and freedom fighter. He played an active role in the Bengali nationalist movement in the 1960s. He was also a member of the first Planning Commission in Bangladesh and a close associate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Presently, Rehman Sobhan heads the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a non-governmental research organization in developing countries.

Education and career

Sobhan attended St. Paul's School, Darjeeling in India and then later the Aitchison College in Lahore, Pakistan where he later became a School Prefect and winner of Churchill Medal for the best performance in HSC that year and then he went on to Cambridge University to earn his bachelor's degree. Subsequently, he attended London School of Economics for a doctoral degree in economics but returned without completing the degree. His cohorts at Cambridge included prominent economists of the Indian subcontinent such as Amartya Sen, Manmohan Singh and Mahbub ul Haq. He taught Economics at the University of Dhaka. After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, Rehman Sobhan was appointed a member of the Planning Commission. He quit when he, along with others, fell from the grace of Sheikh Mujib in 1975. Later he worked as the Director General of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies. After retirement from BIDS, he set up Centre for Policy Dialogue in 1993, a high-profile private sector think-tank, where he works as its Executive Chairman .

Pre-independence contributions

In the 1960s, Sobhan, with a number of other nationalist economists under the intellectual leadership of Nurul Islam, contributed to the drafting of six-points programme that became the basis for the struggle for autonomy in the then East Pakistan. The writings of this group of economists on regional disparity between West Pakistan (Pakistan since 1971) and East Pakistan (Bangladesh since 1971) played an important role in fomenting nationalist aspirations of the people of Bangladesh. During the liberation war from 26 March to 16 December 1971), he was a roving ambassador for Bangladesh and lobbied in the United States.

Post-independence activities

After the independence of Bangladesh he was appointed a member of the Planning Commission in 1972. He left the country after he was asked to quit. Upon his return to Bangladesh in 1982, he joined Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and later he founded the Centre for Policy Dialogue. Currently he is the chairman of CPD, which is active in open public discussions of policy issues, particularly in the area of governance. He has authored numerous books and articles on various developmental issues. many of which appeared in leading national media. He was appointed an advisor of the Caretaker Government in Bangladesh in 1990–91.


Sobhan was first married to Salma Sobhan, a Barrister and a human rights activist. She died in 2003. He is currently married to Dr. Rownaq Jahan, a political scientist, who is a Distinguished Fellow at CPD. Sobhan's father Khondker Fazle Sobhan served as Pakistan's ambassador to Kenya. Rehman Sobhan's younger brother, Farooq Sobhan, is a former diplomat and the current President of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, a private-sector think tank of the country.


Rehman Sobhan was awarded the Independence Day Award in 2008.
Selected bibliography


  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1968). Basic democracies works programme and rural development in East Pakistan. Dacca, Bangladesh: Bureau of Economic Research, University of Dacca; distributed by Oxford University Press. OCLC 652243660.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman; Ahmed, Muzaffar (1980). Public enterprise in an intermediate regime: a study in the political economy of Bangladesh. Bangladesh: Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies. OCLC 773118575.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1982). The crisis of external dependence: the political economy of foreign aid to Bangladesh. London, U.K. Bangladesh: Zed Press University Press. ISBN 9780862321970.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1983). Public enterprise and the nature of the state: the case of South Asia. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Social Studies. OCLC 11134168.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1983). Rural poverty and agrarian reform in the Philippines. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. OCLC 20375354.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1990). From aid dependence to self reliance: development options for Bangladesh. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, University Press. OCLC 614997139.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1991). Debt default to the development finance institutions: the crisis of state sponsored entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University Press. ISBN 9789840511556.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1991). Public allocative strategies, rural development, and poverty alleviation: a global perspective. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University Press. ISBN 9789840511587.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1992). Planning and public action for Asian women. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University Press. ISBN 9789840511983.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1993). Rethinking the role of the state in development: Asian perspectives. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University Press. ISBN 9789840512096.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1993). Bangladesh: problems of governance (governing South Asia). Delhi, India: Konark Publishers. ISBN 9788122003024.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1993). Agrarian reform and social transformation: preconditions for development. London Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Zed Books. ISBN 9781856491693.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman; et al (1995). Experiences with economic reform: a review of Bangladesh's development, 1995. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840513086.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1996). Aid dependence and donor policy: the case of Tanzania, with lessons from Bangladesh's experience. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840513369.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1998). Towards a theory of governance and development: learning from East Asia. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840514151.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2000). Growth or stagnation?: A review of Bangladesh's development 1996. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840513888.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (1998). Crisis in governance: a review of Bangladesh's development 1997. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840514366.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2000). Trends in the post-flood economy: a review of Bangladesh's development 1998-1999. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840515417.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2001). Changes and challenges: a review of Bangladesh's development 2000. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840515882.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2005). Privatisation in Bangladesh: an agenda in search of a policy. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840517046.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2005). A citizen's social charter for South Asia: an agenda for civic action. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue University Press Limited. ISBN 9789840517435.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2005). A macro policy for poverty eradication through structural change. Helsinki: United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economics Research. ISBN 9789291906741.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2010). Challenging the injustice of poverty: agendas for inclusive development in South Asia. New Delhi Thousand Oaks: SAGE. ISBN 9788132106234.
  •     Hussain, Akmal (2014). Democracy, sustainable development, and peace : new perspectives on South Asia. New Delhi New Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199082834.

Chapters in books

    Sobhan, Rehman (2009), "Agents into principals: democratizing development in South Asia", in Kanbur, Ravi; Basu, Kaushik, Arguments for a better world: essays in honor of Amartya Sen | Volume II: Society, institutions and development, Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 542–562, ISBN 9780199239979.
    Sobhan, Rehman (2014), "Reconstructing democracy in South Asia", in Dubey, Muchkund; Hussain, Akmal, Democracy, sustainable development, and peace: new perspectives on South Asia, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780198092346.

Journal articles

  •     Sobhan, Rehman; Bhattacharya, Debapriya (September 1986). "Courting private foreign investment: the Bangladesh experience". Development Policy Review (Wiley) 4 (3): 211–232. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7679.1986.tb00382.x.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (June 2002). "Aid effectiveness and policy ownership". Development and Change (Wiley) 33 (3): 539–548. doi:10.1111/1467-7660.00267.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (2003). "Globalization and the challenge to democracy". International Journal of Development Issues (Emerald Group Publishing Limited) 2 (2): 1–14. doi:10.1108/eb045831.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (4 September 2004). "Structural dimensions of malgovernance in Bangladesh". Economic and Political Weekly (EPW Research Foundation) 39 (36): 4101–4108.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (March 2005). "The twelfth SAARC summit charting a road map for South Asian cooperation". South Asian Survey (Sage) 12 (1): 3–19. doi:10.1177/097152310501200101.
  •     Sobhan, Rehman (July 2005). "Increasing aid for poverty reduction: rethinking the policy agenda". IDS Bulletin (Wiley) 36 (3): 61–67. doi:10.1111/j.1759-5436.2005.tb00222.

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