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Welfare state & Bangladesh: New book by Shahed Rahman

Ansar Ahmed Ullah : ‘Kalyanmulok Rhastro o Bangladesher Rashtropotigon’ and in English titled ‘Welfare State and Presidents of Bangladesh’ is a fairly new non-fiction book by Mohammad Shahed Rahman. The book is essentially a compilation of all the presidents of Bangladesh to date.

As the title suggests this book is about welfare state, a system whereby the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, within the context of Bangladesh.  The book in its various chapters covers the duty of a state, its responsibilities and characteristics of a welfare state. Finally, the book states Bangabandhu had laid thefoundations for the modern state of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who headed the first government of the post-liberation Bangladesh, for a short period of three years and a half starting from scratch, had to deal with countless problems of a war ravaged country. Under the leadership of Bangabandhu, the state-building and nation-building took off the ground covering all important fields including adopting programmes to make Bangladesh self-reliant & sustainable, improving the education sector, improving the lives of the working class, and on economic front assisting businesses and industries to flourish. Unfortunately, Bangabandhu’s development initiatives ended abruptly following his brutal assassination in a right-wing coup in 1975. The author also mentions the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is continuing the legacy of Bangabandhu in taking Bangladesh to newer heights of development.

The book begins with an introduction, followed by chapters on political context, and a list of 20 presidents, followed by individual profiles. The words allocated to each president is not consistent. The author has given the longest contribution to president Zillur Rahman who gets 3 pages! And the shortest to Md Ullah who only gets 100 words. For future editions the author may want to address this issue. In addition, no political identity or political affiliation of presidents are given, perhaps to avoid controversy.

The book also has an English section in the second half. For reason not known not all the presidents are covered. And once again the words allocated to each president is not consistent. President Md Abdul Hamid gets the longest contribution covering 4 pages longer than Bangabandhu! And Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem gets the shortest, under 200 words. Some profiles have education and profession as sub headings but others do not. There should be consistence in the structure of profiles too.

In the English section, towards the end the book, it has a timeline on Bangabandhu, covering the period from 1920 to 1975, but ending in 2010 that marks the completion of Bangabandhu’s trial and the execution of the sentence. There is also a list of presidents with their photos, full name, year of birth & death, term of office and the political party they represented which is very useful and can be used for quick reference.

The book ends with bibliography and acknowledgements. While Wikipedia can be a first port of call for enquiry, however, in the academic world it is not accepted as a reliable source of information. The author could have used Banglapedia instead. The book doesn’t have a content page either which would have helped with finding appropriate chapters.

This is probably a first book on this interesting subject considering the political turmoil Bangladesh has faced since its inception in 1971. Despite some inconsistency this is a must reference book for anybody especially researchers, writers, journalists and those studying political science & international relations.

The author Mohammad Shahed Rahman was born on 15 November 1976 in Paschimtilok village, Jagannathpur Upazilla, Sunamganj district of Sylhet in a respected Muslim family. His parents are Abdur Rahman Shunu Miah and Alhj Momina Begum. His grand parents were Pir Yasin Mohammad and Shah Ashrafunnessa Kamali. He is married to Ruhela Rahman Sweaty and has a daughter Jannah Rahman.

He was in teaching profession for a long time. At Present he resides in the UK. Prior to coming to the UK, he was the Principal at Syedpur Ideal College. He has been writing since school days and has published short stories, poems, novels and essays. And he is still involved with press, media and journalism. He has edited short journal Ajker Shatapdi. Shahed Rahman has received Porshi Sahitya Puroshkar in 1999, Tillakaratne award in 2012 and Dr Md Shahidullah Smriti Padak.

The book cover is designed by Al Noman who has used an abstract style in utilising Bangladesh’s colour of red & green on a light green background. The book is published by Prakrit Prakash, Sylhet. This is the second edition published in November 2017. It was first published in 2010 by Bandhan Publications, Dhaka. Distributor for the book are Protiva Dhaka; Biswa Sahitya Bhavan, Dhaka, Shatabdi Prakash Sylhet and in the UK Sanglap Media Ltd, London and BBCHF, London, UK. It is priced at Taka 220 and outside Bangladesh at £9.99.



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