Khan Sarwar Murshid (1 July 1924 - 8 December 2012) was an educationist, diplomat and intellectual. A mentor, a free thinker and a writer, an ambassador any role Professor Murshid took was carried out in a dedicated manner. He was a great patriot, a man of great feelings, and brought an imaginative touch to any discussion.
Professor Murshid had his own style of teaching. Wherever he went he made an impact on other people, and was able to win confidence, respect, affection and hearts of all kinds of people. He was an academic and his comments on society were sharply logical. His explanation of social values is very liberal and enlightened.
Professor Murshid was a successful teacher and administrator. He was vice chancellor of Rajshahi University and had been courageous enough to stick to his principled views during that period. He had a social conscience and fought for the victims of suppression and oppression, despite his busy occupation in the profession.
Professor Murshid was a great warrior for democracy and stood up against the martial law regime of President Ayub Khan in 1958. He suffered but never bowed to the regime of dictatorship. He could foresee that denial of democracy would one day disintegrate Pakistan. He was one of the few individuals who predicted the birth of Bangladesh because of continuous neglect and exploitation of resources of former East Pakistan by the West Pakistani leaders and the lack of democracy in Pakistan.
Murshid was born in Comilla town, and raised largely in Brahmanbaria. His father Ali Ahmed Khan was an advocate. Murshid was educated at University of Dhaka and University of Nottingham. From 1948 onward, he was a faculty member of the English Department at Dhaka University, becoming a full professor in 1970. During the 1971 liberation war, he was a member of the planning commission of the Mujibnagar government-in-exile. He served as Vice Chancellor of Rajshahi University during 1972-75. As a diplomat, he served as the Bangladeshi high commissioner to Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, and he was appointed Assistant Secretary General of the Commonwealth in 1978. He was the first chairman of the Bangladeshi branch of Transparency International, an anti-corruption body, and was a trustee until his death.
In ideas, Murshid was ahead of his time and could see further through a brick wall than anyone else. He could get to the causes of a social problem not only the obvious ones but also the hidden ones. He saw the end result of things as well as being able to conceptualise and fathom things as they were. He was the editor of the literary journal New Values between 1949 and 1965. He received the Bangla Academy Award in 2010 for his contributions to literature.
Among his students at Dhaka University were future Bengali intellectuals such as Shamsur Rahman, Abdul Mannan Syed and Zillur Rahman Siddiqui. He was a Fellow of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh and a recipient of the Bangla Academy Award. He was offered the Ekushey Award in 2010, which he declined. Amongst other distinctions of note that he received was the UN Citizen of the Year Award of the Bangladesh Chapter in 2011.
Murshid was an avid reader. His private library is one of the largest in the country. His books included philosophy, history, law, economics, and other related subjects. He was a collector of books and wherever he visited he bought them on a variety of subjects.
Yesterday (December 8) marked the 3rd death anniversary of Khan Murshid.
The writer is a freelance contributor.