The Symphony of our Times
Review of the book “The Invisible Government”
During the time of admission of fresh students at the inception of the academic year, usually during August or September, there were frequent pressures and lobbying. The number of students admitted was not as numerous as today, the number of applicants were not also huge. Nevertheless, there were always more candidates then there were seats, especially in the Honours classes. I remember that once there was discussion in the office room of the Head of the Department Professor G W Choudhury about the admission of a student, whose grades were slightly below the minimum standard.
Professor Nazmul Karim formerly of Political Science and then Head of the newly established Department of Sociology was also there. Professor G W Choudhury said, "we have to admit this boy in whatever manner we can. It will be an injustice to our history if we can not admit the son of Sher-e-Bangla A K Fazlul Huq who immensely strengthened the foundation and spread of education of the then backward Muslim Bengalis". The boy in question was A K Faezul Huq.
Professor Nazmul Karim agreed with Professor Choudhury and said, "if the committee does not object, we will slightly lower the marks needed for admission. May be as a result some other candidates will also qualify. But we have accommodation for all of them". The committee was in full agreement and Faezul Huq became our student. Later in life he joined politics like his illustrious father A K Fazlul Huq and became a Minister of the Government of Bangladesh.
Now that he is no more, as premature death transported him to hereafter, I remember his smiling face resembling of his charismatic father. I also recollect the modesty and humbleness with which he enriched each of our encounters. He remained the same well behaved student even when he was a Minister. As I look back to the mid sixties, I think Professor G W Choudhury and Professor Nazmul Karim did one of the nicest things to the Dhaka University and education by getting Frezul Huq to the admitted into the University.
Interaction with teachers of other departments, especially the senior ones was quite interesting and rewarding. Professor Munier Choudhury with his command over literature and impressive style of conversation often kept us spell bound. A highly talented person he was also modest, considerate and affectionate. During the mid sixties very few senior teachers had private cars. Some of the less senior who went abroad for higher degrees came back with cars, purchased from their savings abroad. In the Political Science Department Dr Mahfuzul Huq came back with a blue Volkswagen beetle.
Professor Munier Choudhury, as far as I remember, a Reader of the Bangla Department at that time also returned from abroad with his car. One evening Sufia and I visited his flat in the University campus. Mrs and Mr Munier Choudhury discussed many things with us from University studies to social affairs. One of the topics was the advantages and disadvantages of having a personal car. One of the problems mentioned was the practice of giving a lift to carless guests to their homes. After sometime we found that it was quite late, almost ten in the evening.
As we made a move to go out Professor Munier Choudhury stood up and said, "let me take you back to your home, it is late in the night". We tried to save him the trouble. We had to try to dissuade him from giving us a lift especially in the context of the discussion on having a car in a largely carless community. But he was adamant and would not take 'No' for an answer. Professor Munier Choudhury gracefully drove home a grateful junior colleague and his wife.
Prof Dr Khan Sarwar Murshid of the English department was a reputed teacher, quite dramatic in his impact on others. My encounters with Professor K S Murshid were always encouraging and memorable. As a student of Political Science I did not have the opportunity to be directly taught by him. Nevertheless, our paths crossed time and again from 1959 when I was a student of the first year BA Honours class. Many of us, though belonging to other disciplines regularly attended the seminars of the English department which were lively and enriching.
Most of these were chaired by Professor Murshid. His enlightening and witty observations constituted a source of varied knowledge and lasting joy. Classmate Syeda Umme Sufia, student of English who later became my wife, was a devoted student of Professor Murshid and never ceased to praise his capacity and skill as a gifted teacher. I came closer to Professor Murshid during the period 1964-1967 when I served as teacher. The love and affection he used to bestow upon me as a student continued uninterrupted even after I was inducted into the ranks of his junior colleagues.
I was delighted, almost enthralled, when in 1965 he asked me to review a book for the 'New Values' a prestigious and progressive journal which he edited. I was entrusted by him to review a book called "The Invisible Government". Written by Wise and Ross, it had created a stir in the intellectual and political circles at that time. It was a well-documented and scathing exposure of the dubious and deceitful operations of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in furthering the aggressive domination of the American establishment over the world in general, and the US in particular.
I worked hard and produced a critical review but felt apprehensive that Professor Murshid might find it inadequate. I was very delighted to see it published in the next issue of 'New Values'. Before the journal came out Professor Murshid did not say anything but while handing over the number containing my writing he smiled as if to say, "Ok, you have made the grade".
Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelley, founder Chairman of Centre for Development Research (CDRB), and former technocrat Cabinet Minister of Bangladesh, died on August 12, 2019. He contributed his writeups to the Daily Observer which are being published regularly as "The Symphony of Our Times".