‘Study of economic history can aid development’
Friday, 28 March 2008

Agency

Education adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman appealed to historians Thursday to make use of regional and economic history in furthering the country's development.

He also advised them to establish proper models and methodology in researching the nation's true history.

Inaugurating the 15th biennial national conference of the Bangladesh History Association at Dhaka University's Teacher-Student Centre, the adviser asked those present to be attentive in teaching the true history of the liberation war.

"All should pay attention in practicing the real history of the liberation war for many reasons," he said. "Our historians have a crucial role in this regard and they must come forward." Zillur said Bangladesh as a nation was in a marginal position worldwide. "We must establish our own concepts and models and use those in researching our own history."

"In the past we may have been more interested in concepts that were imposed on us. But proper historical methodology has to be taken into consideration for gaining true knowledge."

The education adviser also urged historians to practice their discipline with the aim of building a developed nation. "In our country there has been little practice of the history of economics. Economic history is a very important field for us in these times."

"A middle class has been created now," Zillur said, adding that there was a lack of research-based findings on the growth of the middle classes, their views or their values.

The adviser also emphasised the practice of regional history in making the country prosperous. He urged historians to select, for example, Chittagong Port, the ship-building industry and urban development as topics of historical research.

"Such research could reveal immense prospects for Bangladesh." "Chittagong Port has played an important role in the economy of the country. Ship building industry is an age-old industry, which has developed here from within rather than as an industry imposed from outside," the adviser said.

Bangladesh has also been experiencing rapid urbanisation, Zillur said: "In such a background, a knowledge of regional history is necessary towards building a developed nation."

The adviser assured all that the government would take significant steps if specific proposals were available for overall policy in the academic practice of history.

President of the Bangladesh History Association Syed Anwar Hossain presided over the first session of the three-day national conference. "Without history a nation becomes rootless," Prof Anwar Hossain said.

The practice of history was now endangered, he claimed: "Elitist elements look down their noses at the subject nowadays." The historian demanded that the study of history be made compulsory in all government and private colleges.

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