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Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971. To mark 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence, the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University held a virtual conference, “Bangladesh @ 50: Looking Back, Looking Forward” on March 3 and 4, 2021. The conference highlighted the arc of Bangladesh’s history from the Language Movement through the Liberation War to the present – and the future.

Panelists explored a wide range of topics, including the remarkable economic and human development of independent Bangladesh and the important role of civil society in its development. Listen to their presentations below.


Political Development: Making, Unmaking and Rebuilding of Founding Principles

Rounaq Jahan, Centre for Policy Dialogue
Rehman Sobhan, Centre for Policy Dialogue
Moderator: Gary Bass, Princeton University


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Economic Development: From “Basket Case” to Emerging Economy

Hossain Zillur Rahman, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC)
Faisal Ahmed, IMF
Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University
Sajeda Amin, Population Council
Moderator: Lincoln Chen, formerly China Medical Board


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Human Development: Defying the Odds

Wahiduddin Mahmud, University of Dhaka
Imran Matin, BRAC University  
Khairul Islam, Water Aid
Moderator: Richard Cash, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


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Women’s Empowerment: From Home to Factory and Beyond

Hameeda Hossain, Ain o Salish Kendra, Forum Magazine
Shireen Huq, Naripokkho
Naila Kabeer, London School of Economics
Khushi Kabir, Nijera Kori 
Moderator: Marty Chen, Harvard Kennedy School; WIEGO 


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The Role of Civil Society in Bangladesh’s “Miracle”

Shameran Abed, BRAC
Zafrullah Chowdhry, Gonoshasthaya Kendra
Umama Zillur, Kotha
Moderator: Borje Ljunggren, Formerly with Swedish Foreign Ministry


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The Future of Bangladesh

Shameran Abed, BRAC
Faisal Ahmed, IMF
Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University
Umama Zillur, Kotha 
Moderator: Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business School; the Mittal Institute


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