By Ali Mashraf
With a view to imparting knowledge on various multidisciplinary issues and subjects outside the realm of law and legal studies, the Faculty of Law, University of Dhaka (DU) initiated an interdisciplinary lecture series, the Law Faculty Open Discussion Series in early 2017. The series attracts tertiary level students from honors 4th year and onwards from all disciplines as well as young professionals with its unorthodox choice of topic.
The 2nd Law Faculty Open Discussion titled ‘Another Tagore: A Campaigner of Emancipation of the Peasantry in Bengal’ was held on November 29, 2017 at the Kazi Motahar Hossain Building of DU. Dr. Atiur Rahman, Professor, Department of Development Studies, DU and former Governor of Bangladesh Bank was the guest speaker of the event.
The program was inaugurated by Mr. Syed Masud Reza, Assistant Professor, Department of Law, DU. Mr. Masud Reza welcomed everyone to the event and gave a brief background of the initiation of this series. He then introduced Dr. Atiur Rahman and highlighted his career accomplishments. He hoped that it would be a great learning experience for the students to listen to Dr. Rahman talk about Rabindranath Tagore and delve into an unexplored area of Tagore’s work.
Dr. Atiur Rahman then delivered his lecture for the audience. He expressed his astonishment at seeing so many law students being eager to know more about Rabindranath Tagore. He asserted that Rabindranath was a zamindar who always thought of the emancipation of the helpless peasants and campaigned for achieving that. He mentioned that in this regard, Rabindranath wanted the peasants to believe that earned independence trumped any other form of independence and urged them to strengthen their inner will by uniting together to free themselves from the shackles of poverty.
The discussion then encompassed various steps undertaken and policies adopted by Rabindranath to modernize agriculture, to strive for rural independence and development, to uphold the rights of the cultivators, and to ascertain self-governance and self-reliance among them. Dr. Rahman also emphasized upon the works of Rabindranath to ensure justice for the peasants and accurately termed him as a ‘human rights activist’. He lauded Rabindranath’s effort to bridge the gap between the urban and rural areas of that time by spreading education as well as arts and culture.
In addition to that, he underlined the contributions of Rabindranath in the economy of East Bengal where Rabindranath established numerous agricultural banks and cooperative societies to uplift the financial condition of the poor peasants and remarked that even the economists of that time failed to think and act accordingly. Towards the end, Dr. Rahman propounded that he was deeply influenced by Rabindranath’s contribution to rural development and thus, focused on alleviating poverty while working as the Governor of Bangladesh Bank. He urged the students to read the prose, poems and especially the published letters of Rabindranath to know more about him and his works and to implement the takeaways from his works in their own lives.
The lecture was followed by a short Q&A session which was moderated by Mr. Mohammad Golam Sarwar, Lecturer, Department of Law, DU. Mr. Masud Reza then presented a token of appreciation to Dr. Atiur Rahman on behalf of the Law Faculty. The program ended after a photo session of the participants with the guest speaker. Law Faculty intends to host more such programs in future to build a society based on rule of law and equity from the multidisciplinary knowledge gathered from these discussions.
Ali Mashraf is a student of law at University of Dhaka