Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 31 march: Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said it is evident that the rest of the world has started looking at Bangladesh in a new light.
He said the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Fellowship will again enhance opportunities with Germany and other European countries for academic studies and exchange focusing on Bangladesh and South Asia.
“There is likely to be growing academic interest in our nation’s history, culture and politics to understand the dynamics these phenomena bring into play across the wider region and beyond,” Dr Momen said while addressing a virtual briefing on Wednesday to announce the final selection for the “Bangladesh Chair: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Professorial Fellowship.”
University Grants Commission of Bangladesh Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah and German Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Fahrenholtz also joined at the event.
“I feel happy to inform you that we have reached the final stages of setting up the Bangladesh Chair titled Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Professorial Fellowship at the South Asia Institute under the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies at the Heidelberg University in Germany,” Dr Momen said.
He announced that Dr Harun-or-Rashid, professor of Political Science (Selection Grade) of University of Dhaka and former Vice-Chancellor of National University of Bangladesh, has been selected as the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Professorial Fellow through a collaborative selection process by the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and Heidelberg University.
In 1999, during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s first tenure in office, the government had concluded a MoU with the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University for establishing the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Professorial Fellowship.
Accordingly, two Professorial Fellows selected from Bangladesh attended the programme in the years 2000 and 2001.
Dr Momen said it was unfortunate that the succeeding BNP-Jamaat government terminated the Fellowship in 2002, thus foreclosing the possibility of knowledge transfer and exchange that could only be beneficial for Bangladesh.
He said with the prime minister’s approval, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated the process of reviving the Fellowship in the second half of 2019, on the eve of “Mujib Borsho.”
Dr Momen appreciated the immediate positive response we received from the Heidelberg University authorities, which led to concluding a fresh MoU with them on 11 December 2019.
Subsequently, there were applications for the Fellowship from 19 distinguished candidates, out of which the Selection Committee of Heidelberg University made a shortlist of three.
“I am confident that with Professor Rashid’s combination of academic credentials and administrative acumen, he will be able to add momentum to South Asian studies centring on Bangladesh in a strategically important part of Europe,” the Foreign Minister said.
He encouraged Prof Rashid to help pave the way for younger scholars on both sides to forge meaningful collaborations, with the future trajectory of bilateral relations with Germany and the European Union in mind.
Dr Momen said this month of March has been a momentous time for the entire nation and this Professorial Fellowship is yet another tribute on behalf of our people to the enduring vision and work of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – an iconic statesman, a true game-changer in South Asian politics.
“We are certainly happy to have this opportunity to take Bangabandhu’s living memory in different directions beyond our borders to connect his name and legacy with forward-looking international academic exchanges, creative economy initiatives and scientific and technological pursuits,” he said.