Ahrar Ahmad

Dr Ahrar Ahmad is professor emeritus at Black Hills State University in the US, and director general of Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Foundation in Dhaka.

What makes a classroom great?

A great classroom is one that is conducive to learning.

1w ago

Deciphering the student-learner

What makes a good student? A definitive answer to this question is difficult.

2w ago

What makes a good teacher in the 21st century?

Today, the question of being a 'good teacher' generates a new vernacular.

3w ago

Home and Displacement

The two words in the title are evocative, complex and slippery.  What after all is “home”, and what does “displacement” really mean? 

Constitutional supremacy: The dangers within

The “idea” of a constitution may be old.  After all even Aristotle had written about them. 

Student politics in private universities: To be or not to be …

On September 2, the student front of a political party announced its intention to form committees in 16 private universities.  It was greeted with apprehension and alarm. 

The Unheroic Antics of Hero Alom

Under what authority can the police make such a demand and compel its acceptance?

Violence in Bangladesh: The picture is disturbing, the wounds are deeper

If Marcellus saw the picture of college students brutalising an innocent man, he would surely have said to Hamlet that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Early dreams and rude awakenings

Prof Rehman Sobhan (RS) continues to amaze.

An intellectual by instinct, a revolutionary by choice

Badruddin Umar may not necessarily be a very popular person. That statement is a little ironic for two reasons. First, he is the pre-eminent “popular” (people’s) scholar and second, given his tastes and preferences, he would probably wear that judgement as a badge of honour.

A spectre is haunting Bangladesh, the spectre of communalism

Given the doubts, confusions and anxieties of the modern age, it is perhaps expected—and certainly obvious—that there is a resurgence of religiosity almost everywhere.

‘Lessons’ from Bangladesh today

Bangladesh offers many important insights and perspectives in these grim and uncertain times. They indicate the uniqueness that defines us as a people, and the original contributions we are making to the world of politics and governance.

The politics of anti-politics: Corruption, democracy and the universities

I am fortunate, indeed blessed, to have been a part of Dhaka University (DU) as a student and a teacher from 1967-75.

Bengali Muslims and their identity: From fusion to confusion

One of the grand paradoxes facing Bangladeshis is expressed in the negotiations and contestations on the simple question about who they are, particularly in the context of the strains caused by the Universalist claims of their religion on the one hand and the particularist demands of their ethnicity and culture on the other.

Development in Bangladesh: A most pleasant surprise

Bangladesh illustrates a most intriguing and delightful puzzle in international development. After its independence in 1971, it was dismissed

Secularism in Bangladesh: The troubled biography of a constitutional pillar

The ubiquity of the word “secularism” (it is mentioned in more than 75 of the world’s constitutions as an ideal the State promotes, or an organising principle that it affirms), and the passionate discussions it generates throughout the world, sometimes distracts us from the fact that its origins are relatively recent.

Contra capital punishment even in this ‘rapedemic’

The demand was predictable. Given the outrage that has been generated by the vicious acts of assault and dehumanisation that have been inflicted on women over some time, it even appears justifiable.


Dr. Anisuzzaman’s life was a radiant gift to us, his departure an irreparable loss. The usual metaphors that have been applied (tower of strength, conscience of the nation, a reassuring lighthouse, an iconic intellectual/cultural presence , an institution by himself, a large and shady tree, the embodiment of humanist principles, and so on) may all be applicable.

Racism in America: Police Chokehold is Not the Issue

The American project was founded on rank hypocrisies. On the one hand, President Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the stirring words in the Declaration of Independence that upheld “these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”, did not free his own slaves (not even Sally Hemings, who bore him six children).

On free speech and the imperatives of democracy

It is almost axiomatic that free speech is indispensable to democracy.

Bern baby Bern: The struggle goes on

On April 8, Bernie Sanders was compelled to fold his bid for the Presidency. Consistent with his decency as a human being, his graciousness as a

In Defence of Politics

The word “politics” is much maligned and stigmatised. It suffers from a huge image problem both in the world as well as in Bangladesh.

A simple, straightforward reading of South Asian history

Dr Nurul Islam has been a towering presence in the intellectual landscape of Bangladesh. He has graduate degrees from Harvard, and held prestigious fellowships at Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Yale and the Netherland School of Economics, was Professor and Chair of Economics at Dhaka University, and the author of about 29 books of some scholarly heft and influence.

On Intimations of Ghalib: Translations from the Urdu

Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan (1797 – 1869), popularly known by his takhallus (pen name) Ghalib (conqueror), makes it difficult for writers to sum him up easily or definitively. He himself would probably have taken great and impish delight in that knowledge. In one of his ghazals he suggests (Shahid Alam

Contextualising Islam, the social and the political

The issue of Islam in Bangladesh is complex, sensitive and fraught. It has problematised the sense of national identity of Bangladeshis into a schizophrenic duality driven by the tension between the cultural and religious aspects of their collective personality.

In memory of Imtiaz Habib

It is with profound sorrow we write this piece about our dear friend Imtiaz Hasan Habib (1949-2018), who died peacefully while asleep in the early morning hours of August 27 at his home in Norfolk, Virginia.

Well done, Sir!

There are iconic pictures that sometimes capture an age, define a moment in history, exemplify beauty, tragedy, or joy, in ways otherwise impossible to evoke. Who can forget the naked, screaming Vietnamese girl fleeing the napalm attack on her village in 1972; the Chinese man standing in lonely defiance in front of a column of tanks at the Tiananmen Square in 1989; the Times Square kiss; or the raising of the US flag at Iwo Jima, heralding the end of WWII?

Kamaludddin Ahmed Khan: Keen, unconventional, relevant

Being married to Begum Sufia Kamal was certainly an important part of Mr Kamaluddin Ahmed Khan's life. He derived much joy and meaning, and perhaps some recognition, from this. But he never derived his identity from this relationship. In that, he was fiercely independent, and quite unique.

1971 And After: A Participant-observer's Frayed Recollections

It has neither been possible, nor even desirable, for me to write about 1971. The reasons are fairly simple. First, while my engagement in the war was early and sincere, my actual contribution to it was rather flimsy and dull.

Tribute to a patriot

While we all occupy multiple identities in our lives, some stand out more sharply, and are more cherished, than others. For most of the people engaged in the Liberation War of 1971, it is that experience alone that perhaps defines them more than anything else.

A 21st Century Novel: Tahmima Anam’s The Bones of Grace

It is awkward to write about a novel when one is not a literary critic. The task is all the more daunting, given that unlike Tahmima

Dhaka's awkward burden

Cities have always been important to Asia. As Charles Tilly remarks, “Cities emerged in Asia, and in terms of sheer man-years lived in cities, Asians have more urban experience than the rest of the world put together”.

John Kerry - important visitor, doubtful impact

John Kerry's visit accomplished pitifully little. Popular wisdom suggests that it symbolised much. Lacking both popularity and wisdom, I am not entirely convinced of that judgment.

History and society in the shaping of terrorism today

Among the anxieties, fears and confusions generated by the grisly tragedy that occurred on July 1 at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, one refrain was fairly consistent...

A symptom of the disease

How can freedom of speech flourish when sensitivities are so high, and public patience so low, when dissent is considered dangerous, any critique is considered to be a challenge, and all opposition is viewed as an existential threat that must be crushed? How credible are the preachy platitudes about democracy coming from people who are not its best exemplar?

Mistakes Versus Crimes: The Daily Star's Ordeal

It is only in the hyper-polarised political environment of Bangladesh that an article published eight years earlier...


It is still unclear to me what led to this Eureka moment (there were some family business interests but those, obviously, did not compel the move). Did he have a sudden epiphany triggered by something he felt, read, or experienced?

Political Parties in Bangladesh: Challenges of Democratization

Bangladesh abounds in paradoxes. It has confounded many developmental pundits by maintaining a fairly brisk pace of economic growth while continuing