Prof. Rehman Sobhan is a Bangladeshi economist born in Calcutta on March 12, 1935. He played an active role in the Bengali nationalist movement in the 1960s and was also a freedom fighter during 1971. He was a member of the first Planning Commission in Bangladesh and a close associate of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Presently, Prof. Sobhan heads the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a non-governmental research organisation in Bangladesh.
Prof. Sobhan was educated at St. Paul's School, Darjeeling, Aitichison College, Lahore and Cambridge University where he was awarded an MA in Economics. He began his working career at the faculty of Economics, Dhaka University in 1957 and retired as Professor of Economics in 1977. He served as Member, Bangladesh Planning Commission, in-charge of the Divisions of Industry, Power and Natural Resources; Chairman of Physical Infrastructure; Research Director, Director General and Emeritus Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies; and as a Visiting Fellow, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford. He was a Member of the Advisory Council of the President of Bangladesh in 1991, in-charge of the Ministry of Planning and the Economic Relations Division. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). He has been the Executive Director, South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS); a visiting scholar, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University; and a Senior Research Fellow at the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance, Harvard University.
Professor Sobhan has held a number of important professional positions. He was a member of the Panel of Economists to review the Third and Fourth Five Year Plans of Pakistan; Editor, Pakistan Economic Journal and Editor, Forum, a monthly magazine of The Daily Star. He served the independent Government of Bangladesh as Envoy Extraordinary with special responsibility for Economic Affairs, during the Liberation War in 1971. He was President, Bangladesh Economic Association; Member, Bangladesh National Commission on Money, Banking and Finance; Member, U.N. Committee for Development Planning; Member, Governing Council of the U.N. University, Tokyo; Member of the Commission for a New Asia, Kualalumpur; Member of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva; Member of the Executive Committee of the International Economic Association; Member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the Saarc Heads of State to review the future of Saarc; Chairman, South Asia Centre for Policy Studies; Chairman of the Board of Grameen Bank; Member of the BIDS Board of Trustees; and Member of the International Advisory Committee of the Ash Institute, Harvard University. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Freedom Foundation, Bangladesh, Chairman of the Pratichi Trust (Bangladesh) set up by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and Board Member of SACEPS, Kathmandu.
He has published 27 books, 15 research monographs and 140 articles in professional journals. His principal publications include: Basic Democracies, Works Programme and Rural Development in East Pakistan, Public Enterprise in an Intermediate Regime, The Crisis of External Dependence: The Political Economy of Foreign Aid to Bangladesh, Debt Default and the Crisis of State Sponsored entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, Planning and Public Action for Asian Women, Rethinking the Role of the State in Development: Asian Perspectives, and Bangladesh: Problems of Governance.