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Dhaka Tribune

Inaugural session of Dhaka Dialogue held at ULAB

Dhaka-based diplomats, editors, writers and policy analysts attended the event


Update : 11 Feb 2024, 08:24 PM

The Centre for South Asian Studies of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) held the inaugural session of Dhaka Dialogue, its signature thought platform, on Sunday.

Renowned political scientist Prof Sanjib Baruah, formerly of Bard College, New York, and currently Andy Matsui distinguished professor of the humanities at Asian University of Women, Chittagong, spoke on “Bangladesh and Assam: Intertwined Histories.” 

The subject assumes great significance with emerging policies and the imminent election in India and their possible impact on Bangladesh. 

Prof Imran Rahman, vice chancellor of ULAB, delivered the opening remarks at the event at ULAB’s permanent campus.

Dhaka-based diplomats, editors, writers as well as policy analysts attended the event along with faculty members and students of ULAB and engaged in a spirited discussion with Prof Baruah.

Prof Baruah remarked on the border and lives of Bangladesh and Assam, during which, using archival records and historical maps, he also traced joint people’s histories and economic histories. 

He focused on the tea industry as a pivot. Referring to Willem van Schendel’s work, Baruah postulated that to understand the complex and continual history of South Asia, one must have expertise in the history and policies of the surrounding regions as well.

On a lighter note, Prof Baruah explained how the term “tea garden” has been used as a euphemism to mask the truth behind colonial tea plantations. 

He also posited that the English breakfast tea originates from a traditional blend of black tea from Assam and Ceylon, a fact that caught the audience by surprise. 

After his address, Baruah took questions from the audience that ranged from the impact of the upcoming election in India, the current political structure and political behaviour in the neighbouring northeast Indian state of Assam, and how these contribute to perceptions and impact in Bangladesh.

Dhaka Dialogue is a top-tier thought platform created by the Centre for South Asian Studies for conversations and interactions to secure positive futures for Bangladesh, South Asia and the Indian Ocean Littoral, says the release.

It aims to present a series of curated single-speaker talks/lectures, as well as multiple-speaker full seminars and global conferences, to be held at ULAB's campus and across several other prestigious venues in Dhaka.

Speakers at Dhaka Dialogue will include top academicians and policy experts, leading diplomats, leaders of public affairs, business, finance, trade, foreign policy, strategic affairs, climate change, conflict mitigation, and migration, among other hot-button areas – from Bangladesh, South Asia and globally. They will address a range of matters of significance for the present and future of Bangladesh and the region.

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