With the theme "Economics of Change: Developing in a Dynamic World", the 4th Bangladesh Economics Summit (BES) had commenced on 24th February and it reached the apt closure on Thursday (3 March) with the session "Luminaries of Economics: Tales of the Past and Hopes for the Future."
At the event, prominent economists across multiple generations of our country reminisced about the past and shared hopeful messages for the future.
The eight-day-long summit organized by the Economics Study Center (ESC), the pioneer student chapter of the Dhaka University's (DU) economics department transcended borders by the spontaneous appearance of panelists and students from multiple countries, reads press release in this regard.
The closing session was chaired by Dr MM Akash, professor and chairman of the department of economics, Dhaka University (DU).
The final day's event went beyond the formal setting of conversation and flowed candidly among the special guests - Economic Research Group Executive Director Dr Sajjad Zohir, Centre for Policy Dialogue's (CPD) Distinguished Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Dr Syed Akhtar Mahmood, economist and former Lead Private Sector Specialist in the World Bank Group.
M Sayeduzzaman, a member of the CPD Board of Trustees and former finance minister, also attended the session.
The highlight of the session was a special message for the audiences conveyed by Professor Dr Nurul Islam, deputy chairman of the first Planning Commission of Bangladesh.
Dr Islam shared how he accidentally ended up being an economist, how the 6-point movement was adopted through the findings from the Two Economies Thesis proposed by the economists back then and how advancements were made in the newly independent Bangladesh.
"If you look at the statistics, for the last three decades, Bangladesh has done exceedingly well. You can see that if you look at the figures for growth, poverty reduction or socio-economic indicators, women's empowerment, or nutrition. The government has been doing very well in all these aspects and I am really optimistic that we will go ahead like this", Dr Islam opined about the future.
However, he showed concern regarding the prevalent corruption and urged us to control it.
In response to a question on the role of an economist in policymaking, Dr Islam said, "The economists should respond to felt demand - the demand felt by the politicians or policymakers and provide advice accordingly." Furthermore, he advised the students to be decisive about their career options based on what they enjoy doing.
The esteemed panelists discussed diverse topics ranging from the practice of different schools of economic thoughts and significant economic periods in Bangladesh to the practice of economics in policymaking and economics in our curriculum. Dr Zohir shared his concern, "We lack initiatives and new train of thoughts in economics in our country for a long time."
Dr Bhattacharya remarked, "Economics can be successful only when it is closer to lives."
"You have to serve people with your knowledge. Your knowledge should not serve you only," Dr Akash ended the session by providing such directions to the students.
Afterwards, Dr Rumana Huque, professor of DU's economics department provided the vote of thanks and announced the winners of the BES competitions.
Shadique Mahbub Islam was crowned as the winner of the essay competition on "Restoring Planetary Health for More Resilient Economies."
Meanwhile, Team Kautilya (members: KM Najib Hayder, Subah Binte Ahsan, Shah Adaan Uzzaman) and Team Incredibles (members: Shudipto Ahmed, Zakia Sameen Noor, Masafi Mustafa Haider) were respectively recognized as the champion and runner-up teams of the Speakonomics 4.0 where these aspiring policy enthusiasts identified some of the reasons behind intergenerational poverty and suggested their solutions to overcome it.