An assignment on Cabinet Division Public Intellectual

The term “public intellectual” is rather a new concept recently developed in the west but less known in the rest of the world. The individual meaning of public and intellectual if combined does not reflect the meaning of public intellectual pulls towards associated with intellectual while the meaning of intellectual pulls backward to public to settle down to a central meaning of public intellectual. The term “public intellectual” is unknown and unpopular in Bangladesh however its function exists in the public sphere since the colonial rule. In fact, both academic and non-academic public intellectuals are playing significantly in public issues, events and movements in the country for a long time. They are the agent of social change in developing countries and are professionally involved though. The weakness in political institutions encourages them to engage in political activities too. The role of public intellectuals is thus multiple and multidimensional in nature in many developing countries. They have been playing multiple roles in the public sphere of Bangladesh because, the academic and non-academic public intellectuals are professionally active and as civil society actors have been influencing public issues, policies and debates over the public sphere in the society. As political actors they have been performed very significant role in the language movement of 1952, the education movement of 1964, the mass upsurge of 1969 and the liberation war of 1971. In fact they have shaped the cultural identity of Bangalee people in Pakistan period, which led them to achieve an independent country for their own. In post independent period they have continued their role in the society. The best example is the mass upsurge of 1990 in which they along with other major political parties heavily contributed in re-seating the military dictator and in resorting democracy in Bangladesh.

The main aim of the research monograph is to explore the actual role of public intellectuals in the civil society and democracy in Bangladesh. This research has been conducted with the following objectives:
To develop an understanding on perspectives, issues and concerns around the role of public intellectuals
To sketch out the present socio-economic and politico-cultural reality of Bangladesh in the context of public intellectuals
To analyze the current state of public intellectuals in Bangladesh with focus on the civil society and democracy
To explore the role of public intellectuals in the civil society and democracy in Bangladesh
To suggests some policy measures to be undertaken in an effort to improve the role of public intellectuals in Bangladesh.
1.3 Rationale of the Study
The term ‘public’ and ‘intellectual’ are well known in the terminology of political science but the combined term ‘public intellectual’ is fairly new. It was first used in explanation of the declining role of the public intellectuals of the present compared with their role in the past in western societies. In developing countries like Bangladesh, public intellectuals have played significant and diverse roles in shaping major public issues of their societies. Public intellectuals may become outright political actors in some developing countries. For the most part, academic public intellectuals conduct research and write scholarly articles and books in order to fulfill their public role. In developing nations, however, limited funding and other weaknesses in the academic system mean that there are fewer opportunities to engage in research and teaching. This, in turn, results in low production of scholarly writings and limited research activities. It also makes it difficult to pursue academic advancement through professional activities. This sometimes encourages academics to attach themselves to mainstream parties.

Bangladesh is one of the poor and most densely populated countries of South Asia. Since inception, it has been experiencing a bulk of severe problems like political instability, military intervention, electoral failure, leadership vacuum, poverty, malnutrition, rampant corruption, and so on which put together a serious constraint on path of consolidating democracy and strong civil society. Almost all of political scientists, economists, and academician hold the similar view that to overcome the challenges of democracy and civil society, Bangladesh needs on urgent basis better practice of the role of public intellectuals at every sphere of public life. In view of this situation, it is imperative to empirically examine the present state of public intellectual and the role on the way of institutionalizing democracy and civil society in Bangladesh.