Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai jointly inaugurated the first-ever ‘Bangabandhu Chair’ at the internationally acclaimed Asian Institute of Technology or AIT on Thursday in Bangkok.
Mahmud Hasan, an official of the Ministry of Energy, Power and Mineral Resources of Bangladesh, has been selected as the first doctoral student under the Chair’s Professor.
Following an international search, Dr Joyashree Roy, Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University, Kolkata has become the Bangabandhu Chair Professor.
The Bangladesh embassy in Bangkok said the opening of the Chair was marked by unveiling a marble plaque by the foreign ministers.
A ‘Bangabandhu Lecture’ was also delivered by the Chair Professor following which the Thai translation of Bangabandhu’s historic March 7, 1971 speech was also launched.
The inauguration was preceded by a meeting between Bangladesh and Thailand where the bilateral relations were discussed.
Ali termed the “Bangabandhu Chair” a symbol of strong bond of friendship and cooperation between the government of Bangladesh and the AIT.
The Bangladesh embassy said the Chair Professor will primarily work on energy sector development of Bangladesh with a focus on “ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy,” a key Sustainable Development Goal.
Under the direct patronage of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a four-year endowment fund of about $800,000 has been endowed for the Chair Professorship and Doctoral Research Fellowship.
The funds have been placed under a special account in Thailand to be administered jointly by the Embassy of Bangladesh in Bangkok and the AIT under guidance and supervision of the National Committee on the Bangabandhu Chair at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka.
The foreign minister hoped that the creation of the Bangabandhu Chair Professor at the AIT will impact “positively” in realising the goals of the SDG 7 in affordable and clean energy.
He signed a citation and placed a Bangabandhu portrait to be permanently displayed at the academic hall of the AIT. He also planted a Dinajpur Litchi sapling on the AIT campus.
The creation of the Bangabandhu Chair was first proposed by Ambassador Tasneem in 2015. It was later endorsed by the two foreign ministers last year in the Bangladesh-Thailand joint commission meeting in Dhaka.
The AIT, established in 1959, has been adjudged the world’s top-ranked international university by the EU-funded U-Multirank over the past three years and the top post-graduate international technology institute in Asia.
With faculty, researchers, staff and students coming from over 45 countries from across five continents including Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and the US, the AIT has been acclaimed as the most multicultural postgraduate academic institution in Asia.
Prof Roy, the Chair Professor, is an ICSSR national fellow, and was a Ford Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow at LBNL, Berkeley, US. She was a visiting researcher at Energy and Policy Research Group, Cambridge University in 2010.
She initiated and coordinates the Global Change Programme and Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF) Project at Jadavpur University. She was in the IPCC-2007 Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel and has been a chapter author of Global Energy Assessment.
The doctoral student, Hasan, prior to joining the AIT, has worked as assistant manager (Technical), Sylhet Gas Fields Limited in Chiknagool.
Hasan did his Master’s in Petroleum Engineering (April 2015) from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, with specialisation in drilling, reservoir simulation, petroleum production and petroleum economics.
The Bangladesh embassy said the visible output of the Chair would be “Bangladesh centered education and research from AIT, developing closer network of AIT and educational institutions in Bangladesh in these areas, publication of academic and policy papers related to Bangladesh with the view of supporting energy policy development in Bangladesh”.
It said the research results would see the impacts on the ground, either in terms of policy development, and/or in terms of practical implementation of specific activities in the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources.
A MoU was signed on Thursday between the AIT and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enable cooperation and collaboration for establishment and operation of the “Bangabandhu Chair”.
As per the decision of the Bangladesh government, the foreign ministry has been entrusted as the national focal point for executing the “Bangabandhu Chair”.
A national committee has been formed consisting members from different relevant ministries and with secretary (Asia and the Pacific) of the foreign ministry in the Chair.
Foreign Secretary (Asia and the Pacific) Mahbub Uz Zaman is the chair of the national committee.
The embassy said the “Bangabandhu Lecture” will also be an annual academic lecture at the AIT to commemorate the “Bangabandhu Chair” and pay tribute to the memory of Bangabandhu.
Eminent scholars, academicians and research personalities across the world will be invited to deliver “Bangabandhu Lecture” every year to share their knowledge on the research area based on Sustainable Development Goals of the entire region.