A renowned economist and an effective administrator, Dr. M.N. Huda was a distinguished student from the primary school level to the University level education. He was a meritorious student par excellence. Having received scholarships at all levels, he passed his Matriculation examination in 1935 with distinction from a High School of the then Tangail subdivision of Mymensingh district. He also excelled in his Intermediate of Arts (I.A.) Examination from Dhaka College in 1937.
During his tenure as a student of Dhaka University (from 1937 through 1941), Dr, M.N.Huda proved himself to be one of the most outstanding students of the University since its founding in 1921. He stood first in first class both in B.A. (Honours) and M.A. examinations in 1940 and 1941 respectively. He had the rare distinction of receiving the coveted Raja Kalinarayan Scholarship in 1940 for topping the list among all of the Honours graduates of Arts and Science faculties of DU.
After receiving a Ph.D. in Economics within the shortest possible time in 1949 from the prestigious Cornell University, Dr. M.N. Huda immediately returned to the then East Bengal. He joined the University of Dhaka in 1949 as a Reader (Associate Professor) in Economics Department. He was hardly 30 years old at that time. The addition of a budding scholar of Dr. M.N. Huda's stature to the faculty of Dhaka University was significant at a time when most of the distinguished scholars from Hindu community were migrating to India. He contributed hugely to the making of Economics as a field of academic study in the then Pakistan. At DU, Dr. M.N. Huda was not only pre-occupied with the Department of Economics but he was also in the mainstream of the University administration. He acted as the Head of the Department, Proctor, Provost and Dean at different times. During his second phase with DU, he was also elected as the Dean of the Faculty of Social Science. Dr. M.N. Huda's professional assignments included his stints with both the then Central Government of Pakistan and the Provincial Government of the then East Pakistan. He served as a Member of the then East Pakistan Planning Board. He was one of the original exponents of Two- Economy Theory in Pakistan -one for East Pakistan and another for West Pakistan. His advocacy in 1950s for removing economic disparity between East and West Pakistan can still be gleaned from his speeches and writings during that era.
At the invitation of Justice A.S.M. Sayem, the then Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and the President of Bangladesh, Dr. M.N. Huda joined the President's Council of Advisors in December 1975 as the Advisor in-charge of the Ministries of Commerce (December 1975 through December 1976), Industries (December 1975 through January 1976) and Planning (December 1975 through April 1979). He was also in charge of Ministry of Agriculture from February 1976 through June 1976. In November 1981, the newly elected President Justice Abdus Sattar appointed Dr. M.N. Huda to be the Vice President of the Republic of Bangladesh. The moment he realized that he could no longer serve his nation with dignity and integrity, he quietly resigned in March 1982 from the Vice Presidency of the Republic.
Although Dr M.N. Huda passed away in December 1991, it was through the painstaking yet undoubtedly loving efforts of his wife, late Professor Umme Kulsum Siddiqua Banu (died in 2008), elder daughter Simeen Mahmud (expired in 2018), younger daughter Zareen Ahmed, and the editor of the book Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed.
As publishers, UPL once again demonstrate their maturity and a certain responsibility that rests on them, for the intellectual nourishment of the nation. That this memoir could finally see the light of day when it did, might just mean that the life of a great Bangladeshi such as Dr Huda, does not have to be lost to us all, particularly coming generations.
Dr Huda's preferred choice for the title of the book was 'Stray Thoughts', and he justified it by saying: "Because formally and technically, these articles, speeches, notes etc. of mine do not form parts of an integrated whole; they represent my ideas and thoughts at different times in my life on important challenges facing the country - Pakistan, East Pakistan and Bangladesh. The explanatory notes accompanying each seek to explain some of the environmental circumstances under which each was contemplated."
What makes Dr Huda's memoir immensely rich and insightful, is the parallel narrative that unfolds of the history of the Indian sub-continent, specifically related to the territory and population of Bangladesh.
Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed has further elaborated:"His memoir is based on his own writings and a few interviews he had given. This book is foremost a memoir, although Professor Huda does delve into some topics of economics in depth which will surely whet the appetite of economists".
The book is broadly divided into three parts or chapters. These are: My early life in British India (1918-47); My Life during the Pakistan period (1947-1971); and The Bangladesh period of my life (1971-91).
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