If Mohiuddin Ahmed did not exist, Bangladesh would have to invent him.
The country lost one of its foremost proponents of a knowledge-based society, Emeritus Publisher and founder of University Press Limited Mohiuddin Ahmed, on June 22nd. He was 77. At the time of his death, he was suffering from various diseases due to old age. Funeral prayers were held at Azad Mosque in Gulshan.
He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for almost 20 years. Last year he was severely infected with the coronavirus but recovered. He was last admitted to the hospital a week before his passing with heart complications.
He devoted all his efforts and life to establish the publishing industry of Bangladesh, at par with the rest of the world. He turned innumerable research works conducted on Bangladesh into books, highlighting them locally and internationally. In addition to publishing original books, he also published translations of many important books, running the risk of investing in many of these cases.
Mohiuddin Ahmed will always be remembered for his special emphasis on the content and linguistic editing of books in the publishing industry in Bangladesh. Professionalism in manuscript review and editing was established through his hands. At the same time, he always considered the packaging, including the cover, printing and binding of the book with importance. Following this, he established close professional relations with the leading writers, researchers, journalists, professors and artists of Bangladesh. During his tenure in the UPL office, people from all walks of life, from politicians to creatives, were constantly in and out of it.
Mohiuddin Ahmed was born in 1944 at Parashuram in Feni. His father was a high-ranking official of the British Indian Postal Service. He spent his adolescence at PAF Public School in Sargodha. After studying Mass Communication and Journalism from Dhaka University, he studied Journalism at Punjab University with a Pakistan Council Scholarship. At that time he was the editor of the Punjab University Chronicle. After completing his MA, he joined Pakistan Times as an apprentice journalist. He was the first and only elected General Secretary of the Student Parliament of the Punjab University from East Pakistan.
He applied for a PhD at Stanford University and was accepted with a scholarship. At the same time, he applied for the post of editor of the Pakistan branch of the Oxford University Press (OUP). He took up the post based in Karachi and started working there in 1969. After the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971, he returned to Dhaka, where he became a roving editor of OUP, coordinating the editorial activities in the branches of Dhaka, Delhi, Karachi and the East Asian branch in Malaysia. In 1975, when the Dhaka office of OUP was closed down, Ahmed decided to start UPL as a successor of OUP, as he was the chief executive in the branch. He was offered to join the Karachi branch as 'Editor-at-Large' or Roving Editor. He rejected that offer. The journey of UPL started in 1985.
Under his leadership, the UPL has won the National Library Award 18 times, including a gold medal in 1991. In 1986, he was awarded a Cultural Doctorate in Publishing Management from Benson, Arizona-based World University. In 2014, he was awarded the Emeritus Publisher title by the Bangladesh Knowledge and Creative Publishers Association.
He took the initiative to publish special books in the early 1990s to understand the emergence of Bangladesh from different contexts. Included in this collection were books on the political history of the region, a review of the freedom fighters and an analysis of those who were the artisans of the liberation war. These books also included Indian statements on the War of Liberation, memoirs of the US ambassador, and even Pakistani commentaries on the birth of Bangladesh through the bloody ousting of the Pakistani state.
In 1996, he and Professor Muntasir Mamun led interviews with 26 senior Pakistani military officers and researchers. An important milestone in his publishing life was the publication of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 'Unfinished Autobiography' in 2012. In addition to publishing in Bengali, he also arranged for the book to be published simultaneously in India (Penguin) and Pakistan (OUP) in English and Urdu.
Mohiuddin Ahmed's dream of a tolerant society was also reflected in the process of selecting the manuscripts of the UPL. The acceptability of the manuscript was the only criterion for deciding on its publication. Due to this inquisitive but uncompromising attitude on the question of quality, UPL was able to publish Maidul Hasan's seminal history of 1971, or Hugh Bremmer's 'Geography of Bangladesh' or the translation of Jaya Chatterjee's latest research on Partition.
Mohiuddin Ahmed was also enthusiastic about various aspects of literature. He is the publisher of some of the major novels in Bengali, including Akhtaruzzaman Elias's Chilekothar Sepai and Shawkat Ali's Pradose Prakritjan. He has also acted as a patron as much as possible by publishing various collections of contemporary selected literature. He also tried to make Bengali literature available to foreigners through English translation.
He leaves behind his wife, renowned psychologist Mehtab Khanam, and two daughters Mahrukh Mohiuddin and Shamarukh Mohiuddin.
Leave a Comment
A reception was hosted at Baridhara on November 29, 2023, celebrating ...
In its most urgent and scathing statement yet on the situation in Bang ...