A boy was running in the country roads of Shorishapur – a remote village of Bajitpur. Could people even imagine that one day this boy would defeat the height of the sky in the context of honor? He is a wayfarer, who is walking on the path of the world to discover himself. Sometimes the route was Bajitpur – Soviet Union – America, and sometimes it ignored the map of the world.
The entire team of ‘The InCAP’ was waiting for that enlightened man. A lot of discussions were going on about him in the office before he arrived. Eventually, The Legend reached at the right time at his busy schedule.
We started talking to him, and there was parlance on different topics. We were surprised to see this amazing man, who born in a very ordinary family of a small village in Bangladesh. Within a short span of time, we realized how big the world of his thoughts is. His life intellection, thought process, and the depth of his knowledge fascinated us, and that will not stop any day. Some people can conquer their contemporary time and able to infiltrate the infinity, Dr. Md. Khalequzzaman is one of them. He is the brightest living proof that dauntless courage, honesty, humility, and a strong desire to touch the peak can give a person immortality.
We present some magnetic parts of that discussion for you. Let the merit doors open and read.
Md. Khalequzzaman, Ph.D.
Geology & Physics
Lock Haven University
The InCAP: Sir, after arriving in Bangladesh you’re passing a very hectic time. Yet, you’ve set aside some time for The InCAP. Greetings and welcome to you from the entire team of The InCAP.
Md. Khalequzzaman: I’m really glad to be here. Thank you all.
The InCAP: We would like to know about your growing up, education, and experience about study abroad, means the time story.
Md. Khalequzzaman: We have many brothers and sisters, and I am the eldest child. So, for these two reasons many responsibilities were born to me. Considering my surroundings, I felt a sense of myself that I had to change my position. Various elements and surroundings around me helped me differently.
My neighbors and teachers encouraged me. When I got a scholarship in class eight, my self-confidence was boosted. In our time, not many people did receive a scholarship; only three scholarships were received from my school. After getting scholarship, I was more encouraged.
At SSC and HSC I got an outstanding result. In SSC I got the highest number in our district. Actually, people’s motivation has worked very well. After passing the HSC, I was supposed to be a doctor, because since my childhood everybody said that I’m an excellent student and I should become a doctor. I should have been a doctor; these words were conceived in my mind. To be a doctor, I got admission test at Mymensingh Medical College, and I got fifth place. I was first at Agricultural University and got a chance at BUET. But I was admitted to BUET.
Now, in every village, there are smartphones in the hands of every person, there are newspapers in the village, there was nothing similar during that period.
I am talking about 1976 when my HSC result was published. I had a grandfather (named Gani Mia) who was a subscriber to a newspaper in the village through the postal department. One day he got to know about the Soviet government scholarship through newspaper and told me that those who got more than 70 percent in the SSC and HSC are eligible to apply.
At that time, 70 percent of the mark was not very easily achievable. The first division was at 60 percent.
The InCAP: Did you start to study at BUET at that time?
Md. Khalequzzaman: I was just admitted, there were other 4-5 months left to start the class.
The InCAP: But you wanted to be a doctor?
Md. Khalequzzaman: The result of BUET had already been published so that I got admitted. It takes less money to get admission, 208 taka only. And still, there was time for medical admission test. Later, when I attended the medical examination, I got a chance. Meanwhile, I have been applied for the scholarship in the USSR, and a letter came from the Ministry of Education that I was selected. I was asked to choose the subject.
That was the turning point in my life. I had the desire to be a doctor, and here (the Russian scholarship) there was an option to study in medical science. But when I reached to choose the subject, I came to see that all the subjects were completed only in lieu of Lift Engineering and Mining Engineering. I didn’t know what the Lift Engineering was, but I smile in my mind thinking that when I return to my country, then people call me ‘lift boy’, albeit it was a kid’s thinking (he laughs). At that time Mining Engineering was nowhere in our country and I liked it.
The InCAP: Did you face any obstacles from the family about going to the Soviet Union?
Md. Khalequzzaman: No obstacles were encountered. My family thought that study abroad with hundred percent scholarship was an excellent opportunity for me. My younger brother is only three years younger than me, and at the same time, my family was not able to send two or three children to the university. It was kind of impossible.
The InCAP: When did you return home after studying abroad?
Md. Khalequzzaman: After 6 years, in November 1982, after completing my studies, I returned home. Among these, I had completed Honors-Masters (5 years) and language courses (1 year).
The InCAP: What did you do in the country after returning?
Md. Khalequzzaman: I worked as a Geologist at the Geological Survey of Bangladesh. Since my subject was Mining Engineering and many of these courses were required to study Survey. I was concerned with the study of Geology, and no job was available in Mining Engineering was in our country at that moment.
The InCAP: Sir, was it your first job?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Yes.
The InCAP: How much was the first salary?
Md. Khalequzzaman: (He laughs) As the first class gazetted officer, the scale was 750 taka, it would have been worth 1400 taka in total.
The InCAP: How long did you work there?
Md. Khalequzzaman: I worked for about three years there, until December 1986.
The InCAP: What did you do then?
Md. Khalequzzaman: In 1987, I went to America to do a Masters in Geology at the University of Delaware with an ADB Scholarship. But after working with Geology, interest in geology has increased a lot. So in America, I also studied Geology. The disappointment of not being able to study in medical science gradually went away.
Now, when I think, I believe it was the best decision of my life that I had studied in Mining Engineering instead of being a Doctor; otherwise, my life would have been incomplete.
Later on, my younger brother (Dr. Kamruzzaman Jahangir) has become a doctor and through whom the unfulfilled achievement of the family and me was fulfilled.
The InCAP: When did you go to Russia (formerly USSR) again after November 1982?
Md. Khalequzzaman: In 2009, with my wife to travel.
The InCAP: 32 years in America, that means you have more than half of your life live in America.
Md. Khalequzzaman: Yes, more than half of my life is spent in America!
The InCAP: Which time do you enjoy most, when you are in the workplace in America or when you come to Bangladesh?
Md. Khalequzzaman: It always feels that attraction towards my homeland, but I enjoy my work in America and the working conditions over there.
The InCAP: There is such love for the motherland, and certainly there are some bad or painful feelings at here. Tell us three things about such hardship that makes you so much worse.
Md. Khalequzzaman: Have a very nice question! Though the answer is very cumbersome. Very clearly I talk about my three woes with Bangladesh.
2. Environmental Degradation
3. Extreme Lack of Professionalism
The InCAP: As a professor, what do you think of the major strength of Bangladesh?
Md. Khalequzzaman: People are moving forward through so much trouble, hardship, and suffering, and in the real sense they are happy.
The InCAP: And the biggest weakness of Bangladesh?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Lack of professionalism among people. People say good things, they give religious advice, but corruption and irregularity comatose among people, it seems like it flows through the vein. If so, the good talk of chattering, then this kind of unbridled aberration came from where? (He is feeling upset and becoming silent for a while).
The InCAP: We want to move to a different context. We say that Bangladesh is booming, Bangladesh is a medium earning country. Would you say who plays the most important role behind this development?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Farmers are playing the basic and real role in my eyes. They are extremely honest. But their contribution to society is not acknowledged. Even then without any food security, no development is acceptable, not even tolerable.
After that, the contribution of expatriate workers to many, they try to send almost their entire income to this country.
I think the Ready Made Garment Industry, Pharmaceuticals are also playing a lot.
The InCAP: Who can play the most significant role in forming a society? Politicians, Youth, or Intellectuals?
Md. Khalequzzaman: In the real sense, the leading role should be played by politicians. They are policymakers, they give direction. Besides, every age and profession has the place to contribute. If every person fulfills his/her responsibilities appropriately, the country will proceed as a whole.
The InCAP: How powerful is a teacher in your opinion?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Teachers around the world are considered to be nation builders. The performance of teachers is undeniable. So Bangladeshi education institutions need to maintain the international standard, and it is very essential.
The InCAP: As a teacher, do you think the teachers of Bangladesh are in power?
Md. Khalequzzaman: As far as I can understand that from the outside, it seems definitely no.
The InCAP: One trend among the present generations is that they want to move out of the country. Whether it is for studying or staying permanently. That means a disappointment works that they don’t want to stay in the country. Is this a Brain-drain that needs to be reduced or stopped?
Md. Khalequzzaman: I think it is not possible to completely close the Brain-drain in this globalized world. Because people are much more interconnected in the Globalized World, they keep a lot of information, they know where the scope of the good is, and yes they know it. They all try to make their own progress. If someone outside this country evaluates his/her talents and labor, then many will be interested in going, this is normal.
For many reasons, people are willing to go out and unwilling to return home.
The InCAP: Such as…
Md. Khalequzzaman: Look, I don’t think that’s always an economic or educational fact. Like me, the economic reason behind staying in America was not the main motivation for me. I think insecurity, environmental degradation, lawlessness, misrule, corruption, irregularities, when these things are not found from other countries and people of another race or religion; on the contrary, similar respect and dignity are available, and when the law is equal for everyone, then why don’t you go, why don’t you move on?
So I don’t believe that many people go out of this country for only economic reason.
The InCAP: How important is it to see the world?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Very important. This is our world! I want to see every corner of the world. It is not possible to know the inner world of yours without seeing the outer world.
The InCAP: We all depend on the government and do not want to take any initiative privately; do you have any comments on this?
Md. Khalequzzaman: I think the change has to come from within the country. Because, if the overall situation is not favorable in the country then how will they work, those who want to do so?
The InCAP: What is your advice towards Bangladesh?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Bangladesh has much potential. Bangladesh is a beautiful country from natural beauty, it’s unbelievably excellent. Bengali is hugely famous for their humbleness and hospitability, if these virtues can be transferred and applied to every national level, then it seems that despite being so many problems, Bangladesh can become a uniquely beautiful country.
As the country comes under the overall law, good governance is ensured, and policymakers must take a close look at social degradation.
If the country can be made habitable then I believe, the country is still very rich with many potentials, one day our sigh will be stopped.
The InCAP: What’s the meaning of patriotism to you?
Md. Khalequzzaman: Patriotism is to fulfill own responsibility honestly. Everybody from their position. Everybody means Everyone. That’s it.