Asiatic Society of Bangladesh

Asiatic Society of Bangladesh a non-political, non-government and non-profit learned organisation of scholars registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. Established in 1952 in Dhaka, the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh is committed to the study of 'Man and Nature of Asia'. Both in spirit and organisational structure, the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh is a near kin to the asiatic society, Calcutta (estd. 1784). The President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh is its chief patron. The society has its office at 5 Old Secretariat Road, Nimtali, Dhaka.

Asiatic Society of Bangladesh

The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh has a rich heritage. Its roots can be traced back to the last quarter of the 18th century when sir william jones, a judge of the Calcutta Supreme Court, took the initiative and founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784. After partition of bengal (1947), quite a number of scholars, active as members of the Asiatic Society (Calcutta), migrated to Dhaka. They conceived the idea of founding a similar learned organisation in Dhaka. It may be noted that in promoting oriental studies, Asiatic Societies, though not directly linked to each other, were established in Mumbai (1804), London (1823), Colombo (1845), Hong Kong (1847), Tokyo (1872), Malaysia (1878), and Korea (1900) and on the model of the original Calcutta Society. The motto of all these associations has been the study of 'Man and Nature of Asia'.

The initiative to set up a similar Asiatic Society in Dhaka came mainly from Dr ahmad hasan dani, then a teacher in the Department of History at the university of dhaka and curator of Dhaka Museum. During pre-partition days, Dani was a regional superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India in Rajshahi. He may be called the William Jones of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan. Dr Dani's idea received enthusiastic support from other scholars of Dhaka who met on 3 January 1952 and established the Asiatic Society of Pakistan. The other founding members include Dr ABM Habibullah, Dr muhammad shahidullah, Dr IH Juberi, Dr sayed moazzem hossain, Dr WHA Sadani, Dr abdul halim, Dr serajul hUq, Abdul Hamid, syed muhammad taifoor, Khan Bahadur Abdur Rahman, Sheikh Sharafuddin and J.S Turner. With the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, the name of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan was renamed as 'Asiatic Society of Bangladesh' ('Bangladesh Asiatic Society' in Bangla).

The membership of the Society is open to all scholars irrespective of nationality, creed and religion. Members are elected in the monthly general meetings. Applications for membership proposed and seconded by two members and scrutinised by the scrutiny committee are forwarded to the Council for recommendations to the next Monthly General Meeting for election. On having been elected the applicant requires to pay admission fee and the membership fee enrolment. Associate members are also elected in the same procedure and are entitled to all rights and privileges of a member except that they can neither vote nor propose or second any one for membership. Honorary members and Fellows are also elected, but such memberships are normally conferred upon highly recognised scholars with outstanding contributions to Asian studies.

The organisational set up of the Society followed that of the Calcutta Asiatic Society. The Society is run by its own statutes and is administered by a 17 member Executive Council elected once in two years. The composition of the Council is as follows: one President, three Vice-Presidents, one Treasurer, one General Secretary, one Secretary, and twelve members including two Fellows co-opted by the Council. The Council upholds the Constitution, formulates policies and manages the general affairs of the Society and is responsible to the members of the Society. The Council meets normally once a month where all matters relating to the management of the Society are presented and approved. The General Secretary acts as the executive head of the Society, conducts the daily business, maintains records, convenes meetings under provisions laid down in the constitution and presents a report at the Biennial General Meeting.

The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh organises one learned lecture every month during its monthly general meeting, and this is one of the mandatory functions of the Society. It also arranges seminars, conferences, Trust Fund lectures and special talks throughout the year. Besides, the Foundation day of the Society is observed on 3 January every year and on this occasion an eminent scholar from home or abroad is invited to deliver the Foundation Day Lecture.

The Society has a rich book publication programme. It encourages scholars and researchers to publish their books and monographs from the Society. The Society has so far published 107 books on oriental studies. Among the Society's publications the most important book titled History of Bangladesh (1704-1971) in three volumes, Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (2003) in ten volumes, Cultural Survey of Bangladesh (2008) in twelve volumes, Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh (2010) in 28 volumes, A survey of Historical Monuments and sites in Bangladesh: Mainamati-Devaparvata, Gawr-Lakhnawti, Sonargaon-Panam (1997) in three volumes, need special mention. To serve the local and foreign readership most of the multi volume books have been published in both Bangla, English and also in CD and online.

Besides these, publication of journals and Newsletters get priority among the Society's regular activities. The Society regularly publishes three learned journals (all peer reviewed) viz. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh (Humanities), Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh (Sciences) and Asiatic Society Patrika (Bangla), each twice a year. Besides these journals the Society also publishes quarterly Newsletter to let its members know the on going activities of the Society. Members of the Society are entitled to a free copy of these journals and newsletters. The Society also undertakes and implement large-scale collective research projects. The Society also gives affiliations to bona fide visiting scholars to facilitate their research in Bangladesh. Affiliated scholars are usually entitled to use the Society's library and other facilities including accommodation.

Period President General Secretary
1952-53 Mr. Abdul Hamid Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani
1954 Dr. Md. Shahidullah Dr. Serajul Huq
1955 Professor Abdul Halim Dr. Serajul Huq
1956 Justice Md. Ibrahim Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani
1957-58 Khan Bahadur Abdur Rahman Khan Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani
1959 Khan Bahadur Abdur Rahman Khan Dr. M Saghir Hasan
1960-61 Professor Abdul Halim Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani
1962 Dr. Md. Shahidullah Dr. Mafizullah Kabir
1963-64 Dr. Md. Shahidullah Dr. S Sajjad Husain
1965 Dr. Mohammad Enamul Haq Dr. Abdul Karim
1966 Dr. Mohammad Enamul Haq Dr. Mafizullah Kabir
1967 Dr. Md. Shahidullah Syed Murtaza Ali
1968 Justice Abdul Maudud Professor ABM Habibullah
1969-73 Professor ABM Habibullah Dr. Ahmed Sharif
1974 Syed Murtaza Ali Dr. Ajoy Kumar Roy
1975 Professor ABM Habibullah Dr. Ajoy Kumar Roy
1976 Mr. Kamruddin Ahmed Dr. M Moniruzzaman Miah
1977-78 Mr. Kamruddin Ahmed Dr. MR Tarafdar
1979 Professor Serajul Huq Dr. MR Tarafdar
1980 Professor Md. Enamul Haq Dr. MR Tarafdar
1981 Khan Bahadur Abdul Hakim Dr. Sirajul Islam
1982 Professor Mafizullah Kabir Dr. Sirajul Islam
1983 Professor AR Mallick Dr. KM Mohsin
1984-85 Professor AR Mallick Professor Mohammad Moniruzzaman
1986-87 Mr. AKM Zakariah Professor Sirajul Islam
1988-89 Dr. AM Sharafuddin Professor Wakil Ahmed
1990-91 Dr. AM Sharafuddin Professor Syed Anwar Husain
1992-93 Professor AKM Nurul Islam Professor Hasna Begum
1994-95 Professor Sirajul Islam Dr. Harun-or-Rashid
1996-97 Professor Wakil Ahmed Professor Akmal Hussain
1998-99 Professor M Harunur Rashid Dr. Sajahan Miah
2000-2001 Professor Abdul Momin Chowdhury Dr. Sajahan Miah
2002-2003 Professor Abdul Momin Chowdhury Professor Syed Rashidul Hasan
2004-2005 Professor Emajuddin Ahamed Professor SM Mahfuzur Rahman
2006-2007 Professor Emajuddin Ahamed Dr. Sajahan Miah
2008-2009 Professor Sirajul Islam Professor Mahfuza Khanam
2010-1011 Professor Sirajul Islam Professor Mahfuza Khanam
2012-2013 Professor Nazrul Islam Professor Ahmed A. Jamal
2012-2013 Professor Amirul Islam Chowdhury Professor Ahmed A. Jamal

The Asiatic Society of Bangladesh maintains a library. The collection (around 15000 titles) in this library is of highly selective nature. These include books, journals, old manuscripts and other rare research materials. All the members of the Society and other researchers are entitled to have personal access to the library and use its collections. They can also borrow books from the Library for a stipulated time. Owing to its specialised nature, the library has become a resource centre for scholars. It also maintains a laboratory for cartographic, photographic and multimedia works.

The Society has established a permanent art gallery covering an area of 3500 sq. ft. for holding art exhibitions. It also collects, conserves and displays works of major local and foreign artists. The Society also has a five-Room Guest House to accommodate visiting scholars, researchers, guests and members.

Name of Trust Fund Year of Est. Founder(s) Area of activities
FINAS Foundation 1984 Khan Bahadur Abdul Hakin Science in shaping of modern life.
Saleha Khanam Trust Fund 1986 Mr. Mustafizur Rahman Khan Role of savings in social life.
Mustafizur Rahman Khan and Saleha Khanam Trust Fund 1987 Professor Mahfuza Khanam Rights of women in Asia.
Professor Mufassiluddin Ahmed Trust Fund 1987 Professor Mofassiluddin Ahmed Medistic Psychotherapy.
Professor Muhammad Ishaq Trust Fund 1987 Professor Muhammad Ishaq History of Bengal up to 1947.
Munshi Aftabuddin and Abdul Hafiz Trust Fund 1987 Mr. Abdul Hafiz Bangladesh studies.
Professor Shafiqur Rahman Trust Fund 1988 Professor Shafiqur Rahman Humanities and social sciences.
National Professor Atwar Husain Trust Fund 1988 Professor Rahmat Ara Husain Economic problems in developing countries of Asia and planning strategy for development.
Halima Begum and Shaikh Sharafuddin Trust Fund 1991 Dr. Abdullah Al-Muti Sharafuddin Science and technology.
Professor Muhammad Nurul Karim Trust Fund 1991 Professor Md. Nurul Karim Asians’ contribution to the study of Arabic, Islamic Studies, Persian and Urdu.
Jahanara Majid and Mahbub Alam Trust Fund 1994 Mr. Mahbub Alam Dhaka City: its past, present and future.
Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Trust Fund 1996 National Professor Sufia Ahmed and Mr. Tariq Ibrahim Humanities and liberal arts.
Shahid Jamil Ahmed Trust Fund 2000 Mrs. Anjuman Ara Jamil Defense and security related issues, civil military relationship, role of defense services in disaster management and peacekeeping, nationally and internationally.
Dr. Serajul Haque and Mahzuzh Haque Trust Fund 2001 Professor Serajul Haque Islam in its various aspects.
Mohammad Wajed Ali Trust Fund 2003 Professor Wajiur Rahman Contemporary Bengali Literature of Muslim writers, Bengali literature of 20th century, political and religious influence on Bengali literature.
Maulvi Shamsuddin Ahmed Memorial Trust Fund 2003 Mr. Md. Aminul Islam Numismatics, epigraphy, archaeology, art and architecture.
AKM Azizul Haq and Husniara Huq Trust Fund 2003 Professor Husniara Huq Education and development.
Barrister Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed Memorial Foundation 2004 National Professor Sufia Ahmed Legal and constitutional history and cultural history of Bangladesh.
Professor Mahfuza Khanam and Barrister Shafique Ahmed Trust Fund 2004 Professor Mahfuza Khanam Law and human rights.
Banglapedia Trust 2004 Asiatic Society of Bangladesh Revision and publication of the Banglapedia, undertake and implement projects on similar works, etc.
Professor Abdul Majed Khan Memorial Trust 2008 Mr. Abdur Rahman Khan and Mrs. Maliha Chaudhury History and culture of Bangladesh and South Asia.
Cultural Studies Trust 2008 Asiatic Society of Bangladesh Research and publication on culture of Bangladesh, maintaining Folk Museum and Art Gallery, arrange art exhibition, etc.
Flora and Fauna Studies Trust 2008 Asiatic Society of Bangladesh Revision and updating of the Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh
Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah Trust Fund 2009 Dhaka Ahsania Mission Promotion of basic and applied research in arts, humanities, social sciences and science
FIM Nurul Abedin and Anjuman Ara Begum Memorial Trust Fund 2010 Professor Samina Sultana Arts, humanities, social science and environment
Khoda Bokth Memorial Trust 2010 Javed Bokth Economic, history, social science and human rights
Dr. Anwar Dil and Dr. Afia Dil Trust Fund 2011 Dr. Anwar Dil and Dr. Afia Dil Asian history, culture and civilisation

To maximise the activities of the Society and also to enable the patrons of learning to participate in its activities, the Society introduced the Endowment Scheme in 1984. Since then 24 Trust Funds have been established in the Society. An independent Board of Trustees manages each Trust Fund. Besides, the Society itself has established three Trust Funds out of the receipts obtained from respective project outputs. These are Banglapedia Trust, Trust for Cultural Studies and Flora and Fauna Trust. The Society has also established a Centre for Dhaka Studies to facilitate research on various aspects of Dhaka City. Trust Funds give financial support for learned activities like research, lectures, prizes, medals, writing monographs, making collections, archaeological inquiries.

The revenue of the Society comes from various sources, such as government grant-in-aid, members' fees, sales proceeds of Society's publications, interest from trust funds accounts, donations, rental from the auditorium, art gallery and guest house instituted at the Society, etc. [Sajahan Miah]