Despite some difficulties, Bangladesh is the number one place to engage all three big powers – India, China and the United States - in a bridging role, says a Singapore-based foreign affairs analyst. “Anything to do with China and India has a shadow over the United States as well. And so I think Bangladesh is the number one place to engage all three in a bridging role,” said Professor Kanti Prasad Bajpai, Vice Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School, National University of Singapore. He was speaking at a discussion this week as part of Cosmos Dialogue Distinguished Speaker’s Series, entitled “China-India Relations: Implication for South Asia.” “I think its (Bangladesh’s) diplomatic links with both China and India, probably the strongest amongst all the countries of South Asia. The kind of positive equidistance that Bangladesh has between China and India probably no other country in this region can match. It also has fairly good relations with the United States,” Prof Bajpai said. Read More: China "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh, Myanmar to promote Rohingya repatriation: Ambassador Yao The discussion was chaired and conducted by President of Cosmos Foundation and renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury.
Globally renowned researcher, archivist and curator Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins has joined the Cosmos Foundation as its newest Advisory Board member. A psychiatrist by profession, he received his B.A. from Columbia University in 1963 and M.D. from the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Robbins started collecting Rajput, Deccani, Mughal and other South Asian artefacts from dealers and auction houses in the 1960s and has used his collections to publish fourteen books on South Asian history and culture. His special interests range from Maharajas, Nawabs, and Deccani Sultans to minority groups like Afro-South Asians. Dr. Robbins and his wife Joyce have accumulated a collection of more than 100,000 items over the period of more than five decades that covers the history of South Asia and Africans in the larger Indian Ocean world, and the Jewish diaspora in India and beyond. Welcoming Dr. Robbins on board, Chairman of Cosmos Foundation and Managing Director of the Cosmos Group, Enayetullah Khan, said, “Having Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins on our Advisory Board is an honour for us. The passion and unquenchable thirst for South Asian art, history and unexplored connection between peoples that Dr. Robbins has demonstrated through his expanded collection and published works are awe-inspiring. As a leading organisation working to familiarise the world with Bangladeshi art and culture, having Dr. Robbins on Cosmos Foundation’s Advisory Board perfectly aligns with our vision.” Nahar Khan, Executive Director of Cosmos Foundation, said, “The ways in which our cultures influenced one another historically and, in many cases, still influence one another today, provide us with invaluable insights into humankind. Dr. Robbins’ pioneering work on the movement of people across the Indian Ocean – from Africa to India, the fascinating historical exchanges in knowledge, music, arts and culture open doors for and deserves in-depth research that can shed light on some missing chapters in world history. His decades-spanning explorations will surely enrich Cosmos Foundation as it navigates the global cultural sphere.” About Cosmos Foundation Cosmos Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group – registered as a trust dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help Bangladesh chart its course towards a better future. The Foundation works towards discovering, cultivating and disseminating for a global audience the art of Bangladesh. It provides direction to the Cosmos Group’s flagship curatorial space, Gallery Cosmos, and its pioneering printmaking studio, Atelier71, which work in tandem. The Foundation aims to engage both local and global audiences in artistic and intellectual interventions that aim to illuminate the past, examine the present, and imagine the future.
Exploring the Afro-South Asia connection and the untold narratives of the Habshi rulers during the Sultanate period in Bengal, globally renowned researcher, archivist and curator Dr Kenneth X Robbins on Tuesday said that the historic ties between the Afro-South Asian communities need to be closely studied across the globe. “Africans were an integral part of several Indian Sultanates, and some even started their own dynasties after moving to South Asia and eventually settled down here to play an essential role in the Indian subcontinent’s history of kingdoms, conquests and wars. They made contributions to this region’s history as soldiers and mercenaries, traders and merchants, musicians, scholars, and even generals and rulers,” Dr Robbins said. They flourished as traders, artists, rulers, architects and reformers between the 14th and 17th centuries, and many Bengalis, on the other hand, also settled in Africa. These histories are lesser known, which is why it is necessary to bring global attention to the Afro-South Asian relationship and the Habshi dynasties, according to Dr Robbins who used his collections to publish fourteen books on South Asian history and culture, rooted from his special interests ranging from maharajas, nawabs, and Deccani sultans to minority groups like Afro-South Asians. Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the symposium and exhibition featuring Dr Kenneth X Robbins as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series, titled “Afro-South Asia Connectivity and the Habshi Kingdoms of Bengal and Beyond” on January 3 at the Garden Gallery, Baridhara in Dhaka. The welcome remarks were delivered by Nahar Khan, Executive Director of Cosmos Foundation, followed by the keynote speech of Dr Robbins, who is currently on a visit to Bangladesh with his wife Joyce Robbins. Read more: Cosmos Foundation showcases brilliant artworks of Alexandru Poteca and Maksuda Iqbal Nipa “Many of us have heard of Indians in Africa. However, the movement of people across the Indian Ocean from Africa to India, the fascinating historical exchanges in knowledge, music, arts and culture still remain quite unfamiliar to us. Great lessons can be drawn from the history of how our cultures were shaped by one another, and in many ways still continue to do so. Much thanks to the pioneering work of our distinguished speaker, archivist and scholar Dr Kenneth Robbins in this regard, who has curated several Indian exhibits and many scholarly conferences,” Nahar Khan said in her welcome remarks. She mentioned that in addition to publishing more than 70 articles, Dr Robbins coedited a three-volume series on Afro-South Asia in the global African diaspora. “These are the most comprehensive accounts of the experiences of the African diaspora in South Asia, which gives us an enthralling insight into the role of Africans in shaping South Asian history, and the interactions between the two communities,” she said. A voracious collector, Dr Robbins began collecting Rajput, Deccani, Mughal and other paintings from dealers and auction houses in the 1960s. Struck by the fact that only coin collectors knew that Bengal was once ruled by an East African dynasty – from 1486 to 1493, he made it his life’s mission to bring such information into general public discourse. In October, it was revealed that the Robbins family has designated the Penn Libraries – the library system of the University of Pennsylvania, an IVY League school in the US, as the recipient of their entire collection in their estate planning. “The generosity of the Robbins family means generations of scholars will find research topics here and use these materials in their teaching – which will bring such information to textbooks in schools and into the general historical discussion. That to me is the meaning and spirit of true scholarship, and I am also happy to announce that we have been working on a book and a film project on Africans in Bengal,” Nahar Khan said.
Marking the National Mourning Day 2022, Gallery Cosmos is going to organize an exclusive group art, photography and sculpture exhibition on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman titled 'BRAVEHEART' at Cosmos Centre in the capital on Friday. Mofidul Hoque, founding trustee of the Liberation War Museum, will virtually inaugurate the exhibition as the chief guest, while eminent artists and freedom fighters Rafiqun Nabi, Biren Shome and internationally renowned artist Shahabuddin Ahmed will join the inauguration ceremony as the special guests. Supported by the Cosmos Foundation, the exhibition's inauguration ceremony will also be joined by Tehmina Enayet, Director of Gallery Cosmos and Masud Jamil Khan, Deputy Managing Director of Cosmos Group. Read: Curtain rises on Shilpo Bangla Art Exhibition UNB and Dhaka Courier will be its media and knowledge partners respectively. Prior to the inauguration of the exhibition, a vibrant team of 12 child artists and future master painters will participate in an exclusive group art camp at the exhibition venue and showcase their heartfelt tribute to the Father of the Nation. The exhibition will be showcasing artworks of several prominent artists including Shahabuddin Ahmed, Biren Shome, Alakesh Ghosh, Nasir Ali Mamun, Afrozaa Jamil Konka, Bashkor Rasha, Shahajahan Ahmed Bikash, Azmeer Hossain, Bishwajit Goswami, Abu Kalam Shamsuddin, Devdas Malakar, Dilip Karmakar, Sourav Chowdhury, Abdullah Al Bashir, Iqbal Bahar Chy, Maneek Bonik, Kamruzzoha, Azmol Hossain, Mohammed Fakhrul Islam Mazumder Shakil and Md Rafiqul Islam. Read “The Passion of Drawing-2” by Gallery Cosmos: A daylong tribute to drawing Visitors can explore the exhibition 'BRAVEHEART' at Gallery Cosmos in the Cosmos Centre, Malibagh in the capital till August 31.
Ambassador Farooq Sobhan, currently distinguished fellow & board member of the BangladeshEnterprise Institute (BEI) has joined the Cosmos Foundation as its Honorary Advisor Emeritus. Ambassador Sobhan, former President and CEO of the BEI, was Executive Chairman, Board of Investment (BoI) and Special Envoy to the Prime Minister 1997-1999 and Foreign Secretary 1995-1997. He has also served as Ambassador/High Commissioner to India, China, Malaysia and the United Nations. Referring to his joining the Cosmos Foundation Advisory Board, Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, the Foundation’s President said Farooq Sobhan does the Foundation great honour. "He is a person of prodigious experience, and I have no doubt will add enormous value to our contributions!” Ambassador Sobhan served as Chairman of the Group of 77 at the UN 1982-1983, and was Chairman, UN Commission on TNCs 1991-1992. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the South Asia Centre for Policy Studies(SACEPS), based in New Delhi and was Co-Chairman of the Coalition for South Asian Co- operation (CASAC) from 1994-2001. Ambassador Sobhan was a visiting professor at the Elliott School for International Affairs at George Washington University in 2003, where he taught a post graduate course on South Asia. He is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the independent Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), established in Dhaka in September 2007. Read: Roundtable: Bangladesh must act fast to offset fallout of Ukraine conflict Ambassador Sobhan played a pivotal role in the establishment of the SME Foundation and served on its Board during the period 2008-9. He was also a Member of the International Advisory Committee of the Asia Society in the U.S. and the Roundtable in the U.K. Ambassador Sobhan also served from 2008-2011 as a Member of the International Commission on Migration and Development. He chaired the Task Force established by the Asia Foundation in 2004 on “The US Role in South Asia”. He was invited to speak at the White House Summit meeting on CVE held in February 2015. Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Honorary Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), a reputed diplomat turned scholar who had also served as Foreign Advisor in a Caretaker Government, is the President of the Cosmos Foundation. Besides, Dr Danilo Turk, former President of the Republic of Slovenia, Ambassador Krishnan Srinivasan, former Indian Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Tariq Karim, currently Director of the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies at the IUB, Haider A. Khan, a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Professor George Edward Moose, a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, where he attained the rank of Career Ambassador and has been adjunct Professor of Practice at The Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University, Ambassador Li Debiao, a Distinguished retired Chinese Diplomat and Md. Nojibur Rahman, former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh are members of the Advisory Board of the Cosmos Foundation. Cosmos Foundation is a philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, registered as a trust dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help Bangladesh chart its course towards a better future, apart from discovering, cultivating and disseminating for a global audience, the art of Bangladesh. Cosmos Foundation is organizing Bangladesh’s first-ever festival of disabled artists in collaboration with UNESCO. The Foundation provides direction to the Group’s flagship curatorial space, Gallery Cosmos, and its pioneering printmaking studio, Atelier71, which work in tandem.
Speakers at a roundtable have said Bangladesh remains in a good position with workable human resources, food production and geographical location but laid emphasis on enhancing energy exploration along with a diversified policy for conventional and renewable. But despite these advantages, the country has fallen backward in the last one and half a decade in its own energy exploration due to lack of a sustainable policy, they said. The experts raised the issues at the roundtable titled “A World in Turmoil: The Fallout from the Ukraine Conflict” jointly organized by Cosmos Foundation and Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) at a city hotel on Wednesday. Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan and President of BIPSS Major General (Retd) ANM Muniruzzaman moderated the discussion. Former foreign secretary Md Touhid Hossain, assistant professor, department of international relations, Bangladesh University of Professional (BUP) Umme Salma Tarin and assistant professor, department of economics, East West University Parvez Karim Abbasi spoke as panelists.
Malaysia’s strong support to Bangladesh in the Rohingya crisis was lauded at a webinar that focused on shared heritage and extremely good relations between the two Muslim-majority countries. The webinar titled “Bangladesh-Malaysia Relations: Prognosis for the Future” was hosted by Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Cosmos Group. The opening remarks were delivered by Cosmos Foundation Executive Director Nahar Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, a renowned scholar-diplomat and former adviser on foreign affairs to the last caretaker government. Malaysian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Haznah Md Hashim was the keynote speaker at the dialogue that will premiere on Thursday evening. Ambassador (retd) Farooq Sobhan, Yanitha Meena, a researcher in the Foreign Policy and Security Studies programme of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Dhaka University Professor Imtiaz Ahmed and Dhaka University Professor Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titumiir were panel discussants. Read: Cosmos dialogue on Bangladesh-South Korea relations to be premiered Thursday The Chair, Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury , described the excellent bilateral relations as “unsurprising”, given the commonalities of values between the two Muslim-majority nations. “We look to Malaysia to keep up the sharp focus on the Rohingya issue in ASEAN, as well as in other regional fora” he said. Dr Chowdhury commended the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for describing the atrocities perpetrated by Myanmar authorities’ as “genocide”. He reflected on the possibility of the events of ethnic cleansing and other crimes triggering the principle of “the responsibly to protect” in line with the relevant United Nations resolutions. Highlighting the Bangladesh-Malaysia relations, he said the two countries will need to work closely together, to ensure the survival of a rule-based global community, after the” double whammy” of Covid and the crisis in Europe. High Commissioner Haznah, in her key-note address, stressed that Malaysia and Bangladesh should capitalise on the existing strong relations between the two countries. She recalled her country’s long relations with Bangladesh in trade and investment, education, culture, tourism as well as technical assistance. Read: Cosmos Dialogue on Dhaka-Washington ties premieres Saturday on Facebook Bangladesh, the high commissioner noted, was currently Malaysia’s 30th largest trading partner, and ranked second among South Asian countries. Haznah hoped that the bilateral trade value between Malaysia and Bangladesh would reach the figure of up to USD 4 billion in five years. The ultimate goal, she believed, should be the establishment of a Free Trade Agreement to strengthen and diversify bilateral economic relations between the two nations. The high commissioner listed the areas like defence, aero-space and food security where bilateral cooperation could also be enhanced. About the Rohingya issue, she assured that Malaysia will remain one of the strongest supporters of Bangladesh in raising it in multilateral forums. In his remarks Farooq Sobhan said Bangladesh needs to focus much more on its Look East policy. “The centrepiece of this Look East policy, in my view, is our relations with ASEAN in particular,” he observed. Recalling significant landmark bilateral visits in the past, Farooq Sobhan stressed the continued need for such interactions. Read: Cosmos Dialogue on Bangladesh’s ties with Nordic countries Saturday Dr Imtiaz proposed floating a new platform between the two States, similar to the “Bangladesh-India Foundation, for consolidating mutual cooperation further. He said it can be a public-private partnership. “We can invite some private entrepreneurs as well to build the foundation.” Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir highlighted the issue of FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP to deepen the bilateral cooperation between the two nations. Currently, he said most of the important Asian state-players have joined RCEP and it was expected that these growing economies of Asia will dominate the global market in the next decade. He focused on transparent, fair and safe migration that complied with the provisions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Malaysian researcher Yanitha Meena said Malaysia and Bangladesh had signed an agreement on labour recruitment which is a very important part of the relationship between the two friendly nations. “It’s the right step and a highly appreciated part of our relations. This does not come without challenges, as we have seen that there are several challenges to actually come to labour relations,” she added. Cosmos Foundation Executive Director Nahar Khan said it is notable how Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur have remained truly 'all-weather' friends and allies for half a century. She lauded Malaysia’s role in providing aid and services to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Bangladesh hopes that Malaysia would continue its political pressure on Myanmar, to make them see the wisdom in creating a suitable environment in their Northern Rakhine state for full repatriation of the community, at the earliest, Khan said. Read: Cosmos dialogue on EU’s contemporary relevance begins “On the economic front, the time is truly right for Bangladesh-Malaysia to step up their engagement as they strive to move up the economic ladder within this decade,” she observed. With the growing focus on the Blue Economy, Khan said it was now opportune moment for Dhaka and Putrajaya to explore maritime engagement, as additional dimension of Bangladesh-Malaysia relations. “For this, the obvious arena for maritime engagement to commence would be the Bay of Bengal, and other regional waters, which have grown in importance as a critical maritime theatre in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean,” she added. The speakers were agreed that this important deliberation and exchange of ideas organised by the Cosmos Foundation will enormously assist the widening and deepening of bilateral relations.
The 10th edition of 'Liberation DocFest', a documentary festival on liberation and human rights, organized by the Liberation War Museum (LWM), began on Friday. The inaugural ceremony of the festival was held at the LWM auditorium, where Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud was present as the chief guest. The five-day festival, previously known as the International Festival of Docufilms on Liberation and Human Rights, has generated much interest among film lovers at home and abroad. The 10th edition of Liberation DocFest features two different sections: the National Competition Section and the International Competition Section. Over 2,100 films from 196 countries were submitted to the organizers, out of which 140 documentaries from 40 countries are scheduled to be screened at the festival.
Stronger democratic institutions, governing structures to fuel Bangladesh's future success: Ambassador Miller
Describing Bangladesh as a young nation of hope and promise with significant achievements in the last 50 years, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller has said Bangladesh's future success will be fueled by strengthening of democratic institutions and governing structures with a plural and democratic electoral process in place. “Democracy can only function when all people are fully included, their rights are protected, their voices are heard, and their votes are counted,” he said while delivering a keynote speech at a dialogue held virtually. Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue titled “Bangladesh-US Relations: Prognosis for the Future” as part of its ongoing Ambassadors' Lecture Series. The opening remarks were delivered by Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, a renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government. Distinguished Fellow & Board Member at Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) Ambassador Farooq Sobhan, President of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) Major Gen (Retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, Honorary Advisor Emeritus, Cosmos Foundation Ambassador (Retd) Tariq A Karim and former Principal Secretary to PM Md Nojibur Rahman comprised the panel of discussants. Read:‘Sky is the limit’, says new EU envoy eyeing dynamic relations with Bangladesh
Speakers at a virtual dialogue, hosted by Cosmos Foundation, have laid emphasis on having a broader collaboration between Bangladesh and South Korea focusing on a number of new areas from technology transfer to virtual marketplace, fashion, startups and innovation as Korea eyes more success stories with Bangladesh going beyond RMG. “We need to move beyond RMG and diversify collaboration between the two countries,” said South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun while delivering his keynote address at the dialogue that premiered on Thursday. Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue titled “Bangladesh South Korea Relations: Prognosis for the Future” as part of its ongoing Ambassadors' Lecture Series.