The impression created by an accomplished man is a synthesis of a lifetime. It is a compilation of years
of activities, experience and norms held deep inside the heart. As said by the prodigious Steve Jobs,
“When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t
really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were
able to connect experiences they had and synthesize new things.” Indeed, he saw through the
background of a fact that becomes a taken for granted truth. A truth that cannot be realized enough
unless it is given the time to materialize itself.
Given years of observance, we know who Akhtaruzzaman Babu was. So we know his contributions to
society, country, politics, economy, and Industry. But what would be the motive behind all these? What
dragged him to his goal and created the intent of working for our country? Is it just the proposition of
power or a natural aptitude? The answers remain in the backdrop of the apparent applause and
Tracking the Breadcrumbs to the Source:
The story of Akhtaruzzaman’s life and achievements left for us a blatant locus. A follow back
along those trails of benefaction takes us back to the root of Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu. It is the
place where he was born, the people he grew up with. The bond with people of one’s home town goes
Being born at a time of political transition, Akhtaruzzaman witnessed the crises inflicted upon his fellow
people. The struggles done by his ancestors and legends of Chittagong was more than inspirational; it
passed on the liability and the sense of redemption to the descendants. Not every person feels
susceptible to take over the liabilities. Being on the safe side might work for an individual, but can leave
the community at bay. Akhtaruzzaman babu could envision what other people couldn’t. Rather than
confining himself into a cocoon and going with the flow, he got himself into action. He became a social
activist, rectifier, and politician for the sake of people. Undoubtedly it is the aptitude of volunteering
that worked as an indomitable stimulus for the philanthropic attempts. The moral attachment and the
inborn sense of duty to the benefits of mass people were the drives that accelerated his pace against
the static inertia.
Sense of Bond and Comparable Reality:
Home is where the heart is. It is the place where a child is born and brought up; it learns to
speak of the tangible things, as well as learns to feel the unseen strings of unspoken things. Let it be
love, belief, responsibility, care, and condolence. Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu was born to
Nuruzzaman Chowdhury & Khorsheda Begum in 1945. His birthplace is a village named Anowara
Haildhor in Chittagong. His father was an advocate and landlord. Accordingly, his earlier beliefs and
norms were rooted deeply by the bringing up of his family. He came to know about the people of his
society, community, and country. He got to see the societal conduct of his elders and built up his very
own sense of sociability. The capability of getting along is the first step to blend in with the community –
and that can’t be taught without familial motivation.
Akhtaruzzaman didn’t only vibe in with the status of the family but also learned to look beyond.
The fact of being born to a well-to-do Muslim family neither did impede his sociability nor limited the
scope of amicable understanding. Rather he could verify the conspicuous difference in the economic
conditions of the families in his community. A thoughtful person like him would indeed reflect on the
cause and ways to eradicate the imbalance.
This is what created a lifetime intent in his mind – to work
for the betterment of common people. An intent that decided the path of Babu’s work-life. He had the
friendliest approach to the fellow people in Chittagong. The most envious achievement of Mr.
Chowdhury is the love of common people who knew that his conduct and intentions went without greed
or envy. His selfless and voluntary motives in welfare strives had a huge impact on his people; he
became a man of respect, shelter, and someone to rely upon in critical times. These chimeras of
leadership & coordinating qualities eventually led to his getting elected to the East Pakistan provincial
assembly (from Anwara-West Patia) in 1970.
The Second Sanctuary:
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury was a bright student. Academic education enlightened him about
the current situation of the people of his country; also shed the lights on the legends. Through
education, Akhtaruzzaman came to know about the philosophies of life. It taught him to differentiate
between norms, beliefs, and facts. It planted within him the seeds of a fearless thinker; Trained him to
lead in critical times. He completed his secondary school certificate in 1958 from Patiya High School.
After that, he got admitted to Notre Dame College, Dhaka in the same year. Followed by his educational
accomplishments in the higher secondary level, he achieved a scholarship and got admitted to Illinois
University of Science and Technology, US.
Later he studied business administration at the New York University. The oath for serving his motherland was an undeniable drive, against which the luxurious life abroad couldn’t gain on him. Rather, his academic experience from abroad taught him what our country still lacked and led the way to improved thinking. He returned to Bangladesh in December 1968 after having completed an associate degree from the US.
Decades of National Crisis:
It is said that a person’s capability is the best known in a time of crisis. After the sub-continental
segregation, our country faced consecutive political controversies. From the liberation war and the
massacre of the Bangabandhu family to the movement against tyranny, Akhtaruzzaman fought risking
his life. The political era of multiple climaxes worked as an undeniable background and tied him to
politics. The unattachable bonds resulted in his lifetime contribution as an important person of the
During the Liberation war of Bangladesh, he organized Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra in
Chittagong. The declaration of independence was sent from Akhtaruzzaman’s residence to all places
including Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. This initiative worked as the first torch-holder to dispatch the
vital message. It let people know that the war was inevitable and it was time to strike back.
When the war of liberation started, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu went to India. Being there, he
undertook important duties as a part of the newly formed government of Bangladesh. He was in charge
of the relief and rehabilitation committee of the Mujibnagar government. Moreover, in the middle of
the war of liberation, he visited different parts of Europe and the US; he was focused to build a
worldwide opinion in favor of the sacrifice done by the Liberation War soldiers. Starting from the UK, he
traveled to the US as a delegate of Bangladesh led by Justice Abu Saeed Chowdhury. During the war, he
was a freedom fighter and one of the facilitators who strived to pave the way to independence.
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu became one of the persons who sacrificed himself for the betterment
of the Bangladeshi people. The historic Chittagong movement was led by him. And, to mention,
Bangladesh went through a number of critical political incidents right in the first decade of
independence. Several heroes of the Liberation war diverged in their ideology and gave in to the
controversies that resulted in an unworthy brutal massacre. In these critical times, be it risking life and
foreseeing inevitable confinement, Mr. Chowdhury kept his cool and took the actions into account.
In 1972 he deployed his ideas and experiences in reforming the constitution of Bangladesh. He
was a Member of Parliament elected in the years of 1986, 1991, and 2009. Other than being a National
democratic elect several times, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu played significant roles as a member of
the Awami League in parallel. He was elected the President of the South District. He also served as the
Central Industry and Commerce Secretary of the Bangladesh Awami League.
After the assassination of Bangabandhu and his family in 1975, when the foundation of Awami League was shaken by this
uncompensable loss, he risked his life to keep contact with the leaders and workers of the League. This
worked as a table turner, both in the revival and reorganization of the party. In the eighties,
Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu also played a strong role in the anti-authoritarian movement. Despite
the torture and jail confinement threats inflicted upon him, he kept protesting against the tyranny.
The Economic Background of Bangladesh:
Our motherland went through a lot of economic and infrastructural damage due to consecutive wars, and natural disasters. Right after the War of Independence was over, the whole country turned into a destroyed battlefield, stained with the reins of blood, loss, and uncertainty. At that time, when the country’s foundation was shaken, scopes of development were scarce. As such, the investors from home and abroad found it a futile ground of investment.
Nevertheless, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu pioneered the very early efforts with a view to holding upright the country’s economy. He believed that no development can be materialized without painstaking struggle and risk-worthy investment. So, he
indulged not only in politics but also in businesses and industrial sectors. His business in various sectors
got wide-spread – creating employment opportunities throughout the country.
His aptitude to make progress in Industry started before the liberation war and left examples yet to be
continued over for decades. His business practices started in 1965. Before Bangladesh fought for
freedom, he confronted the apparent boundaries, beat the odds and established Boyle Industry, a
factory on Batali Road. The later industrial practices include the foundation of Asif Steel Mill, Javed Steel
Mill, Asif Synthetic, Panam Vegetable, Afroza Oil Mill, Bengal Synthetic Products, and so forth. After the
Independence when there was more space to build and grow, he purchased Vanguard Steel Mill and
Synthetic Resin Products. The Zaman Industrial Group was established by him in the ‘80s. He also
reinforced the foundation of the foreign-owned Armit Mill after buying it.
Apart from the industrial sector, Akhtaruzzaman Babu used his keen insight into finance. The
goal of economic uplift pursued by him for the life-time led to establishing a private bank. He is the
founder and founding chairman of United Commercial Bank Limited (UCBL), the second earliest private
bank in Bangladesh. He was re-elected chairman of the bank in 2011 – the position he held for the rest
of his life.
Unlike the background of other people, Akhtaruzzaman’s one gave him a hard time. Thankfully, he was
not only a dependable member of the party but also a confident team-player who worked out the odds
in favor. For better or for worse, he confronted the boundaries that tried to confine and broke them
apart. The early life experience and adventurous background made him habituated to take risks for the
greater good. And the gamble of an action or decision never went in vain.