HAMZA Alavi was a well-known economist, Marxist and an intellectual icon of Pakistan. He was born on April 10, 1921, in Karachi, and, as such, the current year marks the centennial birthday of the great economist, which, unfortunately, passed without much of an acknowledgement.

Hailing form a Bohra family, he received his education in Karachi. Later, he did his bachelor’s from the Wadia College in Pune, and master’s in economics from the Aligarh Muslim University.

Dr Ziauddin Ahmad, the then vice-chancellor of the university, arranged a special ceremony to honour him with the Wali Mohammad Towle Medal for clinching the top position. The ceremony was presided over by Allama I.I. Kazi at the Khaliqdina Hall in Karachi.

He subsequently went to the Gokhale Institute in Pune for his doctorate, and joined the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). After partition, he joined the State Bank of Pakistan and was posted at Dhaka from where he was transferred to Karachi.

After his marriage in 1946, he quit the job and his academic pursuits took him to Tanzania. From there, he flew to the United Kingdom initially for some medical treatment, but in due course he also completed his PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE). After teaching for decades in Manchester, he returned to Karachi in the 1990s. He died on Dec 1, 2003.

His book was published by Fiction House Publishers in Urdu, while hundreds of his articles in the English language are still waiting to be compiled in a book form.

I hope the authorities would include his articles in the syllabus for future generations. His was truly a life well lived and there was much in it that needs to be emulated by us.

Dr Khataumal

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021



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