Akhter Hameed Khan (Urdu: اختر حمید خان, pronounced [ˈəxt̪ər ɦəˈmiːd̪ ˈxaːn]; 15 July 1914 – 9 October 1999) was a Pakistani development practitioner and social scientist. He promoted participatory rural development in Pakistan and other developing countries, and widely advocated community participation in development. His particular contribution was the establishment of a comprehensive project for rural development, the Comilla Model (1959). It earned him the Ramon Magsaysay Award from the Philippines and an honorary Doctorate of law from Michigan State University.
In the 1980s he started a bottom-up community development initiative of Orangi Pilot Project, based in the outskirts of Karachi, which became a model of participatory development initiatives. He also directed many programmes, from microcredit to self-finance and from housing provision to family planning, for rural communities and urban slums. It earned him international recognition and high honours in Pakistan. Khan was fluent in at least seven languages and dialects. Apart from many scholarly books and articles, he also published a collection of poems and travelogues in Urdu.
Dr Akhter Hameed Khan
Akhter Hameed Khan, 1973
|Born||15 July 1914|
Agra, British India
|Died||9 October 1999 (aged 85)|
|Residence||Karachi, Pakistan; Comilla, Bangladesh|
|Alma mater||Magdalene College, Cambridge|
|Known for||Microcredit, Microfinance, Comilla Model, Orangi Pilot Project|
|Awards||Ramon Magsaysay Award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Sitara-e-Pakistan, Jinnah Award|
|Fields||Rural development, Microcredit|
|Institutions||Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development; National Centre for Rural Development, Pakistan; Michigan State University|
|Influenced||Shoaib Sultan Khan|
Khan was born on 15 July 1914 in Agra. He was among the four sons and three daughters of Khansaahib Ameer Ahmed Khan and Mehmoodah Begum. His father, a police inspector, was inspired by the reformist thinking of Syed Ahmed Khan. In his early age, Khan's mother introduced him to the poetry of Maulana Hali and Muhammad Iqbal, the sermons of Abul Kalam Azad, and the Sufist philosophy of Rumi. This upbringing influenced his interest in historical as well as contemporary social, economic, and political affairs.
Khan attended Government High School at Jalam (Uttar Pradesh), and completed his education in 1930 at Agra College where he studied English literature and history. He read English literature, history, and philosophy for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Meerut College in 1932. At that point, his mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She died in the same year at the age of 36. Khan continued his studies and was awarded a Master of Arts in English Literature from Agra University in 1934. He worked as a lecturer at Meerut College before joining the Indian Civil Service (ICS) in 1936. As part of the ICS training, he was sent to read literature and history at Magdalene College, Cambridge, England. During the stay, he developed a close friendship with Choudhary Rahmat Ali.
Khan married Hameedah Begum (the eldest daughter of Allama Mashriqi) in 1940. Together, they had three daughters (Mariam, Amina, and Rasheeda) and a son (Akbar). After Hameedah Begum's death in 1966, he married Shafiq Khan and had one daughter, Ayesha. During his ICS career, Khan worked as collector of revenue, a position that brought him into regular contact with living conditions in rural areas of East Bengal. The Bengal famine of 1943 and subsequent inadequate handling of the situation by the colonial rulers led him to resign from the Indian Civil Service in 1945. He wrote, "I realised that if I did not escape while I was young and vigorous, I will forever remain in the trap, and terminate as a bureaucratic big wig." During this period, he was influenced by the philosophy of Nietzsche and Mashriqi, and joined the Khaksar Movement. This attachment was brief. He quit the movement and turned to Sufism. According to Khan, "I had a profound personal concern; I wanted to live a life free from fear and anxiety, a calm and serene life, without turmoil and conflict. ... when I followed the advice of old Sufis and sages, and tried to curb my greed, my pride and aggression, fears, anxieties and conflict diminished."
For the next two years, Khan worked in Mamoola village near Aligarh as a labourer and locksmith, an experience that provided him with firsthand knowledge of the problems and issues of rural communities. In 1947, he took up a teaching position at the Jamia Millia, Delhi, where he worked for three years. In 1950, Khan migrated to Pakistan to teach at Islamia College, Karachi. In the same year, he was invited by the Government of Pakistan to take charge as Principal of Comilla Victoria College in East Pakistan, a position he held until 1958. During this time (1950–58) he also served as President of the East Pakistan Non-Government Teachers' Association.
During his tenure as principal of Comilla Victoria College, Khan developed a special interest in grassroots actions. Between 1954 and 1955, he took a break to work as director of the Village Agricultural and Industrial Development (V-AID) Programme. However, he was not satisfied with the development approach adopted in the programme that was limited to the training of villagers. In 1958, he went to Michigan State University to acquire education and training in rural development. Returning in 1959, he established the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (PARD) at Comilla on 27 May 1959 and was appointed as its founding director. He also laid foundations for the Comilla Cooperative Pilot Project in 1959. In 1963, he received a Ramon Magsaysay Award from the Government of the Philippines for his services in rural development. Khan became Vice-chairman of the board of Governors of PARD in 1964, and in the same year, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of law by Michigan State University. In 1969, he delivered a series of lectures at Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, based on his experience with rural cooperatives. During the visit, he established collaborative links with Arthur Lewis.
On his return to East Pakistan, Khan remained attached to the Comilla Project until 1971 when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Eventually, Khan moved to Pakistan. PARD was renamed as Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD).
Following his move to Pakistan, Khan was asked to implement the Comilla Model in rural settlements of North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Punjab, and Sindh. He declined the offer on the grounds that the proposals were predominantly motivated by political interests rather than the common well-being. However, he continued to advise the authorities on various aspects of rural development, such as participatory irrigation management. He worked as a research fellow at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad from 1971 to 1972, and as Director of Rural Economics Research Project at Karachi University from 1972 to 1973. Khan went to Michigan State University as a visiting professor in 1973 and remained there until 1979. During this time, he carried on advising the Rural Development Academy at Bogra in northern Bangladesh, and the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development, Peshawar, on the Daudzai Integrated Rural Development Programme. He also travelled extensively during this period in the capacities of speaker, advisor, or consultant on rural development programmes across the world. In 1974, he was appointed as a World Bank consultant to survey rural development situations in Java, Indonesia. He also briefly worked as a visiting professor at Lund University, Harvard University, and Oxford University.
In 1980, Khan moved to Karachi and started working on the improvement of sanitary conditions in Karachi suburbs. He laid the foundations of the Orangi Pilot Project for the largest squatter community of Orangi in the city. He remained associated with this project until his death in 1999. Meanwhile, he maintained his support for rural communities around Karachi, and also helped to develop the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. OPP became a model for participatory bottom-up development initiatives.
The Comilla Model (1959) was Khan's initiative in response to the failure of a Village Agricultural and Industrial Development (V-AID) programme that was launched in 1953 in East and West Pakistan with technical assistance from the US government. V-AID remained a government-level attempt to promote citizen participation in the sphere of rural development. Khan launched the project in 1959 on his return from Michigan, and developed a methodology of implementation in the areas of agricultural and rural development on the principle of grassroots-level participation. Initially, the aim was to provide a development model of programmes and institutions that could be replicated across the country. Advisory support in this respect was provided by experts from Harvard and Michigan State Universities, the Ford Foundation, and USAID. Practical help was also sought from Japan to improve the local farming techniques.
Comilla Model simultaneously addressed the problems that were caused by the inadequacy of both local infrastructure and institutions through a range of integrated programmes. The initiatives included the establishment of: a training and development centre; a road-drainage embankment works programme; a decentralized, small scale irrigation programme; and, a two-tiered cooperative system with primary cooperatives operating in the villages, and federations operating at sub-district level.
After Khan's departure from Comilla, the cooperative's model failed in independent Bangladesh because only a few occupational groups managed to achieve the desired success. By 1979, only 61 of the 400 cooperatives were functioning. The model actually fell prey to the ineffective internal and external controls, stagnation, and diversion of funds. This prompted the subsequent scholars and practitioners in microfinance, such as Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank and Fazle Hasan Abed of BRAC, to abandon the cooperative approach in favour of more centralised control and service delivery structures. The new strategy targeted the poorest villagers, while excluding the 'less poor'. However, Khan's leadership skills during the course of his association with the project remained a source of inspiration for these leaders, as well as other participatory development initiatives in the country.
The Orangi poverty alleviation project (known as the Orangi Pilot Project, or OPP) was initiated by Khan as an NGO in 1980. Orangi is located on the northwest periphery of Karachi. At that time, it was the largest of the city's approximately 650 low-income squatter settlements (known as katchi abadi). The locality was first developed in 1963 as a government township of 5 square kilometres (1,236 acres). The influx of migrants after the creation of Bangladesh swelled the settlement to about one million people crowded over an area of more than 32 square kilometres (7,907 acres). The working class multi-ethnic population was predominantly composed of day labourers, skilled workers, artisans, small shopkeepers, peddlers and low-income white collar workers. The project proved an impetus to the socio-economic development of the population of the area. As the project director, Khan proved to be a dynamic and innovative leader. The project initially focused on creating a system of underground sewers, using local materials and labour, and succeeded in laying hundreds of kilometres of drainage pipes along with auxiliary facilities. Within a decade of the initiative, local residents had established schools, health clinics, women's work centres, cooperative stores and a credit organisation to finance enterprise projects. By 1993, OPP had managed to provide low-cost sewers to more than 72,000 houses. The project subsequently diversified into a number of programmes, including a people's financed and managed low-cost sanitation programme; a housing programme; a basic health and family planning programme; a programme of supervised credit for small family enterprise units; an education programme; and a rural development programme in the nearby villages.
Comparing the OPP with Comilla project, Akhter Hameed Khan once commented:
The Orangi Pilot Project was very different from the Comilla Academy. OPP was a private body, dependent for its small fixed budget on another NGO. The vast resources and support of the government, Harvard advisors, MSU, and Ford Foundation was missing. OPP possessed no authority, no sanctions. It may observe and investigate but it could only advise, not enforce.
The successful OPP model became an inspiration for other municipalities around the country. In 1999, Khan helped to create Lodhran Pilot Project (LPP) to collaborate with Lodhran municipal committee. Learning from past experiences, the project extended its scope to the whole town instead of concentrating on low-income settlements only. The municipal partnership was itself a new initiative that ensured wider civic co-operation.
The success of OPP did come at a cost for Dr Khan as his liberal views and self-help initiatives were questioned and criticised by certain interest groups. At two occasions, he was accused of blasphemy. However, all allegations against him were acquitted by the courts of law and cleared by independent religious scholars.
In 1999, Khan was visiting his family in the United States when he suffered from kidney failure. He died of myocardial infarction on 9 October in Indianapolis at the age of 85. His body was flown to Karachi on 15 October, where he was buried on the grounds of the OPP office compound.
Khan's ideology and leadership skills were a source of inspiration for his students and colleagues, and continue to serve as guiding principles even after his death. Edgar Owens, who became an admirer of Khan's ideology while working at USAID's Asia Bureau, co-authored a book with Robert Shaw as a result of observations and discussions with Khan at Comilla Academy. A later study of various rural development experiences from South Asia, edited by Uphoff and Cambell (1983) was jointly dedicated to Khan and Owens.
Soon after Khan's death, on 10 April 2000, the Government of Pakistan renamed the National Centre for Rural Development the Akhter Hameed Khan National Centre for Rural Development and Municipal Administration.
Later in 2005, the Council of Social Sciences, Pakistan, in collaboration with the National Rural Support Programme and other institutions, announced the Akhter Hameed Khan Memorial Award. The annual cash award is given on Khan's birthday to a Pakistani author for a book on issues related to rural and urban development, peace, poverty alleviation, or gender discrimination. At the occasion of the award ceremony in 2006, a documentary film about the life and times of Akhter Hameed Khan was premiered. The film includes archival footage and interviews with family members, colleagues, and contributors and beneficiaries of the Comilla and OPP projects.
The Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Centre was established in Islamabad, under the auspices of the Institute of Rural Management, as a repository of published and digital resources on rural development. Although the Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Center (AHKRC) was initially formed in 2010 as a repository of works and writings by Khan and his mentee Shoaib Sultan Khan; since 2015 the resource center transitioned into an NGO that has established an experimental site in urban development in Dhok Hassu, Rawalpindi. The site builds on lessons from the OPP and Commilla Academy and uses the research and extension and participatory development approaches.
Khan received the following civil awards:
Khan was fluent in Arabic, Bengali, English, Hindi, Pali, Persian, and Urdu. He wrote several reports and monographs, mostly relating to rural development in general or his various successful and model initiatives in particular. He also published collections of poems and travelogues in Urdu.
Akhtar (Persian: اختر) means "star" in Persian. It is a unisex name. It is also a common surname.
A variant spelling is Akhter.Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development
Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD) (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ পল্লী উন্নয়ন একাডেমী (বার্ড)) is an autonomous institution that strives for research and training of local people as well as practitioners on rural development. The academy is known for implementing the Comilla Model in the 1960s that has been internationally recognised as a model project for rural development in the developing countries.Comilla District
Comilla District , officially known as Cumilla District It is a district of Bangladesh located about 100 kilometres south east of Dhaka.
Comilla is bordered by Brahmanbaria and Narayanganj districts to the north, Noakhali and Feni districts to the south, Tripura of India to the east and Munshiganj and Chandpur districts to the west.Comilla Model
The Comilla Model was a rural development programme launched in 1959 by the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (renamed in 1971 the Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development). The Academy, which is located on the outskirts of Comilla town, was founded by Akhter Hameed Khan, the cooperative pioneer who was responsible for developing and launching the programme.While the results of the Model ultimately frustrated Khan's ambitions, it has important implications for rural community development, particularly cooperative microfinance and microcreditComilla Victoria Government College
Comilla Victoria Government College is a college in Comilla, Bangladesh. It is one of the oldest and renowned colleges in Comilla as well as in Chittagong division. The college is located on 29 acres of land including its intermediate and honors section.July 15
July 15 is the 196th day of the year (197th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 169 days remaining until the end of the year.List of Muhajir people
This is a list of Muhajir people, also known as Urdu-speaking people in Pakistan.List of Muslim scientists
This is a list of Muslim scientists who have contributed significantly to science and civilization.List of Ramon Magsaysay Award winners
The following is a partial list of the awardees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award. See External links at bottom of this page for a complete list. Awardees' individual nationality or country of origin and citizenship are indicated.
GS Government ServicePS Public ServiceCL Community LeadershipJLCCA Journalism, Literature, and the Creative Communication ArtsPIU Peace and International UnderstandingEL Emergent LeadershipList of social entrepreneurs
A social entrepreneur is an entrepreneur who works to increase social capital by founding social ventures, including charities, for-profit businesses with social causes, and other non-government organizations. These types of activities are distinct from work of non-operating foundations and philanthropists who provide funding and other support for them.Meerut College
Meerut College is a state-funded college in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India. The college is affiliated to Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut. The college was established in 1892 and has a campus of 100 acres (0.40 km2).Nishan-e-Pakistan
The Nishan-e-Pakistan (Urdu: نشان پاکستان, English: Order of Pakistan) is the highest of civil awards and decorations given by the Government of Pakistan for the highest degree of service to the country and nation of Pakistan. The award was established on 19 March 1957.
The Nishan-e-Pakistan, unlike other honours, is a highly restricted and most prestigious award and is only conferred for the merit and distinguished services to the country, international community, and foreign relations. This award, like other civilian awards, is announced on 14 August each year and its investiture takes place on following 23 March. Recipients are entitled to the post-nominal NPk.October 9
October 9 is the 282nd day of the year (283rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 83 days remaining until the end of the year.Orangi Pilot Project
The Orangi Pilot Project (Urdu: اورنگی پائلٹ پراجیکٹ; abbreviated OPP) collectively designates three Pakistani Non-governmental organisations working together, having emerged from a socially innovative project carried out in 1980s in the squatter areas of Orangi Town, Karachi, Pakistan. It was initiated by Akhtar Hameed Khan, and involved the local residents solving their own sanitation problems. Innovative methods were used to provide adequate low cost sanitation, health, housing and microfinance facilities.
Currently OPP designates three organisations, borne out of the original OPP in 1989 : OPP-RTI (Research and Training Institute), OPP-OCT (Orangi Charitable Trust, involved in microfinance) and OPP-KHASDA (Karachi Health and Social Development Association, involved in health activities). A fourth organisation, OPP-RDT (Rural Development Trust) was merged with OPP-RTI in 2012.
The project also comprised a number of programs, including a people's financed and managed Low-Cost Sanitation Program; a Housing Program; a Basic Health and Family Planning Program; a Program of Supervised Credit for Small Family Enterprise Units; an education Program; and a Rural development Program in the nearby villages.Today, the project encompasses much more than the neighbourhood level problems. The research and development programmes under the institutions developed by the project now covers wider issues related to the areas all over Karachi.
Its director until 2013 was Perween Rahman, who was murdered on 13 March 2013.Orangi Town
Orangi Town (Sindhi: اُورنگي ٽاؤن, Urdu: اُورنگی ٹاؤن) is a town in the northwestern part of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. It is bordered by New Karachi Town to the north across the Shahrah-e-Zahid Hussain, Gulberg Town to the east across the Gujjar Nala stream, Liaquatabad Town to the south, and SITE Town to the west. There are 13 official neighborhoods, each with its own council, which has allowed the township to build its own sewer system. Additionally, as only of 18 districts of Karachi, Orangi has government representation, albeit in the lowest tier of the government. It is a lower class settlement with basic amenities of life available to most of the people. Only some parts of Orangi Town can be characterized as a slum.Shanty town
A shanty town or squatter area is a settlement of improvised housing which is known as shanties or shacks, made of plywood, corrugated metal, sheets of plastic, and cardboard boxes. Such settlements are usually found on the periphery of cities, in public parks, or near railroad tracks, rivers, lagoons or city trash dump sites. Sometimes called a squatter, or spontaneous settlement, a typical shanty town often lacks adequate infrastructure, including proper sanitation, safe water supply, electricity, hygienic streets, or other basic necessities to support human settlements.
Shanty towns are mostly found in developing nations, but also in some parts of developed nations.Solidarity lending
Solidarity lending is a lending practice where small groups borrow collectively and group members encourage one another to repay. It is an important building block of microfinance.Taimur Rahman
Taimur Rahman is an academic, musician and socialist political activist from Pakistan. He teaches political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He is the band leader and spokesperson for the political music band named Laal. Rahman uses Laal to advance causes which he holds dear, such as socialism, the plight of labour and the suffering Pakistanis/Kashmiris have endured at the hands of religious fundamentalism and authoritarian rule in India. He was also one of the leaders of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party. He is the author of the book The Class Structure of Pakistan published by Oxford University Press. The book won the Akhtar Hameed Khan Memorial Award for the best social sciences book about Pakistan in 2012.