The problems of governance have occupied the centre stage of national debate in Bangladesh since independence. But at this particular point in time, their appropriate resolution has assumed unprecedented importance and urgency in our national life. With only five years to go before we enter the 21st century, our nation has reached a stage from where we may either move forward to a bright future or relapse into darkness. It is in this context that governance issues in Bangladesh have to be analysed for finding adequate solutions and means of implementation. This is precisely what has been attempted by the author in these fifty "unpleasant" essays.
Coming from a constructive and mature mind, well experienced in the various facets of administration, these essays are no theoretical exercise. These are indeed best described as pragmatic and practical pieces on bureaucratic reforms in Bangladesh, keeping in view the financial burden and human resource constraints of the government but bound together by a strong sense of the need for rapid growth in a liberal order. It is possible that these essays may first generate considerable controversy but if so, we hope, only to bring about a consensus in the end.
Kamal Siddiqui is a leading authority on local government in South Asia. Educated in the Universities of Dhaka, Leeds and London, he combines in him solid academic work with the practical experience of a civil servant, working at both grassroots as well as highest levels of policy-making and monitoring policy implementation. His important publications in the field include Megacity Governance in South Asia: A Comparative Study (Dhaka: UPL, 2004), Overcoming the Governance Crisis in Dhaka City (Dhaka: UPL, 2000), Local Governance in Bangladesh: Leading Issues and Major Challenges (Dhaka: UPL, 2000) and Local Government in South Asia: A Comparative Study (Dhaka: UPL, 1992; a Chinese translation of the book was brought out by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China