Prof. Dr. Razamin Ramli of Universiti Utara Malyasia was the keynote speaker for the second keynote of Day 2 of ICBM 2019. The session was chaired by Prof. Dr. Tzong-Ru Lee, Department of Marketing, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan and Prof. Imran Rahman of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB). Prof. Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed was the special guest speaker and two industry talks were delivered by Mr. A. S. M. Mainuddin Monem, Deputy Managing Director, Abdul Monem Limited and Mr. Syed Abdul Monem, Head of SME Banking, Brac Bank Limited.
Prof. Dr. Ramli, whose research focuses on social and practical problems, presented a paper titled “Malaysian harmony Index Based on Culture and Identity of the Nation”. The main objective of Prof. Dr. Ramli’s research was to develop a scoring model based on shared national culture and identity which is then translated into a harmony index in order to measure the level of harmony in Malaysia. Based on 11 cultural criteria and seven criteria related to identity, she along with her a group of researchers were able to establish a novel framework for a Harmony Index. Based on the research, the 4 most important factors for harmony and coexistence were tolerance, mutual understanding, communication and language.
Prof. Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed lauded Bangladesh’s remarkable economic performance in recent years but highlighted some of the many issues that still plague us. Some of the major flaws that Dr. Ahmed honed in on were inequality of income, poor distribution of wealth and concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We have focused entirely on growth but not on distribution and we need to shift the focus on social development as well, he said. Prof. Ahmed also spoke about the role of the government and emphasized that economic decisions should only be taken by financial experts and based on economic considerations and ought to be free of political influence.
Mr. Syed Abdul Monem extensively detailed the small and medium enterprise (SME) portfolio of Brac Bank and discussed how aiding the least privileged and the disenfranchised was a fundamental motivation in the formation of BRAC Bank. In the course of his speech Mr. Monem shared some statistics with the audience - almost 99% of our population has access to electricity, mobile penetration rate is almost at 82% and almost 50% of our rural population has access to the internet. Brac Bank plans to take advantage of these numbers and extend their banking services to the masses. Mr. Monem also spoke about BRAC Bank’s plans for the expansion of agent banking to be able to serve more people and help SMEs grow with collateral free loans. As for the future, he said that their next plan is to go digital and in order to do so he implored the younger generation to step up and work alongside them to build their digital capabilities.
The last speaker of that session, A. S. M. Mainuddin Monem mainly focused on the grave importance of developing, nurturing and managing human resources. Mr. Monem lamented the fact that in Bangladesh there is a huge disconnect between what is taught in class and what is required in the field. The curriculum needs to be redesigned to address the lack of practical and technical approach to innovation and education has to be more pragmatic and application based, he said.